Basimbi part 1

Sala maleco,


The Basimbi are an incredibly important part of Palo Mayombe and our practice; oftentimes, with the serious over-emphasis on the Nganga and it’s work, the Basimbi are neglected in receiving offerings and practical works.

The Basimbi are often spirits of place. They are spirits that vivify the natural elements around us. They also are spirits that empower social constructs and opportunities. To understand the Basimbi is to have someone to interact with no matter what a situation is. Knowing the Basimbi is the key to having an ongoing conversation with Nature. How can you work malongo if you don’t speak with nature? Nature has consciousness, has a will, and everything you encounter as you walk through the nfinda (whether it be named Santa Cruz Redwood Forest, or Detroit) has a spirit that can be propitiated, related to and petitioned.


In this post we will talk about some of the Basimbi that we must recognize, and perhaps a bit about how to work with them.


Sîmbi-mamba n’kwa-mandoto

These Simbi are spirits of water, and are spirits of the waters in the ancestral world. Rivers, oceans, lakes, even swimming pools can connect to their presence. When we consider the many allusions to the Kalunga as a “sea” (although it is also, when particularly condensed, the earth and land as well) we can understand how water eases contact to our ancestry, whose lands are spiritual lands, watery and more subtle then the land we live on. The Simbi-mamba n’kwa-mandoto can be propitiated at sea or river, and may be asked to bring forth ancestral wisdom and blessings through their watery medium. They can bless the travel of people over certain bodies of water, and can be propitiated to prevent drownings and bad news carried over water.


Sîmbi Lunsanpu

These are the Simbi of ancestral forces. When we speak of ancestral forces, we don’t necessarily speak of individuals, but of that group of persons and energies that are Ancestral. When we call in general for the blessings of ancestors, and not to specific persons, these Simbi are the force that recognizes that call. Even a group of Spirits has a collective Spirit. When we speak to the corpus of our spiritual ancestors we speak to Simbi Lunsanpu.


Sîmbi Makinsola

These are the Simbi of love. The love of parent and child, the love of Uncle for nephew and niece, the love of man for woman, etc. The Simbi Makinsola are the spirits of Love, and can be propitiated for the obvious things. Of course, it’s good to remember that they are the Simbi of Love, and not want-to-be love or hopefully-one-day love. They are the spiritual embodiment of the love connection between persons or groups. They could not be worked with to create love from nothing, as they *are* that love and don’t stand outside it. You could call upon the Simbi Makinsola of your love for your child, for instance, to influence that child to be open to protective practices when far away from home. The Simbi Makinsola of your love for your Parents could push and inspire a cantankerous father to properly watch his salt intake. Genuine love for your neighborhood, and working with the Simbi Makinsola, could lead to areas of peace where there was struggle, prosperity where it couldn’t be otherwise.


Sîmbi Nkagi Mayamba

These are the Simbi of a given land, the spirits of a general place. They are separate, for instance, from the Simbi for a given city. They represent the earth which we walk upon and from which we take our sustenance. They liven croups, and also destroy them. They filter and purify groundwaters, encourage proper decay, provide stability and foundation. They are roots spirits, and should be addressed and honored regularly as a matter of course.


Simbi vata diakondwa, Sîmbi difukidi

These are the Simbi of a village / town / city. They can be called to for protection, for success in finding work and a role within a city or town. They can be called upon to influence city leadership, to promote growth and to enable change within a city. This class of spirits is particularly powerful and large; think to the old days and each city-state having it’s own God. This powerful spirit is often the Simbi vata diakondwa.  Their importance in human affairs cannot be overestimated; moving in line with this spirit’s goals is the difference between getting elected to office and not, between a business thriving and not, so on and so forth. I would suggest a Palero living in a city to make pacts with these Simbi quickly, and with great respect. Oftentimes a city will have a plaque dedicated to it’s founding / founders near city centers or a public park. There are great places to connect with this Simbi.


You can see how, with Simbi spirits, the entire world has a face. These are just some of the classes of Simbi; in Part 2 we will discuss more and also delve into appropriate offerings and offerings places for working with the Simbi. Let’s not allow Palo to become only about the Nganga; the prenda is wonderful medicine, but it is just a fraction of what Palo is and what we do.


Nsambia lo kutare!

Tata Nkisi Sima Ngango, Mayombe Sacaraempeno




Graphic Writing and other Narratives of the Sign, by Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz  
Tata Fu-Kiau: 
Death and the Invisible Worlds, by
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3 Responses to “Basimbi part 1”

  1. Tukuenda says:

    Mpangui, you undoubtedly have a spirit who is present and definitely generous with knowledge, wisdom and understanding. This is an excellent contribution to our collective knowledge of Palo. The importance of creating pacts with the spirits of places and of city/ town etc is very important in accomplishing progression for oneself, ones family and ones community. There are too many people on the internet (forums and you tube) whose main priority is diminishing and belittling the practices of others. Here you share practical wisdom and important principles and concepts that can help those who have been wronged and misguided by egotistic, insecure, practitioners. I look forward to your follow up article. Thank you for bringing principles over personalities!
    May the Ancestors continue to bless and empower you!

  2. Christopher Bradford says:

    Ntondele for the kind words, mpangui!

  3. Salamalecun Tata. I am new here and I thank you for establishing this site. Good vibrations. Feels like a place where I can continue to learn. My tatandi, or my great-grandfather in the religion used to tell me to talk to and communicate with nature. I did not get to spend a lot of time with him but you have this information here and I feel him so strongly. So, gracias more than I can say here.


  1. Pact-Making in Palo & Bakongo Religion – Voces Magicae - […] D. Bradford. Basimbi Part 1. And, Christopher D. Bradford. Basimbi Part 2. […]

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