Category Archives for "Palo Mayombe"

palo mayombe gods

The Religion, Palo Mayombe and its gods

Palo Mayombe is known as a henotheistic religion; focusing on the worship of one Higher god but also acknowledging the existence and power of other gods; thereby the worship of many deities or gods. Nzambi is the high god of creation, highly reverenced above other deities. Among these deities, there are higher beings known as Lucero, Zarabanda, Mal Kengue, Madre Agua.

Other deities are:

Ngurufinda: This goddess rules over trees, herbs, plants and everything green that grows from the ground. Herbalists or healers who use green plants would need to consult this deity to gain access to their powers or their efforts would be futile.

Brazo Fuerte: This vicious and very powerful god represents the forces of the earth; that is Volcanic eruption. It is said the molten magma that proceeds during eruptions is caused by the breath of this deity. He is said to have a short temper and to move very briskly. He is associated with automobile accidents and fevers.

Kadiempembe: This god is often to as the Devil in the Congo belief system. He is both dreaded and respected. Anyone who works with him has to be extra careful. He is regarded as a deity with great power and just a part of the Paleros consult with him. The myth was he was the Highest god being worshiped previously before Nzambi; hence the name Nzambi Bilongo. 

Palo Fuerte: This god is intensely involved in protection and justice for homes. He is seen as a great hunter and can be said to be the force among the deities as he ensures justice is carried out and fair judgment prevails.

Tata Fumbi: This god is said to be in charge of all diseases; being able to cause or heal any disease. This god is also in charge of the disabled and elderly; the less privileged.

Mama Chola: She is known as the goddess of Love; ruling over the rivers. She is known for her beauty and agility and is also a strong warrior. She loves sensuality and all things radiant.

Centella Ndoki: This goddess is in charge of trade happening in the market place. She is the goddess of the Wind and the Storm and rules over the Cemetary. She is referred to as the Angel of Death and is seen as the most powerful female deity.

Siete Rayos: This god is in charge of the elements of thunder and lightning. He is also associated with male sexual prowess and justice. He is said to deliver judgment and justice on those who try to disrupt or avoid punishment.

These other gods are also respected and paid homage to different requests and on different occasions. They have ngangas dedicated to them. Some members of the Paleros also dedicate themselves to these Palo Mayombe gods and become devotees; fully dedicated and consecrated to their worship. These deities, in turn, offer them protection, direction and other forms of blessings. It would be unwise for any Palero to go against these gods as they can also serve disciplinary measures to defaulting Paleros.

palo mayombe beliefs

The Most Dreaded Black Magic Religion, Palo Mayombe

Palo Mayombe, as a branch of Palo, is said to have originated with Congo slaves that were brought to Cuba. It is also called Santeria’s dark twin and said to be the most powerful holder of black magic. Its sacred language is a combination of the Spanish and Bantu languages. Its worshipers are known as the Paleros.


The Paleros hold a strong belief in the spirits and nature. They do believe that every natural element is inhibited by spiritual energy. They also connect with the spirits of the dead. Their belief systems also are centered on one Creator; the Nzambi while reverencing other Higher Entities. Spirits are also said to be powerful but not as powerful as these other Higher entities.


Their belief system is expressed by making connections to the spirits via mediums. These mediums have been dedicated and equipped through certain rituals. These rituals prepare them to have access to the spirits and can provide solutions or answers to the needs of those who consult them. The priests and priestesses also serve as mediums for the worshipers.


The major practice of worship, however, is centered around the nganga which is the altar. It is formed by a sacred pot or cauldron filled with dedicated objects such as sticks and bones. These pots are said to also contain the spirits of the dead guiding the activities of the nganga.

Owing to syncretism, other elements of other belief systems have been integrated into Palo Mayombe worship. Some worshipers use the cross and pictures of saints as part of their worship.

The nganga is said to be offered blood as well through sacrifices; especially on the anniversary of its creation.


Initiation into Palo Mayombe would involve a process where cuts are made on the skin of the initiate. These cuts are done to create a connection with the spirit of the nganga. The initiation ceremony is known as Rayamiento.

