My intention here is to inform, educate, enlighten , bring awareness and try to drive out speculation.
You are what they call a Palo priest or Tata correct?
Yes I am Tata Nganga Sarabanda Saca Empeno Kota Lima.
What is Palo?
Palo started with Myombe, the word Myombe means the mysteries of the spirits. Palo basically people see it as a religion but it is more a way of life. It’s a tribal way of accepting the spirits/ the ancestors into your current life and allowing them to guide you while youre walking on the face of this earth. Then, when you die you become an ancestral spirit and guide the next generation.
Why do you think it is important for one to accept these spirits?
It is important to accept these spirits because, human beings can only see so far , we can only see so much while we are living because we are not bodies with souls we are souls trapped inside of bodies. Once we leave the trap that has us held back then we become souls we are mighty. We are elephants inside of little ants. When we become a soul we gain our foresight back we can see what’s coming, the spirits can see what’s coming and guide you in the correct way so you do not fail, so that you will always succeed . They can put you on the path that you want to be on.
Where is it from and what is it used for mainly today?
Palo nowadays is used mainly for bad. That is because the ancestral spirits do not care, they don’t have a concept of good or bad. Their concept of good or bad is whether they help the practitioner in all his everyday chores or not. So to them, if you ask them to help you destroy someone they will because in their comprehension, all they understand is if they helped you or not. If they helped you, that means they did good. They will not see that they destroyed someone else, someone else is someone else’s problem. It’s the other spirit’s problem to guide him or her in their life. Palo came originally from the Congo, from various different regions, no one really knows which region but in the Congo they call it Bola which means ancestral praise/ worship. It reminds me a lot of the movie The Avatar where the blue Avatar has a direct line of connection between them and the ancestors. That’s where it comes from , it comes from the heart of the Congo in Africa.
So, it is up to the practitioner to determine if they use the spirits to make the decision for their spirits to do good or bad?
Yes, it is definitely up to the practitioner; When you get initiated into Palo/ a rights of passage if you will; You swear to do good and you swear to do bad you swear to do both whenever necessary. If someone comes to me and they have a big black spot in their chest and the doctors don’t know how to get rid of it. I always send them to the doctors first, if the doctors don’t know how to get rid of it then it’s my turn. I could turn that around for them and make that black spot go away. Now here is the thing, that was a good thing now here is the thing, I could be living in a neighborhood with a known rapist but he is just too smart, the cops never catch up to him. I could turn around and break his leg so he could stop running. Now that was a bad thing; I hurt someone. But it all depends on the practitioner on how to use.
How did you get involved and how long have you been in it?
You get involved by communicating with the Palo priest or Tata. There are different levels of Tata, there a different levels of priesthood. As long as get you with one that is on the level of Tata, then you can get put on the road of getting involved. I have personally been born into the religion but I have only just recently become a Tata eight years ago. That is because sometimes your spirits don’t allow initiation sometimes from certain people. As I explained earlier, your spirits see further than you do you might think wow this Tata is great and he has all my best interest in mind but your spirits know better and can see further and they do not allow it. In that case you have to continue looking for a new Tata until your spirit actually agree with that one and that is when you can actually become a part of it.
If you had not become a Tata, what other religion would you have been in or religious way of life?
If I had not become a Tata, I would have been dead at the age of fifteen if I had been in any other religion.
Why would you have been dead?
In my lifetime, I have done a lot of things, made a lot of enemies. I have been a part of just about every religion under the sun and nothing ever calmed me down, nothing ever answered me. I prayed to a God He never answered me, I prayed to the devil he didn’t answer. I prayed to everyone, they did not answer. I found myself in the streets with guns in my pockets and I didn’t care who I was shooting that day and one day I found myself in a store with a revolver put to the back of my head. The person said I know you then pulled the trigger . The gun didn’t move, and for anyone who knows about revolvers knows that is purely impossible. That was one week after my initiation into Palo.
What do you use it to do?
I use Palo mainly to help people out, to do good but there are times where it is justified to do what I do. In my Munaso, which is my spiritual temple what I do and what I allow the people of my temple to do is to do good. Don’t get tired of doing good but if there is someone that needs to be dealt with , then they must be dealt with and that’s that. If I were to give it a percentage I would say 80-90% of my Ensada is for good things.
I know you cant get into too much details but what is the initiation like what does it feel like?
Initiation feels like someone’s running you over with a car and you die, then you come back to life and out of nowhere you have the strength of a thousand bulls.
What do you think is Palo’s place in the spiritual world?
I think Palo’s place in the spiritual world quite honestly I feel it is the forgotten father of all the spiritualities. Before all the spiritualities and before everyone started saying ‘’Im a Medium’’, four thousand years ago, there were gentlemen sitting in-front of an Enfumbe sitting in-front of an Nganga doing the same thing that we now do but give it another name. Four thousand years ago there were men telling people their fate before it happened. They weren’t called mediums and the world has forgotten about these men because they were from the Congo.
