Reddit: Racism is Okay

It’s finally out – Steve Huffman, u/spez on Reddit, has revealed himself to be the Nazi he looks like. He has admitted that he’s fine with racism on Reddit. Nine years ago, it was a different story:

This isn’t any change in policy: we’ve always banned hate speech, and we always will. It’s not up for debate. You can bitch and moan all you like, but me and my team aren’t going to be responsible for encouraging behaviors that lead to hate.

A few years later, when Huffman stepped in as CEO after Ellen Pao was pushed out of the position due to virulent sexism and racism, he had changed his views:

“While my personal views towards bigotry haven’t changed, my opinion of what Reddit should do about it has,” Huffman wrote on the topic nearly three years ago, a few weeks after he had returned to lead the company. “I don’t think we should silence people just because their viewpoints are something we disagree with. There is value in the conversation, and we as a society need to confront these issues. This is an incredibly complex topic, and I’m sure our thinking will continue to evolve.” – The Verge

In 2018, Huffman is singing a considerably different tune:

“On Reddit, the way in which we think about speech is to separate behavior from beliefs,” said Huffman under his username spez. “This means on Reddit there will be people with beliefs different from your own, sometimes extremely so. When users’ actions conflict with our content policies, we take action.”


Hoffman’s controversial response explains why outwardly racist and high-profile communities have been allowed to operate on a site that has 542 million monthly visitors.

“Our approach to governance is that communities can set appropriate standards around language for themselves. Many communities have rules around speech that are more restrictive than our own, and we fully support those rules,” Hoffman said.

Reddit’s approach to offensive behaviour has evolved from a position of actively banning users for hate speech to one allowing it under the guise of free speech. – The Guardian

In an addendum, Huffman had this to say:

While the words and expressions you refer to aren’t explicitly forbidden, the behaviors they often lead to are.

To be perfectly clear, while racism itself isn’t against the rules, it’s not welcome here. I try to stay neutral on most political topics, but this isn’t one of them.

I believe the best defense against racism and other repugnant views, both on Reddit and in the world, is instead of trying to control what people can and cannot say through rules, is to repudiate these views in a free conversation, and empower our communities to do so on Reddit.

When it comes to enforcement, we separate behavior from beliefs. We cannot control people’s beliefs, but we can police their behaviors. As it happens, communities dedicated racist beliefs end up banned for violating rules we do have around harassment, bullying, and violence.

There exist repugnant views in the world. As a result, these views may also exist on Reddit. I don’t want them to exist on Reddit any more than I want them to exist in the world, but I believe that presenting a sanitized view of humanity does us all a disservice. It’s up to all of us to reject these views.


These are complicated issues, and we may not always agree, but I am listening to your responses, and I do appreciate your perspectives. Our policies have changed a lot over the years, and will continue to evolve into the future. Thank you.
 – Slate

What does this say about Reddit and social media in general? Most other platforms – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – have taken a hard-line stance against hate speech. While I don’t agree with any censorship, when it comes to social media that influences today’s youth, perhaps something ought to be done to ban racial & sexual slurs, at the very least. As for violence, Reddit has not been doing a particularly good job of keeping that off the site at all. Just have a look at some of the more toxic communities there and you will see what I mean.

Visit r/AgainstHateSubreddits for more details. There are all sorts of calls for violence to various individuals and groups, such as former president Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, liberals, Blacks, Jews, American soldiers, Parkland High School shooting survivors, and transgenders, to name a few.

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Morbid Reality

A 4-year-old girl is the witness to an unspeakable discovery. Amador County Sheriff’s deputies say she found the bodies of her own parents and grandfather after a double-murder-suicide inside her own Pine Grove home.


“It’s a tragic thing, no doubt,” neighbor Tommy McCaffrey said. McCaffrey lives next door to where the tragedy played out overnight.

Deputies say a man shot and killed his girlfriend, his father and then himself. The gunshots waking up his 4-year-old daughter, who found the bodies. Deputies say the little girl then used her grandfather’s cell phone to call her grandmother.

“What a terrible thing for that little kid to feel, gosh, speechless,” McCaffrey said.

A picture of the little girl with her mother is posted on a Gofundme website page set up by a family member to pay for funeral expenses and college funds.

The Amador sheriff’s department identified the mother as 27-year old Marie Leonetti. Deputies say the grandfather was 60-year-old Richard Thayer and the suspect was 26-year-old Jacob Thayer.

 

A man who had been accused of marrying and having a child with his biological daughter killed her, the baby and the woman’s adoptive father before fatally shooting himself in his vehicle, officials said on Thursday.

Steven Pladl was found dead in his vehicle in Dover, N.Y., several miles from the New Milford, Conn., murder scene of his daughter, Katie, and her adoptive father, officials told ABC 7. Katie and her adoptive father were found dead in a separate vehicle.