After initiation, another ceremony is done where the new initiate receives his sacred pot to become a Yaya or Tata (mother /father). The nganga is then dedicated to a specific higher entity as decided by divination.

Palo Mayombe is widely believed by Paleros as a religion that is for healing and can cause great positivity. It can be used for blessing, protection, and provision. However, it can also be used for violence, destruction and even the death of a person. It is said that a Palero does not dictate for his nganga what to do, but can intercede and lay matters to it. The process by which the nganga chooses to go about giving answers and solutions to different situations can not be controlled by the Palero. Violence, however, is neither advocated for or suggested.

Paleros are very reserved in their practice. It is like a religion practiced in secrecy. They would not interfere in issues except consulted. However, Palo Mayombe has been linked to several high spiritual and political authorities

palo mayombe religions

The Priests of the Religion, Palo Mayombe

The Priests

The Palero High Priests are major pillars of the Palo Mayombe as they hold the key to the mysteries and practices of the religion. They are well vast in the teachings and knowledge that guide the Paleros. They are also very equipped in organizing ceremonies and rituals. These High priests act as Spiritual Guides, Mentors, Teachers, Healers, Spiritual Parents for other members of their communities.

Becoming A High Priest:

Becoming a High Priest of Palo Mayombe would require more than just being an initiate or a priest who attends to an nganga. It would take intense and at times painful sessions of training, consecrations, ritual ceremonies, teachings and acts of sacrifices. These High Priests are greatly revered and at times feared because of their access to supernatural power and their connection to the spirits. They are also referred to as Masters in divination, magic, sorcery, and medium-ship. Due to their status, they can perform the most potent spells and release powerful blessings or otherwise curses.

The Priests Exist In A Hierarchy:

Tribal Chief/Royal King (Tata Nkisi Ngombo Nganga Malongo):

This title is given to the one who has attained the zenith of heights within the strata of the community. This is a High Priest who has undergone all initiation rituals and ceremonies. He has received all the training in the Palo Mayombe worship practice and all the sacred nganga. They can carry out all sacred divination and rites using the consecrated symbols, prayers, proverbs, chants and songs. They are vast in the knowledge of religion and have a wide range of experience.

High Priest (Tata Nganga): 

The Tata/Yaya Nganga or High Priest is also well equipped to handle initiation rites and ceremonies. They are very knowledgeable in the teachings, songs, proverbs, chants, prayers, animals, plants, herbs. They have access to the deep mysteries of the Palo Mayombe religion itself. They have also gone through all necessary rites and training to attain this level. The High Priest can also beget other ngangas. He/She would then stand as a godfather/mother to the new initiate.

Assistant High Priest (Tata Nkisi Bokanfula):

The Assistant High Priest is also equipped in the knowledge, practices, and rites of Palo Mayombe. They assist the High Priest while gaining further training and teachings. They also have the opportunity to fill in the position of a High Priest if they complete the initiation rites.

Male/Female Priests (Tata/Yaya Nkisi):

These priests have acquired the basic knowledge of the Palo Mayombe. They have been equipped with fundamentals of the religion called the Building Blocks. They can also attain further heights within the strata by undergoing more training and initiation rites, as well as getting more ngangas. They can also be godfathers/ mothers to new initiates but cannot perform the ceremonies themselves. They would need the presence of the Assistant High Priest, the High Priest and the Tribal Chief to get the ceremony carried out. 

Apprentice To The Priests (Ngaeyo):

These are new initiates; full of vitality. They are being watched and guided by the older ones in the community. They have to undergo the initiation ceremony, after which their learning process begins. They would also have strict rules to adhere to.

Nobody can become a member of the Palo Mayombe without going through initiation.

Dominican Vudu

Dominican Vudu, Dissolving into Las 21 Divisiones

Dominican Vudu through having similarities with Haiti Vodou, should note mistaken as same. Dominican Vudu has its own sets of beliefs and practices.


Dominican Vudu began in the Caribbean with origins from African slaves and was developed in Hispaniola. Like most Afro-American religions, religion originated with the increase and migration of black slaves to Hispaniola. The religion is a product of syncretism among the religions and the Roman Catholic faith as a guide to continue practicing their religion despite persecution.

