The tales of the Palo Mayombe and the Santeria

The Santeria and the Palo Mayombe have been compared over the years and most times have been called twins. In other times, the Palo Mayombe has been called the evil twin of the Santeria. They both have their similarities but also have their huge differences.

The Santeria is a black magic practice that is from the Yoruba religion in Nigeria. It can also be known as la Reglas de Ocha. The word Santeria is Spanish which means “worship of saints”. The Santeria is a remnant if the Yoruba religion and it is infused with a bit of Roman Catholicism. It was originated during the slave era in Cuba. They have a strong belief that one god created the whole of the universe and now the universe is being over looked by lesser gods such the Orishas. These gods represent different forces and also possess some human characteristics. Some of their gods and goddesses are:

  • Yemaya: she is the goddess of motherhood and the sea. She is one of the most powerful Orishas of the Santeria. It is said that she gave birth to most of the other Orishas. The yemaya Santeria can be fierce and kills anyone who is likely to hurt her children.
  • Obatala: she is the goddess of the creation and of peace. Her attire is white and she can be associated with the Virgen de la Merced.

Each of the Santeria follower have a particular Orisha assigned to them to give them guidance and protection throughout his/her life. The Santeria don’t have official places of worship. Their ceremonies are usually done in public or in the homes of one of the members.

The Palo Mayombe came to be during the slave era of the 1500s in Cuba. It is also known as la Reglas de Congo. The word Palo is a Spanish word which means sticks. The Palo Mayombe is said to have a great belief in the veneration of spirits and also the use of supernatural and earthly powers. They have various gods and goddess that they worship. Some of them are the Zarabanda, Lucero, Madre Agua, El Christo Negro, San Simon and El Christi Rey. The Palo Mayombe have different kinds of spells and rituals. In their rituals they do a lot of dancing and make music which is usually made a wooden percussion instrument and also drums. They make use of metallic object in their rituals such as plows and hoes. Becoming a member of the Palo Mayombe is easy yet it can be very complex.

Normally, initiations are not discussed with non-initiates. To get initiated, you have to go through a ceremony which is called Rayamiento and it means “being scratched”. Special marks are made on your skin during the ceremony. This ceremony of the Palo Mayombe is done under the full moon. To be a part of the Palo Mayombe, you have to swear an oath to prove your loyalty, courage and confidence to the religion.