I have a cracking poltergeist case in a book from Oaxaca, Mexico
OK as promised, my translation, somewhat polished with a lot of tortuous prose stripped out or simplified, overlong sentences broken up etc. What really stood out when I read this chapter all those years ago were the classic poltergeist characteristics. The events were said to have happened about seven years after the end of the Mexican Revolution, so picture the wild west and you won't be too far wrong. Now, pull up a chair, sit back, and read the only account of a gun-slinging exorcism attempt you are ever likely to come across....
Leyendas y tradiciones oaxaqueñas
by José María Bradomín, 3rd ed. 1998
The Bedevilled House
All the gruesomeness of one of those shadowy legends of the Middle Ages darken this tale that is not a fantasy nor a fable, nor yet another fiction, but actually relatively recent and true event, which happened in Miahuatlan, and which caused a great commotion among the local populace, to such a degree that a local newspaper correspondent, even though he considered the phenomenon to be the result of a tiresome joke, had to report the peculiar event; the report is contained on the second page of the Mercurio
newspaper, no. 3075 of 3rd July 1927, the headline of which reads: “Demonic apparitions are reported in a house”; this corroborates the events even though it really did not involve an apparition, and the testimony of many serious and responsible people can confirm this event whose circumstances present a violent contrast, with its anachronistic character in the current (20th) century.
The extraordinary event that is summarised here happened at house no. 209 of Calle 2 de Abril, the property of Miss Susana Ortega Ramos who, for two years, had to put up with the undesirable company of an infernal entity that occupied her residence to torment her in various ways and to disturb her deep religiosity. Around that time Miss Ortega had promised to become a nun, but had not yet taken her vows. The torments of that strange being started with the theft of some of her belongings, such as maize or beans that she had stored away, or items of clothing or domestic utensils. In the beginning, the responsibility for those thefts was blamed upon her closest neighbour, a Mr Guillermo Lagunas (?) [Question mark in original text]
, who was imprisoned in spite of his protestations of innocence, though afterwards he had to be released because the thefts continued during his detention. The doubts and suspicions that continued to be cast against other people were finally dispelled when that vulgar spirit began to manifest directly in the presence of Miss Ortega by hiding the items that she most needed, on occasions the key to the house that it finally threw on the floor when she took her rosary and began to pray. Other times it perfectly blocked the keyhole with grit or wood shavings, which Miss Ortega patiently unblocked. Sometimes when she woke in the morning the plant pots had been turned over, showing the roots in the bottom, and finally the rage of that entity against its victim manifested by it hurling earth and filth in her food, because of which she was obliged to eat away from the house, in the house of her brother, or in that of another of her family members. Then things became even worse with the apparition of the entity, in all its terrible and repugnant character. According to Miss Ortega, who was the only one who could see it, it had the appearance of a monster that was half horse, from the waist down, and half human, and covered with coarse, matted hair. It manifested itself to her family and neighbours only with its voice, a strange-sounding inhuman voice, with which it responded to the demands of the curious who arrived at the front door. They engaged the invisible being in conversation to which it generally responded with rude allusions; sometimes it even threw stones at the gathered neighbours. The mysterious being claimed that all those who did not like to go to church were its friends, they were “its own kind”. When asked it immediately and accurately identified each neighbour by their name and occupation.
That voice then, and the dialogue with that strange being, was the object of neighbourhood curiosity in Miahuatlán for two years. In order to defend herself against the continuous stalking of the strange being, Miss Ortega’s only recourse was prayer. In prayer she found the necessary force to resist her tormentor, and some moments of relief from the unsettling, unremitting nightmare. She gave herself over to prayer with utter fervour and devotion; but that diabolical entity continued its tricks, torturing her spiritual sensibility and peace with horrifying predictions that invariably came true:
“Look, Susanita, tomorrow there will be a “barbecue” in the market. I will see if I can take two souls at once…”
And effectively, in accordance with this pronouncement, the following day one or two deaths would happen in the plaza, generally on market day.