Las 21 Divisiones:

Roman Catholicism is the major religion in the Dominican Republic and still holds a lot of influence on the people. However, Vudu is an established religion in the Dominican Republic. It is considered a very powerful religion by the people. Vudu is also considered suspicious by the people and regarded as a practice carried out by the African and Haitian descendants.

Hence the dissolving of Dominican Vudu in Las 21 Divisiones, to make it more acceptable and easily absorbed by the people.


Vudu practitioners believe in the use of music during their rituals and ceremonies. This music is created by using percussion drums and other sacred instruments.

Vudu practitioners also believe in the spirits/ deities called Loss but unlike the belief system in Louisiana Voodoo or Haitian Vodou, Loas are separated into 21 divisions.

These 21 divisions are further grouped into 3 major divisions and an additional one: Black, Fire, White, and Water divisions.

The Black divisions are the spirits related to death and the ancestors. It is also called Gede Division.

The White Division are spirits from African origin and it is also known as the Rada Division.

The Fire Division is the spirits from Bantu origin also called the Petro Division.

The Water Division whose spirits are from the Pre Columbian region.

Another difference between Vudu and Vodou is that the practice of Vudu is less strict than Vodou. The religion is not so defined and there are no organized temples or ceremonies. The spirits can be contacted just by reading a tarot card or using shells.


Another difference between the Vodou and Vudu religions is the names given to the Loas they call upon. Loas consulted by the Vudu practitioners have been associated with the Saints of the Roman Catholic Church and the Orisas through syncretism.

Some examples are:

Anaisa Pye: This is the Lao associated with love and happiness and the Roman Catholic Saint Anne.

Belie Belcan: This lao is associated with justice and protection and with the Roman Catholic Saint Michael the Archangel. 

Ogun Balenyo: This lao is associated with justice and protection and with the Roman Catholic Saint Michael the Archangel. 

Baron: This lao is associated with death and with San Elias. 

Metresili: This lao is associated with beauty and prosperity and with Mater Dolorosa. 

Candelo se Dife: This lao is associated with fire and war and with Charles Borromeo. 

Filomena Lubana: This lao is associated with dominion over men and with the Roman Catholic Saint Martha. 

palo mayombe

Palo Mayombe; its beliefs and those of Santeria

Palo Mayombe and its beliefs:

The belief systems of Palo Mayombe are centered on connection with spirits of dead ancestors and deities. They focus on the worship and reverence of their ancestors and the reverence of the spirits. The nganga which is the shrine or altar is believed to house the spirit of the dead that in agreement with the Palero. This spirit is expected to offer protection to the household of the Palero. It is also believed to give solutions to requests and problems. The Paleros is also believed to be able to communicate with and give expressions to the desires of the spirit.

The Paleros also reverence the deities; the Higher gods and other spiritual beings. They also look up to them for spiritual blessings. These beings are believed to be in charge of specific aspects and elements of nature. The nganga is also dedicated to a particular mpungu (deity).

Palo Mayombe strongly believes in the spiritual essence of natural elements. The followers uphold the use of natural elements to create desired results. These natural elements are also used empowered by the spirits to be used to create magic.

There is also a belief in one Creator of the earth and heaven, the god Nzambi.

Santeria and its beliefs:

Santeria focuses on building a connection with the Orishas. They uphold the reverence and worship of these deities. The activities are centered around divination and offering sacrifices to their gods.

The Santeros also believe in Oracles. These oracles are consulted by both initiates and now initiates to give direction and solutions. These oracle practices are conducted by priests. For example, the Ifa Oracle is called a Babalawo.

Consulting these oracles may involve the use of coconuts. They are divided into four parts and are cast. The pattern formed when they lie would give direction to the priests on the next action. At times, it may require him recasting.

Another sacred object being used for consultation is the cowry shell. Sixteen cowry shells are cast and are interpreted as they lie. The way the cowries lie would resonate with the verses to give direction. But these consultations are done by those with deep experience in the practice of Santeria.

Sacred palm nuts are also used in consultation and deducing the mind and decision of the Orishas, as regards the issues at hand.

