General Question

Capt_Bloth's avatar

What should I do about sacrifical altars I find in the park?

Asked by Capt_Bloth (2703points) July 25th, 2009

A few months ago my girlfriend and I found a burning candle in the center of a pile of sand, in the bottom of a hollow tree. There were some other things with the candle, but I don’t remember exactly. This is in a forested section of a park directly across the street from where we live. We called the parks department, and they were unconcerned. They said it was a usual occurrence. This is in NYC, mind you. Today I found two altars, one with 2 dead chickens, 3 coconuts, an open can of beer, 3 styrofoam cups, and a burning candle in a pile of sand. The other had 2 dead chickens, 2 ears of corn, and what I think was a mango (I didn’t get too close because of all the flies). I put the candles out both times, but my concern is that somebody is leaving burning objects unattended in the forest. Does anyone know what these might be, and what can I do about this fire hazard?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

36 Answers

patg7590's avatar

yeah that is really creepy….
you could make a bigger altar that is scarier and more dangerous
keepin up with the Jones’s

Lightlyseared's avatar

Are you bothered by the fire hazard or by the fact some kids are getting up to unchristian shenanigans in the forest?

Capt_Bloth's avatar

@Lightlyseared The fire, I’m all for shenanigans.
Of course, I do wish the chickens could have been used for meat.

loser's avatar

Sounds like Santeria or Voodoo activity. Personally, I would not mess with it and call the authorities.

Sarcasm's avatar

Sell tickets to the next showing of their ritual.

ru2bz46's avatar

Clean off the chickens, corn, mango, and coconuts. Stoke the fires, and make some killer chicken curry. Drink the beer while waiting for it to cook.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

don some camo, get you’re shotgun and an 18 pack, yer goin’ huntin’.....

I mean what do you expect us to say really, you’ve already said you called the authorities and no one cares, people are going to keep doing it regardless anyway, just sounds like something you’re going to have to live with.

ratboy's avatar

Worship, in case someone knows something you don’t.

Capt_Bloth's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 I want people to say anything other than “you just have to live with it.” I don’t want a fire across the street from me. I understand what you are saying, there isn’t much else to do, I was just hoping for a new perspective.
Also, I’m curious as to what is going on, and I was thinking someone might know what this was all about.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

just saying this seems like a scenario where you’re options are pretty limited.

and unfortunately there are plenty of different religions that conduct ceremonies like the ones you described so it’s hard to narrow it down, really.
My first guess would be wicken, but I’m pretty sure they don’t do stuff quite like that, the extreme ones, that is.

susanc's avatar

How about leaving them a note, asking them to do the fire part somewhere safe. The fact that they had the candle in a pile of sand is reassuring. Somewhat.
You might also call the fire department. What those guys are doing isn’t necessarily criminal, but it could be dangerous.
It’s santeria, and if the b-movies are to be believed, you may not want to confront.

dynamicduo's avatar

Certainly you’ve called the park department again to report that there’s been two instances of drunken folk and dead animals, right? I would also talk to the police about this. Is the park open 24/7 or are there regulations against alcohol in the park? If so I imagine the police may be interested. Then again, I’ve never lived in NYC, so I have no idea if the cops really care or not…

Capt_Bloth's avatar

@susanc Thank you for the note idea, and I hadn’t thought of the fire department.
@dynamicduo yes there is a law against alcohol but I’ve never seen it enforced

aprilsimnel's avatar

Sounds a bit Santaria-ish to me. I’d put a word in with the desk sergeant at the closest police precinct to the park and see what they have to say. Chances are that they’ve probably had a few complaints already, and one more wouldn’t hurt.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

We can’t assume it was a specific ritual. For all we know it couldve been the work of wannabe-pagan teens who were pounding booze earlier in the night.

Dog's avatar

If you are wishing to discourage it you need to look at why they choose that area.

Is it private? If so you may request thinning of the trees in that area.

If you would rather they not hang there then maybe you make it unpleasant for them to stay via stinky oils or stink bombs.

tyrantxseries's avatar

light a tree on fire and blame them, then the cops/fire dept would do something to stop them next time.

wildpotato's avatar

@Dog This is a protected park – the only place in NYC where they still have the original natural-growth forest. Tree-thinning is definitely not an option. Here is a picture I took. The area we found the shrines at is like this, but with windy dirt tracks instead of the big path. Stinky stuff wouldn’t make much of a dent, considering how the city reeks of piss and garbage most of the time anyway.

Considering how much active, wet growth there is, I am not actually sure if a blaze could get out of hand. But the good Captain and I were both raised in Colorado, where you are trained from infancy to have a horror of wildfires – so it’s really hard for us to ignore this.

wildpotato's avatar

@tyrantxseries How could we ever hurt our lovely friend?

tyrantxseries's avatar

@wildpotato not that hard
Put up a sign saying “please put the candle out after your ritual is finished, Thank you”

arnbev959's avatar

When I was young, my sister and I found an odd shaped piece of wood in the park across the street from our house. It looked exactly like a duck.

In the corner of the park there is a wooded area with a little creek/sewer drain. There was a tree with a large rock at the bottom. It made a perfect altar.

We got some paint and painted the word “DUCK” on the large rock. We nailed the piece of wood that looked like a duck onto the tree. We got packets of duck sauce and anointed the piece of wood.

We found a dead squirrel in the park and put it on the altar, and poured suck sauce on it, and offered it to the Duck God.

That is a 100% true story.

It’s probably just some crazy kids. Write a friendly note explaining your concerns about the unattended candles, and leave it in a plastic bag where the offenders will see it.

Zendo's avatar

“you just have to live with it.”

Response moderated
tinyfaery's avatar

Get down on your knees and prey?

Are there a lot of fires due to lit candles in the area? If not, leave it alone. After all, you never know what might happen…insert spooky music

Darwin's avatar

It does sound like some form of santeria. Someone is asking one of the gods for help in paying the rent, getting a job, or some other mundane thing.

I would simply carry a bottle of water and put out the candles as I found them. We do have freedom of worship in the US so as long as the amount of dead chickens doesn’t become a health hazard (or the chickens were lawfully purchased and not stolen), no harm done.

However, if a very large animal is involved, or a large amount of blood, and the candle is black, you may want to stay away from that part of the woods for a bit.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@petethepothead “and poured suck sauce on it,” where can i acquire some of this sauce you speak of?

ru2bz46's avatar

@uberbatman I’ve got your “suck sauce” right here. ;-)

Capt_Bloth's avatar

My guess has always been that it is just some local kids. I don’t think any traditional rituals involve a empty tall boy of Coors light, and I remember now that the first altar we found had some cigarettes. I have notified the fire department, and we are going to stay out of that area.

Darwin's avatar

@Capt_Bloth – If you have any Dominicans in your neighborhood who practice Santeria, be advised that one of their favorite loas is Anaisa, spiritual queen of Love. In order to get her to work with you or grant you a consultation, you have to offer her perfume, and then a beer and a cigarette. Yellow things, including flowers and kerchiefs, are also advised.

So just because there is an empty tall boy or some butts spread about, you can’t assume it was kids. Sometimes the spirits are rather childlike.

Capt_Bloth's avatar

Thanks Darwin. There are quite a few Dominicans in our area.

wildpotato's avatar

@Darwin…and Anaisa’s feast day/birthday just so happens to be today, according to that article you linked to! Thanks for clearing up the mystery.

Darwin's avatar

People are just looking for love in all sorts of strange places.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I dont practice santeria….

Sarcasm's avatar

I ain’t got no crystal ball…
I was listening to Sublime today on my drive home. Who’da thunk it?

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther