Saturday, November 24, 2012
A glimpse into the world of the Muertos!
Photographs have the ability to catch a view of a particular moment in time and give us the opportunity to examine that view in greater detail with our awake minds, rather than have the view enter mostly our subliminal minds. In the cases where the photograph appears to be "blurry" we can sometimes see more clearly! The photograph above is one of those photos. This was taken on El Dia de los Muertos, and one of the most prominent images is that of multiple Kiumba suspended above the Prenda. It appears as a mass tomb. Through this photo we get a glimpse of an aspect of who we are making the offerings to. Certainly we can see that Los Muertos did come forth for the offering- It was received.
Through glimpses such as this one, we gain a greater appreciation for the multi-dimensionality of working with Nkisi. The physical Nkisi is only one aspect of what we are working with, this is important to contemplate so that we do not place limitations on our practice. Through studying the story of our People in the Caribbean, we come to understand and realize that there is a tremendous amount of distortion that has taken place through the process of colonialism and industrialization. The Palero of "Old" was very much connected to the Earth and in harmony with the seasonal shifts, cycles, and so on that allow the expression of life upon the Earth. Through industrialization and the power conflicts between various colonizers which threw our Caribbean homes into one agenda after another, (and continue to do so today), the Palero of "Old" has been marginalized and replaced by the americanized and urbanized Palero and the agendas of urban (and in some cases sub-urban) survival. The Cabildos of Cuba were certainly not exempt from these historical processes, and we must remember the waves of Cubans who came to Norte America and the circumstances of those migrations. Then we must revisit Africa and the broad diversity of Culture and Spirituality that existed prior to Colonialism and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to further understand the diversity of Spirituality that was brought into the Caribbean which already had its own diversity from Island to Island and even within Islands!!! We have a tendency to utilize the terms "Bantu and Kongo" as if it is a very precise and distinct "Culture and Spirituality", however the Bantu lands are vast and the various expressions of the Traditions are also vast.
We have been practicing Palo for many years and throughout those years much has been accomplished. Those years have seen a lot of spiritual battles, very much power struggles, where there have been those seeking to control the practice of the tradition according to their agenda. We have seen it over and over again. There are those who proclaim that only they know the "true Palo Mayombe", that their line of Palo is the most superior, and all other manner of nonsense. We have seen a lot of wonderful successes through working with the Mpungo. We have come a great distance in our personal lives as well. Our Munanso has grown in strength and beauty and wisdom. At this point we are very at ease in sharing a glimpse into one of our sacred moments within Ceremony. There are those who feel that sharing this type of image could open us up to having our Muertos "pulled", however we are not concerned or intimidated by these types of cyberspace bully tactics.
In the 4 moments of the Sun, we have the Cycle of our Human Experience within the Cycle of Life and the Cycles of the Community of Life. We see that we have growth cycles and we aspire to gain "mastery" over our specialties. Once we have come to the self-realization of what our speciality is in the first place, we must cultivate that to it fullest fruiting possible and then as good community members find ways to share that fruit in ways that will be for the benefit of evolution and progression. We come to the point in that process of mastery where hoarding wisdom, boasting about wisdom that we are not sharing, and making a business out of our wisdom is totally unacceptable.
There are many Paleros who have good insights and wisdom to offer the greater Palo Community, who are intimidated away from sharing that wisdom because of a system that is in place of intimidation, secrecy and taboos. It is a system with so many "rules" and things that must be done by special "secret ceremony" that it becomes rigid and fails in its greater purpose of empowering the community to thrive. Today Palo is, to a great extent, failing its traditional purpose. In the following posts we are going to look closely at some of the prevailing misconceptions that are being promoted by Paleros who have hidden or blatant agendas or who are simply confused themselves. There is a marketing campaign going on with Palo Mayombe, and it does a tremendous disservice to our Tradition.
We will begin by looking at the Palo itself!