Dr. Kioni thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to answer a few questions.
I can still remember the Palo fire and rum spitting ceremony you did as the opening to the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo weekend I attended when we first met. It was very powerful.
I loved your class on Palo and when we talked later, I was so fascinated by your sharing about ancestors of yours in the Bahamas and in Cuba. How do you think your heritage formed who you are spiritually today?
A) Thank you Danette and thanks to The Sunday Stew for this interview. The bloodline of the Paleros runs through my Spaniard / Cuban / Bahamian lineage. Two brothers who were paleros traveled from Spain to Havana Cuba in the 1500s. One remained in Cuba and the other sailed to Nassau. Palo Muetero is inherited by blood according to what I learned at my initiation. The ase of the bush doctor is also strong on my father’s mother’s side of the family. The Palo gene surfaced from my father’s father’s side of the family. The Zulu royal heritage and discovering the mpande lineage came about as a process of the ukuthwasa (Sangoma training) I underwent. That awakened powerful ase that lay dormant in me from my mother’s maternal bloodline.
How does one get started in Palo, and can you provide us with a window into Palo for those not familiar with what it is about?
A) Palo either calls you or the ancestors guide you to it. A crisis in your life may guide you to seek Palo for relief as it did with me initially. People come asking to be initiated into Palo. However most don’t want to wait the mandatory year; and often many have ulterior motives for seeking this powerful spiritual technology of the African Diaspora. I always begin with a chamalongos reading to determine if Palo is a person’s path. Thats the first step. Asking the ancestors and inquiring of Lucero, the Nkisi of the crossroads. If the ancestors and nkisi say yes to initiation, the process of training begins. I cannot disclose much more than that because of the oath I swore to not reveal the initiatory secrets of Palo.
It is certainly a transition from attending Bible College, being a minister, going to seminary and later to who you are now. How did all this come about?
A) The answer is a made for TV miniseries! Well I began my public ministry at age 15. I became a credentialed minister in the largest black affluent Missionary Baptist church in Cocoa at the time. My path eventually led me to the Church of the Nazarene and later to the Assemblies of God with a personal recommendation from Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart who was dominating worldwide televangelism at the time. I was a local crusade organizer for him when he filled the arena in Cincinnati during the 80s. After a one on one encounter and many letters later, he suggested there was a place in the AG for a dynamic black minister such as myself. However, after encountering the same negative spiritual atmosphere and witchcraft in my last two churches I left organized religion forever. It was then I felt an inner leading back to hoodoo and spiritualism which I was familiar with from my childhood. I had to feed my family and the only skill I could rely on was my ability to read the tarot. I began reading at a local new age shop downtown Cocoa in the early 90s and later became a phone psychic before founding DrKioni.com.
I read in your blog that you were a past polio survivor. Can you tell me more about that? You are a spirit of courage and inspiration to have overcome such adversity.
A) Thank you for the kind complement. Polio attacked my body when I was six months old. I am a survivor of 7 orthopedic surgeries to correct the damage done to my left leg, hip and foot. Those surgeries spanned 9 yrs of my life from age 3-12. I attended school in the hospital because of the extended rehab back in those days. I did not have a normal childhood because of polio. It has made me strong as the Man of Steel, tough as Madea, and as gentle as the Dali Lama. The lesson polio taught me is when you fall, you can get back up; even if you have to crawl first. You don’t give up. I learned how to walk again eight times in my life. I don’t give up ever! Although I daily battle PPS (Post Polio Syndrome), a personal triumph for me was climbing the steep Andes Mountain Inka trail in Macchu Pichhu, Peru. I did it unaided and led our tour group to the top of the mountain. PPS (Positive People Survive.)
There are so many thing to like about you, but when listening to your podcast I love your upbeat attitude saying “each day is going to be amazing” and “sending positive vibes and good juju “. How do you stay so upbeat each day?
A) Gee thank you! I like me too LOL! My spiritualist roots were formed by Rev. Ike’s teachings when I was a very young boy until I left home at the age of 15. My dad gave me “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale when I was 16 and a book about the power of the mind. When I went through a dark night of the soul after being diagnosed with PPS in 1992; Vocational Rehabilitation arranged counseling along with a battery of IQ and vocational skills test. The psychiatrist, Dr. Bernstein, quickly surmised I had the ability to self diagnose myself with astonishing clarity. He felt this ability stemmed from the practice of prayer and meditation that has been a discipline of my daily life since I began the ministry. I genuinely love people, well most to be honest, LOL! I love what I do too. I love positive, uplifting music, and I am a voracious reader of motivational books by authors like Emmet Fox, Wallace D. Wattle, Napoleon Hill and Ernest Holmes. Joy brings about a state of mind for positive change. Happiness brings about a state of awareness that opens the portals of possibility. I have had enough battles in life, weathered enough storms to know tomorrow is another day. I refuse to allow fate or anyone to shape my reality. If you can turn on your inner happy, thats proof you can alter your state of being and ergo your environment and circumstances.
I love your quote “follow your passion and do it with all your heart”. Dr. Kioni what keeps you amazed at the power of Magic , and have you seen it in your own life?
A) What amazes me about the spiritual technologies commonly referred to as magick and conjure? 1. There is no life problem that it can’t address. 2. Beware great power comes with greater responsibilities and an even bigger cost, usually something personal. We are all aware of having family turn from us because of our eclectic spiritual practices; that is a price in itself. 3. That our DNA is encoded with the memories of the mpande (first ancestors.) These ancestors made the original pact with generational familiars and spirits bond to the bloodline. If you know this knowledge you will uncover the fountain of life, and the epicenter of your bloodline’s unique spiritual power.
What is your favorite element?
A) MONEY! So lets see, money can be paper; thats wood the earth element. Money can be metal, so metal can be smelted into liquid form. Thus Feng Shui teaches metal is a water element. Inherent in the water and the fire is air. Think I like them all! Do I sound like Rev. Ike?
Do you have a favorite Spirit to work with?
A) Esu and Lucero are favorites and I do not greet the day without first giving them their proper respect. Nfumbe by far is favorite because we are constant companions; our relationship is symbiotic. A nfumbe is the departed spirit of a human who has been resurrected through a secret Palo rite. It serves as a familiar and also may have genie like powers to work for its Tata Nganga (High Priest of the Altar.) My nfumbe lost his only male child to a child molester during his earthly incarnation. In revenge, the nfumbe tracked down his son’s killer, captured, tortured, killed him and dismembered the molester’s body. He is a champion for justice, loves children, protects mothers from negative conjure and is one helluva familiar. He can be funny at times with a wiry, biting sense of humor.
You are a wonderful Tarot reader and I noticed you like to work with the Quest Tarot. The cards are so interesting and unique. How did you find this deck, and is it your favorite and why?
A) Thank you. I was in a Barnes and Nobles looking for a new Tarot deck. I had been looking for quite a few months; but none of the cards available for purchase resonated with my spirit. One day, I was led back into the same store and among the tarot cards was the Quest Tarot. One look at the divination system on the cards and the stunning imagery and I was hooked. I also rely on the African American Tarot when I need to identify certain nfuiri or spirits native to Africa.
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