Hierarchy of the Palo Rules
All the Initiatical (Mystical and Magical) Lines of the Bantu Rules follow more or less a hierarchical structure which allows its Initiates to achieve the Highest Spiritual and Magical Goals through a Tradition which connect its members directly to the Ruling Forces of Nature and the Spiritual World.
The Degrees within Palo Monte and Mayombe are basically the following:
1-Ngueyo, Pino Nuevo, Guatoko, Muchacho de Prenda.
It's the first step, the first real encounter with the Essence of the Kongo Spirits.
The new brother is rayado, scratched over the Nganga of his/her GodFather/Mother and a Pact of protection and Spiritual Evolution is made with the Nkiso (Major Spirit) of the Prenda. New Spiritual Guides are provided by the Nganga to the Guatoko for his/her own safety and evolution.
At this initial stage
through the consultation of the Sacred Oracles of the Tatas and Yayas of
Palo or through the direct speech of the Forces which may possess a
prepared medium, very important advices are given for the future life of the
Initiate. Also is determinated if the Ngueyo should be initiated as Tata and
also if, eventually, He/She can receive Fundamento, a Nganga. Moreover it is
determined which Mpungo claims the Initiate. Sometimes the ruling Mpungo is
called Angel de la Guardia de Palo. A Divination with the Congo Shells
was previously made before the whole process, when the profane seeked the
Initiation into the Congo Path.
2-Tata Nkisi (Yaya for women), this is the second step into this Religion's Initiatical Structure.
A Tata/Yaya is a Brujo, a Sorcerer/Sorceress who works/grows with the help of the Spirits, but within certain limits because he's not in possession of this Religion's most Central and Sacred Item: the Nganga. El Taita/Yaya Nkisi no tiene Prenda.
Taita/Yaya Nkisi means Father/Mother (also Brother) of the Nkisi and was originally a term indicating the Initiates who has acquired knowledge of the herbs and spells of Palo, but is still learning in order to ascend to the further step: owner of an Nkiso: a Nganga.
The Nkisi are the Natural Forces which visits the Nganga together with its Nfumbe, the dead of the Nganga and also the various Legions of Spirits of Nature. Mpungo, a natural Force, un Espirito de la Naturaleza, un Dios Congo, and the Spirit of a deceased are the main Mpeves, Spirits of the Nganga which forms the Nkisi, the personal Medicine of the Palero.
This was the original concept but now Nkisi is sinonymous of Mpungo. The Mpungos are often considered the Kongo equivalents of the Orishas.
3-Tata Nganga or Padre/Madre Nganga also Ngangankisi or Ngangulero, is the Tata/Yaya Nkisi who possess now his/her Fundamento, the Nganga.
Is the full degree of Priesthood into the Palo Monte and Mayombe Religion, the owner of the Prenda is a complete Palero/a, able to conduct all the ceremonies and rituals of this Ancient Path. The Tata who possess Nganga may form a Munanso, a House of Palo.
4-Tata Ndibilongo, is the NgangaNkisi who has godchildren, el Iniciado que raya gente.
5- Tata Luwongo or Muluwanga Nkisi, means avuelo de prenda, godfather of Foundation, of Prenda. The Highest grade of the Structure.
Often the term Tata Nkisi is considerated equal to Padre Nganga because in many cases the new Tata receives his Nganga at the same time, so actually the most important steps are those of Ngueyo and Tata. Into the Order founded by the ascended Master Andrés Facundo Cristo de los Dolores Petět, La Regla Kimbisa del Santo Cristo del Buen Viaje, this degrees have also a name in ancient latin, due to the nature of this Rule which works closely with Catholic Saints and is mixed also with the Sacrality of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.
© Tata Manuel Kongo 1998, taken form the Lodge of Ur Website