Subject: WWW Form Submission
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 22:10:32 -0800 (PST)
This story is about Santeria, a religion with influences of both voodoo and Catholicism. It originated in the Caribbean, when slaves who were brought over preserved aspects of traditional African religions by masking it with symbolic Catholic saints so their masters wouldn't know. My ex-boyfriend, who practiced the religion, tapped into some deadly evil spirits, and I fell victim and nearly lost my life. This was the most frightening experience of my life.
I dated somebody from Latin America back in 2004. (I’ll call him “Juan” to protect his privacy.) I broke up with “Juan” after around 2 months, because we had nothing in common, plus he was extraordinarily immature. I felt like we weren't meant for each other and wanted to end it before things got serious. We were only 21. I knew he was Catholic, but never knew why he had a rock "relic," maracas, sacrifices, a sacred stick, and colored beads that I was never allowed to touch. I asked him about it, but it was something he always kept to himself.
A year later, he came back to the states and called me out of the blue, saying he couldn't forget me and was still madly in love. He was so sweet and seemed sincere. I told him for about a month to move on, but he called me religiously three times a day. Hesitant to give him another chance, I talked to him on the phone around two more months until I was convinced that he'd matured a great deal. So, since he was then living in Arizona, he convinced me to fly out to visit him. He said he wanted another chance, I told him we'd talk and spend time and we could see. So when I flew out there, he was staying at a friend's apartment. The friend was a pro athlete, and was gone for 8 days, and it was just Juan and myself. I had a completely open mind, and I really wanted things to work.
The summer before, while we were dating, Juan had lived in a different state in this really creepy old apartment that had once been a school about 60 years ago, but had been converted. It was ALWAYS dark, and his old roommates (25-year-old guys) always said they saw ghosts of children running in the halls and vanishing into solid walls. During the two months we’d dated, when I was alone in the apartment, I heard things, but just assumed they were old boilers or my imagination. It had never occurred to me that ghosts even existed, much less that the ghosts surrounded HIM and not the apartment. I found that out when I flew to Arizona. Keep in mind, I had never even heard of Santeria before this.
The second day I was there, he left for work at around 7:00 a.m. I woke up at 10:00 in the morning and it was already 112 degrees outside. He had been gone for hours, and I woke up because I heard pots and pans rattling around in the kitchen. I rolled over, still very tired, but they clanked together like somebody was trying to wake me up. I came out of the bedroom yawning and opened the door, saying, "Did they let you off early today?" really surprised that he was home already, but when I opened the door, I saw that NOBODY was in the kitchen. I called out his roommate's name, but he was supposedly out of the state. More concerned about a break-in than anything, I went to the front door, but it was locked and dead-bolted. So I searched the apartment, thinking Juan was just playing around, but there was nobody. Ghosts did not initially cross my mind, but I couldn’t explain what had just happened. There was a frying pan and a saucepan in the sink. I put on my bikini and went down to the pool, just to get out of there, but even laying on a towel, the beach chair burned my skin, and the pool water was hot like bathwater under the dry Arizona sun. I couldn’t take the heat anymore, and so I reluctantly went back inside the air-conditioned apartment.
Juan got home around 1:30 and I was watching a movie. He had this really weird look in his eyes, like hatred in its purest form. I felt like it wasn't him at all. He asked me why I hadn't done anything that day, why I was so “lazy”. I said, “There’s nothing I could do besides swim.” He said there was a mall 10 miles away. I told him I didn't have a car, and in 112 degree heat there weren't too many options. He said I was lazy and I should have walked. (Keep in mind this is pretty much in the middle of the Tucson desert.) He then added that eating sherbet for lunch would only make my thighs bigger. This wasn't him, I don't know if he was possessed or not, but he didn't even remember saying it later on. It was almost like something had taken over the sweet person I once knew. He ended up making me cry, and that is very hard to do.