Police reportedly responded to reports of gunfire around 8:40 a.m. when they found the two victims in a truck at an intersection on Route 7, New Milford Police Lt. Lawrence Ash told FOX 61. A window in the vehicle had been shot out, officials said. They then began searching for Pladl’s Honda minivan before finding him dead in the vehicle in Dover.

Those deaths came after Pladl reportedly killed a 7-month-old child in a North Carolina home. The child was found inside the home Thursday, officials said, but they would not specify where the body was found or the exact cause of death. Katie and Steven reportedly lived in the home before authorities discovered their incestuous relationship.

 

 

A 16-year-old boy who pleaded with police to rescue him from being crushed by a folding seat in a van has died. Lying trapped in his vehicle parked outside his school in Ohio, Kyle Plush told 911 operators “Send officers immediately. I’m almost dead.”

“I probably don’t have much time left, so tell my mom that I love her if I die,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.

It is not clear how it happened – a coroner ruled the death accidental by “asphyxia caused by chest compression”. There was no evidence of foul play, the coroner added, and the police said drugs were not involved.

The boy first called 911 on Tuesday around 15:00 local time (20:00GMT) to say he was trapped inside his gold-coloured Honda Odyssey in the car park of the Seven Hills School, which he had been attending. “Help, help, help. I’m in desperate need of help,” the boy says, according to audio of the call which was released by emergency officials.

He called police at least one more time to tell them that “this is not a joke”.

Local media report that the boy was apparently unable to hold his phone with his hands, and at several points tried to use the Apple “Siri” voice commands. At one point the 911 operator tried to call the teenager’s phone, but it went to voicemail.

The 911 calls released Monday of a 2016 double-murder in Washington state reveal the horrifying moment a 7-year-old boy discovered his mother’s body and told a dispatcher: “Somebody killed my mommy.”

Daniel Kenison and Brenda Kolbert were found shot to death in their Spokane Valley home in August 2016, KHQ reported. On Monday, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office released the 911 calls alerting authorities to the murders.

“Spokane 911,” a dispatcher says at the beginning of the call with 7-year-old Cooper Kolbert.

“Somebody killed my mommy,” Cooper replies. “Please come and call the cops and please come here.”

The dispatcher responds: “I will as soon as you tell me where you are.”

Gilberto Delgado, 44, said to be Brenda Kolbert’s ex-boyfriend, was arrested and charged in the murder of Kenison, the boy’s uncle, and Kolbert. Cooper’s father, Lance Kolbert, told KHQ the boy was in his mother’s car in August 2016 when Delgado pulled up to their home and chased her.

“I listened first hand from Cooper everything that happened. It’s horrible, but we got him,” Kolbert said.

The brutal gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Indian-administered Kashmir has put the restive state on edge. Sameer Yasir, an independent journalist based in Srinagar, reports on how the investigation has split the region along religious lines.

On the morning of 17 January, Muhammad Yusuf Pujwala was sitting outside his home in Kathua when one of his neighbours came running towards him. He stopped in front of Mr Pujwala and broke the news: they had found his eight-year-old daughter, Asifa Bano. Her body lay in bushes in the forest, a few hundred metres away.

“I knew something horrible had happened to my girl,” Mr Pujwala, a 52-year-old with deep sunken eyes, told the BBC in an interview recently. His wife, Naseema Bibi, sat beside him, faintly crying while repeatedly murmuring “Asifa”.

Mr Pujwala belongs to a community of Muslim nomadic shepherds called Gujjars who crisscross the Himalayas with their goats and buffaloes.

The crime has shocked the community, exposing the fault lines between Hindu-majority Jammu and the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley in a sharply divided state. The Kashmir valley has a tumultuous relationship with India – there has been an armed revolt in the region against Indian rule since 1989.


Prosecutors say a Massachusetts mother charged with fatally stabbing her two sons with a kitchen knife may have done it for money and potential notoriety.


The Enterprise reports that prosecutors said during 43-year-old Latarsha Sanders’ arraignment Tuesday that the Brockton woman had planned to set up an online fundraiser for her family and got a post office box for “fan mail” shortly before she allegedly stabbed her sons in February.

Prosecutors say Sanders’ has also urged family members to give interviews while she is being held without bail.

Sanders previously told officers she stabbed 8-year-old Edson Brito and 5-year-old La’son Brito in their apartment as part of a failed Voodoo ritual. The elder boy had been stabbed at least 70 times.

Sanders pleaded not guilty. Her lawyer did not comment.

A Virginia woman accused of beheading her boyfriend allegedly shouted during her arrest that police officers “have to take me back and let me get my heads.”

