Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mama Juana: Dominican and Taino Indio spiritual & medicinal drink

Mama Juana (or mamajuana) is a drink from the Dominican Republic that is concocted by allowing rumred wine, and honey to soak in a bottle with tree bark and herbs.The specific herbs that make up Mamajuana were originally prepared as a herbal tea by the native Taino Indians; post-Columbus, alcohol was added to the recipe. Besides being rumored to be an aphrodisiac, with many natives of the Dominican Republic claiming that the drink has similar effects. The Taino live throughout the caribbean of Haiti into Cuba and Puerto rico, as well as Florida.

Mamajuana is also consumed for its purported medicinal value. The alcohol is said to act as an extract base that pulls the herbs' curative properties, creating an herbal tincture often served as a shot. The reported positive effects on health vary, ranging from a flu remedy, to a digestion and circulation aid, blood cleanser, sexual potency, kidney, gallbladder and liver tonic. The tonic can be used to cleanse internally of any witchcraft and poisons. For arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and against cancer if anamu is added. Diabetes also with the cinnamon. It is warming, often used in winter and at Christmas, as well as an offering to the Taino indian spirits. Of course do not use when pregnant.

Method: soak bark/leaves in red wine for 5 days, and then pour it out. You can aso soak with rum or some do with hot water. Discard the liquid after a few days and then follow your rum, wine, and honey recipe. By doing this, the initial bitterness is released from the bark/roots, making for a more drinkable first batch.It also removes any mold, dirt or bacteria.Then, mix dark or white rum an wine(90%) and honey(10%) and pour that combo into the bottle. Let this sit in a dark place for 2 weeks to cure. Shake it up to get the bark/leaves taste, and then adjust to taste, as some prefer strong and some prefer sweet. The locals also said that it will last for years, even a not to worry about it going bad. You can refill with alcohol 15-20 times to make more batches.

I drink straight as a shot, but some sip with an iced cola soda.
  • Mamajuana is available in two ways:
  • prepackaged dry ingredients, or plants procured, which the customer prepares
  • dry batches are not allow through customs in different regions, bypass this by adding rum to it when travelling and place in checked bag.
  • ready to drink, filtered and bottled

I prepare mine spiritually, with rum, wine and honey, usually with these herbs: anamu, cinnamon, very small amount anise and clove (I hate the taste of licorice), cats claw, palo brazil, pega palo, milk wort, I may start adding a small amount basil as many spirits love it and it has many health benefits, and not to interfere with the taste.

    Fill your bottle over 1/2 full with about 7 of the following herbs, roots and sticks:
    • AnamĂș (Petiveria alliacea) guinea henwood
    • Anis Estrellado (Illicium verum) anise
    • Bohuco Pega Palo (Cissus verticillata) hitting stick
    • Albahaca (Ocimum basilicum) basil
    • Canelilla (Cinnamodendron ekmanii): rosewood
    • Canela de tierra: cinnamon
    • Bojuco Caro (Princess Vine)
    • Bojuco de Palo China China root
    • Bojuco de Palo Indio Chew stick
    • Bojuco de Tres Costilla Basket wood
    • Marabeli (Securidaca virgata) Milk wort
    • Clavo Dulce (Whole Clove)
    • Maguey (Agave spp.) leaves and sticks (cleansing and sweetness)
    • Timacle (Chiococca alba) west indian milkberry
    • Manzanilla: Chamomile
    • Guauci: Minnieroot
    • Osua: bay rum tree
    • Palo brazil: brazil wood
    • Raiz de coco: coconut tree root
    • Una de gato: cats claw
    • Button weed
    • Cornutia

    • In addition to the above standard recipe, it is common for individuals to add other ingredients such as; raisins, strawberry, molasses, and lemon or lime juice. 
    •  Another popular ingredient is the addition of mariscos (shellfish) such as conch, octopus snails and even the private parts or grated shell of a sea turtle! Undoubtedly the combination of these ingredients would provide mamajuana with its aphrodesic powers. 


