In a previous post about Basimbi we spoke about some of the classes of Basimbi and some practical interactions with them. We’ll continue to do that here, and discuss some ritual possibilities for interacting with Basimbi when working malongo.
These are the Simbi of philosophy and leadership; when we consider our role as Paleros we have to remember that our root culture is Bantu, and in the Bantu worldview our existence is only meaningful in context to our interactions with the Community. A palero who doesn’t interact from a community or munanso based standpoint is fallow ground. This doesn’t mean being *nice* to everyone, it means that family comes first. We deal with ancestry, we deal with the land we live on and work. The Simbi Nzonzi are especially important for leaders of munansos; they influence the way wisdom is cultivated in a munanso, and the way in which Leadership manifests throughout. Find a munanso with dis-functional leadership and poor understanding, and I would near guarantee you will find one that has never even heard of this Simbi, let alone made offerings or honored it.
Simbi Nsi Yafuka
This is the simbi of hard-earned wisdom. This simbi is the understanding gained from hard work tearing herbs and cutting / gathering palos under the Tata’s or Yaya’s guidance. This simbi is wisdom gained from experience, deep knowledge, that is sometimes not transmittable through words. Experiential wisdom. This is the simbi that speaks to you when you’re working trabajo and you’re about to seal it without that last herb or ntoto that’ll make that thing proper ndoki. This simbi tells you to wash your hands after working with all that graveyard ntoto, before you play with the kids. This is the simbi that has you trying to decrypt Google Translate versions of Ta Makuende Yaya at 1am, and rewards you with that “AHH!” when you find the hidden gold. This is the simbi that tells your padrino to watch and wait, urging you to transition from simply receiving wisdom to actively cultivating it.
Simbi Makaya Nkasa
This is the simbi of edible leaves and plants, legumes, and especially leaves of the sacred manioc plant. So much of our medicine is eaten; food is the first medicine. This simbi is one of the most important in our corpus. Our pacts with plants to heal and harm are administered by this Simbi. It can make a medicine out of a meal, and quite literally plays a hand in sustaining our entire race. This is one of literally innumerable Simbi of plants in the nfinda…but is one of the most important.
When we look at an mpungu like Gurunfinda, we see how through pact and accumulated wisdom a great amount of power can be wielded to heal or harm. Gurunfinda is envisioned, “seen”, as the wizened old man of the nfinda. It knows the simbi of every plant, is intimate in it’s understanding of their virtues and ability to heal or harm. Gurunfinda as an mpungu is a manifestation of the pact with nature, of the power of relationship. A living power. Through a pact with Gurunfinda, many Paleros (knowingly or otherwise) manage pact with the various basimbi of nature, including Simbi Makaya Nkasa. It is impossible to intimately understand every single Simbi of the wilderness….it is possible, however, to know and understand a singular force like Gurunfinda.
Having knowledge of Gurunfinda gives us access to the work of all plants of the nfinda….but there is much to be said for a close relationship with the Simbi that underlie that pact, the difference between generalist knowledge of how to work a plant, and a specialist’s knowledge. Here we see the influence of Simbi Nsi Yafuka. Any palero with a pact with nature and gurunfinda may tell you how to work sweet herbs to cleanse an internal ailment, and know intuitively which ones to use for a given work. A palero with a deep connection / pact with Simbi Makaya Nkasa would know which herb to use, what time of day it needs to be used, and may be moved to understanding while speaking with that client that with his constitution a particular sweet herb will be far more efficient then the other. The Tata in question may be gathering herbs to make a tea for this person to consume, and receive a sick feeling in his stomach when touching one that has soaked up pesticides, or that the client is allergic to–communication directly from Simbi Makaya Nkasa about the nature of the herbs. The strength of that relationship is then a living thing in Simbi Nsi Yakufa. The palero who has properly cultivated Simbi Nsi Yakufa will have also read and studied the notes of his elders, books on herbal medicine and observed results from his own application of these medicines, giving Simbi Makaya Nkasa fertile ground to work with. So, we see how Simbi and mpungu dance with one another, and how they interpenetrate every aspect of working makisinsi malongo.
There are quite a few more Simbi of importance that are accessible and have “names”. What is important to understand is that they exist regardless of how we name them, and that they can be worked with and propitiated once their nature is understood. The Simbi of the land, of the earth in a given place is the Simbi Nkagi Mayamba. This is a description of the nature of the Simbi and of the Land, but isn’t an individual name. If I were looking to make pact and deepen my relationship with the the Simbi Nkagi Mayamba of the land I live on, I wouldn’t need any esoteric operations to discover it’s name. It already has a name. The name for the Simbi Nkagi Mayamba for I live is well known–“San Jose”. Resist the urge to over-romanticize. We are practical folk.
Making Offerings and Deepening Relationship with Simbi
What offerings can be made to Simbi? There are many, and making them is a matter combining common sense, divination, tradition and wisdom gained from interacting with the entity itself.
For example, Simbi Ka Nkisi Wanganga Ko is the simbi of divination and direction, and Simbi N’kam’a Ntangu Ye Dunga is the simbi that controls the manifestation of events in space and time. Lucero’s relationship with these simbi is much like that of Gurunfinda and his relationship with the Simbi of plants. I would first receive a firma for connecting with them (referring initially to my Padrino and Madrina, to see if we have a firma that is traditional within our house for their use. If there was none, then I would create a firma for them under the guidance of Lucero and my Nganga after asking for permission to receive one formally from the Simbi.) If I were an Engeuyo, I would simply draw dikenga.
I would go out to the crossroads closest to my home at Sunrise , and take up pemba to draw that firma upon the ground. I would give it Light (mpembe) via a candle, and then blow rum and smoke from the cigar to spiritualize and sublimate the firma, and as an offering to share in my consumption of the tobacco and speak through the trance it can induce.
I would put a white dilango atop the firma, and offer an assortment of fruit and honey to sweeten the Simbi toward me. I would place a small mirror on the plate as part of the offering, and a glass to hold a bit of rum.
Ideally I would feed it a rooster, but crossroads in cities being what they are, I would feed my nkisi out back in my kindembo, and offer up the tender organs of the rooster with the fruit. I would then let mambo come and sing, and perhaps play my drum. (I don’t care if people look at me like I’m crazy. If they ain’t careful, the Simbi might have them dancing in the street…).
I would then verify everything was cheche ba cheche with my chamalongos. I’d take up the mirror that ‘caught’ the simbi’s “image” from the offering plate, and scratch the firma into the mirror. I’d seal over the firma with wax from the mpembe, and then thank the Simbi and my nkisi for the blessings and leave.
The mirror would go inside my nganga as an ngando, enabling quick and immediate connection to these simbi when I needed. I would return to the crossroads the same day at midnight to clear away the offering, not letting the Sun rise again on the expired offering. Simbi Nsi Yakufa tells me that it’s bad news to let the sun rise on an offering at the crossroads for these Simbi, as the offering’s virtue has already been consumed. It would be like feeding honored guests food left out on the table from the night before. That’s something I received from that Simbi in the moment, spirit speaking.
That is just one example. There are many ways; if we work makinsinsi malongo we understand root principal, and let that guide our actions as Priests and Priestesses of nature.
So, work Simbi and let spirit speak for you as well. I am indebted to them, and especially to the elders of our rama and munanso Bejuco Nfinda Nsasi Moanafilo Batalla Sacarampeno, for cultivating understanding.
Tata Nkisi Sima Ngango, Mayombe Sacara Empeno