Palo Mayombe: The Religion of the Spirits

Hello and welcome. I am dedicating my time to clarifying this highly misunderstood faith to you all because I feel that this faith has received a horrible opinion without proper reason. First I want to explain the name I used in the writing of this thread. Tata(Priest, anytime you see Tata in this faith it means Priest or Father) Rompe Pecho(Chest buster). The next line mentions Sambia, Sambia or Nsambi is the word for god in this faith. The line translated means “God above, God below, and God all around”(This means that god is all around us, he is with us no matter how lonely we feel).
Let us get started on what exactly is the base of this faith. Palo is a faith that was born somewhere around the arrival of African slaves to the Caribbean islands. The faith was founded off of a faith widely accepted in the Congo, and is one that is regarded today as one of the most effective and seemingly most hated in the world today due to misunderstanding. In this faith all humans are mediums, all Spirits are good, and all Ghosts are bad, there is no exception to these rules. This faith is the belief in Spirits, Ghosts(and a few other things) and the harnessing of them in a natural way. In this faith the supernatural are broken down into categories which are nkuyo(Spirits), ndoki(Ghosts), kilumbo(Ghosts who have been forced), nfumbe(Spirits/Ghosts who have been harnessed), and mpungo(Greater spirits, or Angels).

Nkuyo: The Spirit, is believed to be the true form of humans. We are not bodies with spirits in them, we are spirits who have acquired bodies. This categorization is based on Spirits, ones who help us and guide us threw our daily lives and do so with a caring and gentle touch. In essence these spirits are what make up our spiritual triangle or “spirit guides” as some mediums call them. These spirits are the ones we see time and again when we are in life and death situations and we swear someone helped us, but then the person just vanishes into thin air. (Keep in mind, these spirits voluntarily help us and are with us from the day we are born.)

Ndoki: The Ghost, is believed to be the negative essence plaguing us. Many would argue that Ghosts are corrupt spirits who are made corrupt by way of tragic events or sudden deaths in which the spirit did not have a chance to acknowledge that their body was dying, and as such they remain acting as if they were alive. Some of these Ghosts are believed to be truly infernal masses of energy and are not mistakenly categorized in the least. Be warned, Ghosts can amass enough energy to hurt you physically.

Kilumbo: The forced ghost is one of natures scariest energies because of it’s unpredictable behavior. Most ghosts do not automatically engage in hunting and trying to destroy humans, only a limited number do. The problem is ghosts are already dark energies, and it is quite easy to tip the scale and make them go hunt someone down. Many people who practice black magic will commonly use ghosts to do harm onto others by offering the ghost something it wants in return for his service in attacking another person. There are people who actually know how to actually take full control of ghosts and harness them. You can technically keep a ghost hostage from his own existence in order to do your bidding. History has displayed time and again that when people obtain the knowledge of how it is done, they use it for evil, so for the sake of peace I will not share that information. Just as there are bad uses for capturing a ghost and holding him, there are good uses. For example, once he is captured, you can force him to do good deeds.. Or you can use this knowledge to take a ghost from a house which is haunted, instantly ending the haunting. In most cases however, this is all used as bad news and must be avoided at all costs.

Nfumbe: The harnessed Spirit/Ghost. This is where things get tricky, there are ways to force the hand of these energies and this is definitely one. Harnessing a spirit or a ghost consists of many ceremonies in which an agreement is reached between the person and the energy, in which the energy becomes entirely controlled by that person. This harnessing is beyond simply striking a deal to do this or that, it is in essence where you actually become one, and the energy is like having a third arm, you command it to move and it will. This is one of two parts of the faith that gains the bad reputation, because people abuse this fusion of person and energy to the fullest extent. There are those who become initiated just so they can use this ceremony and gain leverage over a ghost so that he may do their evil bidding on command. What is the difference between making a deal and harnessing the being? When you make a deal, it is a one-time thing.. If you want them to do something else you must strike another deal. When you harness a being, you command them unless the bond is broken(Which in most cases only happens when you die). Nfumbe are commonly used in our faith as our direct and constant communication to the other side, and our direct link to the mpungo. That would be the proper usage of such a strong ceremony, to link us to the other side in a way where even the blind can become mediums, have a profound and deep connection to earth and the energies surrounding us and using them to do good for ourselves and others.

