A woman driven by her curiosity wants to know what her dogs see at night. In the comments, we explore the beliefs in purgatory, in the souls that come to ask for help or cause harm. We finalize with a story about what happens when you rub your eyes with the dog's eye-buggers.
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What the Dogs Saw
(This story was first told by Anabel y Marianela Medina. It was collected in the book The House Between Earth and Sky by Joseph Sobol.)
Adapted by Carolina Quiroga-Stultz
Vocabulary: Anima: Blessed soul. Purgatory: Place where the blessed souls live.
Her name was Rosa, and Rosa was one of those women that not exactly like to mind her own business. She was always asking about this, about that, about him, and about her. Well, it happens that Rosa lived in a small house with her three dogs. On the right side of the house, there was a creek, almost dry. Passing the creek, there was the church.
Now, Rosa had noticed, observed, that certain nights especially around Día de Los Muertos, (Día de las Animas, The Day of the blessed souls, around the first days of November or around Christmas or Holy Week); for three nights straight after the bells of the church had struck midnight, her dogs would go outside and start barking. And she would go outside to see if somebody was trespassing into her property, but no, she never so anything.
Well, this event happened the night before, so let's say today is when the story begins. So today is when Rosa goes to the priest and asks him what is going on, and do you know what the priest said: ¡Ay! Rosa, Rosa, váyase, váyase, ¡no pregunte esas cosas! ¡Olvídese de eso, váyase!
Forget about it!
But Rosa was determined not to forget about it. Instead, she remembered what her mother told her a long time ago. If she wanted to see what the dogs see late at night, all she had to do was to wipe off the dog's sleep, la lagaña, the eye boogers, and then rub it on her eyelids. So that's exactly what she did.
So around 11 PM, she went outside her porch, she sat down on her rocking chair, she called her favorite dog Pepita, she wiped off the dog's sleep, la lagaña, the eye boogers, and then she rubbed on her eyelids, and she waited.
After the bells of the church had struck midnight, her dogs began to bark. In the beginning, she did not see anything, but she heard a whisper, a murmur. Souls: Santa María, madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores, ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte, Amén!
Rosa followed the whisper to her right, and then is when she saw the first of the blessed souls, the souls of the purgatory. It was right there passing by the creek, by the church, and after her were so many others with their white robes, their candles, praying, and some of them dragging chains.
Rosa watched the procession passing by, and when it seemed that the procession was about to fade away in the distance, the last of the animas stopped and turned around, and in a blink of an eye, it was right in front of her, offering Rosa her candle.
If there was something that Rosa knew was that you don't mess with the animas, you don't make them mad. So what option did she have? Rosa went to grab the candle, and when she did, the anima disappeared, vanished in the air. But Rosa was still holding the candle. She dropped it, and she ran back inside. She closed the door, but when she looked down, the candle was right by her feet. She thought that one of the dogs had brought it in.
So, she grabbed the candle, she walked outside, and she walked along the creek, and she tossed the candle in, where there was a little bit more water, and then she ran back inside her house. She closed the door, and she locked herself in the room and sat down on her bed with her rosary, and she began to pray. And she prayed, and she prayed until finally, she was able to calm herself down. But when she opened her eyes, the candle was right in front of her. Oh! that night, she could not get rid of that candle, and she could not get any sleep.
The next morning Rosa went to see the priest, and she told him what had happened, and do you know what the priest said:
Priest: ¡Ay Rosa! ¡Rosa! Yo le dije, pero que usted es una terca Rosa, uno le dice una cosa y a usted le entra por un oído y le sale por el otro. Pero tranquila Rosa, cálmese, cálmese, hay algo que usted puede hacer.
There was an option. What she had to do was to return that candle, but of course, anything could happen. That afternoon Rosa went back to her porch, she sat down on her rocking chair, and she began to think all the things that could possibly happen that same night: that the animas took another route or that they didn't come by her house, by the creek, by the church; that she was one of the animas in that procession; that the anima, the blessed soul, did not want the candle back. That Rosa was dropping the candle by accident, making the anima mad. Oh! she could not get any rest.