Roena Cheryl Mills, 41, of Rural Retreat, Virginia, was arrested last week in connection with the murder of 29-year-old Bo White, who was found dead inside of a residence in Lerona, West Virginia, WVSN-TV reported.

Mills appeared at a competency hearing on Monday in which a judge ruled she needed further evaluation. A court-ordered mental evaluation is scheduled for Wednesday to determine if Mills can stand trial, according to the West Virginia MetroNews.

Law enforcement officials were called to an area on April 1 where they discovered Mills, who was covered in blood and had a pocket knife in her pants when she arrived at another residence, a criminal complaint stated.

The homeowners of that residence called authorities after they offered to give her a ride and she refused to leave the property.

The 41-year-old reportedly told deputies that she was cut after being thrown through a glass door, and gave authorities a false name. She was wearing a glove on her left hand, and a matching glove was found in White’s bedroom. Both gloves were covered in blood.

Mills was allegedly “combative” during her arrest, according to WVSN, and when in the deputies’ car, reportedly said: “You have to take me back and let me get my heads.” – MorbidReality

 

The Murder of Christina Grimmie

Christina Victoria Grimmie was an American singer, songwriter, musician, actress and YouTuber known for her participation in the NBC singing competition The Voice and for her covers of hit songs by contemporary pop musicians. 

Christina (12 March, 1994 – 10 June, 2016) was born to Tina and Albert Grimmie. Her mother worked as a receptionist until she was diagnosed with breast cancer, while her father worked at Verizon Communications as of 2014. Her older brother Marcus served as Christina’s road manager during her performances. She was of Italian and Romanian descent. Grimmie grew up in Marlton, New Jersey, where she attended Bethel Baptist Christian School, Marlton Middle School, and Cherokee High School. Grimmie identified as a Christian; her family attended Fellowship Alliance Chapel in Medford before they moved to Los Angeles. Grimmie was homeschooled for her junior year in 2010. Her father noticed Grimmie’s talent for singing when she was six years old, and she started playing the piano at age ten. Despite having received piano lessons, Grimmie said she played by ear.
Grimmie was an animal rights activist and participated in fundraising events for the Humane Society of the United States. The Christina Grimmie Animal Medical Fund was created in her honor. 

– Wikipedia

It is a tragedy that Christina’s life was cut short at the young age of 22, her dreams never realized – her death, while more brutal, reminds me of Aaliyah’s at the same age, though as the result of a plane crash. Both were rising stars, had dabbled with acting, and were amazingly talented as well as pretty. “Only the good die young,” Billy Joel sang, and that quote applies to Christina’s death as well as the demise of others who barely got to realize their potential as entertainers, be it singing, dancing, acting or whatever else.

Like Rebecca Schaeffer (who was murdered by John Bardo at age 21 just as her career was taking off), Christina was also killed by a deranged fan – Kevin Loibl, who had become extremely obsessed by the singer to the point where he stopped speaking to a friend because the friend suggested that Kevin would possibly never meet Christina or become ‘soul mates’. (From his photo, one can truly understand why such a villain could become infatuated with a celebrity – it is known as well that Kevin had Lasik surgery done, transplants to hide his receding hairline, and lost weight…all for Christina, a young woman he had never met and to be honest, had no hopes of ever dating.)

Kevin, 27 at the time of the murder/suicide, traveled from St. Petersburg to Orlando, Florida, where the singer was performing at The Plaza Live. He had 2 guns and a knife on his person when he entered venue and he managed to get these weapons inside because there were no metal detectors – security was only checking purses, backpacks, and the like. He lurked at the rear of the room behind of hundreds of fans, and when the Meet & Greet started after Christina’s performance, he again hid in the back while others bought merchandise, took photos of and with the singer, and got autographs.

Selena Gomez was heartbroken over Christina’s death

When it was Kevin’s turn, instead of embracing Christina – who greeted him as she did all of her fans, with an open-armed hug – he shot five times from a 9mm, striking the singer three times (once in the head, twice in the chest) before he was tackled by her brother, Marcus (Mark), who punched Kevin and ripped part of the assailant’s flannel shirt before wrestling the gun away from him. Somehow, Kevin got away and immediately, backed up against a wall and took his own life with the 2nd gun. Christina was rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where she passed away around 11:00 pm.

Josh Call, who was working at a vegan hot dog stand outside the venue, told the Orlando Sentinel he heard four or five shots. “It was quick like pow, pow, pow,” he told the paper. After a few minutes, he said he went inside and saw a man and a woman on the floor bleeding heavily. “It was horrifying,” he told the Sentinel.


