Woman's Nkisi has traditionally been for Fertility, Ease of Childbirth and Healthy Children. Taino Female Cemis are also about Fertility and Children. These Nkisi and Cemis are concerned with the Continuation of Life, which is the Vital Life Force of all People and is the Vital Life Force upon this Earth, within this Cosmic-Earthly Circumference that we find ourselves within.
Long before Humanity walked this Sacred Spherical Earth and much longer before someone decided to say that women came from the rib of man, the tiny organisms of life in the Oceans were reproducing, ensuring the next generation and the evolution of life. The first organisms reproduced by simply replicating their DNA and dividing in half, a process that I (with a background in biology) as a Yayi suggest is a more reflective of female Ovums than male Sperms. Ovums provide the "UNIVERSE"with its own snake of DNA into which the Sperm brings its complimentary snake of DNA.
In the depths of the Heart of this Continent in the Amazon, the practices of Ayahuasca have been practiced for millennia. In the Ayahuasca ceremony two plants are used, the Banisteriopsis caapi (Ayahuasca) Vine and the Psychotria viridis (Chacruna) Leaf. Some describe the action of these two plants as the snake of the Chacruna penetrating the snake of the Ayahuasca producing Spiritual Visions! From a scientific stand point there is an active ingredient in the Chacruna that is destroyed by the digestive system unless combined with a second compound in the Ayahuasca. This potent combination allows the journey into the spiritual and biological foundation of life itself.
To demote the Yayi within Palo to a lesser role in any way is to bring ignorance to the Tradition. A Yayi is just as powerfully equipped with Spiritual Power, Spiritual Vision and Spiritual Wisdom as the Tata, and has a rightful role to be just as active within the working of the Nkisi. In many Munansos the Yayi is given a lesser role simply as a tactic of "power over"- a way to disempower the Yayi. Some Paleros even suggest that Yayi's menstrual blood is "evil" and "bad", forgetting that the menstrual blood is what enable him to develop from a fertilized egg to a fetus, to a baby and to have children himself!
In our Munanso, the Yayi is as empowered as the Tata. Here we can see various views of the Women's Nkisi Munanso which has a forest garden with various (mostly native) plants, seen above and below. The plant above is Oswego Tea (Monarda) with both culinary and medicinal uses and used extensively by Indigenous People of this continent where it grows profusely. The Munanso structure itself is built from trees from the Land itself with the gaps filled with a mixture of straw and mud. An extension was built using stucco. This Munanso is the home of multiple female Nkisi.
Various spaces around the Munanso are used for bringing the Nkisi out to absorb Sunlight and Moonlight, and as well for certain ceremonies. Here vines wrap around the trees at the edge of the clearing.
Below Wild Ginger is a native spreading ground cover we brought into the forest garden. Its rhizomes can be used for cooking (ginger flavor).
Below is Golden Seal, well known powerful medicinal, native to this region and used by Indigenous People here. It became over harvested during colonialism and no longer covers the forest floors. However, when re-introduced it grows well. At one point the forests of this continent were more diverse but due to the abuse and ignorance brought upon them by greed and recklessness, they are in need of our contributions in terms of bringing back the diversity. In the Women's Munanso's forest garden we are concerned with making this contribution as well as providing plants to be utilized medicinally, to eat and for spiritual purposes.
Below is a powerful women's herb, Black Cohosh. This is a powerful herb used by generations to strengthen labor.
Sweet woodruff is a sweetly scented herb and groundcover, it is native to Europe and North Africa.
Remembering the Ayahuasca and Chacruna as a potent combination giving rise to profound vision and spirit, remembering the Ovum and Sperm as a potent combination giving rise to Life, and knowing that it is the female Universe (Ovum, Placenta, Uterus) that nourishes this Life, and it is the female "Milk" that provides Divine Nutrition to the growing baby, we state as fact that the Yayi is an ESSENTIAL component within a Healthy Munanso and is ESSENTIAL to the continuing Evolution of the Spiritual Traditions. To negate or diminish the Yayi is to diminish the Tradition.
This fact has been shown within our Munanso, as the space for the Female Nkisis was created, the contribution brought forth by them was greatly enhanced and this contribution benefited the "whole" of the Munanso, the "whole" Family opening new pathways. An example of this that we are willing to "share" is the Munanso Garden, which has brought more magic into the Munanso space as well as bringing a contribution to Mother Earth and us all.
Returning to Women's Nkisi and Women's Cemis and the Fertility and Ease of Childbirth and Healthy Children, we must also track along side the disempowerment of women within Palo, the disempowerment of women in the area unique to women, Pregnancy and Childbirth. Traditionally women gave birth with the midwife at "home" where the power of the Nkisi and Cemi were utilized to empower and protect this process. There was no "pain medication" other than herbs, no "inductions" other than herbs such as cohosh, no fetal monitoring other than the midwife's expert hands, and childbirth was "raw" and in this rawness childbirth empowered the women and was a true rite of passage. Now women place themselves in the hands of institutions and a medical system that regards pregnancy as a disease, women give birth on their backs in disempowerment, frightened due to the scare tactics of the system, and in this country 32% get their uterus sliced open so the baby can come out, told that their uterus is not strong enough to push the baby out or their pelvis to small to allow the baby through, in other words they are not good enough, strong enough or competent enough to give birth, giving rise to a generation of babies born through a procedure that the women's body interprets as a violent attack, not a health giving process. Birth pain is the only pain that is telling us something good is happening (a baby entering) and is not warning us of something wrong in the body. The Nkisi and Cemis empowers women to trust and align with the power inherent in life that gives rise to all life, to trust and align with Mother Earth in those Rite of Passage Moments.
Above and Below, two faces of Nkisi, one African, one Taino, both powerful!
Somos o no somos!!!