Palo Mayombe, III.2-III.3

III.2. Vititi -- Art of Seeing

pp. 140-154

pp. 140-1 divination by means of kia-malongo of the 4 (= 2^2)

p. 140

"The word vititi is from the kikongo mbititi, which means sight, to see and look into. The oracle ... employed for vititi is the use of chamalongos. The chamalongos are most commonly made up from the hard shell of the coconut, the concave or inner side being it speaking side and its outer husk the non-speaking side. Chamalongo is from the kikongo kiamalongo, which means little treatise. ...

As the oracle {tossed coconutshell} falls, a certain inspiration or understanding is also given which gifts the palero with a most productive and revealing vinculum with his nfumbe in the form of a spiritual discourse.... The chamalongos are four pieces of coconut (some use five, but the fifth is not thrown, seving instead as a witness in the guise of Nkuyu). ...

p. 141

The procedure is simple; the chamalongos are tapped on the prenda three times and then on the ground three times while a prayer is recited. The way the parts fall reveals the answer."

"The speaking side signifies the presence of females and the silent side signifies the presence of males.

Nzambi's ... presence in the in the world is in a mysterious way always female."

{According to the Qabbalah, the divine 'Praesence' (S^kinah) is always female (as goddess MaTRO^nit -- her name perhaps cognate with that of the TRO deities of the Ewe in Togo).}

p. 141 the 5 possible responses of kia-malongo

concave parts up

name of figure




"good fortune"



"some stuggle towards the goal"



"balancing of good and bad"



"uprising, rebellion and conflict"



"death, ... the end of a cycle"

p. 142 invocation to commence the kia-malongo divination

"palo yaya ... palo tengui ... palo brujo ...

Kuni kano ... Ceiba ... Nfumbi".

pp. 144-54 divination by means of 9 (= 3^2)


conc. pts. up

name of figure





"Three crosses are marked on the door of the munanso and a line is stretched across the floor from the last cross. ... Rub the shells with [shea or cacao] butter and blow on them three times ... . ... Then ... ask your prenda




if you have licence to read for the person ... . ... If the answer is no, ... the nkobo[-]s are ... placed in ... perfume ... . ... You need to ask permission of Nsambi and Nsasi ... . ... This mark speaks ... of the evil eye ... . ... Clean the person with a white plate ... . The person is then turned seven times to the left and seven times to the right. ... His clothes must be removed and given to the prenda while cleaning with the animal [rooster] happens and the white plate must be broken at the end of the cleaning. ... The client will then take the broken

plate ... and leave this in the cemetery."




"It is crucial to pay attention to Lucero. ... It speaks of two spirits joined together which were born {Siamese twins?} dead [of] and Lucero Malongo who has two faces, one




in the front and one in the back. ... The client must be cleansed with fire. ... Take care of the eyes. ... You used to remember your dreams and visions. They are blocked now. ... Getting a prenda under this mark assures faithful guidance from the dead. ... You must give Nkuyu a rat, or at least its head."




"Zarabanda speaks directly. This person has trouble with the law ... . ...




To protect against this misfortune, prepare a bilongo at the foot of Zarabanda. Use ... dried rat ... in cornmeal. Place this inside a piece of bamboo and seal it with beeswax. ... Trace in front of the nganga a triple line with mbele ... . ... Guard the door of your house with a guardian nkisi. Do not stop in crossroads or corners nor meet anyone at these places. For some time avoid visiting people in their home ... . ...




It might also be necessary to make a nsala (a defensive working) with the tongue of an ox or a nkanda (binding) using the tongue of a bird -- all at the feet of Zarabanda. ... If you see someone running, don't follow them".




"Nsimba (the twins) ... speak ... . ... . It is necessary to investigate what important actions the client has left undone, what promises were left unfulfilled. For some reason Nsasi is blocking the opportunities ... . ... Avoid provoking abortions of any kind ...




or ill will and resentment directed toward the foetus. ... You had a dream which ... to turn into reality ... You are destined to be rich. ... Wait for the promise Mama Chola made you. ... If the mark answers in the negative, ... You have a woman who tricks you with tears."




"pay attention to your daughter(s). Centella ... advises you to change your environment. It would be good to move. Change the position of the furniture in your house. ... Prepare ... a pumpkin filled with honey ... . ...




Don't ... refuse a hand which offers help ... . You need to take a bath with parsley, cinnamon ..., and honey ... . You must move if you want to avoid death. On the negative or left Centella speaks and says that ... he must return what he took or be alone."




"It is necessary in this mark to divine is the throw is negative for the clent or the palero. This being done ... you should place something red in prominent location in your house. ...

Collect 12 quimbombo (stones) at a crossroads and gather them behind your door. You need to visit a babalawo. If the throw is positive Nsasi speaks on behalf of Centella that ... Someone desires to give you good things, but ... you are pushing this away. If the mark falls in the negative ... you must cense yourself with garlic powder and throw brown sugar on the incense. ... place garlic above the door of your business."




"You need to cross the ocean ... . ... Visit with great frequency woods and mountains. Venerate the old and ancestral. Delve into the waves of the sea ... . ... You owe a promise to Baluande. Have you dreamt of a woman dressed in blue? ... Play a game of chance, but do not tell anyone, keep it a secret. If the mark falls out favorably Baluande says ... You will receive money ... . You ... need to have two pesonalities. You need to take a bath in the sea and leave the sea backwards, ask the ocean ... to guide you. If it falls negatively ... you need to have a collar with 7 segments of different colors ... . ... There is also advice from Maniquilla that you need to take care of your health. In this mark the hole was first dug and water flowed in -- be careful ... with lavender, grape leaves ... and herbs of Baluande."




