(Picture in the frame shout 17 by visual artist Misha Gordan.all rights reserved)
People that have traveled this road understands that this subject in many munanso’s is seldom spoken about. They tend to shy from this because a lot of elders out their do not take the time to sit with new initiates and breakdown the role they have in their house of palo. The engueyo in his role as a member of a house becomes clouded in this popular view ” They are newbies and so you must treat them as children”. How many people who are initiated engueyo walk around and do not have a purpose in the munanso? I speak for the many that do not have a voice. The initiation process for engueyo has to do with the spiritual connection one has to Palo and the spirits that correspond with the engueyo.
Unlike many dogmatic practices out their Mayombe has a metaphysical distinction that invokes that self within all of us to become committed to this practice. Many people initiate to palo but is it truly their path? I say no… You have to be of certain character and this must be connected to you on some spiritual archetypical level. Dogmatic practices such as christianity nowadays does not cure the soul and the spirit. At one time they dealt with this but now it is based on Science and Logic, Psychiatry and Psychology. But handling for the cure of peoples spiritual issues have gone unattended. Just a few hail mary’s and an aspirin please call me in the morning. Any credendum added to mayombe now would be just following into the idea of making it a dogmatic entity.
Mayombe is much more than that when it is ascertained that a person has a path to walk in this religion, initiates go through a spiritual awakening because at this point they are dead to the spiritual self. Engueyo means to bring forth self into self. We are connecting with that energy of nsambi,bakulu, Simbi, nkita, and all those mpungu forces which are available to us in nature itself. This person is walking dead, That statement means their physical form is dead but we will bring forth the spiritual life into contact with the physical form to uplift this person and make them something in this religion. Initiation should bring balance to the person and healing. Much spiritual insight because the blindfold that is in the eyes to prevent from perceiving or understanding. But the engueyo must devise a technique to perceive what is happening but ritually we create those conditions to open up that portal of understanding. Making the connection from the living to the living, The material world with the spiritual one, Only a fine line separates that in our daily lives. Once this connection is made not only is this person what we call a new pine(pino nuevo) but we must cultivate this pine to one day grow. Establish it in the munanso and cultivate it to be its own tree within the many roots of the house.
These are not children, now they are part of the realm of mayombe and the spirit of the bantu people who came before them. Our responsibility is to teach and allow for growth to flourish. In turn the initiate must listen but also willing to learn and ask questions and be pro active in their development. Many of times you have a revolving door of initiates that want to run before they can crawl. Elders that make it easier for people to do this are just selling initiation and are not bound to ritual practice. Unfortunately money gains plus monopoly equals profit are the rule of the day.
Most people should have an elder with the spiritual capacity to handle them and the situations in their path that will arise from initiation. Initiation is not a cure-all. If someone says you going to die tomorrow unless you get initiated be leery and get away from them. “If a person can not resolve with a cleaning and work on the nganga then rayamiento is not going to do them anything except give them an obligation which they may not be able to handle.” We have to open our minds to many a charlatan out their talking the good talk but not walking the good walk. I know of a case where a person almost lost their child due to unscrupulous people and their inflated egos.
Our responsibility to the community is to know what we are talking about and be able to back it up with what we know. The engueyo’s experience is one of understanding true self, Learning through working closely with your elders and your munanso family and kanda. For the engueyo it is a spiritual awakening,(yo jala muerto pa saca vivo) I pull from the dead to bring forth the living. The engueyo dies in a symbolic death only to be reborn in his/her true self. Tata Musitu