Grimmie, a native of Marlton, New Jersey, came in third place on Season 6 of “The Voice,” NBC’s singing competition, which aired in 2014. She was just 19 when she auditioned with Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” and chose Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine as her coach. Levine said he and his wife “are absolutely devastated and heartbroken” by Grimmie’s death.”Christina was a natural, a gifted talent that comes along so rarely,” he said. “This is yet another senseless act of extreme violence. I am left stunned and confused how these things can conceivably continue to happen in our world.

Before You Exit called the singer “such a loving, caring, beautiful person with the biggest heart” in a statement posted to Twitter hours after her death was announced. “She was an absolutely incredible musician and an even better friend,” it added. “We are so so saddened by her passing and are completely heartbroken.”

NBC’s Carson Daly, host of “The Voice,” told TODAY that Grimmie was “such an incredible talent and incredible person.” “She really was special,” he said. “She had an infectious laugh, she was determined, she was confident, but she was so incredibly sweet. You would never forget meeting her.”

Other fellow artists and fans also wrote tributes to Grimmie, who was discovered on YouTube and had more than 3 million followers on her account zeldaxlove64. When reports of Grimmie’s death first surfaced, #PrayforChristina was the top trending hashtag on Twitter. – NBC News

Christina with her mother and brother

The 7 African Powers

The 7 African Powers are made up of seven saints (sometimes given orisha names, as they are below) who belong to a pantheon of thousands of deities, and are part of the Southern Black conjuring belief known as ‘rootwork’ or Hoodoo, and also the rituals of the Obeah (Obi, Obeya, Obia) man.


According to Blair Whitmer, writing in Usenet in the late 1990s,

The phrase “The Seven African Powers” is misleading. These seven deities are only seven out of a large pantheon of Orishas. These are worshipped in several different religions brought to the New World including Santeria (in Cuba), Candomble (in Brazil), Arara (in Cuba) as well as many others. The phrase “Seven African Powers” is mostly predominant in African-American hoodoo; in Spanish-speaking nations, they are the Siete Potencias (Seven Powers).

As a priest in Santeria, I’m biased towards the belief that proper worship of Orishas requires the direct input and guidance of a priest in the chosen religion. The same is not necessarily true if they are simply being invoked for magical uses, but that’s not really “worship” … at least not in MY book. Personally, I would advise extreme caution in invoking an Orisha for magical uses without the associated religious practice and guidance from a priest. – Lucky Mojo

However, Dr. E of the  Santeria Church of the Orishas states: The Seven African Powers are actually spirits of the dead from the seven different African tribes that were brought to Cuba and forced into slavery. Within a Santeria (Lucumi/Lukumi) cosmological understanding, the Seven African Powers are araorœn (citizens of heaven Ð dead spirits) Ð they are not usually Egun (ancestors of blood or initiatory lineage). When a person speaks of the Seven African Powers they refer to a group of 7 different spirits, one from each of the following tribes: Yoruba, Congo, Takua, Kissi, Calabari, Arar‡, and Mandika. A person who has a connection with the Seven African Powers will have one spirit guide from each of these tribes unique to him, and one of the seven will dominate the group and orchestrate their efforts.

“[…} If a person were to receive the odu 7-8 in a diloggun [cowrie shell] reading it would indicate that they have the Seven African Powers in their court of spirit guides and it would be up to them to use Spiritualism (Espiritismo) to determine who they are, what their names are and who is the primary one that heads the seven.

I grew up on tales of rootworkers who could summon the spirits – or whatever they were working with – to wreak havoc upon one’s enemy(ies). It was mostly the older generation who talked about roots, such as my grandmother, my great aunt, and my mom’s oldest sister. I remember hearing about a man who had a demon or something in his stomach, that screamed like a woman, and another who had to pass through his bowels a stone maybe, that was as big as a grapefruit – and my great uncle, who turned down a woman in lust with him. She had a root put on him that caused his stroke, but a couple of years later, she lost both legs to diabetes and wound up blind, in a wheelchair. Karma or consequence? You decide.

The Seven African Powers are summoned to assist with overcoming obstacles, spiritual growth and connecting to one’s inner power. Anyone can call upon the Seven African Powers, as they are spirit guides and everyone has access to these Orishas for their guidance.

Carry a 7 African Powers medal with you on a necklace or in a mojo bag. Place a 7 African Powers prayer cardin the bag, as well as the tools of the 7 African Powers. Anoint the bag with 7 African Powers oil, or wear the oil to invoke the energy of the Orishas. Pray to a 7 African Power Orisha statue to draw strength and power from these mighty deities. Light a 7 African Powers 7 day prayer candle and recite the following prayer:

Oh, Seven African Powers, who are so close to our Divine Savior,
With great humility I kneel before thee and implore your intercession before the Great Spirit.
Hear my petition and grant me peace and prosperity.
Please remove all of the obstacles that cause me to stray from the Beauty Way.
Oh Olofi, I trust in the words “ask and you shall receive”.
Let it be so! Amen
.
 – Original Botanica


I. PAPA LEGBA: Also Eleggua, Elegua. The trickster, the opener of the way and the guardian of the crossroads, both physical and spiritual. Comparable to Hermes or Mercury in the European tradition, Legba makes the impossible possible. He lifts us beyond the limitation we impose upon ourselves in daily life. He is identified with portrayals of St. Peter and St. Nicholas. His favorite offering is candy and tobacco and coconuts. You have to ask him to carry your words to the other Orisha: he is the first one asked.

