I am a Tata or priest of the Congo-Cuban religion Palo Mayombe. While I must maintain oaths of secrecy, I will document what I can, and in doing so, raise the standard of how information concerning Palo Mayombe is disseminated.
The Nfumbe is a spirit of the dead whom the initiate of Palo Mayombe makes a blood pact with at the time of his or her scratching (initiation). The Nfumbe serves as an intermediary between the initiate and the M’pungo.
No initiation means no Nfumbe, and no Nfumbe means no Palo Mayombe.
The power of Palo Mayombe is the M’pungo. The M’pungo are not Gods. They are primal ancestors (not necessarily human) who once walked the earth. Their remains lay deep within the bedrock of both our planet and consciousness. As such the M’pungo’s spirits are anchored to physical manifestation (earth) or N’toto.
M’pungo are not worshiped but instead venerated. The only M’pungo worthy of worship is N’zambi Primo (the First), the Congolese word for God. What we know of N’zambi we learn from the M’pungo as the M’pungo worship N’zambi also.
The M’pungo worship N’zambi by keeping their treaties and pacts with initiates of Palo Mayombe. In return initiates of Palo Mayombe venerate, learn and emulate the mysteries and powers the M’pungo embody, thereby honoring N’zambi.
The consummate warrior and badass. King of the Underworld, top war chief and master of metalworking. Master of all fighting methods, he is the unstoppable spirit of war and roads. Zarabanda is the driving force behind man’s technological advancement, as such his soul is found in every machine and vehicle. He rules over masculine energy, governs physical strength, and occult power. There is nothing he can’t do and no enemy or obstacle he cannot overcome. Zarabanda is the ultimate general, and battlefield tactician. The dead follow his commands without hesitation or deviation. With him, all wars are won, but without him, all campaigns are doomed.
Along with being the King of the Underworld, Zarabanda is the father of humanity. All that is primordially mammalian and reptilian belong to him. Through the dead, I hear his words, “I am all that man is and will be, be they Rh+ or Rh-”. Zarabanda is locked into an eternal struggle with Mpungo Nsasi. The man-made implements of Zarabanda (the machete) clearing a path against the ever-growing, entangling forces of nature which is Nsasi.
Watariamba/Cabo Rondo/Palo Fuerte
Strong, quick and flawlessly accurate. Watariamba is the hunter and scout par-excellence. His shot with the arrow always finds it’s marked, but no one is able to target him. Watariamba possesses unquestionable knowledge of Nature’s (malongo) law, the highest law, as such he holds powerful sway over man’s legal system. As a scout, Watariamba is forever keen to the movements of his enemies and keeps his people aware of the danger. As a hunter Watariamba hunts down adversaries, and presents food to his people, causing them to gather. In this way Watariamba brings tribes/families together, helping to resolve domestic disputes and foster kinship. Watariamba tracks his quarry through the densest forest, leaving secret markings (patibembas) on rocks, and tree trunks, so he or his people will not get lost. The patipembas help both the living and the dead navigate the terrain and give clues as to what lay ahead.
Lucero Mundo was the first and he will be the last. He is the youngest and the oldest, the best and the worst of all things. Lucero Mundo is the doorway, open or closed. Lucero Mundo holds the key to destiny and either lock or unlocks progress. He is the word, spoken or unspoken. Nothing can happen unless Lucero Mundo first opens the way for it. Lucero Mundo means “World’s light”. He goes first, lighting the way, or trains the spotlight on where you need to be. Lucero Mundo was the meteor which hit earth, and star seeded life, his fiery tail leading the way for our primordial ancestor’s spirits to follow. Lucero Mundo is the proverbial north star, the guiding light, and how our people orientate themselves. The depth of his mysteries far exceeds what can be written here and Lucero Mundo’s importance in our life can never be overstated.
Yaya Kengue/Mama Tiemba
Yaya Kenuge is the mother of all Mpungo. Only Yaya Kengue can put an end to actions of another Mpungo once its started. She is the great mother of the earth and preserver of the maternal DNA of all living things. Yaya Kengue is the stability of the physical plane, or it’s undoing. She is peace, purity and intuition through highly elevated states of mind (psychic-ism, mysticism, and mediumship). Yaya Kengue helps her people achieve deep spiritual outlooks and reverence for ancestor spirits. Yaya Kengue is the mighty rock a home should be built. She maintains families and strengthens their bonds and traditions. Yaya Kengue’s power to nullify trouble is unparalleled, she favors mothers, good fathers, and all children. She shields her people from danger and acts as the apocalyptic end to anyone who earns her ire.
Mama Chola Wengue/Sholan Wengue
Mama Chola is the rivers of all the world. Her’s is the abundance of life found at the river’s edge and magnetic force which pulls creatures to it. Like a river, Mama Chola often acts in her own sweet time. She knows what and how things need to happen and also what twists and turns lie ahead. She is all things love, pleasure, comfort, and abundance. The river can be fast, and turbulent. But generally the river is easy flowing, and gentle. Like the river, Mama Chola is not always as she appears. She is rife with strong, sudden and unexpected, undercurrents which catch by surprise. Many are not aware how fierce Mama Chola Wengue can be. She commands the water snakes and directs the ferocious crocodile and alligator. Mama Chola unleashes the mighty hippopotamus and tasks the big river fish who hunt by ambush and brute force. Mama Chola is never to be trifled with. Mama Chola coaxes sweetness into our lives, often slowly like honey dripping from the comb, but ultimately worth the wait. Mama Chola instructs her people to discover life’s pleasures but reminds us that what is beautiful and alluring, could be a disguise for something truly dangerous.
