April 12-27 2017
On this my most recent trip to Havana, I connected with a new teacher of one of my Afro-Cuban traditions. It was I must say one of the biggest turning points of my life.
Let me explain; 42 years ago I was initiated into Palo Mayombe. Palo Mayombe is an African tradition that came to Cuba along with the slave trade. Unlike Orisha worship, Palo Mayombe is a true ancestor tradition. It is mysterious in that the rituals are intense, and very secretive. What I will say is that one receives strong insights of the spirit world. We work with the NFUMBE (spirits of the dead). Don’t be frighten, it not as sinister as you might think.
It is said that there is no life without death. As in all African traditions we first honor the ancestors or spirits of the dead.
Death (la muerte) has a magical dimension that intervenes in the rites of most African based religions, as a possible continuation in another plane of this life, due to the game of correspondences and oppositions about the various aspects of the real and the invisible that suggest these ideas.
As a medium in this tradition you channel particular spirits. With these spirits we find healing for many problems in our daily lives. The healing power of Palo (meaning sticks or branches) of various trees in nature.
As I started saying this journey to Cuba I connected with a new teacher, his name is Tata Julio Acosta Pedroso, an impressive man of 66 years old. One of the most humble teachers I have ever had. He is not about the money, as I experience with others in my long journey. Like myself he is charged to teach this tradition as the ancestors taught their children and grandchildren. We both believe that teaching the tradition will be handed over to the next generation and the next. Many elders in Cuba fear that many of the African based religions may be diluted or worse lost in the next 50 years.
Tata Julio was adamant that we take notes, record the old songs used in rituals and even made sure that we understood the rituals. Although I knew most of them it was good to see another point of view. The ritual I went through was that of a rebirth and let me be clear it was that and more. Of all the rituals I have endured over the past 42 years this was truly my rebirth. It was as if a long awaited ancestor spirit merged with my being. Different then my initiation into Santeria, but equal on a different plan of energy.
I returned home with a new understanding of my responsibilities, a new insight into working with spirit. My third eye felt as if it had laser surgery, the clarity of what spirit is showing me as well as the open connection with them has never been stronger. My bags were full with the tools I learned to use, in order to help myself and others that I consult.