II. OBATALA: Also Obatalia. From the same root-word as the word Obeah. The Mother-Father responsible for the creation of our physical bodies. Literally “chief of the white cloth,” the integration of ALL colors into one as found in White Light Shields for example. Obatala’s help is sought in ethical dilemmas and the problems of self-discipline. He is generally identified with the crucified Christ. Obatala is androgynous and sometimes depicted very old, sometimes quite young. Obatala taught the people how to do Ifa, the table divination system. He is gentle, a sky-god, but corresponds to Damballah, the primordial serpent as well. Notice the heavy ring of integrated opposites in his being such as mother-father, androgynous, young-old, dark-light, good-evil, right-wrong – paralleling such deep religious themes as the concept of Sunyata for example.

III. YEMAYA: Also Yemalia, Yemalla. Literally “mother of fishes”. She rules birth and the surface of the oceans, and works closely with Olokun, who rules the depths. She works through dreams and intuition. Her waves wash away all sorrow. Her compassion nurtures her children through any spiritual or emotional crisis. Her love sustains life. She is identified with Mary, Star of the Sea.

IV. OSHUN: Also Ochum. The Goddess of love and abundance. The power of desire is hers, and she often uses s this power to transform. She is beauty, laughter, and generosity. The erotic is her sacrament. She is often compared to Aphrodite, and is identified with the portrayal of Our Lady of Caridad.

Oshun likes to heal hurt with love, and plants seeds of change in people. Oshun is also associated with Ibu Kole, the vulture. It is said in ancient days Oludamare/Olofi became disgusted with humans and their behavior, turning away from their needs and prayers. Resources were depleted and famine spread throughout the world. As far as Oludamare/Olofi was concerned the human race could end forever. Because vultures fly higher than any other winged bird, Oshun transformed herself into the form of a vulture in order to fly to the heavens and intercede on the behalf of humans and save her children. Olodumare was so compelled by such spiritual virtue that he fulfilled her request.

V. OYA: A revolution in constant progress, Oya brings sudden change. She is a whirlwind, an amazon, a huntress, and a wild buffalo. Lightning and rainbows are signs of her presence. She also rules communication between the living and the dead. Think of Hecate or Artemis. She is identified mostly with Saint Catherine. The Spanish name for Saint Catherine is Santa Catalina. Interestingly enough, ‘la Catalina,’ who is cited as having similar powers and attributes as OYA, was the name of the infamous sorceress that bedeviled both Don Juan Matus and Carlos Castaneda.

VI. CHANGO: Also Shango. Chango is a king, and his name is synonymous with justice. He lived in historical times and ruled as the fourth Alafin (or chieftain) of Oyo, a city in modern-day Nigeria. He is a knight in shining armor. He uses lightning and thunder to enhance the fertility of the earth and of his followers. Myths concerning his death (or rather the fact that it did not occur) link him to the European figure of the Hanged God. He is identified with representations of Saint Barbara.

VII. OGOUN: Also Ogum. God of iron and machines, Ogoun is a smith, a soldier, and a politician. In modern times he has come to be known as the patron of truck drivers. He is the spirit of the frontier cutting paths, through the wilderness with his ever-present machete. Although Ogoun clears the way for civilization, he does so through constraints. The more spiritual aspect of the small path one-on-one approach of the machete rather than the broadstroke abusive the use of iron and machines. He often prefers to dwell alone in the wilderness seeking solace and meditation. He is identified with Saint Anthony. – Wanderling

The Deities of Palo

1. Zarabanda: The Spirit of Zarabanda is the divine messenger of the underworld. It is through the spirit Zarabanda that mankind can communicate directly to the spirit world. The Caldron contains all the elements necessary for the spirit of Zarabanda to manifest and operate on earth. The Spiritual caldron is a microscopic world and a doorway to another dimension. Zarabanda is the driving force behind innovation, technology and also ambition. His work ethic, determination, and raw masculine power are both rightly revered and intensely feared. Zarabanda is the god of iron, roads, and war. As the god iron, Zarabanda is the keeper of the knife, and all manner of bloodletting belong to him in some form; whether it is to heal like a surgeon’s scalpel or to kill like a soldier’s dagger. With his knife, Zarabanda separates the useful from the useless, and discerns true from false. Zarabanda is also called the devourer of evil. Zarabanda is an unconquerable force of power that can break any curse, lift any hex, and exorcise any evil spirit. Zarabanda fiercely protects his children, and should be called upon for any protection needs, or triumph over any adversaries be they physical or occult. All of his offerings should be taken to the railroad tracks. Zarabanda favors plantains, rum, cigars, machetes and the colors of green, black and coral.