Centilla N’Doki is perhaps the most ferocious female energy in the universe. She holds the greatest mysteries of transformation and transmutation. Where Lucero Mundo is the threshold and doorway, Centillia N’Doki is the cemetery gate, the transition point between the most visceral of life’s changes. She is life to death, sick to healthy, weak to strong, rich to poor, child to adult, human to animal, good to evil, and all those things (and more) in reverse. A sorceress and necromancer supreme, she is also an expert warrior, marshaling the armies of the dead. She rules the winds and all the creatures of the night belong to her. Centilla N’Doki holds the mysteries of vampirism and lycanthropy. Psychic-ism is her focus and black magic her domain.
Cubayende is the king of the earth, and ruler of all material things. He is the body of the universe awaiting animation by spiritual forces, as such, Cubayende is essential to Palo Mayombe’s foundational mysteries. Cubayende is all tissue, living or decaying. His body houses all diseases, and thereby all antibodies (cures). Cubayende is ancient. There is nothing Cubayende has not seen, no mystery he doesn’t know, and no problem he cannot solve. Cubayende fears nothing and nothing exists which does not fear him. All the world’s wealth belongs to Cubayende. He gives out freely, or hordes it all, according to his whim. Because Cubayende is the strongest, he takes a special interest in the weakest. He rewards people who are truly altruistic; those who are helping, not hinder or exploiting the sick, the poor, the vulnerable, and disabled. Cubayende sees to one’s health; health of body, and financial health. He can grant great boons or bestows horrific diseases which no doctor has ever seen. All priests and priestess of Palo Mayombe must receive his mysteries or they are hollow frauds. If Cubayende walks with you, you are blessed beyond measure, but if he turns his back on you, you are doomed without end.
Brazo Fuerte/Cabo de Guerra
Brazo Fuerte is the primordial force at the center of the earth. His enormous strength and raw power are expressed through volcanic eruption and earthquakes. Brazo Fuerte is among the oldest Mpungo and stands as one the mightiest warriors. Brazo Fuerte is an intimidating presence, and other spirits tend to give him a wide berth. When angered, nothing escapes Brazo Fuerte’s wraith. Because Brazo Fuerte is so old, he takes tradition very seriously and prefers the rules be followed. The warmth generated by a volcano, and highly fertile soil deposited from prior eruptions, creates unique environments for the abundance of life. Brazo Fuerte watches over communities and families. His fury is reserved for the evil, the lawless and the corrupt. His wraith obliterates what is stagnant, his lava purifies the diseased and new growth emerges in its wake. Obsidian glass created by lava flow acted as mirrors for early humans. Gazing at their reflections they saw their true selves, gaining deeper introspection individually and collectively. In this way, civilization could start to flourish. Brazo Fuerte empowers with great vitality and protects with searing rage. He asks that we regularly look within ourselves to find ways to better contribute to our communities. If we do this, Brazo Fuerte will see to it our lives are rich with vitality and abundance.
Umbo Kalunga/Madre de Aqua
Umbo Kalunga is the depth and mystery of the ocean. No life could exist without Umbo. In respects, to humanity, she is our mother. Lucero Mundo brought the seeds of life, but it’s in the primordial ocean where alien and native bacteria began to dance. From that mingling humanity washed ashore. All past, present and future sea creatures belong to Umbo Kalunga. She touches all countries and delivers Palo Mayombe to all lands. Umbo Kalunga’s reach is global and her influence inescapable. The Kalunga is the realm of the dead or the big ocean. Umbo Kalunga is the Queen of the dead just as she is the mother of all life. Umbo owns all the wealth of the ocean. She can impart gifts of money, children, clairvoyance, and mediumship. However, what she gives, she can also mightily sweep away, sending tidal waves of ill fortune. Those who are loyal to family and kind to others will be protected by Umbo, as if swimming with dolphins. But those who harm her people discover what it’s like to be a minnow in the face of a great white shark.
Nsasi is a king, magician and all around bad ass. Where Zarabanda arms humanity against nature, Nsasi regenerates nature, beckoning the wild to reclaim what man takes. Nsasi is both the rhythm and dance of life. He is found in the beat of drums and in the boom of thunder. He is a king among men and the father of life. Lucero Mundo brought the seeds of life and Umbo took them into the primordial ocean, but it was the Nsasi’s lighting which stimulated alien and native bacteria to dance (think lighting striking the lab of Dr. Frankenstein to animate his monster.” It’s alive!”). The force of Nsasi is electric and magnetic. He stirs the desires of men and women, awakening their primal, animistic instincts. Nsasi is the flamboyant pop-star oozing machismo whereas Zarabanda is the rough and tumble working man. Nsasi is the roaring tiger and displaying peacock to Zarabanda’s loyal dog and a soldiering rooster. Nsasi rivals Zarabanda’s steel machete with an ax of chipped stone, wood and animal sinew. Nsasi’s influence excites and arouses. He draws power from the raw and untouched. Nsasi reminds us that we are absolutely nothing without nature.