Around 11 PM, she called her favorite dog Pepita, wiped off the dog's sleep, la lagaña, the eye boogers, and then she rubbed it on her eyelids. With the rosary in one hand and the candle in the other hand, she waited. When the bells of the church struck midnight, her dogs began to bark. In the beginning, she didn't see anything, but she heard that same whisper that same murmur. She followed the whisper to her right in there they were. The animas, the blessed souls, the soul in penance, they were all right there with the white robes, their candles, praying and some of them dragging chains.
Rosa watched the procession passing by and when it seemed that the anima had forgotten entirely about her, that they were going to fade away in the distance, the last of the animas stopped, and slowly turned around towards Rosa. In a blink of an eye it was right in front of her, asking for her candle back.
Good news, right? But the problem was that Rosa was completely convinced that something was going to go wrong. So, when she was passing the candle back to the anima, Rosa was holding onto that candle really tight. So, when the anima grabbed the candle, Rosa did not let it go. And both began to pull back and forth, back and forth, until the anima got really mad and said: Anima: Pronto! (soon)
And the anima vanished in the air with her candle. Rosa fell on the ground, unconscious. The next day when the priest came by to check on Rosa, he was the one who found her guarded by her dogs.
People say that it took her a couple of days to regain consciousness to remember what had happened, who she was, but eventually, she was fine. She resumed her daily activities, her routine, but she wasn't exactly the same after that. She was constantly sitting outside her porch on her rocking chair, gazing towards the distance as if she was seeing something passing by over and over again. A neighbor who was there when Rosa passed away, when she died, the neighbor said that before Rosa's rosary slipped through her fingers and touched the ground, Rosa's last word was: Pronto!
Curiosity killed this lady.
Well, friends, I bet a lot of you have questions and even have things to say about what we just heard. So, the following notes have the goal of helping you understand a little bit more about the story. Now let's move on to las animas, the blessed souls, the souls that come from the purgatory. What is purgatory? Who are those guys? What are they doing here?
Well, let's talk about it. In the essay The popular belief in the purgatory souls in the valleys of the rivers Andarax y Nacimiento by Manuel Francisco Matarin Guil (which is a digital document and it was written in Spanish) the author says that according to the Catholic belief, the purgatory is a place or a state where all sins and wrongdoings are atoned.
In the dualistic system proposed by the church, the soul is judged twice. When the person dies and at the end of times, on the first trial, depending on what the soul did, it will be either sentenced to eternal fires in hell or it is taken to heaven well it will rejoice in the presence of God.
However, during the second and the fourth century Christianity reflects on the souls that have not sinned enough to deserve that inferno, hell, and can be saved by succeeding at passing perhaps a test or something like that. Therefore, in the 12th century, the word purgatorium appears as a noun. It is important to say that the pressure of folklore beliefs over scholars at the time, opened the gates to the inclusion of this concept, so it was a combination of both.
Von Kepler, in 1930 writing Guidance for preachers, advises them that when they refer to the purgatory in front of the congregation, it is important to emphasize the most painful parts of it. Because the most important part of the predicament is to mobilize Christians to feel pity for the souls who are atoning in purgatory so, let's go back a little. In the 12th century is when Christianity came with the idea that there are people that, when they died they weren't that bad, right? So, it is not fair to send them to hell because they made some mistakes, but it's not fair to send them to heaven if they were not that pious. So, where do we send them? To this new place called purgatory.
Now when they are in that place or in that state, they are helpless, and they need us. From there comes the belief that the sentenced souls try to alleviate the pain by showing themselves to those in dept to them, to help them to carry on with the promises that were not fulfilled by them (the dead) or to perform sacrifices for them that eventually will help them to get out of that state or reduce the sentence. Therefore, there is a rich and extensive oral tradition that talks about the souls that appear alone or in the company or a procession.
The following note comes from a digital document that you can find on the Spanish Storytelling Association (www.narracionoral.es). Under the title The world of the animas by the anthropologist Rafael Quintia Pereira.