2. El Christo Negro: El Christo Negro is the Lord and King of the underworld. All Spirits of Palo Mayombe must bow before him. He is represented as the crucified black Christ. He is symbolized as a black Rooster and also Crows

3. Los Espiritus Intranquilos: Los Espiritus Intranquilos or “the seven tranquil spirits” are used in many rituals and spells common in Mexico and Central American witch craft. The “In-tranquil Spirit” is called on as a single entity in order to force a lover who has left to return. The In-tranquil Spirit is not one entity but actually encompasses all damned earth-bound souls who wander the world without rest and without peace. When a Palero receives the seven tranquil spirits he/she is empowered to work with very strong cemetery spirits who can assist in black magic spells.

4. Santisima Muerte: La Santisima Muerte is the goddess of the cemetery and of death. Her powers and her historical origin and be traced back to the pre-Aztec era. Santisima Muerte is the chief spiritual force used by Mexican spiritualist and witches for a variety of different types of magical work. Santisima Muerte is associated with healing, protection, and safe delivery to the afterlife by her devotees. Santisima Muerte is a very jealous spirit. Santisima Muerte and El Christo Negro work very well together.

5. San Simon: San Simon is a very powerful spiritual force in the world of Palo Mayombe and Central American black magic. San Simon is the keeper of Law and Divine Justice. When you become initiated into San Simon Mysteries, you receive the power of knowledge and the secrets of divine justice. Devotees believe that prayers for revenge, or success (at the expense of others), are likely to be granted by San Simon. San Simon is the most powerful spirit that a Central American black magician can be initiated into. The initiation gives the individual the power of invisibility from the law.

6. El Cristo Rey: El Christo Ray is the lord of this world. He is direct contact between man and your higher self (God/Goddess). He is associated with spells of Divine Justice, harvest, and fertility and healing. El Christo Rey is called on to reverse witchcraft and also for spiritual alignment. El Cristo Rey give you great healing powers. Telepathy and gives you the power to work with so-called “white light” spirits. El Christo Rey can be called on to heal terminally ill individuals.

7. Madre De La Luna: The Madre De La Luna is the mother of the moon and the Los Brujos De Las Noches (Witches of the Night). She is most identified in Mexican Witchcraft as Nuestra Senora De La Luna. The initiation ceremony never takes place unless there is a full moon. During the initiation, the initiate will receive a sacred knife which contains the power to the mysteries of Madre De La Luna. The knife is a powerful amulet for performing love spells. Without this knife, an individual consecrated in mysteries of Madre De La Luna is powerless. She is identified as an Owl.

8. Madre De Agua: Madre De Agua is one of the most powerful spirits in traditional Palo Mayombe. The Powerful Madre De Agua is known in Palo Mayombe to posses the secrets to a strong love and money magic. With Madre De Agua it is said you can have anyone you desire as a lover. Madre Agua is the Sea Goddess and ruler of motherhood. She is considered a very gentle and loving force and the possessor of great healing powers. Madre Agua is the patroness of children as well as their mothers. She can bring great wealth and blessings to those she favors. Madre Agua loves sea shells, fans and all things associated with the sea. All of her offerings should be taken to the ocean or a lake when the ocean cannot be reached. She favors the colors of blue, coral and crystal. She is also used in many other powerful magical works.

9. La Santisima Piedra Iman: La Santisima Piedra Iman is another powerful spirit in traditional Palo Mayombe. The power of this spirit is used in both so-called “black” and “white” magic. This spirit is used to attract money and wealth. This spirit is used by many Latin business men to achieve tremendous wealth and prosperity.

10. Francisco De Los Siete Rayos: Francisco De Los Siete Rayos (Francisco of the Seven Rays) is one of the ancient spirits of the Caribbean Palo Mayombe. This Spirit sits on the mysteries of the four winds, and is the ruler of thunder (known as 7 thunders,) lightning, and fire. He is a daring fighter and a nasty rival but can also be charming and crafty. He deals with justice and sexual passions in the male. All of his offerings should be taken to the woods. Justice from Siete Rayos is swift and sudden. He favors bananas, red wine, and the colors of red and white. The skull and horns of a large ram is a favored item in his Prenda.

