Palo Mayombe is known as the most powerful and dreaded dark religion. Its worshipers who are hugely located in Central America, Brazil, and Mexico, center their activities around their altar or shrines called nganga. Another name for it would be Penda which means jewel.
Nganga is got from a Bantu word ‘ganga’ meaning wisdom and skill. It is a consecrated and sacred pot or a cauldron that houses the spirits of dead ancestors. These spirits, in turn, guide the activities performed around the nganga. It also is filled with sacred sticks, earth, water from a river and bones.
The nganga is formed by a Palero. It is believed he has to establish a pact with the spirit of any dead person of his choice. These spirits are called nfumbis. He requests for the spirit to begin to work in his favor, while he promises to feed it with alcohol, rum, and honey all the days of his life. If the nfumbi accepts, the initiate then takes skeletal parts of the deceased or the whole skeleton and takes it to its sanctuary in his home. The sanctuary is supposed to be a part of the home or outer the home, dedicated to the nganga. It’s usually locked so strangers do not gain access.
He places the skeletal parts in a clay or metal pot, the nganga, along with metallic objects such as a machete, nails, iron, earth, water from the river and animal remains.
The nganga is not just the connection between the worshipers or Paleros and the It is the interface, the medium between the physical and the living realm. The spirit of the dead that inhabits it and to which it is consecrated is the medium by which all spiritual and magical activities take place. It is believed that these spirits possess powers to control elements. The nganga is like a god connected to different entities. An embodiment of spiritual energy.
The nganga furnishes the dead spirit with a structure or a house where it can operate. It can speak, listen and exchange communication and emotions with the palero. It can also begin to work and go on assignments on behalf of the palero. These activities would involve forgiving, loving, striking with illness or even killing an enemy.
The nganga can also in some way chastise the palero of it fails to fulfill its part of the bargain or it feels jealous of his affections.
On the other hand, the Palero expects the nganga to supply him with protection for is enemies, provision, and healing. It can also tell it of the future of the activities of others that may harm him.
The nganga can also be further dedicated to one of the higher entities known as the mpungu. These entities would empower the ngungu the more and is usually called first while mentioning the name of the nganga as all nganga have their unique names. In summary, the nganga is a joint force of all powers of the deity, the dead spirit and the universal elements represented by the natural objects contained in it.