The life of the Palero/ Palera IS the EXPLORATION of the Movement of the Misterios in the Natural Environment, which is all around us! We must without a shadow of a doubt remember and continue to remember that Palo is a tradition that is born from the Natural Environment and that Palo itself is of the rural root. In order to continue to empower and understand the Mpungos, Nkisis, and all that Palo is, especially for those whose Fundamentos and Nkisis are living within a city, it is essential that we do not forget the Natural Environment, and that we return to these natural environments as often as possible.
This Camino took us to a Rock Formation high in our Ancient Mountains that looks out to the Valley below and to a distant singular mountain which is formed out of Quartzite Crystal and has outlasted all the other hills around it, still standing strong. This view overlooks an ancient inland Sea, a place where the Ocean formed an Inland "Lake or Sea" of sorts! The healing properties of Kalunga (the Ocean) are still inherent in the rocks left by her as she receded! Her ability to form rocks through a process of cementing minerals together is now being exploited by the various quarries in the area including a large cement plant which quarries the limestone in the Earth.
This view is a healing view as we contemplate that Mother Earth's Elements and Properties are also contained within our physical bodies and that when we have imbalance (dis-ease) in our bodies we need to turn to her for her healing qualities, we turn to her soil itself, we turn to her healing bacteria, we turn to her vast array of healing plants, we turn to her Ocean Salts and so on. There is no mistake that the Palero fills the Fundamento with Soils, Clays, Medicinal Plants, Medicinal Palos; the Fundamento itself becomes a Natural Pharmacy for all ills, Spiritual, Mental, Emotional and Physical. It is important as Paleros that we realize that in the course of our engaging healing, Spiritual and Physical, that we do not leave out the important component of Reconciliation with "Mother Earth"! Which also involves the re-embracing of Mother Earth's Medicines and Nutritional Power Foods! As Paleros we also need to realize or give more significance to the fact that Rocks and Stones are vital Spirits with sacred components (minerals) which are symbolically and physically linked to our own physical and spiritual health!
This Rocky Formation, named "Chimney Rock" by the Park, is Quartzite stone, which is a limestone (soft stone) that has become hardened due to undergoing intense pressures from the Earth. This stone embodies the result of the transformation brought about through high pressure. Its Spiritual qualities are obviously endurance and transformation from something "soft" to something "hard and enduring". As the softer rock has dissolved and eroded into the flat valley, this rock, along with others in the area, still stands strong; an enduring testament of withstanding pressure and stress and actually utilizing that stress and pressure for transformation. For us as Paleros this type of stone is a powerful tool for engaging stressful and difficult situations where one is being pressurized heavily and using that pressure to transform. We utilize quartzite stone surrounding our Munanso and within the Bateys in our Ceremonial Grounds. We also utilize it within our Fundamentos, Nkisis, Cemis and Bilongos! See blog article: "Kulusu Bilula Npanguila" to see the wall built around Nsasi's Munanso which is about 60% Quartzite stone and 40% local stone which is a softer volcanic stone.
Not only the physical components of the stone are relevant but also the location of the stone is significant. This stone gives us a very distant view and one feels a mental clarity and a spiritual upliftment in this location. This combined with the properties of the stone itself make this Camino one for overcoming pressures and utilizing those pressures for SELF TRANSFORMATION and ENDURANCE as well as for MENTAL CLARITY, Seeing the GREATER PERSPECTIVE AND LONG VIEW, and Connectedness to the Misterio of Kunalemba (Mountain) and Sky and Sun! The Cracks in the stone are caused by ice-thaw cycles which have created a "Boulder River" below this rock, from the time of the glaciers! Powerful Powerful Energies when we know how to engage them!
There is an important issue, concerning Palo, which we need to address head on! Secrecy!!!!! Palo is a tradition which requires initiation to be " licensed" to work with Nkisi, Fundamento, Prenda, Bilongo etc. There are aspects of Palo which are secret and only uncovered upon initiation and the subsequent learning processes. Certainly many of the travajos of Palo are "secret" although one can find all sorts of "recipes" in books and on the internet, so one has to question how secret is secret? One can even find descriptions of initiation ceremony and so on, and even find videos on you tube. I personally chose not to speak about the Initiation Ceremony itself in detail, and I do not generally divulge every ingredient I use in recipes. However I know what it is to be kept "hungry" because of someone else's need to power trip, and I do not condone ignorance as a tool to subject people and control people. Therefore I share enough that someone who is initiated can put two and two together to enhance their own practice. I also share so that those who are not initiated can also benefit from some of the fundamental principles of Palo and so that People in general can gain a respect for the Tradition and its way of Life, because, after all, one never knows when one may need this Tradition as a life-saving force! I share to empower, I share to stimulate one's Spirit's creativity in approach to Spirituality. I share to counter the power tripping that is all too prevalent in many communities. I also share because we all need to reconcile with our Mother Earth and Palo is a Spiritual Tradition which is rooted in embracing, respecting, adoring and working WITH the forces of Mother Earth! Which is also the principles of Taino Tradition!!!!
So many Misterios are expressed in these rocks. There is a need to realize that wherever we find ourselves upon the Earth there are many beautiful Misterios that we can work with. It is wonderful if we can travel to high and majestic mountains, but if this is not possible we must look carefully and with humility at what is around us because the Spirit is there whether the Mountain is young and high or whether the Mountain is small and very very old! The spirit of the waterfall is there is a small local waterfall and in the magnificent waterfalls of the Earth "whose Smoke Thunders"!
This stone has a very flat surface which looks like a Brandiku Nsambi (altar). Interestingly "altar" means "elevated structure where religious rites are performed and sacrifices offered to the Gods and Ancestors!" This is certainly elevated and one senses a Sacredness to this place. It is a good place to come to "off season" when one can have some solitude, and it is always a place to bring your children to learn, to absorb its sacred Spirit, and a place where one can hear their wisdom concerning the Spirit and how it is touching and speaking to them!
The photo below shows a view of what is below the "altar rock", which is a smaller "altar rock", the rocks form almost steps down to the boulder river below.
Another downward view...
In this photo you can see three of the "steps". Combined with boulder river they form a "road" made of stone up the mountain, then these series of steps up to the Brandiku Nsambi. A human would have a hard time climbing up this "road", there is a different entry which is easy for people to access this stone. We see it as a road for the Misterio to travel in and out.
This is the way in and out for us. It is rocky but fairly easy to travel even for a child. As one gets to the edge it becomes more challenging. There is a teaching in this discussion of roads in and out. The Misterio can endure much more pressure than we can, and the Misterio can travel in places and spaces that we find very difficult or impossible. The quartzite represents the transmutation of external pressure to internal strength. This space is a space where we can make invocations, offerings for this ability to transform external pressure to internal strength, knowing that the Misterio here can endure what we cannot. Somos o no Somos!!!!
Below, the walk back down the mountain through the beautiful Forest!