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