We have just received a traditional Nkisi – literally or “holy” in the Kikongo language – from the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is an Nkisi fetish that contains an unnamed spirit, or mpungo, used for protection and prosperity. This is a magical statue or fetish designed to bring both spiritual and physical protection to those who hold and take care of it.
The hallmark of the Congolese Nkisi are the nails driven into them. Contrary to the Hollywood idea of the “Voodoo Doll,” these are not used for any negative purpose or curse. Rather, each nail is designed to provide a spiritual conduit for the spirit, or mpungo, to travel between the spiritual world and the material world. The many nails are often placed in strategic locations. The reason there are multiple, rather than just one, is to ensure that the spirit never becomes trapped inside the fetish nor becomes locked away and unavailable to come to the aid of those who care for it.
In the case of this Nkisi, the nails are all located in the center of the fetish, in the chest, belly and groin areas. This is designed to focus a spiritual power on all spiritual and physical aspects associated with this part of the fetish. This encompasses the heart, lungs, liver and even sexual organs. It is for this reason that this is an Nkisi designed to give access to a spirit who can grant physical protection (the heart and stomach associated with strength and might), wealth and fortune (the stomach specifically) as well as fortune in relationship and sexual matters (the groin area and sexual organs).
Please take time to examine this Nkisi in detail. As a matter of purely artistic uniqueness and quality, it is one of the more interesting and well-kept Nkisi that I have witnessed in my life. The spirit that resides within is extremely powerful as well and I will discuss this in more detail later. But first observe the quality – carved from wood, the grass twine binding the nails is still intact, the mirrors are still placed in its eyes and the magically-charged herbs are still untouched inside its carved backpack. Each of these is very important for a proper spiritual functioning of the Nkisi. Not all Nkisi have these – many are simply lost or broken due to poor handling over time. Many less powerful Nkisi are also crafted without such features in the first place.
The mirrors in the eyes are a function of its design as a fetish for protection. They help the spirit to reflect evil spirits, bad energy, curses and other types of malediction. Having the original mirrors intact increases the power of the Nkisi exponentially. These are details labored over painstakingly in the crafting process. Placing this type of extra adornment upon an Nkisi requires many additional ritual steps in the crafting.
The same is true of the backpack or back pouch. This is filled with magically-charged herbs from the Congo region. These are charged to the specific requests and desires of the spirit that resides within. In the ceremony preceding the crafting of an Nkisi the spirit is contacted and tells the Tata, or Holy Father, what must be placed inside. In this Nkisi they are grasses and herbs known to potentate spiritual strength and protection. They are also used to enhance sexual and romantic prowess. They must never be removed from the Nkisi. Again, many less powerful Nkisi fetishes lack this feature or the original contents have gone missing over time.
I have seen and communicated with the spirit that resides within this Nkisi. The spirit will not tell me what its name is, but it is benevolent and more than happy to work with any person who gives it the proper care and offerings. It knows I am a temporary caretaker and this is why it will not reveal its name to me, but to the final owner this should be no problem. The mpungo was a warrior in life and has chosen to interact through this Nkisi in order to continue giving strength, protection and power to those who will give it offerings. It likes offerings associated with warrior spirits – rum, cigarettes or cigars, other alcohols and even meat. It does not like offerings of grains, perfumes or anything feminine. If you adopt this Nkisi, but are unfamiliar with making offerings, then I can instruct you how to offer properly and not offend. This is a very powerful spirit, but I would say it is very safe to work with. It is very good for people who are accepting a first spirit into their spiritual family or who have experience with other spirits.
If you already have a warrior spirit in your spiritual family or another fetish harboring a spirit of this nature please let me know so I can make sure that there will be no conflict. Many times proud and powerful spirits tend to fight amongst each other. But compatibility can be determined before any commitments are made.
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The cost of this Nkisi is $550.