Later that afternoon I asked him if his roommate had come home early, and he said no, that he was going to be gone for 8 days total. Then I said, "Well I think maybe one of your neighbors came in the kitchen to borrow some sugar or something..." (because that was the only half-logical thing I could think of). He said no, that he'd locked the door behind him, asking why I thought that. I told him about hearing pans rattling around in the kitchen while I was still in bed. He said, "Oh that's just the man," like it was completely normal. I said, "What man?" really alarmed that there’d be a man roaming around the apartment while I slept. He said, "He's a spirit. He comes in the room sometimes at night. He was in there last night." I got goose bumps. I thought he was being sarcastic, but he said he was dead serious. Especially because he said it like it was something so normal. He said he didn't think the "man" would hurt him, he just floated around and stared at him, then would disappear through the wall. All he knew was that the “man” had been dead for a while.
Well we went to the Mexican grocery store to buy something to cook for dinner. My ex bought eggs and a bottle of Vodka and a bunch of toys as an "offering" to his Santeria shrine. That day the sky was sunny and half of it filled with storm clouds and there was a sudden torrent of wind gusts and rain. I was unimaginably on edge, and when I got back to the apartment, the air was so thick with this horrible feeling, and I felt like it was sheer evil. It was a beautiful white apartment, very sunny and bright, but there was a darkness in there I couldn't describe. Keep in mind I did not believe in ghosts or anything of the sort. He kept pressuring me to go to bed with him, but I could not do it because from the day I arrived, something felt so wrong, spiritually, like unseen forces were at work.
So the next morning he went off to work again. Before he left he kissed my forehead and then I heard him in the next room with his maracas (he was making offerings to his shrine). I went back to sleep, all alone in the apartment. At around 10:00 a.m. I woke up suddenly. I heard whispering. It sounded like three people whispering, because they overlapped. I've never had psychotic problems and NEVER heard voices, so I thought I was losing my mind. "Hello?" I asked, and in Spanish asked who was there. The whispers were very faint, but steady. I went out into the kitchen, but they weren't coming from there. All the windows were closed, and it was dead silent. I went back into the bedroom and could hear the whispers again. They were coming from the bathroom, along the right wall of the bedroom. The bathroom was long and rectangular, like a bowling lane, and one of the biggest bathrooms I'd ever seen. The bathroom was pitch black, as there were no windows, but there was the dim flickering of what looked like candlelight at the very end of the bathroom in the walk-in closet. I was scared beyond belief, as the three whispering voices were coming from that same walk-in closet. I grabbed a baseball bat from the equipment bag in the bedroom, turned the lights on in the bathroom, and walked slowly to the end where the closet door stood ajar. I gripped the doorknob not knowing what I'd find, and jerked it open with my free hand. The whispers stopped instantly, and I saw a circle of candles, the rock "relic" in the middle in its little nest, a plate with three whole eggs, the unopened bottle of Vodka to the right, and little candies and small child's toys in a pile in front of it.
I should have felt relieved, but I didn't. There was a presence around the relic; it was so still, almost like static. You know when you go to a wake or a funeral, and next to the coffin, around the body there is that uncanny stillness? That was the feeling. There was a picture behind the candles of someone with black smeared all over their face. I picked it up and it was my ex boyfriend, with a painted face. I dropped the picture and almost caught it on fire with one of the candles, and I was so nervous, I actually caught myself saying, "I'm sorry!" to the rock. I was truly feeling like I was out of my mind. My stomach rolled. I’d had adrenaline rushing through my body, fully expecting to find human intruders robbing the place, but instead I find that the voices were coming from this ritualistic shrine.
I backed out of the closet staring at the rock, feeling like I was staring at something living. I closed off the bathroom. That day while I was cooking lunch, Juan just suddenly started being so hateful to me, he asked if I had touched his rock or his beads and I said no (he kept his Santeria beads rolled up in a towel on the top shelf of the closet, and they had evidently been moved, NOT by me). He FREAKED OUT over it. Then he went on a rant calling me fat, and then when he made me cry he said I was ugly when I cried, so I should stop immediately. He tried to hug and kiss me and I fought and pushed him and pounded him away until he let me go. He looked at me and said, "You really ARE crazy." Within literally five minutes, he denied ever saying it and asked why I was crying, as though something had momentarily come over him.