    Thursday, January 12, 2017

    The Caldero Espiritual in Espiritismo: congo spiritual pot

    The Lucumi and Congo cauldrons, not Espiritismo or our caldero espiritual
    There has been much misunderstanding of the caldero espiritual in espiritismo, which IS NOT an nganga nor an Ogun pot. They may look very similar, but they are made differently and serve completely different functions. People may laugh and say its an invention, but it has become part of Espiritismo occasionally in more recent times, even if it can be described as quasi "bootleg". Please I mean no offence to anybody.

    Ogun is the Orisha spirit responsible for war, technology and smithcraft

    taken from the seven worlds

    photo Ogun fundamento above from Santeria Church of the Orishas
    This is received with the warriors if I am not mistaken, before entering as a priest in kariocha ceremony for the beginners own usuage under a godparent. You cannot just make your own as I saw one well known wicca, hoodoo "Mama" do. Receiving the Ogun Orisha proper I think would be in the soup tureens as with other Orisha in Lucumi, Ocha, improperly called Santeria. Please speak to a Santero, Oriate or Santera to clarify. I can only properly speak to my traditions of Sanse and Espiritismo, but do so to compare the best I can.

    Below basic as sold from botanica

    Nganga: Belonging to Cuban Palo sects:

    taken from

    First I would like to say I am not in the beautiful, fierce religion of Palo. You should seek a priest out to verify anything I say about it. I do have Palo brothers and sisters, even my godparents are in Palo so I have much respect for the tradition.
    Originally the Palero or the Tata was the nganga, the pacted spirit of the dead or nfumbe is placed within the priest during initiation or rayarse, rayamento, this is still done within certain Mayombe sects of nganguleros.  The priest was the pot. We do not have an nfumbe, and we do not work with their higher misterios (like Orisha or Lwa) called Mpungo. The nganga is also called a prenda "jewel" or kindembo. They will keep this usually in a shed or outbulding under lock, not a great idea in your house. Whereas we tend to keep our caldero next to the white table in front or on the left with the Congos.

    Their pot is fed blood, tobacco, and rum infused chamba, and within is nfumbe also called kongome (human bone), who are somewhat chained, some is through agreement, education, elevation, for good and mutual benefit, some are soley as their dogs kept ignorant and earthbound. 

    Nkisi nfuiri are a fetish made between the dead and an mpungo. Usually seen as nail driven to inform the will, or mark feats, not to torture a spirit or individual.
                                                                                  Minneapolis Institute of Arts

    Our spirits are free and are of light for the most part, and there is nothing to stop them from leaving, except if they are guides they have been contracted by God for the most part before birth. They would leave by our bad behavior and by not attending them. Spirits may stick around because they like their goodies, they like us, or do not have any other option for elevation, or like the work. Other dead we do not force them to work, we have no guardian Mpungo for it, so you must be strong in your spiritual frame or court, and as a spiritualist to control the portal. This is a point of ridicule, but if you send a nfumbe out its not in the pot any longer...well there are things there I do not understand. I am guessing because they are heavier more material yet immaterial capable of great and precise effects apon the world, and cannot leave the earth plane either, anchored by the blood. Elevated spirits are not chained to the earth realm like nfumbe. According to my reference at the end of this blog post the nfumbes who are most chosen" but instead can perceive, feel and meddle in the affairs of the living. They are spirits who are not yet ready to accept that their lives have ended, belonging to people who perished in dramatic, violent, unexpected, premature or unconscious. Often victims of accidents, crimes, fights and wars, sudden or early, suicidal diseases (although it seems contradictory, most suicides take their own lives to avoid suffering and humiliation, but do not really want to die), children and mentally disturbed. Sorcerers seek out this type of nfuiris to agree with them and support their nkisis, not because they like so, but because they are the easiest to convince and manipulate and stronger and more effective to work.."

    Because our pot is not an nganga, we do not scratch over it/ initiate others into Palo because we have no license, and do not have the pact with the ancient Congo ancestors or Bakulu from which their religion and tools function. Repeat: we have no license to operate the same.

