Thursday, July 14, 2016

Filipino superstitions: Santelmo

This morning I asked our helper about the remaining blood on the street near our house. An old man lit a small bonfire of sticks and maybe discarded papers and other litter on the scene last night, she told me. Maybe tonight, if it doesn't rain, he'll do the same again. The tricycle drivers asked him to do it.

I asked her what if was for, was it just to clean the concrete? She told me that in a few days, if that isn't done, a Santelmo would appear.

I had to google that.

In Philippine mythology, if a person dies an unnatural, maybe violent, death while rain pours, his soul will be trapped in the place where his body is found. If not helped, the trapped soul will turn into a Santelmo--St. Elmo's Fire, or a ball of fire that resembles a skull and attacks people.

According to the myth, Filipinos light candles where a corpse is found to help release the trapped spirit so it wouldn't turn into a Santelmo.

(I didn't know this when I stepped out of the house to leave candles at the scene, I was simply offering prayers and wishing us all peace. But superstitions considered, now I'm glad I lit candles blessed by an exorcist priest.)