Do you have something against someone calling themselves a medium?
I don’t. I don’t have anything against anyone calling themselves a medium, it’s just that they have to understand what that implies. There is a larger scale of spirituality that they are not reaching, yet they are calling themselves mediums. Which,is claiming to be at the top of the largest scales of it. (the religion). There are different kinds of spiritually sensitive people; There are people that cannot see anything but they can feel everything, there are people who hear everything, there are people who see everything, there are people who can channel who actually can become possessed by the spirits. These are all different spectrums and the thing if you are one or the other is not necessarily true. At a certain point if one becomes initiated into Palo, you are all these things. You don’t have an option, you become a part of the living dead. You see smell hear everything the spirits are going through.
What is a palo pot and whats the significance?
The Nganga, ah Sarabanda. The Nganga is the connection of our world with the Unguru or Enfumbe. These entities are much too powerful for us to experience them, it is much too powerful so what we do is build an Enganga and assign an Enfumbe of deceased human beings. Because they were they are deceased they have the ability to reach the Efunguru they can be in their presence and comprehend them . Also because they were also human beings they they were also living creatures they can also relate to human beings. We need them, the Nganga as our mediator between the spirit world and ourselves as human beings.
What kind of spirits do you use and the one you are using where did it come from?
As a rule of thumb any Tata will tell you, the type of spirit you use doesn’t matter. As a Tata you are supposed to be able to use bad spirits for good things and good spirits for bad things. They all bend to your will, this is what they swore. The kind of spirit I use with my Nganga is Sarabanda. Sarabanda is in my opinion, the greatest thing that ever happened to me. It is an ancient spirit that wields the machete , it is very destructive but very fatherly and protective. Very fierce but very loving, very creative but very brutal. He has so many different facets , so many different characters so many different things you can do with him. Very few Paleros go to other Ngangas simply because if you have questions, he has the answers. If you have problems, he has the solutions.
Where did it come from?
My particular Nganga was built here in Miami where we used all the ancient traditions and ceremonies from the Congo.Sarabanda itself is an Enfumbe that came from the actual Congo. When the slave trade hit Cuba only two Enfungurus landed on the island. Ensaje and Barbanda , now the Ensaje for Cubans because Rayo and Barabanda became Sarabanda. These we now know as the father Nganga. The Sarabanda I have if you were to open it up you would find all the things in it that you would find in Barabanda in Congo Africa.
It is said that the spirit of the ancestors choose someone from a family to work them, how does that work and what is the purpose of that ?
Most people that don’t know too much about Palo think that a Bubla (ancestra altar) is needed to attend to your ancestors because in Palo, your direct ancestors your direct bloodline do not come from the Nganga. The more advanced priests will tell you differently. The Nganga embodies everything. You can go over to the Nganga and call your family member’s name and bang on the walking stick or raton as we call it three times and call your deceased family member and tell them you want to talk to them and the you pick up your Chamalungo and start asking questions. So yes, you can contact your ancestors , your direct bloodline through the Nganga. It just gets more complicated than what some people are used to. Its not like the Long Island medium that someone walks in and someone tells you what they are feeling.
Do these spirits sometimes choose a person from a family to work them or youre saying anyone can do it?
Yes anyone can do it, there is nothing in Palo that discounts anyone. Once you are chosen it doesn’t matter who you are you have the capacity to do it. Its just a matter of being chosen to be a part of the lifestyle. Also yes sometimes it is the family member that they call because this is what they relate to the most. When you are living so many things matter. Once you die all of the things that mattered doesn’t matter anymore. The only thing that matters is what or how. How can I help this family member, how can I get across to them. A lot of times they find themselves talking to a Tata trying to help the person in-front of him because that is their family member. That is their niece their nephew their grand daughther..
Does your spirit do everything you ask it to do?
Ah…Ngangas and Enfumbes are very touchy subjects you see. The Nganga does as its owner says but not always. Sometimes the Nganga is doing his own thing and at that particular time, the practitioner cannot work with the Nganga because the Enfumbe is not home. Then you have to call him home for you to start working. For the most part yes, they do what you say because that is what you agreed upon when you initiated.
Say for instance , someone consults a Palero , requesting they use their spirit to do something bad to an innocent person, what happens?
At that point, there are two different kinds of people, two different kinds of Palo priests, it’s a very common problem. Most Palo priests I would say are for hire, someone comes to them in that scenario saying ‘’I want you to mess someone up’’. They are not even going to think about it twice, they are going to use their Nganga to go ahead and mess that person up. Then there is the other kind of Palo priest like myself and the ones that top me, like my Padrino and his Padrino , what we do is what the Nganga says we should do. No matter how much money you throw in my face, if the Nganga says no we shouldn’t do this then we don’t. This goes back to sometimes the Nganga doesn’t do what you say, sometimes, they have something to tell you. For example if I go ahead and hurt someone or throw a blow that could always backfire on me. Someone somewhere else could avenge it and my Nganga would be trying to give me the message ‘’hey don’t do this because if you do this there will be vengeance ‘’ . Paleros for the most part they don’t listen to their Nganga , they try to command it blindly and they can but that is when you end up seeing Paleros on the side of the road and all sorts of crazy things.