Mpungo: The great spirits, or Angels. These massive beings of energy are in a completely different scale than spirits, and are truly mighty. Because we cannot directly relate to them, we use Nfumbe to do so for us. These angels are kind, and always willing to help us no matter how ridiculous we might consider our needs. They view us as their children, because they are tasked with watching over us like mothers and fathers would watch over their kids. Just as any mother that sees her child running with scissors would tell them to stop before they hurt themselves… When they see us making mistakes they tell us what they are and try to guide us on a path of light and good. Now things get complicated once again, these beings are also neutral. They are generally good, but have been known to do rash things.. For example, you did nothing wrong and a co-worker decided they would get you fired.. Chances are, that co-worker is going to have one hell of a month.

Notes: I would really like to point out that this faith is basically the belief in spirits, ghosts, the use of them and our connection to earth. While many understand that the faith was meant to be neutral and mainly used for good purposes, some bad apples mix in and use the faith solely to do dark and outlandish things to others. I do not condone the actions of all Palo Mayombe practitioners, just as I cannot control them, but the ones taught from me are not given an option but to use this for good.

The faith has different branches, and in each branch there are different temples/houses.

Newer branches syncretize with Christianity more than the older ones.

The branch is referred to after the word Palo.
The main branches are:
Palo Monte
Palo Mayome
Palo Briyumba
Palo Congo
Palo Kimibiza

The oldest branch of Palo is Palo Monte, and because the faith was made to be neutral Palo Monte still includes many negative aspects as well as positive ones. The original goal was to know how to work with ghosts to do dark things if need be, or to work the lighter side with spirits if need be. Paleros are supposed to be neutral in stance, and only lean towards whatever side favors earth and nature. For example, a pedophile plagues an area… In that instance you are supposed to go dark and make sure he receives the full wrath of every negative energy you have available to rid the area of this abomination to humanity, but say a sickly mother is walking down the street you are supposed to ensure that the balance of nature remains in tact and do your best to rid her of her illness so that she may raise those kids that need her so dearly.

The problem with Palo Monte is that it placed the responsibility of choosing to do good or bad almost entirely on every individual person.

Note: Because Palo Monte is the oldest, it has the most corruption.

Eggun = Spirits/Ancestors
Elegua = Deity/Angel/Saint

Eggun comes first, then you must turn to the court of Deities/Angels/Saints, In which Elegua always comes first for them.

1) Spirit.
2) Elegua.
3) Your Deity/Angel/Saint of choice.

Many people proclaim that Spirit did not give birth to Orisha, because Obatala and Yemaya existed before man walked earth.
What they do not seem to understand is that in order for Yemaya and Obatala to exist they must have been created by Olofi/Olorun/Olodumare.
By the understanding given to us; Olofi, Olorun and Olodumare are all spirits who do not correspond to a humanoid body shape. They can enter this shape if they wish, but it is not their native shape. Natively, they are energy, which means they are spirit.

In Palo Nsambi is the same, he is not natively depicted in the shape of a person. He is energy(spirit), but he can manifest in the shape of a person if he so pleased..

Well the Yoruba faith is similar, but is more of a faith based around different yet similar energies which actually can cross into our dimension without need of what we call an intermediate.

In Palo there is a form in which you must contact these energies..