    The function of the spiritual Caldero or Cardero
    Through pots of the dead both espiritistas and Palero/as can mount the dead, so it is imperative that you have control of your boveda and can independantly hold misa first, as well as mounting spirits and exorcisms.  You must be strong in your spiritual faculties and spiritual frame and relationships. Mounting the dead can cause gradual wear and tear on your energy body resulting in poor physical health if mismanaged. You should in my opinion, be a baptised and crowned Espiritista for some protection, and the knowledge of how to create this, unless it is out of thin air. We don't just put whatever in pots and dolls in our house.
    Taken from pintrest, author unknown

    We may have another smaller empty 3 leg cauldren kept to Candelo Lwa in Sanse on the divsional table, but this is not prepared, usually for candles, placing objects temporarily for him to watch over, and offerings like candles. Sanse is heavily congo influenced, as all our beats in music are conga drum "palos". The drums were made from a trunk or tree hollow section with skin stretched over. Palo means stick, from a tree.

    You may have a congo, or several verified congo spirit guides, some may be Myomberos from Lisa in Africa, or from Cuban Palo. They may ask you for their cauldron and suggest items to place within it. In this case it is no different than creating a spirit guide doll as a bench for the spirit. The spirit is free and of a high elevation of the commissions of guides. Because they practiced this religion in life, they still continue to do so. Some people who have madamas, they happen to be congo, or their Francisco or Francisca guides are congo. This is Espiritismo and not of Palo. I have a congo spear for my congo, and a guava stick garabato, but he has been extremely picky about the black ebony and ironwood busts I have been looking at to represent him, and they need to be culturally relevant.

    They are able to use their pots in some capacity. It is also in my tradition a portal or house to the dead, but this is controversial and not in every lineage. This would be closer to Palo Monte, in which some use no bone nor are to harm (supposedly), but do animal sacrifice?.  "Both are natives educated, very "muerteros" or spiritual, but working without nfumbe or kongome (human bones), and therefore without nkisi, only with nfuiris, elementary mpungus (pure forces of nature, like fire, sea, the moon and stars) and saints, who are nfuiris very advanced spirits bright. That's why spiritual garments not serve to harm, such as palo monte, and are characterized by work with flowers, herbs, offal and rogaciones, to cleanse, heal, save, protect and provide prosperity to their owners and their godchildren, enriched with elements of Santeria, the Afro-Cuban Xianmalongo rule arises, also called Shamalongo or simply Malongo (nature)." For which the coconut discs used in divination in these systems are also called after chamalongos, originally from kola nuts in Yoruba religion.

     It is not really the connection to ancestors, but it could be, or to those who reject the boveda, but you must be very careful. We are not really muerteros or necromancers, unless it is a side venture, but we do have "necessary" spirits, or can go get some dead. Hopefully you have good spirit discernment and are not foolish enough to do this without knowing how to work safely, be protected and respectful, and to get them in the cemetery, and in many natural places. Taught by godparents, not by reading, watching videos, and internet searches. It is of benefit to be in Sanse and have a good relationship with the Baron chief of the Ghede, or whoever holds the gate for you in the cemetery. For us it is Ghede Limbo. Remember, Sanse and Espiritismo is a tradition of light, spiritual progress, elevation and truth for the incarnated and disincarnated human spirits. This influences very much how we treat people, our morals or ethics, and work with our dead. Call it weak because its not a tool of destruction for us, but not even every Palo priest works their nganga that way for bad, unless it is for protection. It is just a different tool and focus of our tradition.

    The pot also is connected to nature, of the elements, animal spirits, and the stars as well as this world and the realm of the dead.

    The offerings given to our caldero are rum (usually white), perfumes, tobacco, candles (red, black, white & depending on intention), plants and incense, to help them come forwards. We pray and sing our songs to it.
    To "to give body to the spirits who come to your call and avoid physical wear that will produce the constant possessions, as happens to the classic pure spiritualists or only avail themselves of trance and do not mix their spiritual abilities with witchcraft. Their work will not be as violent and precise as those of a Nkisi Tata, but much more varied and effective than a classic spiritualist practically limited to contact the spirits to query and transmit messages to their loved ones."

