Editor’s Note: The following article is a contribution from Tata Nkisi Luceroviramundo. Although it is not from the experiential point of view The Mystic Cup encourages, the information is very much welcomed as it presents a foundation about of Lucero. This foundation could be further enriched by other tatas and yayas who could contribute to the dialogue by telling us about their experiences with Lucero.
Lucero Prima, Lucero Gobernador
Lucero, Lucero Gobernador
Lucero Abre Camino, Lucero Gobernador
Lucero is the keeper of potential, possibility, and the great secrets of Cosa Congo Mayombe. Lucero is the hidden foundation that has stayed a constant throughout all the changes in Cosa Congo Mayombe history – changes that still continue as I write this. I think though, that it is important that people know a little about his origins, and what he truly has meant for people for untold centuries.
Lucero has his origins in what is known as the Bayombe (Mayombe) forest region of the central to northern Congo Basin. This is the home of the Yombe people – from who what we come to know as Palo evolves in Cuba. To the Yombe, he was known as Nkuyo (En-ku-yo), or Nkuyo Nfinda. The Yombe lived primarily in the forests near the Kuilu river, upstream from the city of Loango, which was the center of one of the great kingdoms of the Kongo.
Nkuyo was known by other names in the surrounding regions, but his function remained the same. To the culturally and linguistically similar Bavili, he was known as Bunzi, or Phulu Bunzi (not to be confused with the Bunzi of the southern Congo, who was a female serpent spirit who presided over good rains). Bunzi was the keeper of law, the winds, the sky, and moral tradition for Bavili (as was Nkuyo). It was said that whenever a shooting star passed the sky, it was Bunzi/Nkuyo coming to visit his people on the Earth. The shooting star was known as Tetembua. Tetembua in Cuba becomes Tetengua – which translated into Spanish, becomes Lucero – a falling star or a great light.
As keeper of the traditions of moral and spiritual law, the stories of Nkuyo of the Yombe people differ slightly from Bunzi. Nkuyo, much like his people, was a king of the forest who was given favor over his younger brother Nkuyu for his adherence to moral and spiritual law. The children of Nkuyu are spirits of the dead who have lost their way. They are cunning, deceiving, intelligent, mischievous, and predatory to the world of the living. The Yombe would capture the Nkuyu and seat them in ceramic vessels, under the watch and domain of Nkuyo, in order for them to learn to serve humankind and evolve past their destructive state. This concept in Cuba would later translate to what would become the Prenda.
Nkuyo and Bunzi are said to have brought the first Nkisi medicines from Ezulu (the heavens) to help the plight of mankind. He brought the understanding of divination and the movement and passing of time and the seasons. He brought moral law, justice, and medicine to the people. It is no coincidence that the Lucero Guardianero is often one of the first things that that an Ngeyo may receive after an initiation, and why so many houses of Palo still insist that a Lucero must be a guide to and Prenda that is built. Even as the Tronco Mayor of Palo lineages tend to be Nsasi (Siete Rayo – Seven Rays) and Sarabanda (Nsala Mbanza – never ending hard work), Lucero is still the guide a regulator to us all – living and dead.
By Tata Nkisi Lucero Vira Mundo