11. Mama Chola: Mama Chola is a powerful female spirit used for spells of love and fertility. This is one of the traditional spirits received in the practice of Palo Mayombe from the Caribbean. Mama Chola is a beautiful and powerful witch who rules the river, beauty, and money. She is sensuality, sexuality and gracefulness. Mama Chola is the power of two things coming together. All of her offerings should be taken to a river. Mirrors, peacock feathers, honey, eggs, white wine and mimosa are some of her favorite things and she favors the colors of amber, yellow and orange. – Occult Lectures

Palo Mayombe

Palo, also known as Las Reglas de Congo, is a religion with various denominations which developed in Cuba among Central African slaves and their descendants who originated in the Congo Basin. It is secondary to Lucumí, also known as Santería, among practitioners of African-derived religions in Cuba. Denominations often referred to as “branches” of Palo include Mayombe (or Mallombe), Monte, Briyumba (or Brillumba), and Kimbisa. The Spanish word palo “stick” was applied to the religion in Cuba due to the use of wooden sticks in the preparation of altars, which were also called la Nganga, el caldero, nkisi or la prenda. Priests of Palo are known as Paleros, Tatas (men), Yayas (women) or Nganguleros. Initiates are known as ngueyos or pino nuevo. – Wikipedia

Palo is often mistakenly known as ‘the dark side of Santeria’ which it is not. As maligned as Santeria and Vodou, Palo is another Afrocentric belief system that the Europeans passed off as ‘black magic’ simply because it did not fit neatly with their Catholic-Christian beliefs. Anything that is different from what Europeans follow are always summed up as ‘evil’ – having dark skin did not help matters any, since the color ‘black’ was associated with the devil and wicked activities. It still amazes me that in our modern age, there are people out there who believe that only Christians will ever get into heaven.

Palo Mayombe often called the dark side of Santeria, but nothing could be further from the truth. The roots of this African religion originate from the Congo area. The Palo tradition was preserved primarily by the slaves who were transplanted to the Americas during the Spanish colonial days. Although majority of slaves that were brought here were the Yoruba people of West Africa, other major tribes were taken from the African continent including the Bantu of the Congo area. With them they brought Palo Mayombe.

Palo is a nature based system very similar to Shamanism, that utilizes the forces of nature, such as sticks, stones, earth, bone and many other items drawn from nature. Palo work is centered around the Prenda’s, also called Nganga’s, which are consecrated ritual cauldrons filled with earth, sticks, bones, herbs, and other sacred objects. The Prenda is home to the spirits of the Dead, as well as the powerful Nikisi, which are the deities of Palo. – Erzulies

Slain by the Spirit

I am an open minded person, for the most part. When it comes to religious worship, we are all free to do our own thing, whether it’s the worship of the Goddess, Jesus Christ, Satan, ancestors, power or money. We shouldn’t have religion shoved down our throats by anyone. While most of my family is Christian, most of us weren’t raised in the church – African Methodist Episcopal – and I can count on one hand the number of times I attended church services as a child under the age of 13. I always had a deep belief in God and Jesus though I didn’t learn of the Holy Ghost until I was about age 17.

However, once I went off to college and began studying myth, religion, humanities, and other subjects, my firm belief in heaven and God and the angels started to vanish. It wasn’t long before I was delving into the studies of Vodou, Witchcraft, magick, new age, and devil worship. I must admit that I once had a very negative attitude towards any religion that wasn’t Christianity, except Wicca for some reason, but my attitude completely changed once I understood more about these religions. I felt free once I had a more positive outlook towards what others believed, and it has made me a better person.


Palo’s religious function revolves around the prenda or nganga – a magical cauldron composed of different soils, stones, wooden sticks, tools and bones. The prenda is a microcosm of the world, and contains a powerful pact between a spirit of the dead and the mpungo (force of nature) who rules the prenda. The Palo priest – called a Palero or Palera – directs the spirit of the prenda to perform works of magic, to heal, curse, make magical changes happen or to make pacts with new initiates. Palo’s worship is very necromantic and heavily involved with working with spirits of the dead.

Palo’s primary initiation is the Rayamiento (scratching) in which the body of a new initiate is ritually prepared by forming a pact with the nganga for protection and spiritual evolution. The Rayamiento derives its name from the ritual practice of lightly cutting the skin of the initiate. Such cuts are never performed in any Lukumí rituals.

In modern-day Cuba and in the United States it has become more and more common for people to be initiated into both Palo and Lukumí. Lucumí and Palo often exist in parallel within the lives of many adherents to both faiths. Unfortunately, this has led to the modern innovation that a person MUST be Rayado (scratched or initiated in Palo) before undergoing Kariocha, or that once a person goes through a Rayamiento in Palo that they will naturally make their way to Kariocha in Santeria Lucumí. This is misinformed and is not traditional by any means – though it is a very common practice.