    According again to the reference, "The nfuiris can help alerting them alive dangers, telling them the good way, cleaning and harmonizing the spiritual energy of his aura to heal physical and mental illnesses of spiritual origin and protecting them against spiritual attacks of dark entities, such as nfumbes and ndokis, but they can do little against a disease of physical origin or against attacks that occur by accident, violence and social circumstances, as to influence the earthly plane for both attack and defense, a lot of energy source material is required, the nfuiris which lack.This is the reason why the nfuiris not serve to hurt and nfumbes yes; not because some are good and some bad, but because nfuiris are high and free spirits...based on family, affinity or kinship"

    You need to know your spiritual frame will influence the components and the container:
    wood/earth, water/clay, or fire/iron cauldron, 
    some use a birds nest or hang them from the ceiling with feathers for air in Palo, they also used coconuts and gourds as vessels.
    Originally they were made in cloth or burlap sacks, and in animal heads until Cuba, although some may still be done that way they are more biodegradable. They would sometimes bury this at the base of holy trees, as they were a nomadic and warrior hunter tribe, they could not always bring it on expeditions or if it was heavy or large. They used to be small, some still are smaller than the priests head, but have gotten huge in modern era. They would instead bring their mpaka which is linked to the nganaga, a horn filled with secrets, sealed with a mirror, which is also a scrying device of sight that can be linked to a certain Mpungo. They at times place this on top of their nganga. We do not have this either.

    This is more witchcraft, such as the European and Greek necromantic cauldrons. One meaning of the froth coming out of the sterotypical halloween image of the encanting crone witches cauldron is the witches brew rising seething, the seizure of shaking spirit possesion, and as well the mist of the dead and spiritual fluids or gasses, like the bubbles in the water glass on the boveda white table.

    But this is Congo witchcraft sorcery.
    The closest thing our cauldron is, I have discovered to Palo is the free "nfuiri" dead of the branch of Palo Monte. 
    referenced below Nkisio Nfuiri
    What else goes in the Caldero espirituale:
    Before you make this pot: You should already know how to make guide dolls, and be able to have practiced preparing different spiritual objects such as amulets or guards. We create things partly via spiritualism, what the spirits say to add, but also have a basic recipe and understanding of what goes in there, as well as with specially procured sticks, stones, plants and dirts. You should also already have a super solid regular spiritual hygiene and cleansing schedule of yourself and entire home.

    The most common calderos in espiritsmo is a larger 3 legged iron cauldron for a cuadro of spirits that are mostly congo spirits. A clay pot for those who have a spiritual entourage that are mostly cooler spirits such as los indios, native americans. Even if you have a congo. Also depending on your major element, it will influence some of the material that goes within, such as relevant animal parts, a crucifix, tools, coins, things related to certain professions, charms, personal effects, mirrors, minerals and dirts (ntotos) of certain areas to give it identity.
    This is also the same type of pot used to house or guardian angel Lwa or met tet, as well as if we have recieved or Indio cazuela in this same type. It would make more sense to receive this first unless your court is mainly Congo. Mine is in a painted clay vessel, because it cracked in postage from Florida to my home state, and is all placed within. I only took my head pot back on the plane with me. We only have possibly these three pots, all others are in dolls, or beside a doll if the statue cannot be hollowed for guides. Again, we do not make a pot for every Lwa like they do in Lucumi in the casserole pots for each Orisha.
    Indio cazuelas, called a Tindjo in 21 divisions Dominican Vodou

    There are secret ways to cleanse the container and prep it before you add in the order of ingredients. You then add in the foundation of dead. It is also buried a special place, then shown to the sun after a certain number of days. The priest must also prepare themself spiritually, observe taboos and make certain ritual observances.

    Besides the things mentioned, various weapons can be placed within at the end after the sticks. You can even place a plastic or fake skull on top.

    The pot is not usually marked, and we do not use firmas or, the petipembas of Palo spirit signatures. You can mess yourself up directionally, and have lineage behind them if you do. You can draw something else with cascarilla chalk if you wish on it, such as a cross. You can tie it with certain relevant color ribbon as your spirit directs in the flavor of the pot, it is usually not painted.

    Things which are more controversial and not done in every espiritismo or Sanse lineage
    With the pot you can make use of a line of directional low grade gunpowder (fula) beside on a cement floor, or on a tablet of cement, if you have the knowledge and guidance. You can do work over the pot after you have awoken it. You can add and take things out for specific purposes. Your congo spirit will direct you.

