When the nights begin to draw in, my imagination goes into overdrive. I love Halloween and all the history, traditions and legends that accompany it. And one that is really interesting is The Luz De Mafasca.
The Celts & Samhain
I love writing about its Celtic origins and the traditions and folklore of Samhain right up to the present day and the commercialism that surrounds this strange and spooky night of gore, ghouls and trick or treating.
But in Fuerteventura, it is not the trick and treater’s knocking on your door that you need to be wary of. When it comes to spooky costumes, people in Fuerteventura really know how to dress up and party. Halloween is just another of the holidays which gives us an excuse to don some mad makeup and go wild, but there is also a spooky side to the island, that often gets forgotten.
Back in and around October 2010. I was looking for inspiration for articles that I could write for the upcoming October magazine. By chance, I managed to get my hands on an old book. It was written by the gran daughter of one of the older local residents. It was only a small, flimsy affair that contained around 60 pages, but it was enough to intrigue me.
The Old Book
The book, or pamphlet (which is probably a better way to describe it), was written in the language that the local people of Fueteventura ( the Majorero’s ) have used for centuries. Although some of the words looked like Spanish, there were many that I did not recognise, so I needed some local help. It took my a while to find someone that was able to translate the old words into Spanish, and then help me to translate them to English, without loosing their original meaning. It was no mean feat. However, it was well worth the effort.
Ghosts & Other Phenomenon
The book was a book of mystery, short stories passes down from generation to generation about ghostly apparitions, scary dogs, flying witches and things that disappeared and reappeared. These stories, I will retell at some point for everyone to enjoy. But for now…… I am going to focus on just one. A mystery that has become so well-known on the island, that it has even been made into a movie!
La Luz De Mafasca
One of the most popular of local phenomenon’s is known as La Luz de Mafasca or The Mafasca Light.
But what is it and should you be afraid????
The Ghostly Light
As the night starts to draw in, spooky reddish coloured lights sometimes appear in the sparse desert areas near Antigua. Witnesses that have seen the light for themselves, state that it made them feel frightened, amazed and in a state of panic, as if something supernatural was shining a torch upon them. All reports indicate that the light appears to have a kind of supernatural intelligence. It changes in size within seconds, hovers motionless in the air for periods of time and then shoots off, accelerating across the plains. It also jumps from side to side, glowing with a reddish colour, similar to that of a lit cigar. It also seems to terrify anyone that sees it.
It is said that the light accompanies lone travelers across the wastelands but nobody really knows for sure. However, in one account from the 1940’s an old weary priest, renowned to have failing eyesight, was accompanied by the light. It stayed by his side all the way across the plains and to his home in Tunieje. The light only disappeared once he was safely inside his home.
There are several places on the island where the light is often reportedly seen. The main area being the Llano de Mafasca, from where the light gets its name. Other areas include: The notary house in Valles de Ortega, the Pedrales slope, Charco Rosa de Catalina Garcia and Llano de la Higuera in Tunieje.
The story Behind the light
Until quite recently, Fuerteventura was purely a farming community with no street lights or motorised transport of any kind. Shepherds, farmers and fisherman literally loved off the land and would walk miles from village to village to grind their grain, exercise their flocks and trade their wares. These were long, arduous journeys over difficult terrain and in pitch black. One night, two weary shepherds decided to stop for a meal and some rest. They had slaughtered one of their sheep and decided to build a fire on which to cook the meat. They scurried around in the dark, gathering up whatever firewood they could find and leaning behind a small rock wall, was a simple wooden cross.
The Small Wooden Cross
Here crosses are often placed to indicate and commemorate the location where somebody died, such as by the roadside. They are also placed on grave sites to signify that someone is buried there. The shepherds, weary from their travels and looking forward to filling their bellies, saw only two pieces of wood that would burn well, so they took the little wooden cross and added it to the rest of their firewood. The cross burned but as it did a ball of light appeared and hovered in the air, focused squarely on the two men. The light grew in intensity, filling the shepherds with dread, so they began to run. However, the light followed them where ever they went, bouncing from side to side, gaining in speed and chasing the shepherds across the desert and into the local folklore and history books forever.
No one really knows what happened to the shepherds, but the story tells that the remains of the ram and the ashes were later found. And in the centre of the spent campfire was a small unburnt and completely undamaged little wooden cross.
So What Do You Think?
Some believe that the ghostly light is haunted by the soul of the unknown person whose grave was desecrated. But others say it is the tormented souls of the two shepherds who died of fright on that fateful night. Who knows?
Let us know what you think?
Who or what do you think is behind these strange lights?
Have you seen them?
Get in touch and let us know.