To be perfectly clear, initiation in either religion can only be determined through their respective divination systems. It is not correct to assume that someone will be initiated in both or either religion. If a person’s destiny, as revealed through divination, is one where they will only participate in Palo, that is perfectly acceptable and traditional. Similarly if a person’s destiny, as revealed through divination, only requires them to be made a priest in Santería through the kariocha initiation, then that is perfectly acceptable and traditional. One does not automatically lead to the other. – Santeria Church

Santeria

Santeria is another misunderstood religion, same as Vodou, and has been maligned in the mainstream media, books and movies, just as Vodou has. There is nothing evil about Santeria, though there may be practitioners of the religion who use the forces of darkness to get what they desire, yet that is no different from any belief system, or the cut throat worlds of business, politics, and law.

What is Santeria?

Most practitioners of Santería prefer the name Regla de Ocha or the Lucumí religion. Although it’s practiced today by people all over the world, Regla de Ocha is generally defined as an Afro-Cuban religion that originated in what is today Nigeria and Benin in West Africa. The word Santería comes from Spanish and loosely translates as devotion to the saints, or santos. Many practitioners of the Regla Lucumi refer to the Orichas, or the deities of the religion, as saints or “santos.” This tendency to combine terminology and concepts from Catholicism and West African religions is sometimes called religious syncretism.

 
A misconception about Santería is that it’s a polytheistic religion, or one that worships many gods. This isn’t strictly true. There is one supreme God in the Lucumí pantheon, who like the Holy Trinity of the Catholic Church, has three representations and three names: Olodumare, Olofi, and Olorun.  Olodumare is the Supreme Being, the Father, the Creator of all things in the universe. Olorun is another manifestation of God, visible to us as the Sun. Through the warmth and life-giving qualities of the Sun, we can experience the world that Olodumare created for us. Olorun is the owner of Heaven, known as Orun. Olofi is the third manifestion of God. He is the one who communicates most directly with the Orichas, teaching them what humans need to know to lead healthful, moral, respectful lives on Earth. The Orichas act as intermediaries between human beings and God. They watch over humans and report our actions to Olofi. They have aché, spiritual energy given to them by Olofi, which they use to maintain harmony and righteousness in the world. Most of the Orichas at one time had human form and gained semi-divine status after death, similar to the way many people think about Catholic saints. Santeros and Santeras undergo a ceremony to find out which Oricha “owns their head.” This means that they identify as the son or daughter of that Oricha, with whom they have an especially close relationship. Practioners of Santería are devoted to the Orichas and worship them, but they are never placed above Olodumare. – About Santeria

It seems that any religious belief with Black African origins are considered Satanic, wrong, or sinful. The same people who think this way see nothing wrong with the sexism of Christianity, Islam & Judaism, pretending a piece of bread dipped in grape juice is the body & blood of Christ, the ‘kill the infidels’ teachings of the Koran, nor the ‘Goyim are bad’ mentality present in the Talmud. They are as misguided as they snobbishly feel that everyone who isn’t a Christian, Jew, or Muslim to be.
Practitioners of Santeria do not even believe in a devil though they acknowledge the existence of evil.

In the 1987 film, The Believers, viewers were rattled and terrified by murderous, gory scenes. Since then, religious scholars and anthropologists have struggled to set the record straight, fighting tooth and nail against the twisted Hollywood sensationalism that tarnished the image of Santeria, an Afro-Cuban religion.

 

One such scholar and initiate is Dr Mary Ann Clark. For decades, she has exhaustively taught the tenets of the faith, challenging those bent on vilifying a spiritual tradition that she calls sacred, theologically sound, and complete.Clark refers to Santeria as a variant of the Yoruba traditions that is practised in Brazil, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago. They all pay obeisance to the same orisas or Yoruba gods. Each orisa has its distinctive colour, food, songs, music, and connection to natural phenomena. And although, there is Roman Catholic influence, she dismisses the commonly held academic belief that Santeria is a syncretic religion.

“In its early history in the region, practitioners did appropriate some facets of what was around them, for example, religious holidays, but they did not incorporate Catholic saints. You may see Catholic images in a Santeria shrine, but you may also see images of Buddha and other religious icons.”


She referred to cultural melange as “decorative displays” and argued that, in a ritualistic setting, Santeria remains distinctive and unique with its own cosmology, theology and philosophy. Clark has long fought historical distortions and prejudices against her faith but remains understanding and conciliatory. “Everybody believes that another faith practices some form of superstition. When Western churches pray for rain, that is acceptable; when the Native Americans do the same, it is decried,” she said.

“Santeria upholds that reincarnation is a reality, but this doctrine is unlike that of Hinduism and other eastern philosophies. If you have lived a good life, you return, but your soul is destroyed if you have been an evil person.”
 – The Gleaner