    If you have Palo in your temple or spiritual house they can help with the construction but it is not necessary. This is very controversial but you can add human bone if you know what you are doing and is legally procured IF I was to do this. A Palero can also sacrifice a rooster into it when it is first awoken, and not usually ever again after. Animal sacrifice is not commonly required or trained to be done in Sanse and Espiritismo. However you must understand full the implications if it, and spirits can get very scary and hungry expecting more if they are not properly instructed and come after you and drain everyone around you including your pets.

    I have not decided what I will do exactly for mine as I come into my maturity in my tradition, 
    but I have been cleared and am confident to do so.

    I expect this to be one of my more controversial posts which is not often a subject talked about from those who are Espiritistas. Please feel free to correct me constructively.

    Please ask any questions if I can answer, and ask your godparents for guidance. If you want to know more about Palo, I encourage to ask a Palero or Palera.

    Reference: Myself, my spirits, my godfather and brother. Any errors can only be my own.

    The italic purple references above were taken and translated from:

    Sunday, January 1, 2017

    Mange Lwa: favorite food recipes

    Here are a collection of a few recipes. Of course spirits like Papa Legba likes his grilled foods or roast chicken, but these are typically cultural that are also associated with Lwa, beyond giving say a mango or red beans and rice (riz au pois) to an Ogun. Gran Bwa, of the forest and of herbal medicine, is partial to peanut cakes, bread, and cornmeal, and he is the only vegetarian Lwa.

    Rice, Yucca (the cassava, tapioca plant), Yams and Corn are very important crops and staples along with tropical fruits such as mango and bananas or plantains. Corn and Yucca are appropriate dishes to give the Taino and indigenous Lwa. Akasan is a corn flour shake typically taken at Haitian services and on Sunday morning.

    Corn is just one of the substances we use to feed veve and other items, a very important plant.

    Jou Mou: Pumpkin Soup 

    This soup is traditionally eaten at New Years in Haiti, to celebrate during initiations, and the freedom which came from their revolution against the French. It was once forbidden for slaves to eat this Sunday Soup during slavery. The Petro and the Simbis are celebrated particularly around New Years and the iconography of the three magi. It is served in a banquet with other dishes such as spaghetti.

    FuFu: Mashed Yams with Palm oil

    Made during Mange Yam fet to feed Lwa and community after harvest festival. Given to Ogun, Azaka, and the Ghede, as well as Simbi. Often also Tchaka and yucca or cassava dishes is made at this time. Still also eaten and celebrated in Ghana and Nigeria, either in September, October or Nov 24-26th in Haiti. Dried fish boiled into this mash, or mashed yucca with garlic and lime juice is also incorporated (Yucca con ajo). As this is a thanksgiving, usually the spirits of the land such as the patron saint, as well as indigenous peoples and ancestors are honored and Indio Lwa. Yucca is a Taino cemi spirit of the sun and sky god Yocahu.

    Tchaka: Beef or Pork Pumpkin Stew

    Called also Chaka or Tyaka, it is the favorite food of the hard working agricultural Lwa Azaka and gives you strength. If you make it for him be sure you do not taste it first, he will think you are stealing....
    It is so delicious! The habanero surprisingly does not add much heat.

    Griot: Fried Pork for Erzulie Dantor

    Also called griyot or griyo. A well loved popular Haitian dish served with pickled veg.
    She also eats the Diri black mushroom rice, and takes black coffee with sugar.

    Ti Malice Hot sauce

    The legend of sos Ti-Malice (also spelled sauce Ti-Malice) is that a gentleman named Ti-Malice served the extra spicy sauce along with a meal to keep his friend Bouki from eating everything up. Ironically, it turned out that Bouki loved the sauce most of all, and he went on to rave about it to everyone he met. And so, this tangy onion condiment for fish and grilled meats remains popular in Haiti to this day.

    Some associate Ti-malice with the wily creational spider spirit Anansi from the Ashanti tribe, or Ghede Zaina spider Lwa. Most Ghede and Petro love hot pepper sauce or peppers added to their foods.

