A first-generation Northerner of mixed Cherokee-Blackfoot and Gullah-Geechee heritage, Tata Saulembo (aka “Ancestor Healing”) grew up surrounded by the artifacts and rituals of South Carolina Conjure, a secretive branch of family folk magic traditionally passed from parents and extended family to child:
“I never thought of it as magic or witchcraft, though looking back I realize just how fortunate I was to be exposed to all these sorts of things at such an early age. What some people might pay thousands of dollars to learn about, I was in the mix with from day one – but from my aunts’ and uncles’ point of view, this wasn’t sorcery, it was just good Christian folks helping other folks out!”
An adolescent fascination with the occult lead Saulembo first to Wicca, and then later to the works of Anton LaVey – “A lot of these ideas tempered me,” he laughs, “even today I would say that I still have a lot of respect for Lavey and what he accomplished.” But the focus of his research always remained on ancestral spirits and traditions:
“We’re all immigrants to this country, blacks, whites, asians, all of us, so it’s important to know what and who your spiritual court is and what they want for you because they’re the ones who can help you the most. So, for someone with a Norwegian last name, they might actually have a Viking spirit guide they need to work with – there’s no rule that says everybody has to have African spirit guides, why would there be? They probably don’t! Your spirit guides are unique to you, that how I look at it and how I work with people too.”
A priest of the Muna Lemba lineage of Palo Mayombe, Tata Saulembo today lives in Garfield Heights, OH, where he splits his time between family, motorcycles and building his Palo Mayombe munanso (temple). He can be reached at www.ancestorhealing.org or (216) 393-PALO.