You must have someone that is in the middle.
You <-> Nfumbe(Spirit) <-> Mpungo(Higher being)

You <-> Orisha(Higher being)

Because you have a man in the middle in Palo, you can technically do good and bad using the other side to do so. (For example, I can do all sorts of dark stuff to whomever for no reason, and it is allowed because it is expected of me to control myself and choose not to do so.) In Yoruba because you interact directly, you can only do bad if bad is necessary. (For example if someone is standing out front of your house with axes, then the Orishas will harm them.. but only when necessary will they resort to hurting mankind)

In short, Palo is about nature and the balance of good and evil, and one must not overcome another.. While Yoruba is about the good energies available in nature that nurture and protect us from evil.

Very rare of me to mention the inner workings of the faith publicly, but this one time I will..

When you are initiated into the rites of passage, one of the things that occur is that they remove your spirit from your body. Your spirit then passes through a doorway to another dimension and does some searching as to who you really are.. then returns.

Upon the return of your spirit, you gain memories of past lives you didn’t know you had, a working and loving relationship with nature, your third eye is opened, most illnesses are striken from your body, and a direct line of communication with your ancestors as well as spirit guides is established.

In short, you become aware that you are a living spirit, and you gain the peace of mind that as a living spirit nature truly does love you and will bend to your desire. This is because you are a part of nature, and in order for nature to preserve itself it is willing to bend.

This connection lasts the rest of your life by the way, and when you die you become one of the spirits on the other side waiting for others to pass the rites of passage so that you may pass this information on to them.
There is no confusion about Spirits, Ghosts and Demons.
This is a faith based on vibrations, so I will explain why we categorize the way we do.. using vibrations.

Spirits are energy which vibrates at a certain level which can only be attained by a certain interaction with an energy mass of above that level. In essence, a Spirit can only be a spirit if it interacts with higher spirits.

Ghosts are energy which operate at the lowest vibrations of all, because they have not resonated with higher beings or energies. In short they are unaware of what they are. When they become aware of what they are they tend to find a logical reason as to why they should try to hurt someone.. Like seeking revenge on those who reverted them to raw energy without a body.

Demons are supposed super Ghosts, but operating at a vibration much lower than the already lowest of a ghost would entail… operating at negative vibrations which would mean they are not “alive”. We just flat out do not believe in the existence of Demons, what you would call a demon we would call a Ghost with an intention to harm others.

Take a second to process that, you will see there is no confusion at all, just a different angle on the other side.

This is not an official part of the faith’s doctrine it is just a on-the-fly explanation as to how vibrations work in our faith, why we categorize the separate energies the way we do and why we do not believe in demons..(There is a more logical and in-depth explanation behind vibrations, i’m just trying to explain in plain English and i’m horrible at it)

Btw-Another reason we do not believe in modern demons is because they only seem to have existed in other newer faiths than our own. Basically the new kid on the block came around talking about the super bad beings and we said ok that’s your reality not ours.
Oh no we don’t deny that evil exists, we just don’t see it as demons(specific), we see it as ghosts(broad) doing what they do best.

Some say ghosts are only the fallen energies of humans.. For us, they can be any energy that fits within the speculation that it operates at a lower vibration and generally does not have good intention.. In essence even a non humanoid energy can be a ghost by our standards.

By those means you can begin to understand that your demons are included in our category of ghost much the same as how your god is categorized as a spirit.

We just don’t acknowledge demons being a separate type of energy, but more of a transformation in which ghosts can form legions which have a single leader while all others are submissive.. This is our equivalent of your demon. (But it’s really just ghosts running in packs)

Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo was a despicable human being who used my faith as a cover, and reasoning for his vile acts against humanity and organized law.

As it stands, there is no known ritual in Palo Mayombe that calls upon the death of a human being, not even in the most primitive forms of Palo Monte.
The taking of life is a serious matter in the faith, even in something as mundane as plants. (Yes there is a fee associated with killing a plant)

While we do use human remains in order to bond people to spirit, the remains are to be obtained in a peaceful and respectful manner. Disrespect of the deceased is highly frowned down upon, and in most cases is grounds to have yourself expelled from a House of Palo Mayombe. Due to the sacred tribal secret nature of the ritual which involves bonding spirit to person at a base energy level, I cannot disclose the entire ceremony. I will however share as much as I can.

