Palo Mayombe

Ngangas are the deities (Gods & Goddesses) of Palo Monte Mayombe. These deites are more familiarly known as the mpungos. The mpungos are spirit entities who were created by Nzambi (the creator god, also called Nsambi, Sambi, or Nsambi Mpungo. Nzambi created the mpungos in order to control the forces of nature, tend to the spirits of the dead, and look after humanity’s needs.

The mpungos are worshipped by many different, each of which that can be traced back to its origins of modern day Congo and Angola. The first slaves who were brought to the America came from these places. They brought their religious beliefs and practices to Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. This gave birth to a new way of worship known as Las Reglas de Congo (also known as Palo Monte), Kumina, Umbanda, and Quimbanda.

The offspring of these slaves adapted a new way of practicing their religious beliefs to their new land. In a nation where the majority religion was Catholicism, they hid their worship of African gods by disguising their deites behind the Catholic church saints. This new way of identifying their deites with those from the catholic religion was syncretism. Although some syncretism had already taken place in Africa, before the slaves were abducted, most of it originated in the Americas. Because of this African traditions refering to the mpungos as “saints” also drew similarites between the two. As more and more slaves were brought to the America, people from different tribes were forced to coexist and rely on each other for survival. This exchange of religious beliefs and practices brought about a relationship between the mpungos and other African deites including the Santeria orishas.

In America worshiping mpungos is primarily found in Las Reglas de Congo, (Palo Monte or Palo). Palo Monte translated means “stick of the wilderness” , meaning the tradition of palo have a tendency to use sticks from various trees and plants for religious and magical practices. Palo Monte has several branches of practice, including Palo Mayombe, Kimbisa and Brillumba. Due to Palo having a long history of influence from the early Spanish colonization, most prayers and rituals are conducted in a unique blend of Kikongo (the original language of palo) and Spanish.