Palo Mayombe which is also known as Las Reglas de Congo is a one of the many ancient religions to exist in this world that we live in. Palo is divided into denominations(branches) known as, Mayombe (Mallombe), Monte and Briyumba (Brillumba). The word Palo is a Spanish word for “stick” which is applied to a Cuban religion because of the use of their wooden sticks in the preparation of altars. In this religion, the word altar is also known as; La Nganga, El Cadero, Nkisi or La Prenda. The Palo makes use of priests, they are called Paleros. The male priest is addressed as Tata while the female priests are called Yayas or Nganguleros. Their members or initiates are called Ngueyos or Pino Nuevo.
The History of the Palo Mayombe Religion
Palo has a long and historical history. It is said to be the most substantial and feared form of black magic. It firstly originated during the slave era in Cuba. It has its deep-end roots in Congo Basin of central Africa where large numbers of slaves were brought to Cuba where the religion evolved. Its influence can also be found in Brazil and Mexico. In brazil, the religion is known as Quinbanda. Palo Mayombe is a product of the Bakongo religion. It makes use of liturgical language which involves the mix of both Spanish and Bantu language.
The Beliefs/Traditions of The Palo Mayombe
The Palo belief is based on two main pillars;
- Veneration of spirits
- Natural/ earthly powers
They believe that the spirit of the dead lives inside of us. Their main spiritual practice is the altar made out of sticks which is known as the Nkisi or the La Nganga. The spirits of the Palo Mayombe make communication through anointed or ordained means; through their priests. In the Palo religion, they make use of earthly items such as guns or knives to help the Paleros channel the spirits and summon protection from them. It is their belief that natural objects are vested with the powers of the spirits. The spirits in the Palo Mayombe are called Mpungu as a singular word and kimpungulu in plural.
Palo Mayombe And the Santeria-Similar or Not?
The Palo religion is often linked or compared to Santeria. Rituals, music and dance is very fundamental to both. They have similarities and distinctions but overall, the Palo religion is more powerful and effective than the Santeria. They share similarities in ritual sacrifices, some of their dances, drumming rhythm and incantation calls and responses. One major distinction though is that Santeria originates from the Yoruba people who resides in Nigeria while the Palo Mayombe comes from the Congo. The Congolese slaves were brought to the Caribbean much earlier than the Yoruba, so its harder to trace their music and culture to African unlike the Santeria.
The Initiation of The Palo Mayombe
How can you be initiated?
A rite of passage is usually conducted as a form of initiation. The initiation process takes during the full moon. If there’s no full moon, it won’t hold. During this initiation, the initiate would be given a knife which contains the power of the mysteries of the Madre De La Luna. This is one of the sprits that are summoned during the initiation. She is the mother of the moon. This initiation ceremony is known as the Rayamiento meaning “being scratched” it is secretly done because the authorities don’t approve it. This is as a result of a misunderstanding of the westerners and the ignorance of people. Despite, the ruckus, there’s still a large number of converts into the Palo Mayombe
All things considered, the Palo religion being one of the oldest religions is a practical one. it a very powerful religion that guarantees you protection from any form of harm whatsoever. They partake in protection, healing and spiritual cleansing. It is used for better than harm.