I was beside myself, like I was living in the Twilight Zone. I went out on the balcony to call my best friend, but the 116-degree heat was suffocating. I called her anyway. My hands were shaking. I wanted to go home, I was so terrified, but home was across the country. She told me to get along with him as best as possible, and hang in there. There was no telling what he might do, especially because he had been so sweet all summer over the phone, convincing me he loved me just to get me out there. My mom beeped in on call waiting and I wiped my tears away, because I didn't want her to freak out. Juan was staring at me the whole time, pressed against the glass door. He looked at me with hatred in his eyes; I'd never seen that before in my life. It was like something was in him and had taken over him.
That night I felt like crap, he had verbally beaten me down so badly, he insisted we go to the mall. He took me to a jewelry store to look at engagement rings. I was afraid to say no because I didn't know if he was crazy or possessed or what, but I was just indifferent and my eyes kept welling up with tears, and refused to talk to him. I was like his little beaten down dog. Before we got into the SUV, he bought cinnamon rolls and was teasing me with them. I'm 5'10" and 124 pounds, and ex model, and he turned my middle name "Michelle" into "Michelin" like the brand name car tires, because he said I was fat and had "spare tires." He knew I had once, in my modeling days, been severely anorexic as a teenager. I didn't want cinnamon rolls and he forced me to eat them. I was convinced he was insane. There was a horrible summer storm brewing and the evening sky turned black over the desert mountains. There was soon snake lightning stripping the sky, and I begged him if we could go home.
He drove me around Tucson until we passed this big cemetery, in the middle of lightening and torrents of rain. He said he went there sometimes, that his "madrina" or godmother in his country was a Santeria priestess and practiced the religion from cemeteries because she called on the powers of the dead. He called her daily, always had put her over me the whole time we dated. He then told me that that’s where she had gotten the rock relic, from a cemetery, and she had to bless it in a special ceremony. So did spirits follow the rock then? My head was racing. I was ready to pass out, scream, vomit, who knows; I had never been that freaked out in my life.
What happened next nearly took my life. We got back to the apartment and by that time the heavy rain had subsided. It was so humid, very hard to breathe. There was a TV in the dashboard of the SUV, and he decided to put in the Michael Jackson DVD and fast-forwarded to Thriller. I remember thinking "You've GOT to be kidding me!" He wasn't trying to be mean, he actually just really liked Thriller and to see dead people dancing around. The irony is he had really curly hair like MJ, and looked quite a bit like him. He wanted to watch it, and I wondered why he preferred a pitch-black stuffy concrete garage to going inside and watching it. He started chewing tobacco, a smell that still freaks me out to this day because it reminds me of that night.
We pulled in the tiny cement one-vehicle garage of the apartment. It was so small there was only room enough to open the vehicle doors. It was like a vault. He put the garage door down. The SUV was still running. After about 60 seconds, he said we were going to watch the whole DVD. I asked him to turn the car off. He asked why, and I told him about carbon monoxide poisoning. He laughed and told me I was “stupid,” that a human being couldn't die from that. I reached for the keys to turn off the ignition and he grabbed my wrist before I could touch them and said, "You've got to be smart, Mami. Stop being so dumb." By this time, about three minutes had gone by. The heat was suffocating and I knew we would die very quickly, as the garage had NO ventilation and the SUV was huge, and put out a lot of exhaust. He had locked us in. Looking around, I unlocked the door, popped the garage door button and crawled out before he could put it all the way back down, and ran up the stairway to the outside door of the apartment.
He followed very slowly. He was extremely intelligent, and there was no way he wouldn't have known about carbon monoxide poisoning. Furthermore, it was nearly 100 degrees and there was no reason to watch a DVD in a tiny closed concrete garage with a running car in suffocating Arizona heat. The only thing I could think of was that he knew I'd never be with him after how he’d mistreated me on that trip, that I now knew that I could never be with him (especially after I couldn't even bring myself to look at rings) and he figured if he couldn't have me, nobody could.
