Scapegoat. Pun intended
A very well written article by Camille Bethel from Trinidad Express, in which she writes about a small town in Trinidad where local hysteria, religion and good old fashioned psychology play a role in the deep believes that a gold chain wearing goat was commanding people to kill themselves.
Good story for a saturday afternoon. Time for my coffee refill….
Throughout history, it appears goats have always gotten a raw deal.
There is the Bible telling of the scapegoat carrying away the burden of the sins of the people.
The Devil is also often depicted with the face of the poor ruminant.
The symbol of Satan-the pentagram-is shaped like the head of the goat.
Goats are sacrificed as part of religious rituals.
Even the goatee-that little beard under the chin-is out of fashion these days.
Only the “three billy goats” fairy tale made them heroes-the oppressed animals eventually conquer the troll and make it to the green, green, grass on the other side of the bridge.
So it was perfectly supernatural that when the evil spirits decided to make trouble for the people of Granville, Cedros, two years back, it came in the form of a goat possessed.
The people of the fish and food crop community came out in their numbers to stage a religious procession through the streets.
It looked more like witch-hunts of centuries past-complete with torches, burning incense, chanting of prayers and reading from the holy scriptures-to rid the village of an evil spirit after strange things started happening to women there.
The alleged paranormal activity began in Granville after a 27-year-old woman with a blood-related illness died mere days after being diagnosed.
Her death was followed by the death of another female villager, who took her own life shortly after attending the first woman’s funeral.
Dohmatie Seebran, who had complained of feeling nauseated and had vomited-although not ill before attending the funeral-placed her baby into a play pen one day, walked to the back of her home and set herself on fire.
Her husband, Mookesh Seebran, said his wife was never suicidal, but did complain to him about something talking to her.
The police report also stated that Seebran had told friends that she had been hearing a voice that told her to kill herself.
After Seebran’s funeral, at least three other women in the village were said to have had encounters with the demon, and one of them said she too was prompted but disregarded a voice telling her to kill herself and her child.
There were residents who spoke of sensing the evil force and those who even said they had seen a white goat wearing a gold chain going in and out of the forest during the night.
The fear was real, few daring to go out at night or even into the forested areas to tend to their crops. There was no choice but to fight the evil with good.
Pundit Praboodeo Maharaj, also a police corporal, led the interfaith procession. So through the streets of Granville they walked-the Christian holyman, Bible in hand, reading scripture, the pundit sprinkling holy water. The idea: since the spirit was born of an occult ritual, only collective prayer would be able to exorcise the evil goat.
Of course, there were the non-believers.
Dr Harry Ramnath, a psychologist who had seen many patients describing paranormal experiences, believed counselling and not prayers would help the people of Granville, simply because their actions reflected mass hysteria.
Ramnath said the Granville incident was similar to what happens at schools: one child falls ill and a dozen others complain of similar ailments when they have none.
Explained away too was the death of Seebran, who appeared to have symptoms consistent with a brain tumour.
Pundit Maharaj disagrees. More than a year and a half after the religious procession through the streets of Granville, the village remains peaceful and devoid of spirits, or at least evil ones bothering people. Maharaj said: “Things are back to normal. The goat has not been seen since.”
And the people are no longer afraid to tend to their land or walk the streets after dark, as there have been no more sightings of the white goat wearing the gold chain and no one has complained of hearing voices since then. And that, he believes, is the power of prayer.
Full source: Trinidad Express