© 2010 Danilo Lejardi
First things first. It is a common assumption that Palo is a form of black magic. The main goal of “El Palo” is related, as with all faith and religion, to spiritual growth. Palo is not black magic, but like any tradition or religion, there are always those who exploit and capitalize on people’s natural fear of the unknown to cultivate power to frighten enemies, or gain a reputation.
Palo, or Las Reglas del Congo are a group of closely related religions, which developed in the Spanish colonies of the Caribbean amongst Central African slaves of mostly Bantu ancestry. Other names associated with various branches of this religion include Mayombe, Briyumba and Kimbisa.
The word “palo” (“stick” in Spanish) was applied to the religion due to the use of wooden sticks in the preparation of altars, which were also called “la Nganga”, “el caldero” or “la prenda”. Adherents of Palo are known generally as “Paleros”, “Ngangeros”, or “Nganguleros”. Membership is by initiation into a “house” or “Temple”.
Palo has its roots in the Congo basin of central Africa.
The Palo belief system rests on two main pillars:
1. The veneration of the spirits of the ancestors.
2. The belief in natural (“earth”) powers.