The use of human remains in Palo Mayombe:
Anyone who surfs the internet can clearly see skulls inside of cauldrons, but how are those skulls obtained?
The human remains are purchased legally, from online sources. After they are purchased a ceremony is performed which calls the energy attached to those remains, and communication is established.

Part of the communication is the asking of the energy whether it would like to continue existing as a spirit guide for x person or not.
The spirit then either says yes or no. (For this explanation let’s just assume it said no)

At this point, it is asked whether they wish to remain with us in hopes that we find someone they would wish to be a guide for, or would they want to finally rest in peace. Their decision, no matter which must be respected. (In most cases they ask to remain with us so that we may couple them with someone they would want to guide and help, but in some rare cases they do ask for cremation or burial)

Now suppose the energy would have said yes to the question of them wanting to stay and guide x person…
The remains would have then and only then, been used in a fusion ritual which bonds the living with spirit, and allows humans to have a direct awakening, and a spiritual strength unlike any other.(We’re talking full on knowledge of past lives, third eye opening, sickness being stricken from body, the list continues..) Keep in mind, the energy is given the choice to enter into this ceremony or not.

Ifa is not a tradition of itself, it’s more of a traditional priesthood of the Yoruba/Lucumi tradition. Most people believe that they can choose to initiate or not, but the sad reality is that Ifa is exclusive in a sense that it must pick a person, then they get the choice.
For example random Joe Blow can’t say “I am going to initiate into Ifa and become a Babalawo”, now if Orunmila picks him.. Then Joe Blow can say if he will or not…

As I said though, Ifa is just one of a few different types of priesthood in a Yoruba Tradition. The closest thing I can think of, is in Catholicism… The priests in the Vatican are kind of what the Babalawo’s are to the Lucumi. There are other types of priests who can do just about everything they can, but because Ifa initiation involves reading of your ancestral history for a year or more..They have some varying practices then the Lucumi.

I will say that Orunmila is in many ways similar to Jesus according to many people, but I cannot personally confirm or deny that claim because me and most Babalawo’s are not on those terms.

Part of initiation into Ifa involves forsaking whatever you did know of the spirit world, and agreeing to only interact with it via Orunmila. What does this mean? Palo Mayombe is strictly forbidden for Ifa initiates. Why does this bother me? We are all born with our spirits, and quite frankly Mayombe means “mystery of the spirits”, and when you ban our faith from practice.. You should at the least have the respect and courtesy to enforce that ban.

What am I talking about? There are quite a few Babalawo’s who refuse to acknowledge that as per their ban on Palo they cannot perform Palo rites.. They go to friends and ask questions, and their friends answer.. So what we end up with is people who are NOT initiated into Palo Mayombe initiating others, performing rituals and ceremonies, all sorts of atrocities. When asked they say “I am Babalawo, Orunmila gives me the authority to do so”, The problem is… In Palo… Orunmila is nobody to give you authority.

Patipemba – These are sigils that are used in Palo to instruct the energies in nature to do as we need them to. Most of the sigils have a certain “Key” to them.. Simply put, just because you draw the sigil does not mean it will work, you need to use the key to activate that sigil. Here is another thing, just because you might know a sigil and it’s key does not mean they will work for you either, or work correctly anyway… Part of the reason these sigils work is because of the initiation into rites of passage where a person stops being “human” and starts being “living spirit”. Another thing to keep in mind, these energies that we work with are raw energies, they are not good or bad… So disrespecting one by commanding it do your bidding without it knowing who you are… That’s an unfortunate line of events waiting to happen.

Yes Ifa has their own form of sigils, but as I said in tons of cases they attempt to use Palo Mayombe sigils… which is a terribly disrespectful thing to do and then say it is in the name of Orunmila.

