Saturday, April 4, 2009

Palo Mayombe

Palo Mayombe. Often called the dark side of Santeria, nothing could be further from the truth. Palo is a nature based system that utilizes the forces of nature, such as sticks, stones, earth, bone and many other items drawn from nature. Palo work is centered around the Prendas, also called Nganga's, which are consecrated ritual cauldrons filled with earth, sticks, bones, herbs, and other sacred objects. The Prenda is home to the spirits of the Dead, as well as the powerful Nikisi, which are the deities of Palo. A Prenda should only be used by a fully initiated Palero or Palera because in the wrong hands they can be extremely dangerous. No Palero can perform any work without the help of the spirits of the dead at some point in his practice. These spirits are aquired in numerous ways. Sometimes they are passed to him through his own godparents. Other times they are spirits drawn to him by some natural affinity or affection. These spirits may make themselves known through dreams or through mediums at seances performed by the Palero and his fellow initiates. Most Paleros also maintain an ancestor altar where many spirits maybe aquired through rituals and offerings. This article appeared in Atlanta Rising Magazine.


Lucero is the owner of roads, doors and knows where to find things. He is usually seen as a young man, mischievous yet wise. He favors rum, cigars, candy, fish and possums. His colors are red, black and white. He is known for being unpredictable at times but is truly fierce in his guardianship of the Munanso. He can be a deadly force when called upon for help in tight situations. Lucero is fed first during Ebo's so that he will allow things to proceed smoothly. His offerings should be taken to the woods or the crossroad.


Centella Ndoki is my personal Nkisi. She is very protective of her children and one of the most dangerous of the Nkisi. She rules the Wind, Lightning, the Market Place, the Cemetery, the Dead, Witchcraft and creatures of the night. Most work with her will be done in the cemetery. She favors sangria, red wine, plums, eggplants and the colors of purple, red and black.


Mama Chola is a beautiful and powerful witch who rules the river, beauty, money and love. She is sensuality, sexuality and gracefulness. Mama Chola is the power of two things coming together. All of her offerings should be taken to a river. She is not very forgiving of slights and when her feelings get hurt, she is unappeasable. But when she's happy, she can and will give her children many great blessings. Mirrors, peacock feathers, honey, eggs, white wine and mimosa are some of her favorite things and she favors the colors of amber, yellow and orange.


Zarabanda is the ruler of war, iron, conflicts, knives and protection. He is temperamental, fierce, powerful and protective, yet he can be very giving at times. All of his offerings should be taken to the railroad tracks. Zarabanda favors plantains, rum, cigars, machetes and the colors of green, black and coral. The ability to cause car wrecks, arguments and fights are among his many talents. He is a very dangerous Nkisi when crossed and unforgiving of his enemies.


An old man with white hair and white beard. Tiembla Tierra rules mountains, mystics and fathers. A wise and kind Nkisi, he can also be a fierce warrior. He rules purity, clear thinking and staying calm in extreme conditions. He favors all things white. Coconuts, unsalted rice, cocoa butter, parrot feathers, cool clear water and a wooden staff are among his favorite things. His offerings should be taken to a mountain. He represents coolness of thought, wisdom and clarity. Snails, white elephants and rainbows are associated with him also.


Tata Fumbi is one of the most feared and respected of the Nkisi. He is a great magician and healer. He has also been known to bestow wealth on those who treat others with kindness and respect. His colors are blue and white striped beads with yellow, sometimes coral. He favors white wine, cigars, beans and rice. He is very concerned with cleanliness and those who approach him must be physically and spiritually cleansed beforehand. A broom, white candles and crutches are favored items next to his prenda. His offerings should be taken to a field.


Siete Rayos is known as the seven lightning bolts. He rules fire, sex, lightning and justice. He is a daring fighter and a nasty rival but can also be charming and crafty with his very male sexuality. All of his offerings should be taken to the woods. Justice from Siete Rayos is swift and sudden. He favors bananas, red wine, and the colors of red and white. The skull and horns of a large ram is a favored item in his prenda.


Madre Agua rules the sea and all the riches that dwell within. She is loving and protective of her children. She can bring great wealth and blessings to those she favors. Madre Agua love sea shells, fans and all things associated with the sea. All of her offerings should be taken to the ocean or a lake when the ocean can't be reached. Madre Agua is a very forgiving Nkisi but can be dangerous when her children have been harmed by witchcraft. She favors the colors of blue, coral and crystal.


Copyright Madrina Angelique Samedi:2001

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