* © information that is taught to the initiated students of Ye Olde Dark Arts Coven-Tradition once they receive Luceros*
Chamalongos or Kujamputu are the divination tools that a Tata/Yaya Nganga use when working with clients. This method comes from the Congo-Cuban religious practice of Palo Mayombe and is the primary method used with the spirits and Nkisis. They are made from a coconut husk that has had the flesh removed, shaped, sanded, prepared and consecrated in a Palo ceremony given only to initiated Tatas and Yayas as it draws upon the spiritual pact made with NOT only the Nfumbe that resides within the Nganga but the Nkisi as well. This system is primaraly used by initiates that have Luceros in Palo, Eshus, Warriors and of course one of the many different caminos of Eleggua in Lucumi although it is called Obi in this practice. This is also used in traditional Ifa Orisha practices to speak to the orishas and for ancestral communication
There is also a four cowrie shell system that is used to communicate with the Ancestors but this also something that is prepared and consecrated in a special ceremony and given only to those that are initiated. I have seen in some houses where cowrie shells are used instead of Chamalongos and Obi.
How the Chamalongos/Obi/Four Cowrie Shells Work
The Chamalongos are used to answer yes or no questions and do so very effectively so you will pretty much know if you have all the materials needed to cast spell work for clients and that they have been set up properly,the confirmation of messages the spirits have given, if anything has been overlooked and most importantly if the spirits will give permission to proceed with the work and if any other course of action needs to be taken.
The instructions given to the Palero/a by both the Nfumbe and Nkisi are the cornerstone of our spellwork which is why it is essential to confirm that we are interpreting the messages clearly. We also confirm if the instructions given are NOT from a dark spirit, since NOT all spirits are helpful. The answers are given when the chamalongos are tossed on the floor and depending on how the pieces fall the letter is given that is the answer.
How to Conduct a Chamalongo/Cowrie Shell/Obi Reading
The first step before conducting a Chamalongo reading is to set the area of the consultation up and once that is done and you have taken the proper cleansing bath are the prayers that are taught orialy to you by your Padrino/Madrina. Yeah sure anyone can toss coconut and cowrie shells, but not everyone can take a yes/no line of questioning in the right direction to flesh out all of the details you need for the work to be done right.
The opening prayers start by invoking the authority of the supreme force of nature that created everything God the Creator (Nsambimpungo in Palo, Olofi in Lukumi) , then on to the special salutations given to spirits you are addressing. The prayer is finished with an identification of yourself by your initiatory name, and a simple explanation of what you are seeking to do.
The most important question asked is always “Are you willing to assist me with this?” followed by an opening toss of the chamalongos. If the answer is affirmative then proceed with breaking down the situation of the client into a series of simple questions to be ask. If the questions are too elaborate you will not get the correct response needed and the chamalongos/cowries/obi will be become overheated in which case they must be refreshed or “cooled down”.
The 5 Letters of a Chamalongo/Cowire/Obi Reading
There are 5 primary letters in which the chamalongos speak which are similar to the ones used in both the Lukumi tradition and in the Traditional Ifa Orisha Practices. Below using both the diagrams of the Chamalongos/Obi and the Cowrie shells you can see how they are interpreted. The the white circles or opened mouths indicate concave-side up, while the dark circles or closed mouthes indicate concave-side down.
(Alafia) Answer: Yes. This can be a sign for good health, Peace and Tranquility and Money blockages being removed. If one coconut sits on another it is a special blessing called “Alafia with Ire”. This layout signifies well-being. No need to ask again.
(Etawa) Answer: “Weak Yes”. You need to throw the chamalongos a second time to determine if the answer is yes or no. Now it could be your question may become a strong yes with spiritual work or a cleansing. Or the answer is uncertain or the Spirits are neutral. If Etawe falls there may have been a mistake in the divination procedure or the question may need to be reformulated. It is also possible that the topic of questioning is not the topic of true concern. Offer the spirits a small offering such as rum, honey, palm oil, or tobacco. Ask again, more elaborately.
(Ejife) Answer: Balanced Yes. Ejife is the strongest and most definite answer. If the two white coconut fall on each other (touch or lay on each other) it is called “Ire” which is especially good blessing. This is a special sign! No need to ask again.
(Ocana) Answer: No. The Reader should reformulate the question so that it can be answered. This is an important letter! First, it says you must give ebbo or sacrifice to your Eggun or Spirit for a positive outcome.
Second, you must ask again, and keep changing the question until the Spirit gives you the root problem. There is a warning here of bad magic or a negative person who is causing problems. Keep asking the Spirit until you discover where the problem lies. Once you have a “Yes” answer ( Is it my brother? Is it my neighbor? , etc.) the issue is over. The root problem must be dealt with.
(Oyeku) Answer: No. This is a very dark omen and indicates not only complete failure but that death or the spirits of the dead are lurking in the area and demanding attention. The Reader should immediately ask again, this time asking what Spirit a sacrifice must be given to and what it wants in order to “kill” the sign – or not allow misfortune to befall the client before continuing back with your original line of questions.
Closing a Chamalongo/Cowrie/Obi Reading
Once everything with regards to the client has been answered the final step I do with the chamalongos is to close out the reading with the Nfumbe or Nkisi is by asking “Is everything ncheche bacheche with me?” This is their opportunity to let me know if I need to cleanse myself with a special symbol, prayers to elevate my spirits, perform an extra spiritual work. Once they give an affirmative answer, the reading is closed and recorded so that both you and the client have something to refer to at a later time if a situation needs to be revisited.
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