The BAN-Orunmila is a jealous, but loving orisha… and he does not approve of direct line of communication with spirits and he only tolerates dealing with other orishas.. Even if you have crowned another Orisha on your head, when you initiate to Ifa you must basically abandon all else and devote yourself to Orunmila ONLY(Think of it as becoming one of Orunmila’s disciples). The other Orishas and Spirits/Mpungos seem to be understanding of the matter, and their is no spiritual conflict between them.. Also all those who already have a Palo Mayombe Nganga must have it deactivated, and if they are not already initiated, they must never initiate.

What does this deactivation mean? Basically the spirit residing within that nganga is told that the person has voided their bond and decided to initiate into Ifa. The spirit is then released to do as they please, without any obligation to that person anymore.

Another reason Babalawo’s seem to think it is alright to perform in the function of another tradition is because some of them receive an Orisha named Osain. Osain is the energy of the forest, and is one of the only Orishas that exists mutually in both faiths as exactly the same energy. They reason, that because they have Osain, they can use our Congo rites… Well you are mistaken. Ngurufinda(Osain) does have the authority to grant you anything… But he will not because he will not allow such a disrespectful thing to be done in his name. If you are not a Ngueyo or better, Osain will not allow you to use a patipemba in his name. He will not allow you to draw ndoki in his name, he will not allow you to invoke Ngurufinda in his name and he most certainly won’t go and bother another Mpungo because you would like him to.

The Babalawo’s doing the right thing should just steal the USMC motto because it fits them just as well.. “The Few, The Proud, The Oluwo”. It is really that small a circle that is correctly practicing the Ifa traditional priesthood… Those guys, have mine and many other paleros’ hats on request.


  1. Thanks Met this is what my Cuban godfather does.. BIG UP Tata.. This is such a beautiful religion.. It can be scary at first because u don’t know what to expect but it’s just lovely..

    1. I am una palera 37 years have my own caldero and I am also una santeria crowed elegua ,I love Palo mayimbe the only thing I saw here was say that we don’t take someone out if it needs to be none I have sent my enemies to the darkest place with no return pass for wrong they have done and I am totally fine with that

  2. Thanks to whoever sent this in.. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER .. People are afraid of what they have no clue about and some people get a snippet and assume the rest thus leading to a lot of false information..

  3. Palo has no Iwa Pele no accountability. Anyone’s name can get thrown into the cauldron without fear of Karmic repercussions. I’ve known this practice to cause more harm than good.

  4. Its the paleros who make palo bad because they choose to do bad with their egguns.They steal people’s egguns a lot so u cant even trust most of them smh

  5. Good evening Met,in palo the word Eguns is not used ( or not usually used) to describe their spirits. Eguns or Egungun is Yoruba word, the people from South Western Nigeria, and it stands for ancestor spirits. Palo or the practice comes through The Congo or Angola where the word there for the spirits they work with is of the Kikongo or Bantu language and one of such word is Ndoki or nkisi.

    Also Iwa Pele ( Yoruba word and Orunmil’s teaching to us his devotees) means Good and gentle character.

    In other words, Youruba words are not used or mixed up in the practice of Palo, Palo is not apart of out culture or even near. It does however which have a part or it in Jamaica as Kumina, (although the not structured)In Kumina which comes from the same region where Palo came from in Africa, God is Nzambi, and the language spoken is Kikongo. Kumina spirits are referred to as Tata’s. One very popular Kumina spirit is called Tata Benjamin. Palo is also found in the teachings of Jamaican Obaeh, the bad part of it, the practice. Palo can be very helpful, but it is the persons (the worker of the pot) character who determine whether to work the pot or prenda for good or bad.

  6. They make the pact with the pot, not nature, as Palo deals with Spirit. The only way it is returned to sender is if the sender gets regretful. I’m speaking FACTS.

  7. I read the entire thing, it was very interesting from start to finish. I definitely enjoyed the knowledge of traditional African religion. First time hearing about Palo.

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