Sarabanda: The fearful, temperamental yet a protective Spirit

Sarabanda Palo or Zarabanda is often presented as a fierce, consummate cutlass-carrying mpungo. While that is not wrong in any way, Sarabanda Palo is much more than an ancestor that clears the jungle for his descendants. He is an encompassing force of nature. He is possessed and rules the Underworld.

He oversees all technological innovation and metal works and related activities like rail, road and even war. That is understandable as most wars are fought with the use of weapons, predominantly made with metals.

While trying not to state any hierarchy with this write up, Sarabanda is an important mpungo for both the Tata and any interested and potential Palero. An approval order is often sought from Nsasi and Sarabanda before any initiation process can commence on anyone interested to be a Palero.

In different syncretism of Palo Mayombe, Sarabanda Palo has been connected with gods from different religions. The Santeria syncretized him with the god of iron and war, Ogun while mixed his identity with that of Saint Peter.  Sarabanda Palo is not a god in the real sense of the word; he is mpungo or a force of nature, a spirit.

The Palo Mayombe Spirits are not be syncretized

One of the common misconceptions of Palo Mayombe is the identity and the purpose of M’pungo. Based on the dilution from other religion, many people and some poorly educated Palero regard The M’pungo as gods. They are also popularly confused with the Orishas of the Santeria, Yoruba religion.

The only God in Palo Mayombe is the N’zambi, and the M’pungo are the powers and the Palo Mayombe spirits that connect us to the primary source of power. The M’pungo are not ambiguous; they are primal ancestors who have once ‘walked’ the surface of the earth and are not Palo Mayombe. They understand and can relate to human dealings.

In Palo Mayombe religious practice, only the N’zambi is meant to be worshipped. Palo Mayombe Spirits are to be revered and honored as part of the embodiment of the N’zambi. The Palo Mayombe spirits, in turn, give guidance and protection to the Palero and his own.

Palo Mayombe Spells and the soul of the deceased

Palo Mayombe false reputation of “dark practices” comes from the outside world that could not understand. One of the main ingredients of a powerful Palo Mayombe spell is the soul of the departed, Nfumbe. The soul of the dead is powerful in casting Palo Mayombe spells for protection and curing sicknesses. The Power of the spirit of the dead and the M’pungus are effective in treating all kind of diseases. That includes those considered incurable diseases by medical practices.

The Pillars of Palo Mayombe religion still hold true

The fundamentals of Palo Mayombe religion are still deeply rooted in the source, the Kingdom of Kongo in Africa. The Haitian and Cuban cultural practices might have influenced the Palo Mayombe religion, but the core still holds until today. The pillars of the Palo Mayombe belief rest on the two components. They are the veneration of the spirits of the ancestors and the powers in natural elements, through these two pillars mixed with Palo Mayombe practices like the ritual, divination and spells. Paleros connect to the supreme N’zambi and live great and fulfilling lives anyone can imagine.