What happened next, I'll never forget. He turned "nice" again after his Santeria ceremony, and he insisted that we go to the pool. It was foggy and humid, everything was soaked from the storm, and it was dark, so I really didn't want to. But my alternative was to stay alone in that apartment with those whispering "things" and the dead "spirit man," floating around, so I reluctantly put on my suit and went with him. He swam laps in the dark and I watched from a poolside lawn chair as clouds covered the moon. I kept complaining that I felt this huge pressure in my chest, that it was hard to breathe, and he didn’t care. It got to the point that I couldn’t catch my breath. There was a strong wind and I heard a rumble of thunder again. It began to rain lightly and the rain picked up, and I told him I wanted to go back inside. He acted like I was annoying him, so he dried off and we walked back through the complex. When we got to the base of the outdoor steps to go up to the apartment, there were hundreds of yellow flower petals soaking wet and scattered on the ground, like somebody had ripped fifty or sixty roses apart. I stopped dead in my tracks. I was gasping for air and I’ve never had respiratory problems. He just stared at me, as I had to sit down on the sidewalk in my towel, and did not even help me. Yellow roses held a great significance to me that I had never shared with anyone. When I was little, my grandma had yellow rose wallpaper, and yellow roses had always been my favorite flower. I had never told my friends, relatives, or any guy I dated what my favorite flower was, because I always prayed that the man I'd marry would give me a yellow rose. I always teased boyfriends that they'd have to figure it out, but never told anyone. And here, in the period of 20 minutes at the pool, there were hundreds of ripped apart yellow rose petals, destroyed at my feet, that hadn't been there when we came down. They weren't scattered romantically either, just in a big wilted heap. It was like something was p!
n on my chest, and I felt like maybe if he couldn’t’ suffocate me in the garage, he somehow was finding a way to do it now. Death was in the air.
The storm started again, and after the garage incident, the cemetery, the whispering, the dead man floating around the apartment, and the hundreds of dead rose petals, I was ready to run away. But I was in the middle of the desert with an oncoming storm, and there was nothing I could do.
That night, he went into the closet with his maracas. I acted like I was exhausted, mainly because I couldn't stand to face the hellish reality I was living. It was my last night there, and I just had to survive. He stared at me for nearly two hours as I "slept" and I wondered what he was thinking, especially since he had just finished some kind of ritual ceremony. The next morning, before he took me to the airport, I once again looked in the walk-in closet. There were yellow candles and a jar of honey in the corner. When I got home and researched Santeria on the web, I learned that yellow candles in the practice of Santeria are used in fertility ceremonies, or you could cover a yellow candle in honey and inflict suffering and bodily harm through the spirit world on a desired person. I felt a chill go down my spine. Had that been what he had done before we went to the pool? Had he planned an “accident’ in the water when I couldn’t catch my breath? He had been angry that I didn’t want to get in. my second thought was that since he had been trying so hard to be physically involved with me all week, but I wouldn't, and thank goodness, maybe he was really doing a fertility ceremony. I think he was either trying to trap me into a relationship or destroy me, to make sure nobody else ever had me. The last time I talked to him, when I was safely thousands of miles away, he had no recollection of locking me in the garage with the running SUV, and still held that he had nothing to do with the torn apart yellow roses. But there's no way that he could...nobody ever knew about my love for them, only perhaps the spirit world.
His erratic behavior was one thing, and I would not have necessarily thought it was spirit possession, except that I knew him and that wasn't him. Plus the "spirit man," the whispering, the attempt to kill me in the garage, the respiratory attack, and the roses, there was some evil entity at work. Coming home, I was thankful to have escaped with my life. As a translator, I have since known other people who practice Santeria, who are totally normal, and some of the happiest, funniest, and sane people I have known. I just believe that my ex somehow had tapped into an undesirable spirit, and was very susceptible to them. I know I have never been the same since, and I certainly believe now in more than I ever did. I thank God every day for my protection. I just wanted to post this story as a warning never to dabble in Santeria or Ouija boards or anything to do with the spirits as amateurs. We see funny portrayals of voodoo dolls in the media, and many people think conjuring up the dead is okay. I highly recommend against it, as you will never fully know who or what might linger with you, uninvited, forever.