Palo Mayombe


Part I -- Kalunga

I.1. Visible & Invisible History

pp. 2-29

I.2. Cosmology

pp. 30-53

Part II -- Nganga Nkisi

II.1. Resurrectionem Mortuorum

pp. 55-67

II.2. Fundamento & Its Secrets

pp. 68-126

Part III -- Nzo Ntoto

III.1. Temple

pp. 128-139

III.2. Art of Seeing

pp. 140-154

III 3. Pact & Road

pp. 155-168

Part IV -- Nfinda

IV.1. Herbarium

pp. 170-195

IV.2. Palos Used as Mpongo-s

pp. 196-203

Palo ('stick, rod' in Spanish) + Mayombe (named for Mayumba, a town in Gbon)


I.1. Visible & Invisible History

pp. 2-29

pp. 2-3 kalunga

p. 2

"The Kalunga ["abyssal waters" (p. 204)] as carrier of ancestral memory created the perception of a shared materiality between the dead and the living".

p. 3

"the Kalunga as the manifestation of divine oneness ... will [be indicated as] shared by a dual substance, the dead and the living, which were believed to partake in a sameness separated by an invisible veil."

p. 4 Europeans were misidentified as the dead

"the Ba'Kongos at the shores of Loango and Luanda saw ancestors and spirits of death arriving across the Kalunga from the land of Death, their white skin testifying to this fact.

{The same misidentificaion (of Europeans with ghosts of the dead) was likewise commonly performed by Australian aboriginals.}

It was a miraculous moment for Africans ... . For some it was seen as as a moment of meeting with the departed, ... a sign that the human journey was at an end and one would reunite with one's ancestors."

pp. 4-5 the 2 routes out of the hinterland to the coast (to disembark for emigration)

p. 4

"There were two main route for the crossing ...,

one leading from the Kwanza river and to the port of Luanda and

another leading ... to the hills of Mayombe and the city of Cabinda.

These places were to become ...

p. 5

important stations for the deportation ... . ... The first stop on the Trans-Atlantic trade route was the island of Sa~o Tome` off the Nigerian coast. This island served ... as a transit station".

pp. 5-6 the last wave of emigration; the mani-kongo

p. 5

"the last great wave of Kongo migration to Cuba occurred from 1831 to 1867. ... This relationship ... is significant for explaining the ... nature of Palo Mayombe ..., Bizango and Petro rites".

p. 6

"the Kingdom of Ba'Kongo was more like a federation of clans and nations, an administrative unit ruled by a manikongo ... . The manikongo reputed to have created this great gathering of nations and clans was the 12th century [Chr.E.] manikongo Nimi a Lukemi, who established his seat of power in the Crystal Mountians."

pp. 7-8 diaspora; ethnography

p. 7

"Furthermore, ... the kingdom disintegrated ... leading to approximately 7 million Ba'Kongos being spread all over the Caribbean ... and Brazil in 300 years ... . With the ... customs, belief ... and magic was made accessible outside of Africa and reshaped itself into the African Diaspora faiths".

p. 8

"John K. Thornton's research indicates the problem of establishing a coherent Central African cosmology, which makes it difficult to present an ethnography truthful to Kongo religion or belief as such."

John K Thornton : Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic world, 1400-1680. Cambridge U Pr, 1992.

John K Thornton : A Cultural History of the Atlantic world, 1250-1820. Cambridge U Pr, 2012.

p. 10 cult-experts

"priests or cult experts would be called kimbanda in the southern parts {Angola}

and nganga in the northern parts" {Kongo propre, Zaire}.

p. 11 Netherworld

"the underworld is ... Ku'mpemba, the world where the dead are living.

This realm is guarded by Luvemba, meaning threshold or door".

p. 12 shrines

"In Kimbundu-speaking areas the local deities had shrines, called kiteki, erected to them in high places, close to water or in wild territories, and especially in the mbanzas, the regional capital towns. ...

The Ndongo-speaking people arranged deities in pairs and families ... . They also possessed a great awareness for Kilundu, ... the one who gave prohibitions ... . The Kilundu shrines were often placed in houses and frequently took a pyramidal shape".

pp. 12-13 minkisi (pl. of /nkisi/); categories of priets

p. 12

"The kiteki of Kimbundu were in Loango called nkisi ... . An important deity for the Mayombe was called Maramba, represented by a beehive. ...

p. 13

This nkisi is similar to two other regional deities, the Chekoke of Loango and the Gumbiri at the port of Loango. {"The city of Loango, in modern-day Republic of Congo {French Congo}, was three miles from the coast." ("KL")} ...

The [set of] priests serving nkisi[-]s {minkisi} was called nganga or as in Kikongo, nloko ... . We also find in the northern parts of Nsevo the shrine and cult of Nkita served by priesthood called kitomi, from where the Lemba ... healing societies originated. ...

The Kongo [mi]nkisi ... are commonly equipped with nails and mirrors.

... the nails are used to secure the spirit inside the vessel."

{In West Africa, prayers are commonly uttered while hammering a nail into an idol, in order to fasten that prayer to that idol.}

"KL" = "Kingdom of Loango"

p. 13 categories of minkisi

"nzo nkisi, in the sense of Holy House or Holy point."