Santeros also relate their Orishas to the Catholic Saints:

  1. Elleggua who is the lord of the crossroads has similar attributes with the Roman Catholic Saint Anthony.
  2. Yemaya who represents motherhood has similar attributes with the Virgin Mary.
  3. Babalu Aye who has healing powers and in charge of the sick is closely associated with the Roman Catholic Saint Lazarus.
  4. Sango who is associated with fierce power and manly energy has similar attributes with the Roman Catholic Saint Barbara.
  5. Oya, who is at times referred to as the Angel of death and in charge of cemeteries is closely associated with the Roman Catholic Saint Theresa.
santeria ceremony

Yoruba Religion and The Belief in One’s Destiny

Finding Destiny:

The Yoruba religion is one guided by different beliefs and customs, not in many ways similar to Palo Mayombe. They hold this belief that a person’s entire life has been drawn out even before they were born and ushered into the world. That would include the location of their birth, the family into which they would bear, the choice of occupation, the individual they may fall in love with and probably raise a family with, when and where they would eventually die. When an individual is finally granted passage into the earth, his memory of his entire life is wiped out. Therefore, the entire life on earth is an attempt to find his path as previously ordained for him. This path is known as destiny or fate and called Ayanmo.

Belief In Total Growth:

It is believed in the Yoruba religion that every individual is expected to experience growth in all aspects of their lives. They uphold the thought that a person’s life on earth should be aimed towards total development, especially spiritually and morally. And as a person grows and attains heights mentally, socially, intellectually, spiritually and otherwise, he is merged in spirit with the Olodumare, the Creator god and the Giver of all life.

The teachings state that a person who fails to achieve this growth would end up in an invisible potsherd. For the followers of Yoruba religion, life and death are like two ends of a cycle. Hence the belief in Re-incarnation also called Atunwa. A person can continue his existence, even after death in a different body. This cycle continues as this person keeps achieving different heights of growth with each lifetime until his spirit reaches the peak and is merged with Olodumare.

It is believed that human life with every thought and action interacts with nature and causes a corresponding effect.


In the Yoruba religion, there is a belief that ancestors can come back to life in a newborn. Hence the names Babatunde/Yetunde, meaning Father/ Mother has come back to life. The ancestor reincarnating supplies the newborn with a part of his essence. He then becomes the Guardian spirit for the individual through his life. The individual is also believed to operate with the energy, gifting, and wisdom of the ancestor. Upon the individual’s death, the reincarnated spirit returns to merge with its spiritual self. The ancestor would reincarnate in a child born within direct family bloodlines.

Individuals who leave the earth through suicide, rebellious people, wicked and evil people are not given the privilege of reincarnation. Gender is also not static during reincarnation. Hence, a male ancestor can return to a female body.

In the Palo Mayombe religion, the concept of reincarnation as seen here in the Yoruba religion is non-existent. Rather, the spirit of the dead is seen to be powerful and able to guide, teach and protect. The next step the Palero would have to take to ensure that is to house them in a sacred nganga and attend to them.


The Origin, Beliefs And Practices of Haitian Vodou

Haitian Vodou originally began from the West African slaves from Benin, who worked for the French colonial masters. It is a syncretism of elements of different faiths. These faiths include the Yoruba Religion, Taino religion, the religion of the people of Kongo, modern mysticism and some Vodouists as the practitioners are called also include elements of the Catholic faith.


Voduists hold a belief in a Supreme god called Bondye. He is believed to have created the entire universe. However, they only relate with this deity through the lesser spirits, called the Laos. These Laos are believed to have control and the ability to influence different aspects of life. There are several Laos due to syncretism with the Catholic faith, these spirits have been associated with different Catholic Saints. Each family is also associated with different Laos and this reflects in the surname.

Vodou is seen as more than a religion by the Vodouist. It is a spiritual path that ties the body and soul together.

Vodouists believe that complete and unreserved dedication and commitment to the spirits would bring rewards from them but doing otherwise can bring about calamity, misfortune and other adverse effects. They also uphold the practice of animal sacrifice to energize the Lao they are dedicated to.

On a personal basis, a Vodou practitioner may decide to lay a table for the spirits he is dedicated to. It is usually set with pictures and images of the spirits, a jug of clear water, a vase of flowers a white candle.