"Mama Kengue / Tiembla Tierra speaks ... . ...




This person is musical ... . ... You feel bad for those less fortunate ... . ... You should avoid frequenting ... hospitals and especially prisons. You should seek to get a prenda ... . ... If the person {man} is white a black woman may fall in love with them {him} and vice versa. ... Get an interpretation of your dreams and visions, there is much here you are missing. ... Make a bath of cotton seeds, cascarilla, ... egg whites, rainwater ... . ... If it falls positively it advises you to remain serious about your talents ..., especially for music. ... Avoid visiting ... jails and hospitals."




"This is the mark of Mariwanga but Cobayende follows this sign as a a shadow. This .. mark ... speaks ... about theft and insolence ... .




Centella Ndoki ... demands your word to be given and your promise kept. Do not wear clothes that are not your own and do not wear torn or holed clothes. ... Be careful because the dead walk in your house. ... Avoid being out in the streets at midnight. Be careful of Mariwanga and do not play with her. ... If the mark falls in the positive the person has to wear his or her shirt inside out {turncoat} for a day. ... Be careful with cooking fires ... . Avoid {hearing} foul language. ... If it falls in the negative ... prepare ... the husk of a coconut in ... oil and place ... this afloat in a larger dish filled with water and light {ignite} it."




"This is the mark of Cobayende. When it appears ... mark the forehead, throat and the nape of the querent with water. ... If the same sign falls again then it indicates ...




women's battle ... . Take the Nkobo and cleanse them with perfume ... . ... It is likely that the person has tried to commit suicide. If so tell the client that if he tries again he can be sure to suffer greatly before he dies and will live long enough to regret it. ... He has many nightmares and suffers from ... stomach troubles. He speaks too much. He is a busybody and a gossiper. ... If it falls in a positive orientation ... cleansing can be done with smoked fish ... . ... Make a bath of herbs of Cobayende ... and then pray to the sun. This prayer should be done in the morning at daybreak ... . If it falls in negative orientation you need to cleanse the person with a piece of beef which is ... stabbed with a knife. It is then covered with cacao butter ... . Wrap it in a piece of jute sack."

III 3. Jura! -- Pact & Road

pp. 155-168

pp. 155-6 rite-oath & ritual-figurative resurrection

p. 155

"Palo Mayombe is about ... the solitude of a unique birth under the wings of Saturn who shields the pact from the nocturnal eyes of the Sun. It is a single triple flame finding birth under the deadly light of the Moon. ...

The Tata to be is then taken to the Ceiba. ... The blessing of Ceiba/Nsasi is to gain the blessing of Nzambi. Here you become blind to the world and the gaze is directed inward, ton the darkness within that is about to burst out in flames. At the Ceiba

p. 156

the attention of Nkuyu is also tempted forth ... . ... Cobayende flashes forth and stays as a hovering shadow, your guide in the kingdom of Centella. Here ... the fires of Nsasi and Lukankazi blaze forth from the gates. Nkuyu, ever present, unleashes his herds of dead lights ... and there you stand, in the field of death.

It is here that the newborn Tata ... resurrects with his unfumbe -- and together

they become nganga. The moment of resurrection is a banquet for the dead. Light flashes forth ... in this most marvelous garden of unearthly light and power as ... The newborn Tata is given his prenda, his precious -- he is being given himself in a resurrected state."

"You who went through this would recognize what is hidden in plain sight ... . Palo Mayombe is about bonding with ancestral memory and it is about entering into an exchange with the dead."

pp. 156-7 prenda as intersection of worlds, and as attracting the retinue of Nkuyu : dream!

p. 156

"Traditionally prendas were made in three-legged iron cauldrons. This triplicity we find replicated in the heart of the prenda ... . ...

p. 157

It is a union involving a crossing of the worlds. The points of the Yowa cosmogram meet and melt."

"You and the ufumbe are one by virtue of the prenda and the prenda attracts hosts upon hosts of Nkuyu's spirit denizens. They can come and work through your body and they can come through dreams. The state of dream, ndozi {cf. DOZIng off?}, is the state that corporeal and non corporeal intelligences share.

The better your marriage works the better you will discern ... your spirit guides".

{apparently implying that spirit-guides regard one's waking-state marriage as a simulacrum of praeternatural affairs}

p. 157 palero

"The path the palero has chosen is one where he serves as an oracular mouthpiece for a great collective of ancestral wisdom. ...

Contrary to popular beliefs ... the palero ... should be in virtue of his transformation a liminal being who holds in his hands the scales of life and death. By walking with the dead he should help the living".

pp. 158-65 titles of various spells (texts collected by Lydia Cabrera)

p. 158

"Greeting the prenda together"

p. 159

"Greeting the prenda in solitude"

"When you enter the Munanso"

"Kimbisa Crede"

p. 160

"For the Knife"

"When you enter the Nso"

"Chant for ... Mariwanga"

p. 161

"To invite the Nfuri to eat"

"To induce ... oracles"

"For the elevation of the Nfumbe/Nfuri"

"To entice the Nganga"

p. 162

"Greeting after completing workings"

"When tracing the firma"

"For works with the Owl and Mama Chola"

p. 163

"For clairvoyance"

p. 164

"To excite the Nganga"

"To work with the Mpaka (trance)"

p. 165

"To get advice from Lukankazi or Centella"

"Song for Tata Nfumbe (Cobayende) to quicken nfumbe"

"Another song for Nfumbe"

"Song for Mari Wanga"

p. 166 cleansing a person by means of a bird

"Take the nsunsu and wash its beak and feet with malafo and water. ... Present the nsunsu ... to the prenda and make a declaration of the reasons ... . Clean the person with the bird while singing".


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