There is a procession of candle lights approaching slowly from the reef in the direction of the beach. The lights seem to be floating about four feet above the surface of the sea. It moves slowly and gently and a slight murmur can be heard, a combination of prayer and singing. As the procession nears the main pier, a gust of chilly wind can be felt.
The procession then enters the village and proceeds down the front street and into the back street. The village night is completely silent except for the murmur of the souls in the procession. They are the souls of the deceased that come out every night during the month of November.
Folkloric tales describe that the souls usually leave the cemetery at midnight, float by the reef and then take one stroll around the village. On a very dark night you can distinguish the spirits completely covered with a white cloth. The flames of the candles seem never to flicker not even in the wind. All the windows in the village are locked for fear of any contact with the spirits. A brave one might take a peek from a slightly opened window, and if ever noticed, one of them would hand you over a candle.
In the morning the candle would be a large foot or arm leg. That means they would return for you. Oh, Gosh! To avoid being hunted and annoyed by the spirit, you have to return the bone or candle by placing it in an innocent child’s hands, who would return it to the spirit on the following night or procession. And that was as far as encounters went with spirits 25 years ago.
Villagers respected the privacy of the spirits by not staying out on the streets after midnight. Actually all doors were locked and probably bolted by nine every night in November. Respect of privacy or fear, perhaps both, but even those out partying or drinking managed to clear the streets by 9 p.m. Those who did not had to suffer the consequences for many days- high fever, aching bones, chills, upset stomach and wetting of pants.
An encounter with the “Animas” or Spirits 25 years ago was no joke. It was serious business. San Pedro’s apology to the Spirits because we no longer allow them the peace and quiet for their nightly procession during the month of November.
Note: If you believe in the soul, then you believe in the spirits of the dead and of the Animas that were very present 25 years ago.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist