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.