On Palo Monte and Free Will

What do Palo Monte and Free Will have in common?
Palo is a double edged religion that ultimately comes down to a very simple concept – Free Will.

Although we have an object, containing spiritual forces, that is bound to our service – and we must also serve and care for them. We make the choice to do so. We make the choice as to how to treat our spirits, what to do with them, and how we conduct ourselves in our mutual service to each other.

The amount of available power that exists in Palo can be frightening, and dangerous. However, this is not because Palo is a force of good or evil. Just like a hammer, it can be used to build a house, or it can be used to tear it down. It comes down to – again, free will. What choices do you make? Do you choose to take the high road and look for a positive resolution? Do you rely on yourself to accomplish goals? Or do you go before your Nganga with the intent to destroy an so called enemy, or to take advantage of others solely for your own personal gain?

Palo has its origins in the fight for freedom – by enslaved Bantu people in Cuba. The ancestors of this religion wanted the right to choose for themselves how they would live. It was, and is, a declaration of war against injustice and indignity. It was a refusal of human beings to allow other human beings to beat, rape, and force their will over others. It still is. However, rather than it being about slavery, it is now about choices that we make ourselves.

As a young Tata, I have a lifetime of good and bad decisions to make. I do not have to worry about a whip striking me for an act of disobedience (well…thats another story, but if you aren’t there, you wont get it), but the decisions that I do and don’t make will effect myself and others.

The temptation to use my Prenda for whatever trivial thing I want will always exist, but that is not why I have it, or the reason any Palero has it. We have it as a test of our character as much of a testament to our spiritual calling and power. It is the ultimate test of our free will. We can become enslaved to it, or it can grow with us on our journey through existence. Some people may not ever want their Prenda to develop a sense of morality, but the Prenda is a reflection of the owner in many ways. Using its power foolishly and hastily will only make the consequences of our own stupidity worse. Too many people forget that the greatest war we fight is the one in our heart. It is a matter of free will and free choice as to which way that fight goes.

Tata Nkisi Lucero Vira Mundo

8 Replies to “On Palo Monte and Free Will”

  1. Tata Nkisi,

    You know that a lot of Tatas upon reading your article fall back on one formula “Arriba Ngando no hay sentimiento”. This is what I call the papagayo syndrome, when people do not stop to consider that there is more in our practices than catchy phrases.

    It is a rare thing to find a Tata that understands the principle of free will and that understands the dynamics of balance of powers and mutual respect between Nganga and Ngagulero. Some are so narrow minded that just use the Nganga without giving anything back in return.

    Much can be said about the responsibility of the person in charge of a Nganga, but in a world in which all has a price tag and Ngangas are given to children–and I do not mean it literally, I mean it to those who get cut Ngeyo and then Tata or Yaya without proper training and time to develop– to use at will, the concept of such complex relationships is lost as well.

    Just today I got someone on FB comment the aforementioned phrase, I shrugh my shoulders and thought to myself, “there we go”…

    Thanks for your contribution and for making people stop and think, even if they fall back on old formulas.

    Yaya 7 Nkele

    1. Yayi
      Another great phrase that people like to use as an excuse is Mi Mbele no tiene Sentimiento…of course a knife is not sentimental! It is a tool!
      Are we Brujos? YES! But we are more than that. We are Muntu…we have minds. A good mind will always tell us when the dog is walking us.

  2. As a santero, my relationship with the dead is different than yours, but the responsibility remains the same. My spiritual court is present to guide, guard, and assist. I could push them to do things against their better judgment, but in the end I will suffer the consequences of my choices for both myself and, them. As you state, it is all too often forgotten by those who have power that, that power comes with a debt. Too many Paleros forget that the spirit that serves them is not a slave but, an indentured servant. It is in service by choice. It remains in service by it’s choice, and if you abuse it too often it can turn against you. Keeping this in mind, it is to your advantage to elevate it as much as possible.

  3. “Palo has its origins in the fight for freedom – by enslaved Bantu people in Cuba.” that is why it became “combative” especially with the new ramas being developed(-scbv’s heavy christian influence). that combativeness apparently was never undone to restore this particular atr back to its medicine/healing core/origin. it seems that from the 30’s up till now combative(spiritual)ability grew to outweigh healing/curing ability.

    1. Tony,

      I agree with you. But it is in our hands to reclaim the knowledge and to apply that wisdom. If we continue that path the Npungos will not be well served because we perpetuate a fundamental lack of balance.

      Deeds must be balanced. The issue is the lack of restrain and the ease of releasing the ego to roam and do as it will. But you know, the other issue is the quality of initiates, have you heard the expression “Garbage in, garbage out”?

      Yaya 7 Nkele

  4. Thanks , I have recently been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I’ve discovered so far. But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?

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