The Traditions Of the Paleros

Palo Mayombe, like most traditional religions, has its traditions passed down from one generation to another. These traditions can be defined as beliefs and customs inherited by one generation from the generation before them as part of their legacy or with connection to their origin. These traditions can either be oral or physical. It could either involve songs, prayers, chants or rituals and ceremonies. We would be looking at some of the traditions of Palo Mayombe.

The tradition of Community and Family: Every new initiate into the Palo Mayombe religion is welcomed in as a member of a big family. The titles Yaya/Tata refer to Mother/ Father; the godparents of the new initiates. So as a Yaya/ Tata, you can have lots of children and grandchildren within the fold irrespective of distance and location. It is the responsibility of the Tata/Yaya to guide, mentor and teach the new initiates and beginners as they progress in their spiritual journey.

Traditions of Initiation: Every new participant or anyone with an interest in joining the secret group would have to go through the traditional initiation rites. This is compulsory and there is no short cut to it. These rites are activities that prove the courage and loyalty of the intending initiate. Besides, it also ushers the new initiate into an agreement and connection with the spirits of the ancestors, the deities, the priests and Royal King. It is during such rites that his blood is used as a spiritual signature to seal his oath with these entities forever. Others who choose to also proceed to higher statuses would also need to go through further initiation rites and ceremonies.

Traditions of Symbols and Incantations: Palo Mayombe as a religion requires the use of symbols and incantations. These symbols are complex drawings with hidden meanings. They would require a depth of understanding to activate. The incantations are also necessary to empower the symbols. Every new initiate must be willing to be taught by his Yaya/Tata on the meanings and nature o each of these symbols and where they would be necessary. These symbols and incantations are used to cast spells and create magic; either for positive or negative results.

Traditions of the Sacred Sanctuary: Every new initiate must understand the need for his sacred sanctuary. This is a place to be treated with honor and reverence. This is a place that non-initiates and strangers should not have easy access. This place houses the nganga; the shrine or altar. This nganga is a representation of the spiritual energies of the spirits of the dead and the deities. This is a link between the physical and the spiritual. It is like the place where the supernatural power rests.

Traditions of the Use of Natural Elements: Palo Mayombe as a religion strongly believes in the use of natural elements. The belief is upheld that all-natural elements have been endowed with supernatural powers and the spirits use these natural elements as channels for expressing their powers in the physical realm. These natural elements are used for healing, magic, protection, etc.

Traditions of Ceremonies: Other ceremonies besides initiations are also held. Some to offer sacrifices to the powers reverenced. These ceremonies would involve music from metal and wooden instruments, dancing and chanting.