Palo Mayombe is also known as las Reglas de Congo. The word Palo is a Spanish word that means stick. The Palo Mayombe makes use of two languages which is the Spanish language and the Bantu language. They make use of altars which is known as the Nganga, la Cadero or Prenda. In the Palo religion, they have several denominations which are known as the Mayombe, Monte and Briyumba. The Palo Mayombe make use of priests and they are called Paleros. These Paleros are ordained priests who guided the people on the ways of the Pali Mayombe. There can either be a male Palero or a female Palero. The male is called Tata while the female is called Yaya. Those that worship at the Palo Mayombe are called Ngueyos or pino Nuevo.
Origin and beliefs of the Palo Mayombe
The Palo Mayombe emerged in the early 1500s during the slave trade era in Cuba. It can be dated back to the time of Congo basin in central Africa. Apart from Spain, the Palo Mayombe is practiced in Brazil and Mexico. In Brazil, the Palo Mayombe religion is known as the Quinbanda. From Cuba, the Palo Mayombe also spread over the Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Columbia and also the United States. It is mostly practiced by Latin and Caribbean’s especially the Latin business men and politicians.
The Palo Mayombe religion have a strong belief in:
- Veneration of spirits
- Use of supernatural and earthly powers.
They strongly believe that the spirits of the dead are around and inside us. They claim they are here to guide and protect us. They have various spirits which are called Mpungu and gods which are called Nkisi. The gods and spirits of the Palo Mayombe are claimed to be very powerful and are not to be taken lightly. Each Nkisi and Mpungu have specific roles they perform and special Nganga prepared for them. Some of the Mpungu and Nkisi are:
- Madre Agua
- El Christo Rey
- San Simon
- Centella Ndoki
- Mama Chola
- EL Christo Negro
All manners of rituals, spells are performed in the Palo religion. The rituals of the Palo Mayombe are very vital to them. It’s a very important aspect of the Palo Mayombe. They perform dances and songs at their rituals. The music made is usually produced by some wooden instruments and also with the use of drums. Their rituals are special moments in their lives. The Paleros are the ones who conducts the rituals. They perform various kinds of initiations ranging from a new member initiation to a Palero initiation. When one is to be initiated into the religion, they undergo a ceremony called the Rayamiento. Initiation to become a Palero isn’t so easy. After initiation there are certain thing one has to do; the newly ordained priest has to dress in white for a year and seven days, eat all his meals on the floor, not look into a mirror, not go out after dark and avoid all physical contact with non-initiates.