Concept of the Soul:

According to the beliefs of Vodou, the human soul exists in two aspects. One is that which consists of biological functions like blood and breath, the other is the will, character, and mindset of an individual. One enables the individual to act, the other determines the action.


Vodouists refer to the Vodou temple as Peristils. The Priests and Priestesses of Vodou are called Houngans and Mambos. They serve as mediums between the entire community and the Laos. They are responsible for preserving the culture, beliefs, and traditions of the religion such as scared songs, proverbs, and chants. They are also in charge of rituals and ceremonies. The priests and priestesses of Vodou perform the act of divination on behalf of the initiates. Although, a non-initiate can also consult the spirits. Through spirit possession, these priests and priestesses provide healing, direction, and provision for the people.

An assistant priest who as an initiate helps with ceremonies and rituals is called a Hounsis.

Death and The Life After:

Vodou practitioners pay attention to the issues of death and the afterlife. They hold the belief that after a person’s death, his spirit gets trapped in any of the different aspects of nature. Some may be trapped in the waters or mountains or anywhere an echo can be heard. They are believed to be trapped there for a year and a day, after which a ceremony is held to usher them back into the world. However, some Vodouists hold the belief in a paradise a spirit can leave after death.


The Origin of The Practice of Santeria


The religion Santeria, began its spread from Cuba. Santeria is also called Lukumi which means friendship. It was brought to Cuba by the Yoruba people of West Africa, through the process of slavery. Yoruba people can be found in an area known today as Nigeria. Santeria exists not just as one faith, but as a syncretism of multiple belief systems. The religious beliefs were formed from the Yoruba religion, the Catholic faith and elements of the Caribbean culture.

The Syncretism:

These slaves brought to work for their masters on their sugar plantation did not consider it appropriate to abandon their religious beliefs in exchange for those of their Masters. To convince their Masters otherwise, they would act like they are praying to the Catholic Saints, when in fact they were calling on their gods, the Orishas. They would also worship their gods during the different Saint Days. This is where the syncretism began and the religion Santeria was formed. The name Santeria began because the salves were being mocked for their devotion to the saints and their disregard for the worship of God.

For many years, the religion was practiced in secrecy among African descendants and was not opened to other races. However, with time as Africans began to copulate with other races and produce children of mixed races, the doors of Santeria had to be open to them. Santeria is passed down as a legacy from parent to child. It is practiced as a communal way of life and tribal heritage.


The spread of Santeria has continued since then to different continents. In 1959 when the uprising occurred in Cuba, many Cubans left to other continents and states and they took along with them their religious beliefs in Santeria. 

It is currently being practiced in Brazil, Venezuela, Panama, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Uruguay, Puerto Rico and the United States. It has been said that there are over a million followers of the religion in the United States alone. The estimate worldwide is four million. However, due to societal stigma, religion continues to be practiced in secrecy so a true count may not be possible.

The religion still spreads to date and is usually sent as a representation of the African culture and heritage. There has also been several court rulings in favor of the Santeria followers, permitting them to engage in animal sacrifice as a part of their religious obligations.

Palo Mayombe as a religion began as a branch of Palo. Palo itself started from the African slaves in Cuba. But these slaves were from Central Congo unlike those of Santeria who were from the Yoruba part of Nigeria.

Though Palo accommodates a level of syncretism with other faiths, Palo Mayombe is like the pure branch among other branches. It practices pure dark magic as it originated. Certain Paleros still attempt to learn other teachings from different faiths but that should not be mixed with the faith and practice of Palo Mayombe.

yoruba santeria

Palo Mayombe and African Yoruba Religion

The Beliefs:

The belief system of the Yoruba Religion is centered on the worship of one Creator god called Olorun or Olodumare. The Olorun is believed to the source of life, the principal deity. He is the mysterious one that cannot be assigned any gender.

3 other major deities are reverenced by all followers of the Yoruba religion: Eshu who is known as the messenger of Olorun and other Orisas. He is referred to as the deity that carries messages in the form of sacrifices to Olorun. The second is Ifa who is in charge of divination. He carries the desires and requests of man to Olorun. Another is Ogun; the god of thunder, war, and metalwork. He is the one to whom the followers swear oaths.

