Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Satyr of Los Callejones of Coín

This post is a departure from the usual format (if I have a usual format) in a couple of ways. It is fiction (or at least folklore), and it is not, originally, my writing. It my translation of this story. This work remains copyright 2008 Laura Flores Fernández. I post it here with her permission.

The strange story that I am going to tell you happened in Coín, a town in the province of Malaga, located at the center of the Guadalhorce Valley, surrounded by Monda, Guaro, Alozaina, Pizarra, Cártama, Alhaurín el Grande and Mijas. Located 30km from Marbella and 33 from Málaga, Coín constitutes a strategic location in this Andalusian province, since it is at the same distance from the Costa del Sol as from Antequera or the Serranía de Ronda.

What follows occured in the area of Los Callejones, corresponding to the municipal district, where the Grande river flows. The ancient Romans called it "el Sigiloso" because the light murmur that escaped the calm waters as they circulated on the banks.

For generations, my grandfather's family has always lived in Coín. My grandfather, like his grandfather before him, lived in a farmhouse in an orchard, in a group known among the people there as the Cortijon Benítez.

I still recall with nostalgia that, when I was a girl, I stayed in the Cortijo farmhouse during my summer vacations and every weekend that I could. I felt very at home there. Besides keeping my grandfather company, I loved to walk with my dogs and explore whatever new places the natural setting could offer. Satisfied as the days passed, my trips grew longer and I went farther.

One day, when the spirit of exploration led my steps toward the Los Callejones area, my grandfather sternly forbade me to go to that place. Curious, I asked him the reason and he answered me that it had to do with an evil place, a place inhabited by a demon. On seeing my pupils dilate, he told me to sit beside him and pay close attention to what he was about to tell me.

I sat down beside him and he began relating an old belief, that his father had once told him, according to which, at certain times during the seventeenth century, the witches of the Coín area and their neighbors had gone to that place to celebrate, under cover of the darkness of night, horrifying rituals and all manner of Satanic rites.

His father told him that the neighbors of Los Callejones were so frightened that they could not stand more such acts. The shrill screams and the strange lights that they perceived in the distance until all hours of the night were truly terrifying, a situation aggravated by a plague of strange illnesses for which the most expert doctors and healers had neither explanation nor cure. Under the circumstances, they decided to take the case before the authorities.

But to submit the state of affairs to any official scrutiny, it was necessary to apprehend a witch and bring her to trial.After no shortage of meetings, they agreed to resort to trickery: sending a handsome, good youngster to request a witch's presence in the village, on the pretense of expelling the evil eye from a neighbor. This he did, and once the witch arrived in the village, the a mob of the bravest men set on her to capture her. From Coín, she was taken before the tribunal of the Granada Inquisition, before which she was accused of having placed the evil eye on many surrounding neighbors, causing miscarriages in pregnant women, and turning the cows' milk sour.

All the inhabitants of the Los Callejones area went to Granada to testify against her and to learn the result of the hearing. The witch was condemned to death by burning at the stake, and everyone watched as her body was devoured slowly but surely by the fire. But as she was consumed by the flames, the people of the village heard the sorceress cast a curse, asking Beelzebub to punish the people of Los Callejones and their descendants for all eternity. With bloodcurdling screams, she asked the Prince of Darkness to send an executioner wrapped in goatskin, since the people of the village had so misjudged an innocent as to blame her and send her to her doom.

After telling me this legend, my grandfather told me that, when he was still a boy, he had spent a day with a friend of his named Carabantes to go to the town fair. His friend, to arrive at the village sooner, took a shortcut through the Los Callejones area, rather than follow his usual, somewhat longer route. When he went through that area, the donkey that was his mount gave indications of discomfort, as though it saw something that my grandfather's friend could not see, and started to bray like crazy, wanting to backtrack to the main road.

Suddenly, he noticed a small goat kid, bleating, lost, near a bush. My grandfather's friend caught the kid in his arms and lifted it onto the donkey. He had barely resumed his trip when he noticed that the little, defenseless animal that he carried in his arms was transforming itself into a fiery monster. First, starting with its legs, each moment longer; then, its talons and teeth, and finally, its horns, ever larger, twisted and sharp. It a time barely perceptible, that harmless kid had become an giant, black goat with long legs and eyes that glowed like the fires of hell.

When it finished its metamorphosis, what it presented before Carabantes was something like a cross between a man and a goat, which stood upright over its hind legs, leaving its front legs, with hooves as sharp as knives, free. My grandfather told me that Carabantes, even with all that stood before him, had the courage and valor to ask it, "Who are you?'

And the beast answered, "I am the Satyr of Los Callejones."

On hearing the beast speak, the poor man felt his heart pounding in his chest and, with all the courage he could muster, asked yet another question of the being that stood before him: "Why do you have those teeth and such long claws?

The beast answered him in a sarcastic tone, "Perhaps your poor mother doesn't have the same teeth as I do?"

After that brief exchange of words, Carabantes told my grandfather that the creature disappeared, vanishing in a dense, greyish mist with a strong odor of sulfur.

Shocked by the phenomenon he had just witnessed, he abandoned his donkey to run off into the wild night, and when he arrived at the village, he told my grandfather what had happened.

Seized with panic, that night he stayed in his aunt's house so as not to have to go home to his own. His entire body trembled and it seemed as though his eyes would leave their orbits at any moment.

Even now, the locals still recall the bad end he had. It's said that, the morning following the incident, dawn broke upon him dead, with an appearance of sheer terror. He wore an expression of indescribable panic, his face contorted; his hair turned white as the snow; and his eyes, open and protruding, seemed to watch all those present with a horrifying, fixed gaze.

Still, when night falls, I feel a bit of fear when I pass around the edges of that area. There are those who are sure they have heard some nights, in the dense darkness, the ballads of the Satyr of Los Callejones.


Anonymous Felix said...

WHAOH. I didn't know you spoke Spanish(?)! Cool Story. Now i have some fresh new material for the kiddies at CAMP.

14 August, 2009 01:19  

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