Palo Mayombe, usually referred to simply as "Palo," is one of the African Diasporic religions. Like Santeria and Candomble, it blends African shamanic religion with elements of spiritism, magick, and Catholicism.
Palo mayombe orginated from the
African Congo and is said to be the world's most powerful and feared form
of black magic. In santeria religion there exists a dark side called Palo
mayombe. Individuals who practice this dark aspect are called Palero. Palo
Mayombe has a very long and historical history. This magic was transported
to the Caribbean during Spanish slave trade to Cuba and Puerto Rico in the
What is Palo? Palo Mayombe, usually referred to simply as "Palo," is one of the African Diasporic religions. Like Santeria and Candomble, it blends African shamanic religion with elements of spiritism, magick, and Catholicism. It's origins are in the Congo religion of Africa. It was brought to the West by slaves.
Mayombe ritual icon
The differences between Palo Mayombe and Santeria is the religion of Santeria uses the forces of light and the members of Palo Mayombe use ther forces of darkness to achieve their goals and magic spells. Palero practice extemely strong and powerful black magic. Many members of Santeria avoid being associated with Palo Mayombe. Palo Mayombe has its own priesthood and set of rules and regulations. Rules and regulations will vary according to the Palo Mayombe house to which an individual has been initiated into.
Palo means simply, "stick." The Palo religion is descended from ancient African beliefs, in which the world is inhabited by spirits, and the name refers to the branches of sacred trees the spirits inhabit.
Teachings and Beliefs
Worship in Palo centers around a hierarchy of spirits, called Mpungos. These spirits range from elemental nature spirits that inhabit trees, water, etc., to Nikisi, powerful ancestral spirits who are related to the Orishas of Santeria. Much of Palo practice centers around channeling the power of these spirits for temporal and spiritual purposes. This is accomplished through propitiation through sacrifices and offerings, and the practice of magick. The central tool of Palo worship is the Prenda, or Nganga. The Prenda is a consecrated cauldron of iron or clay, which houses the Nikisi of the initiate. The Prenda is filled with a variety of items that facilitate communion with the spirits: bones or earth for the spirits of the dead; sacred trees and herbs, etc. Items that some have assumed to be elements of "dark" or evil, are in fact elements of ancient shamanic practices.
Firmas of the spirits
The spirits of Palo communicate through the practice of spiritism, or mediumship; and through divination. All of these methods are the learned secrets of initiates.
hierarchy of spirits
Nsambi - the Supreme Deity, the God that rules over the universe.
Elemental spirits- spirits of trees, rivers, air, etc.
Mfumbe (Fumbe Muertos)- ghosts, spirits of the dead; ancestors
Powerful ancestral spirits who are roughly equivalent to the Orishas of Santeria
or the Loas of Vodou; sharing names and characteristics with many. These are
also referred to as "Inquices."
The seven main Nikisi of Palo are:
Lucero- messenger of the gods and guardian of the crossroads. Like Legba of Vodoun and Eleggua of Santeria, he is a trickster, and often childlike and impetuous. Lucero is often portrayed as something of a comic devil, with horns and tail; his emblem is a pitchfork.
Centella (Mama Wanga)- ruler of cemeteries, winds, and the marketplace. She is associated with Santerioa's Oya and with Maman Brigitte of Vodoun.
Zarabanda Nikisi- of iron, blood, war, and divine vengeance. He is equivalent to Ogoun of Santeria and Vodoun.
Siete Rayos- who has dominion over lightning and fire. He is the personification of justice, passion, and inspiration, and is related to Chango.
Madre Agua (Mother water)- ruler of the ocean, motherhood, and creativity. She is related to Yemaya/Iemoja.
ruler of rivers, love, and beauty. She is related to Erzulie and to Oshun.
Tiembla Tierra, Creator of earth and mankind, ruler of the universe. He is related to Santeria's Oludumare.
practiced mainly in the Cuba, Brazil, and in the United States. There are several main sects of palo each with its own branches. The best known are: Brillumba, Mayombe, and Kimbisa.
Looking for a specific subject? Use our custom in-site search engine!