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.