How Afrodescendientes Are Embracing Ancestral Spirituality
How Afrodescendientes Are Unapologetically Embracing Their Ancestral Spirituality
Rasia Mykonos Pouncie, Palo Kimbisa
How did her journey begin?
Raisa Mykonos Pouncie is a fourth-generation palera who identifies as Afro-Latina. She was initiated by her father into Palo Kimbisa and has been practicing for 20 years. And like many whose ancestral practices are closely tied to their religions, it is a part of her daily life. "We work daily through the divine creator Nsambi (God). Each practitioner has what we call a nganga. This vessel houses our power. We work alongside the egun (ancestors), who intercede on our behalf. Offerings of food, liquor, smoke, flowers, and blood are made as a sign of respect and honor," she told POPSUGAR. "My people are espiritualistas. Four generations back and possibly further in my mother's lineage. Four generations back in my father's lineage. The abuelas held weekly ceremonies in their basement. They channeled the dead, made baños (spiritual baths), and divined through tarot, bones, and tea leaves. They utilized their psychic gifts to guide their community."
What has her spiritual journey been like?
Pouncie described her spiritual journey as evolving, from being a child learning to harness her own psychic abilities and learning to tap into her power in her 20s. She's learned by trial and error, especially when it came to refining the focus and control of her ancestral gifts. Like many modern-day practitioners, she has included the use of crystals, psychology, and reiki in her practice. She also uses her practice as a way to heal and reconcile something many have to reckon with, being both colonized and colonizer. "We honor our African roots while also working with the santos. This originates from the need to conceal our ancient practices during the transatlantic slave trade," she said. "The resilience of my people is seen and felt. My practice also mirrors my blood by honoring the colonized and the colonizer." Pouncie also described hiding her practices for fear of ridicule and after losing friends who didn't understand or thought it was evil.
What advice does she have for others who are hoping to explore their African ancestral practices?
Her advice for those who want to connect with their roots is to first learn about your roots, which for many is easier said than done, but it is not impossible. Thinking about who your ancestors were and where they came from is important in learning how to venerate them as well as feeling out what feels right for you. "How did they walk this earth seven generations back?" Pouncie asked. "That is where the medicine is held in an untouched container. What did they eat? What were their rituals, and how does this resonate with your spirit? If needed, work with a trusted spiritual development coach or mentor that will support you in developing your personal spiritual gifts. Most of all, listen to your inner guidance system. It knows where to lead you."
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