The art of herbs and spices in mayombe

Africa is one of the largest continents with different ethnic groups and religious backgrounds in the world. For many years it has been plagued with famine, war and exploitation of its natural resources. It was why the slave trade and the spice industry for its time was very lucrative in money. The Congo’s understood the spiritual properties of herbs and spices in its spiritual art. In its healing properties and also in its culinary use as well.


In mayombe the Laurel Nobilis(bay laurel) is one of the herbs used in palo from eye washes to curing poison ivy and even added to bloody mary’s for the cure of hangovers. It’s a very powerful plant in our rituals and is used to also give sight and vision to those that can not see the spirit world. It is a hardy herb used in kitchens around the world.


Garlic(allium sativum) In fresh form may be found in a ritual drink called chamba. There are many forms of chamba but this is for one of them. An old soul the garlic dates back to the time of early Egyptians. Garlic is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral. It is said that it is good to lower down cholesterol and high blood pressure. Part pf the onion family it is said to ward off negative energy, We also can use it to bring situations and or problems all depends on who is working with it and their intent. Very common spice used when dried and excellent in pizza, and any food.


Saffron(Crocus Iridaceae)  The documented cases are numerous for the treatment of many illnesses with this herb. This herb has been used for spasms of  the face and any muscular traumas. Saffron is red but stains yellow when you open it. A widely used ingredient in kitchens throughout the world. Used in mayombe in love spells and enhancing pleasures.


I can go on for days about herbs and spices since my favorite pastime is cooking. “Many a good healer and practitioner of mayombe understands that a nkisi is also a compilation of ingredients that make for the spirit to co-exist in this physical realm as well as in the spiritual one.”


Every ngangulero should attempt to be a good chef, understanding texture and taste of the earth good or bad. Many times we taste the sticks that go into a nkisi so if you can not identify it by sight you should know how it tastes. One of the most important processes in mayombe is sharing food with mpangui’s. In my opinion it is a sacred rite and should not be taken lightly. When we eat there is a mutual respect and comradery. If that is broken all spiritual and friendship ties are severed and can never recovered.  To many hands in a soup can spoil the broth. Their can only be one chef though it may require opinions at the end the Tata nkisi and the Yaya are the master chefs of this ceremonial feast. Eat up.   Tata Musitu


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