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Nkuyu

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An artist's depiction of Lucero Mundo's nganga (shrine)
An artist's depiction of Lucero Mundo's nganga (shrine)

Nkuyu (also known as Nkuyo and Lucero Mundo) is the most important mpungo in the pantheon of Palo. He rules the crossroads, the wilderness, balance, and guidance. He is the owner of all roads and doors and is fundamental to all spiritual works in Palo. He witnesses everything and without his consent, spiritual power cannot flow in this world. Consequently, he is propitiated first in every spiritual ceremony.

Lucero Mundo, Nyuku’s more common Spanish-language name, means “light (or morning star) of the world”; a reference to his wisdom in guiding our decisions. Lucero Mundo is tricky and fickle. He tests humanity’s integrity with obstacles and challenges. Lucero Mundo is so important that every tata or priest of Palo receives his nganga or shrine. A good working relationship with Lucero Mundo is critical for every priest; otherwise, every one of his spiritual efforts will be thwarted. Lucero Mundo is a fierce defender and destroys his enemies by closing every opportunity in their lives. Lucero Mundo must be approached with respect, and spiritual requests are proposed in the form of a contract with a clear exchange of offerings in order to avoid his mischievous nature. His colors are red, and black and his ritual number is 21. Animal sacrifice is used to propitiate Nkuyu Lucero Mundo within the Congo-derived religions. Altar offerings for Lucero Mundo include animal sacrifices, rum, chamba (peppered rum), and cigars. His offerings are usually left in the wilderness.

In the syncretic practices of Palo Monte, in which mpungos are associated with Catholic Church saints, the representative of Lucero Mundo is Holy Infant of Atocha. Because of their shared traits, Lucero Mundo is sometimes syncretized with the orisha Eleggua. Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who are adherents of the Palo Religion and who petition the mpungos on behalf of clients may petition Lucero Mundo for any purpose including road opening, cleansing, uncrossing, good luck, fortune, protection, employment, court cases, legal matters and enemy work.

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