Seeking the Spirits of Palo Kimbisa: Exploring the Mysterious World of the Afro-Cuban Religion
Tata Rodriguez as told to Sophia Kelly Shultz
Schiffer Publishing (2021)
Reviewed by Wendy Stokes

‘The law of the jungle!’

There are several branches of the Palo practice – Nriycomba, Briyumba, and Kimbisa. These are oral traditions. Kimbisa developed 150 years ago from the Bantu people of the Congo who came as slaves to America. It includes influences from Franciscan, Freemason and Afro-Cuban philosophy. It is related to primitive Spiritism practices such as Candomble, Umbanda, and Santería.

A Palo is a spirit practitioner of this ancient, primitive religious tradition, where spirits are commanded to carry out all kinds of functions, often involving the killing of an animal. A Tata is a godfather, and a Yayi is a godmother, both are counsellors and spiritual teachers. This book was written to keep the tradition alive and give examples of it. The stories involve Tata who was initiated as a young man and now works as a spirit practitioner and chef. Sophia has been a professional artist for 40 years and is the artist of The Stone Circle Oracle. She is an interesting story teller and provides illustrations which relate his stories and give instances of his thinking, behaving and relating to the spirit entities.

Fascinating! Intriguing! Terrifyingly scary! Of course, we must keep these rare spiritual traditions alive!