According to this document, the animas have an ambivalent nature. They can be good, or they can come with evil intentions. The animas can intercede for us to God. They can even help us with our troubles during our daily lives. But they also can ask for justice or vengeance and be bothered by the living, to the point that they can terrorize that person.
According to the anthropologist Marcial Gondal, the animas can show themselves in different ways. As an individual or as a part of a group. They can even take the shape of an anima such as a bee or a butterfly. They can also manifest through sounds or noises, lights, or shadows, or they can manifest in a more indirect way; that is when things in the house are not going well, people are getting constantly sick, animas are dying, crops are failing, a lot of tragedies and misfortunes and it just keeps happening and happening, and no matter what you do or how you try to stop doing, there's no way to stop that. So that could be that there is an anima or a soul in penance there.
There are certain times during the year that is easier for those souls to transit into our world. So, there is the belief that the animas can come to earth at night, during Christmas Eve, during the night of the dead, Día de Los Muertos, which is around November the second, Día de Las animas. For instance, in Galicia (Spain), during the night of the dead, people do not pick up the dishes from the table because they believe that the dead can come back that night and they could be hungry.
Regarding the procession of the animas, normally, it occurs, or it happens at night, and they go out announcing the future death of a neighbor. The procession is led by a living person that carries a cross. Behind that person comes the procession of animas, and they are usually wearing white dresses or white robes with hoods. They are lighting up the path with candles or with bones of dead people lit up.
Now the person that has been summoned to lead the procession, that person he or she, in time, will see how his health diminishes, losing weight, getting weaker and weaker, and that person will not find rest until they pass this burden until somebody else. If you find yourself in the presence of a procession of animas, you should not look at it, do not be curious, do not listen to what they are saying, and do not take what they will offer you.
Very well, dear listeners, we will finalize the program with One More Story, and this one comes from the book The Bird Who Cleans The World by Victor Montejo, published by Curbstone Press.
The Boy who Saw Visions
The old dog Tusik went out into the yard every night and barked tirelessly. His big ears stood up and leaned forward as if he spied on the far horizon devilish ghosts and visions about to throw themselves on him.
This scrawny dog pawed lazily at his fleas, and at night he barked fervently and ceaselessly at a distance. This habit allowed neither of the owners of the house nor the neglected dog any peace.
Mothers said to their children: Dogs who howl all night like Tusik have visions and can see strange things that other dogs cannot see, much less humans. And far from being good luck for the dog, it becomes a misfortune that keeps him from sleeping. And what's worse, he is always terrified.
The little boy Tik-Lol, who heard this, wanted to see if it was true. One afternoon, ignoring his mother's words, he grabbed the dog and wiped from its open eyes the thick green ooze that gathered in the corners. Then he rubbed his own eyes with it as if it were an ointment he had taken from Tusik's runny eyes.
A short time later, the boy began to see strange things, and his alarmed cries woke up the neighbors at night. Aaaayyy, what is that! Don't let it catch me! Uuuuuyyyy!
Every night he's cries joined the howling of the dog who stared trembling at the horizon. The little Tusik-Lol could not bear up under this evil. He became horribly thin, and finally, he ceased to exist.
From that time, it was clear that no one should rub his eyes with the phlegm from the eyes of dogs who see visions at night, or what happened when Tik-Lol disobeyed his parents might happen to them.
My name is Carolina Quiroga-Stultz, and Tres Cuentos warns you not to think twice but at least three times before following your curiosity, and by all means, do not mess with an anima. Next time there are obsessions that the dead take with them to the other side, unsolved issues with the living. ¡Nos escuchamos pronto, adiós!
1. The house between earth and sky. Harvesting new American folktales. Collected by Joseph Sobol. Published by Teachers Ideas Press, 2005. (This story was first told by Anabel y Marianela Medina.)
2. The Bird Who Cleans The World by Victor Montejo. Published by Curbstone Press ( Northwestern University Press). Copyright © 1991 by Vievee Francis. Translation Copyright © 1991 by Wallace Kaufman. All rights reserved.
3. Links to Spanish articles:
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