It took one man and a pole to relinquish the severed goat heads hanging above Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street in Brooklyn, but the dilemma is not so easily solved. Who the hell is leaving severed body part hanging around Brooklyn? It’s a mystery that may date back to the ’70s, but Brooklyn’s Prospect park seems to be the epicenter of such activity that has been tied to Santeria, Voodoo, and other spiritual sects.
Since 2010, there have been 33 reported cases of animal parts found in and around the New York area: goat heads, chicken heads, smashed turtle shells, dismembered dogs, and even cow tongues nailed to trees. The cow tongues themselves are symbolic of a Santeria ritual that’s meant to “shut up” the living. In 2009, 15 cow tongues had to be removed from trees in Prospect Park in one instance. Santeria has roots in Africa and Cuba, and some rituals involve animal sacrifices, though it’s not known if this religion had anything to do with the cow tongues.
“It’s always difficult to make a direct connection to Santeria, it could be Palo… It could be a hybrid group,” Dr. Miguel De La Torre — an associate professor for social ethics at Iliff School of Theology — told the Village Voice. “However, if it is related to one of the Caribbean religions like Santeria the obvious connection is that someone is trying to silence someone’s tongue.”
Palo Mayombe — what the good doctor was referring to — is described on one site as:
…the world’s most powerful and feared form of black magic. In santeria religion there exists a dark side called Palo mayombe. Individuals who practice this dark aspect are called Palero. Palo Mayombe has a very long…history. This magic was transported to the Caribbean during Spanish slave trade to Cuba and Puerto Rico in the 1500.
While some city officials believe that teens may be responsible for some of the dismembered animal parts, a Santeria priest told NYMag that the work is likely that of an illegitimate priest. Okay, so what’s creepier: evil teens who dismember animals or illegitimate priests using the “dark side” of Santeria? Take your pick, or just forget that you read this and no harm will come to you.