    Arroz con dulce or sweet rice, candied coconut rice

    Many cooler Lwa who like white foods prefer this recipe, such as La Siren, Dhambala and Aida Wedo, Agwe, Erzulie Freda or Metricili as well as the Marassa Lwa pictured as 2 twin children. If you make it for the Marassa make sure you make 2 plates with the same amount, or a dish with 2 divided portions, or they will get upset and bicker. You do not want that in your life.

    This recipe is also popular in Puerto Rico, who as a Caribbean island shares some culinary similarities.

    I also like to serve Puerto Rican foods at important Sanse temple events.
    Eating the foods bring you closer to the culture and people who we share our spiritual family and lineage with. It is great to celebrate with. There are tons of blogs and websites out there committed to Puerto Rican and Haitian or Dominican cooking,

    An easy chicken soup can be made with cubed yucca and yellow rice instead of noodles. The yuca does take awhile to cook so I usually boil them for a bit first, then add them in again after the other veg and chicken cooks after the broths is added. This is like a sanocho or stew.

    My godparents gave me an easy recipe they call Puertorican pizza:
    grill yellow plantains in a pan until browned, remove from heat and slice not quite all the way through the middle to open them up a bit. Saute up some onions and add your ground meat such as beef. Top the plantains with this and some mozza cheese, bake in oven until melted. You have to try this it is so yummy.

    The green plantains, a starchy like banana are good for being smashed and fried as tostones.

    Metricili also likes sliced bananas lightly fried with some sugar.

    Mexican version
    A great Christmas and winter warm up drink, yet still refreshing.
    You can also add rum or cheat and buy rumchata at the liquor store

    Coquito is the puerto rican version,
    I usually make a hybrid so its dairy free with coconut and vanilla cashew milk

    from the travel bite

    We like to drink this when we make our Christmas and New Years baths
    We also make alot of mulled apple cider in the winter months.
    Mama Juana a Dominican and Indio drink is a drink at this time as it keeps cold away and has alcohol and spices, it also cleanses inside and is medicinal infusion of roots and leaves.

    Because we have Paleros in our house we also make Chamba: a rum infused with roots, peanuts, spices and secret ingredients.

    Yamboso is infused with herbs that the congo spirits like. Azaka takes rum infused with wormwood, while Ghede take rum or gin with 21 hot peppers called Piman. The Petro and Kalfu take Kiman, which also has its secrets.

    Riz Djon Djon: Black mushroom rice

    Also called Diri, given during Mange Mo and Fet de Ghede to feed the dead. The Baron will typically take black beans and rice with hot sauce as well. Djon Djon is a black mushroom fungus that you can buy dried packets of to make this dish by reconstituting them in boiling water first, and remove from heat until soft, a little will expand to make a large amount. This mushroom is also served at other special occasions: Christmas, birthdays and weddings along with pork or fish. Ghede also take black beans and rice with hot sauce.

    Pan de Muertos: bread for the dead, and day of the dead

    In espiritismo, as well as all African Diasporic traditions and worldwide most indigenous spiritual traditions venerate the ancestors. In spiritualist misa a pan espiritual liturgical bread can be made which is prayed over and blessed by the spiritual currents present in seance mass. A portion is tasted, and shared with the dead.
    Bread has associations with prosperity and alchemy. A store bought loaf of bread will do in a pinch. A sourdough is traditional in espiritismo as well. You can put a piece of buttered bread on the ancestor altar, along with water and a white candle. Of course anything from your culture, that you ancestors or spirits like can be offered. Guava and pork are just some foods associated with the dead. After misa or service we will take in a small meal to replenish and recover our energy.

    from a woman sconed, skull, or sun, cross buns designs

    If you have a coveted pan espiritual recipe please send it to me I would be grateful.

    Cassava: Casabe bread:
    I use use the cassava flour without the hoop
    This can also be bought at ethnic and Dominican grocery

    I really hope you enjoy these recipe ideas. Did I make you hungry?

    Do you know of any other cultural recipes that are associated with Lwa, or cultural events associated with Vodou or espiritismo? I would love to learn more if you want to share below in the comments or message me on facebook.
    ~Sancista Siete Encruzhiladas~
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