When you hear about the Palo Mayombe what comes to mind?
Black magic? Sprits? Cults? Religion?
Well, read on to feed your curiosity.
The Palo Mayombe is one of the many religions that have evolved from the times of the slave trade. It originally originated during the slave trade era in Cuba. Its history can be traced to the Congo basin in central Africa. The Palo Mayombe has been kept in secret to avoid people who are out to negate it from getting their hands on their information. The word “Palo” from the Palo Mayombe is a Spanish word that means sticks and this can be referred to the Cuban religion where they make use of sticks to prepare their altars. The language used is a mix of Spanish and bantu language. Like some other religions, the Palo Mayombe makes use of priests and they are called Paleros. The priests can either be male which are called tatas or female which are known as Yayas. Their worshippers or initiates are called Ngueyos. In this Palo religion, their altars are called Nganga.
In recent times, the Palo Mayombe has been linked to or compared to voodoo or the Santeria. The Santeria is a form of black magic which is practiced by the Yoruba people in Nigeria. The early history of Congolese religion which is the Palo Mayombe cannot be traced to central Africa which states it has been before the Santeria. The Palo religion have a strong belief in spirits and the use of supernatural powers. They believe that these spirits also live in us and are summoned to provide protection. They have various spirits such as the Zarabanda which is the most common, El Christo rey, El Christo Negro, San Simon and many others. These sprits are very powerful and each have a special function. Summoning these sprits, its mostly done during their rituals, initiations or times of worship. In their rituals, they make use of music, music tones like cata, Guagua and dancing. Also, coconut shells and metallic objects such as hoes, cowbells and plow.
In the Palo Mayombe, getting initiated can be difficult especially if you want to go through the normal process. This process is called the “Rayamiento”. It means “being scratched” it’s the carving of special marks into your skin. To undergo this process, you have to show your courage, confidence and loyalty by taking an oath. This process is not commonly done because their places of worship are usually kept a secret. You would have to know a Paleros to do that. Though, you can self-initiate. This is easy to do. You would have to get or buy some ingredients to do this self-initiation. If you’re wondering if the spirit would accept you, it would because a ritual guide would be given to you to summon your ancestors to guide you through the initiation process. Self-initiations cost less than the regular initiations. Initiation connects you with the spirits.