The followers also believe in other Orisas. Orisas are the mediums between man and the realm of the Spirit. They reflect some aspects of Olodumare and are said to have control over some forces of nature.

Other Orisas include: Orunmila who is seen as the Source of knowledge, Yemaya who represents Motherhood and is seen as the protector of women and children, Oya who is known as the third wife of Sango and the Guardian of the cemetery and in charge of the storms, Obatala who represents justice, light and purity and Osun who is known as the second wife of Sango and a representation of female sexual energy, beauty and fertility.


The Yoruba religion also holds a belief in the Irunmole. These are beings that have a higher status in the hierarchy. They also serve as intermediaries between the spirit world and the physical.


The followers of the Yoruba religion believe in Ashe. This is a very powerful supernatural force given to everything by Olohun. These would include deities, humans, animals, plants, rocks, trees, mountains, oceans and other aspects of nature. It would also include songs, chants, simple communications, and prayers. This force is so powerful that it is believed to be able to cause positive or negative effects in reality.

Persons who have received proper training and have sufficient experience are said to be able to wield this force into seeing desired results. They are called Alaase. 


These are believed to be negative spiritual forces, otherwise called demons by other modern religions. They are responsible for causing death, destruction, illnesses and other calamities. Followers are cautioned to be wary of these forces. In a situation where a person gets afflicted or struck by these forces, a priest has to be consulted to perform certain divination and ceremonial rites to access solutions to bring deliverance to the afflicted.

Though some Paleros may decide to learn some teachings from the Yoruba religion, it is still very different from Palo Mayombe in beliefs and traditions. Palo Mayombe is widely known to possess the most potent dark magic. Paleros relate with and are connected to the spirits of the dead. The followers of the Yoruba religion interface more with the Orisas, the deities and pay homage and reverence to them.

Why Palo Mayombe Is the Right Religion And Practice For You?

Are you in search of a religion of dark magic to practice? 

Do you desire to possess supernatural powers that give you the ability to create results? 

Are you curious about the undiluted teachings of the African gods and spirits?

Do you seek a connection with the spirits of your ancestors or great men from your lineage?

Do you need healing and blessings from the gods and the spirits?

Do you seek protection from the spirits against destruction and calamity?

Are you in search of a spiritual family and community to guide and lead you as you attain heights in the practice of divination?

Palo Mayombe is, without a doubt, the right religion for you to practice. Palo Mayombe is the most powerful and the most dreaded cult among all other black magic religions. The practitioners of this religion who also called Paleros, hold and wield great magical powers that they are consulted by followers and priests of other Black magic religions.

Benefits of Becoming A Palero:

Palo Mayombe is a religion is set on the pillars of the reverence of gods and deep connection with the spirits of the ancestors. Through this connection with the dead and the spirits, you access great power to create desired changes in the physical realm. You can give healing from sicknesses as well as cause the same. You can obtain great powers that can do as much as take another man’s life.

Practicing Palo Mayombe places you under the protection and guidance of the spirits and ancestors. You can commune with the spirits. You would be granted the gifts of foresight and knowledge. You can see into the future and perform acts of divination on behalf of others. You will be sought after by people for answers and solutions to their different issues.

Joining the Palo Mayombe community would mean you now belong to another family. As a Palero, you would have the mentoring and teachings of godparents to help you on your path to spiritual enlightenment and fulfillment. You would also have treasured relationships with Paleros in different cities and countries of the world.

Becoming a follower of the Palo Mayombe sets you on a spiritual path to finding yourself. There is no limitation to you attaining the highest status within the community, as long as you have the courage and commitment to undergo the different initiation rites, sacrifices, and teachings. You must attend to the ngangas in your care and never neglect the needs of the nfumbi.

Palo Mayombe, contrary to belief is a religion that can be used for positive results such as healing and creating solutions to the needs of others. Though some Paleros use it for other negative vices such as laying curses and casting evil spells on others, it is not encouraged or supported by true followers. When matters of justice arise, they are presented to the spirits who would take actions at their discretion.