After that, given the unusual circumstances of the phenomenon, there was no lack of people intervening in the events, trying to help Miss Ortega and looking for a way to confront the invisible entity, even though these interventions did nothing to change that terrifying situation. Gritty men, well known for their mettle, heartless men used to risking their hides at a moment’s notice and for whatever reason, confronted the being and in the end left the house terrified, confused, dismayed by having all their misdemeanours flung back in their faces, and above all by the announcement of their impending violent death, committed by the infernal being that rudely insulted them. One of these cases, actually one among various, is a good example, that of Octavio Joaquín, the nephew of Miss Ortega, who asked the imp to leave his aunt in peace, and received as an answer the announcement of his imminent death:
“Don’t stick your nose in this, Octavio, because you are one of mine, and because of that I will come for you within a few days. I myself will carry you off in my arms…”
Two days later, the horrifying prediction came true, since Joaquín was murdered in the house of a certain woman with whom he was having an affair. But that vulgar spirit did not just respond to events in a tragic manner, it also manifested a certain sense of humour, and this happened when the being was rashly rebuked with scathing remarks issued under the influence of alcohol by Mr Nabor Aldrete, a local horseman, who with bad words and rude adjectives demanded that the being stop bothering Susana, challenging it to match itself against him. He did a half-turn on his spirited horse and charged into the courtyard of the house and rode it to the corner from which the voice invariably spoke, repeating this action several times. But the expectant crowd did not have to wait long for a reply.
“Look here, you half-rate horseman. Don’t come here like that, because you are also one of mine. And don’t presume that you know how to ride because everything that your mount is doing can be done better by any pig, as you can see.”
And, at that moment, a pig that was kept there in the yard jumped over the bars of the pigsty and began to frolic and prance in the courtyard, among grunts that made the scene even more outlandish, making a half turn, standing on its front hooves or charging suddenly across the courtyard, all of which looked so funny that instead of producing fear, it produced laughter among those gathered there, so much so that Mr Alderete fled the scene of his painful humiliation.
After much time, and as a last resort to frighten off that malign spirit, the priests Alfonso López Arenas, Francisco López and Federico Castañeda intervened in the case, with all the required solemnity and according to the prescribed rituals established for such circumstances, they invoked exorcism and demanded that the obstinate entity once and for all leave the house and stop bothering the inhabitants forever. But even that extreme measure was completely ineffective, since that demonic being did not just mock the ceremony, it even mocked the priests with all kind of tricks, for which reason Father Castañeda, beside himself with rage before the ineffectiveness of the exorcism and the scathing insults of that entity, whose invisibility exasperated him even more. He drew the revolver that he carried and emptied it in the direction of the voice, receiving as a reply to his impulsive action a chilling laugh from the entity. It showed off in an incredible and terrible manner by returning the revolver’s bullets, still hot, which fell at the feet of Father Castañeda.
“Pick up your bullets, relapsed priest, they are useless, just like your rituals and your holy water.”
This put a stop to all attempts to evict the infernal intruder from the house. Since all the methods that had been tried resulted ineffective, Miss Ortega continued to pray and put her absolute trust in God, her only refuge from the demonic entity’s implacable siege, which she bore with extraordinary strength of spirit. It was precisely that blind trust in divine protection and total devotion to prayer – and it can be supposed also to penitence – the powerful shield that the diabolical entity never could damage which was the only defence against its attentions, which ended after exactly two years. At the end of these two years, Miss Ortega was required by the bishop, who intervened in the matter, and she left for Oaxaca. But still in Ejutla she had one last contact with that terrible monster, even though this time it was to tell her that she was now free from its terrible attacks, since the time given for it to tempt her had ended, without it attaining its goal.
That was how, finally, the horrifying episode related here ended, after which Miss Ortega took her vows as previously promised during the days of her terrible trials. She took up the nun’s habit and entered the community of the Divine Shepherd, in Huamantla, where she finally became the Mother Superior and where was revealed her exceptional destiny, since her pleas and petitions were answered by the All Powerful. When she was deep in prayer, she was given to see the tombs of her deceased friends and family opening for them to ask her that she remember them in her prayers. The prayers Miss Ortega made in favour of the souls of so many people that found themselves at the point of death, were the counterweight against the attempts of the evil one, which caused the terrible and tenacious siege of which she was a victim in Miahuatlán, and from which she emerged unscathed with her pure faith and complete trust in divine power. And it is regrettable that we cannot continue enquiring anything more in relation to Mother Susana during her residence in the religious community, but dealing with the extraordinary circumstance that caused her to enter the community, in other words the terrible test to which she had been submitted and the gift of vision with which she was blessed afterwards, manifestations that undoubtedly reveal her destiny. We are almost sure that Sister Susana, if she has not been already, is at the point of being beatified. So that it is probable that, although with another name, a Oaxacan saint will take her place in the saints’ calendar.