How does a person uses a spirit to make someone ill? What happens to the person in that case?
There are millions of spiritual jobs that you could do, there is really no definitive answer no job would be done the same twice. There could be anything like lighting a candle with the person’s name under it all the way upwards of feeding the Nganga in turn for it to go mess up that person for you. There is so many things you can do , and the damage done varies from Ngangas. For example Sarabanda , he specializes in brutal deaths, If I were to come onto someone with my Sarabanda they wouldn’t find them dead in their sleep in a bed. What they would find is someone impaled by a tube or someone got into a car accident where their head flew off their body. If a person uses Siete Rayos you will see that person set on fire or they got struck by lightening . If they use Tiembla Tierra that person would have a heart attack. It varies by Nganga, each Nganga has its signature and that is how Paleros know if someone is doing something to them. We see these signatures and we could reverse them if given the opportunity.
In the case of my friend that I discussed with you that passed… and I will not call names, what do you feel happened there?
In the case of the friend of yours that you told me about, I can tell you with certainty with every finger off my own hands that someone did something terrible to her with a Sarabanda. That being said, Sarabanda is very brutal like that. But on top of that they included Calunga Madre Agua. She is every bit as brutal as Sarabanda is but she involves more bodily fluids than Sarabanda. Sarabanda doesn’t like to hurt with illness he likes to break you, not make you sick. Calunga Madre Agua will swell you up and turn you into a bullfrog because you looked into her pot without permission. These are the kinds of things that can lead to that so someone use Calunga to hurt your friend. May she smile down upon the person that did it to her.
What happens if someone uses Palo to only do bad, will the universe pay them back?
No, that’s a part of the initiation there is no universe paying us back. We are exactly what we are. The only pay back a Palero will get is if another Palero feels he was wronged. Then it becomes a Palo war between priests but as far as the universe goes in punishing us, it wont , simply because it’s the universe that gave us the authority to do what we did.
When someone uses Palo on another person, how can it be removed?
There are many different ways to remove Palo but first I will explain how someone uses Palo on someone else. If everything goes wrong, Palo is a very quick and dangerous tool to use on someone else, it is very nasty. Its not like any other religion. There is an old saying in Africa that goes ‘One goes to Ifa for blessings but they go to Palo for results’. It is very true that saying , Palo is very quick, very nasty and very dangerous. That’s what happens you hurt a person exactly how you want to hurt them. To remove it, there are many different ways depending on what was done certain lower level things can be removed by someone who is not a part of anything. They can be spiritual and pick up on what was done, certain mid-level things can be removed by a Babalaow but for the most part the best way you can remove something that was done to you is to fight Palo with Palo, go to the source of the problem, figure out what is going on and have someone take care of it at that level because there are certain ways a Palo priest can do things. Say for instance I did some black magic on Joe and the stuff I did to him was to make him get in a car accident and get his feet cut off but then he goes and he goes to another type of priest what he doesn’t know that in my black magic I made a sale trade, if he does not lose his legs one of his arms should be cut off. So saving himself from having his feet cut off now he lost his arm. Its always best to go to the root of the problem and always try to solve the problem at that level.
How does one know that Palo was used on them if they don’t know anything about the religion?
The simplest way to know if someone hit you with something from Palo, listen keenly this is a simple test you can do on yourself at any given time ; Grab a candle , turn the lights off, hold the candle and light it next to you if the flame is coming towards you, then you have a very big problem. That is one way. I would also ask them if there is anything in their life that has gone bad for no reason, are you experiencing health problems that even the doctors cant explain? If you are, you might as well go to a Palo priest and get a reading. In the reading it will tell you definitively , one million times if someone has done something to you with Palo or not. If it is Palo, he will know how to reverse it. Don’t waste time trying to figure out if it is Palo or not, go to a priest. If it is a not a Palo thing, most of the time he can tell you what the source of that problem is. For example if is an Ifa thing, the Palo priest will tell you to go to a Babalaow. If it’s a Palo thing he will start telling you then and there what he will need to do to get it fixed. When you waste time figuring out what it is , it will be too late. Certain Palo jobs you cant have on you for very long. Do not play a guessing game, it will take its toll and certain things are irreversible .
In the case of my friend, she was sick for about two years, why did that job take that long?
That job took that long because it was torture , they didn’t want to finish quick and easy. They wanted to torture her over and over and over again. Her going the way she went was someone offering her mercy. Someone saying okay she suffered for two years let’s just let her go now.
Part 2 coming soon