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What is Scratching? The sacred initiation in Palo Mayombe


Many legends circulate about the ceremony of "Stick scratching". Spiritual possessions, divinations and multiple elements intermingle in popular gossip, like myths that are passed from generation to generation.

And the truth is that this initiation ritual is so secret and sacred, that it has awakened the interest of many people to know what really happens during scratching.

The ceremony of the Nkimba, is the one that today is known with the most common name of "Rayamiento en palo", and constitutes an initiation rite for the so-called "paleros".

Through this ceremony, people become part of the Palo Mayombe cult.

The scratching consists of making a pact, by means of small cuts in different parts of the body, with various nfumbes (spirits of the dead), and from that moment the initiate is under his protection.

Afro-Cuban cults: The Rule of the Stick and the Yoruba religion

So important is this ritual for the communication with the spirits and the preparation for the spiritual path of the religious, that the African cults and religions of the palo and the Yoruba have become intertwined.

Thus, in lto santeriaThis cult has spread, where the initiate many times must first "scratch himself on a stick", if the dead so decide, as an initiation or "Oath", which is carried out in the bush under a ceiba tree.

However, let us be clear that scratching always depends on the approval of the Nganga (garment or center of power).

  • First you must go to a Tata who are the priests of the Rule of Palo Monte to consult and learn what the spirits say.
  • It is always necessary to carry out a spiritual investigation.
  • Then the Nganga will determine if it should be striped in stick or initiated in the cult.
  • It is very important to listen and follow the word of the spirits.

If the answer is negative, the priests emphasize that this person should NOT be scratched, because his astral does not require it and the gods and spirits do not consider him compatible with the forces that govern Palo Mayombe.

CEremonia of Scratching: A secret ancient rite

The scratching process is distinguished, like all aspects of the Rule of Palo Monte, by its link with the forces of Nature, whose elements the followers of this African religious expression consider animated by spirits.

For this reason, the center of the initiation ceremony is the Nganga, a container where the soul of a dead person is found, which will be submitted to the will of the initiate through a beneficial pact for both.

The rite is performed by the priest, Tata Nganga or Tata Nkisi, as this is a sacred process that requires hierarchy and experience.

In addition, the secrecy with which this ritual must be performed is always emphasized, which is even protected by a code of secrecy reserved for the devotees of the Rule.

¡Protection and development for the initiate!

After the scratching, the Nguello or initiate becomes under the protection and defense of the foundation that is the Nganga, of his godfather and under the tutelage of the same.

It will also become part of the Munanso (religious house) and will be protected in every way

In fact, in his cult when someone is besieged by damage and sorcery, he must go to a consultation to find out if he should scratch himself on the stick, to protect himself.

And it is that the scratching consists of acquiring and incorporating various nfumbes or personal spirits to the religious astral to achieve spiritual growth, a force that contributes to the protection of the initiate.

Learn more about the Rule of the Stick and Afro-Cuban religion:

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