"The nkisi could be nkondi which could be used for harmful ends, like the npezo".

pp. 13-15 bilongo

p. 13

"The nkisi was empowered by bilongo ..., such as herbs,

{The bilongo-as-herb may be the "Bodhi-tree" ("Ch>&TM", p. 172).}

animals and

{The animal may be the elephant of Gan.a-pati-Hr.daya.}


{The mineral may be quicksilver for planet Budha (Stilbon) witnessed by Siddha-artha from under the Bodhi-tree.}

The bilongo was placed at the heart

{The heart may be Tepe-yollotl (Aztec 'Mountain-Heart' the echo-god) = Narkissos the echoed.}

and animated. This would then constitute the soul-heart of the nkisi -- and

{The animation may be of the heart of Zagreus when redanimated as Dio-nusos.}

a mirror was placed over the the bilongo

{The mirror (which may be may be on the foot-sole of Tezcatli-poca, whose rib-cage swang open, like the door of a wardrobe, to disclose his heart) may have a pulled-open "chest of drawers" ("Ch>&TM", p. 172) as the stand whereon that mirror is set (in back of a Japanese-style miniature tree which is also set -- in a planter -- upon that chest of drawers).}

so the heart could have eyes. ...

{The cakra of hr.daya (the heart) is Ana-ahata : /AHATa/ = /ACHAT-/ the (according to Vergilius) faithful (to Aineas [= Skt. /enas-/ 'sin' : with "heart faithful to sin only", cf. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked : who can know it?" (Yirmyah 17:9 -- "ThH")]) 'Agate'; for the agate hath its eyen (facets : "upon one stone are seven eyen", Zkaryah 3:9) within the geode so hollow as to be like unto the hollowness of the heart. This (Yirmyah 17:9) is cited within the context of (17:8) "a tree planted by the waters", [cf. the "kiteki ... close to water" (supra p. 12)], and of (17:7) "a tamarisk in ... the parched places in the wilderness" [cf. "kiteki ... in wild territories" (supra p. 12)].}

p. 14

Na moganga was a benevolent bilongo which protected against sickness ... and also served as a guide for hunters ... by giving them powers of astral travel and night-sight."

p. 15

"The nkisi is ... an object filled with bilongo and animated".

"Ch>&TM" = Dan Lusthaus : "Ch'an and Taoist Mirrors". J OF CHINESE PHILOSOPHY vol. 12 (1985) pp. 169-178.

"ThH" = Fortner : "The Heart"

pp. 17-18 dreaming is controlled by divine snakes

p. 17

"Ndozi is ... generally translated as dream, but ... it is the multiple manifestations of dream awareness ... . ... It was here in the world of images {imaginal world}

{P:DH 3:23:7 -- "AC" :

At Epidauros Limera in Lakonike, "Warned by dreams that appeared to them, they remained and settled here.

that the powers of universal creativity descended like snakes

They also say that a snake, which they were bringing from their home in Epidauros, escaped".}

coiling around the axis of the world making ... all [mi]nkisi alive and vibrant."

{H:A 2:14 -- "OA" : While Asklepios was "meditating what he should do, staff in hand, a snake is said to have crept on to his staff."}

p. 18

"The Kongo likely perceived dreams as spectres and ghosts and thus approached dreams as they did messages from the ancesors."

P:DH = Pausanias : Description of Hellas.

"AC" = "Asklepios Cult"

H:A = Huginos : Astronomika.

"OA" = "ouranios Asklepios"

pp. 18-19, 21 alleged realm of prester John (actually ruler of the Kerai[t] on river Tula/Tola, JRAS 21 (1889):375)

p. 18

"Some said he was descended from the Three Magi {Magoi} or Melchizedek {Melki^-s.edeq} himself, others that he was descended from St. Thomas, the apostle of doubt. The island of Sa~o Tome` was named after the apostle Thomas ... . The first mention of Prester John is found in the Chronicle of Otto, ... penned by the Bishop of Freising {or Freisingen (JRAS 21 (1889):364)} in 1145. ...

p. 19

His land was rich in ... all precious stones and he himself was said to carry a sceptre made of {encrusted with?} pure emeralds. ... Here grew the wonderful plant Assidos {cf. /assidarios/ 'of or pertaining to esseda (Gallic chariots, LD)', G-EL; or else /assidelae/ 'tables whereat priests sat', LD} which, when worn by anyone, would not only protect them from any evil spirits but would also allow them {wearers} to command them {spirits}. It was further believed that his empire contained a fountain of youth and that he ruled with the aid of a magic mirror in which he could see everything that was happening in all provinces of his empire.

In 1165 a letter fell in[to] the hands of the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus, allegedly from Prester John {"LPJ"; CMMA, pp. 22-5}. ... Our land is the home of ... metacollinarum, cametennus, tensevetes, ... white and red lions {white lions and red lions being known to European alchemists}, ... griffins, lamias {Lamia, a children-destroying goddess in Libua (GM 61.a), being a the Poma Gira goddess (PG, p. 113)}, ... and ... men with horns, one-eyed men, men with eyes before and behind, centaurs, ... satyrs, ... forty-ell high {tall} giants, Cyclopes, and similar women. It is the home, too, of the phoenix ... . We have ... Gog, Magog, Anie, Agit, Azenach, Fommeperi, Befari, Conei-Samante, Agrimandri, Vintefolei, Casbei, and Alanei.

These ... were shut in behind lofty mountains by Alexander the Great ... . ...

{I.e., behind (eastward of) the Caspian Gate at the east border of Media ("CG").} {Because beyond the Caspian Gate is mentioned the city Hekatom-pulos (capital of Parthia, S:G 11:9:1 -- S"CG", p. 17), a misidentificaion of this with the other Hekatom-pulos (having "100 gates" Thebai, former capital of Aiguptos -- ChA:CD, s.v. "Thebai", p. 1312a), hath resulted in misassigment of the realm of prester John to Abysinnia.}

p. 21

Our land streams with honey and is overflowing with milk. ... no poisonous herd ... in it ... exists, nor ... can any poisonous animals exist in it".

"LPJ" = "Letter of Prester John (Abridged) Sent to Emanuel of Constantinople in 1165"

CMMA = Sabine Baring-Gould : Curious Myths of the Middle Ages. Boston : Roberts Bro.s, 1867.

PG = Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold : Pomba Gira and the Quimbanda of Mbumba Nzila.

G-EL = Liddel & Scott : A Greek-English Lexicon.

LD = Lewis & Short : A Latin Dictionary.




"CG" = "Caspian Gate"

S:G = Strabon : Geography.

S"CG" = J. F. Standish : "The Caspian Gates". GREECE AND ROME 2nd Ser, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Apr., 1970), pp. 17-24

ChA:CD = Charles Anthon : A Classical Dictionary. NY : Harper & Bro.s, 1856.

p. 22 harmonization with Christianity

"the crucifixes were representatives for minkisi. ... This ... was even reinforced by the missionaries ... . The harmonious equation ... was agreed upon to a great extent ... -- and in the end if you called angels for mpungo or the saints for nkisi the difference ... did not present any theological friction for the existing Kongo belief".

pp. 23 Kongolese cosmology, according to Dr. Fu-Kiau (via Farris Thompson : Flash of the Spirit. Vintage Bks, 1983.)

"Kimbundu, Umbundu, Ki-Kongo and ... other ... within the ... group ... envisages the primordial state of the world to be ... composed of active, yet unmanifest potencies. ... All stellar bodies were then born from this movement of fire in the emptiness and the flux and fire of creation became the principle for change, force and vitality ... . ... The nza, or the world, was born by the powers of Nzambi and points of power on earth were therefore called nzo ..., as a reference to Nzambi manifest in a particular location."

pp. 24-25 living death, according to the prae-Sokratic Herakleitos; parallel with Palo Mayombe

p. 24 according to Herakleitos

p. 25 in Palo Mayombe

"Fire lives the death of air, and

"The fire as manifest in conflict .... fire itself and the essential nature of the thunderstone is the breath of life to the nganga."

air lives the death of fire;

water lives the death of earth,

earth that of water."

p. 27 historic migrations of Akan

"Gilberto Freyre and Leo Frobenius in their ethnography describe how they discovered in the south-eastern parts of Kongo a people who spoke ... Fanti and Kwa. ... The likely assumption is that these people were driven to this part of the Kongo ... when the Almoravid entered into war with the Akan people of ... the ... area around Lake Chad where the Akan people lived. ...

It has been suggested by John Coleman De Graff {sic : read "Graft"} Johnson, that there is a connection with the Munango warriors of Kasangu, based on similarities of language, dress and customs."

p. 28 nganga, nfuri, nfumbe

"The term nganga is ... in several Central African districts ... a sorcerer or healer".

"the prenda of the Palero ... is the cauldron of terracotta or iron that holds the secrets of the nganga. The main secret is ... the nfuri or nfumbe of human bones ...

nfuri being agitated or vile bones and

/nfuri/ 'to sow (sembrar)'

/nfuri/ 'to plant'

nfumbe those of a more cooperative nature."

/nfumbe/ 'dead' (muerto)'

/nfumbe/ 'Lazarus'



"TNkM" = "Tata Nkisi Malongo (Kalunga)"

"PT" = "Palo Terminology"

p. 29 oracles

"The mpaka mensu, the diviners['] horn

{"horn packed with medicines and sealed ... with a piece of glass, referred to as mpaka mensu (Ko[nglese]) 'power of the eyes'" (CAC, p. 215)}

and the oracles of four, seven, nine or sixteen configurations made visible by throwing divinatory objects made part of the secrets of these societies. ... Still, 'the diviners' horn' and the ... oracles using ...bone are the heritage Palo Mayombe preserved".

"Mpaka Mensu"

CAC = Maureen Warner-Lewis : Central Africa in the Caribbean. U of the W Indies Pr, 2003.


Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold : Palo Mayombe : the garden of blood and bones. Bibliothe`que Rouge (Scarlet Imprint), 2011.