On Saturday afternoon Pastor Bercián and I take a walk to Pueblo Nuevo Solistahuacan, just to work off an especially good noontime meal. As we return, walking along the road, we meet two men who want to talk.
"Pastor, now it's five," says one of the men, and the Pastor seems to understand. "It goes from one to the other. You work with one and then the voice says, 'Well, I'll just go to the next one.' And the convulsions and foaming of the mouth keep on... "
The man is talking about the family of a man called Lorenzo. Last Friday Lorenzo visited Pastor Nicolás in Pueblo Nuevo, saying that three of his children were convulsing and foaming at their mouths. The problem sounded so serious that Don Nicolás went to Yerba Buena for consultations with Pastor Bercián. Not long ago Pastor Bercián had seen a convulsion and mouth-foaming case in which intestinal worms had been the problem. Anti-worm medicine had been given and a huge ball of more than 700 worms had been passed, and the problem had been overcome. Thus Pastor Bercián's first suggestion had been that on Sunday morning the children should visit Dr. Sánchez to get some worm medicine. But now the situation seems to be more complex and dangerous than earlier believed.
"And those children, they use words that they couldn't possibly know," continues the man. "They're all between ten and five years old, you know, but they talk like adults. And they say, 'I'm not going to leave here,' and 'Don't throw me out of this house, because I like this place.' Moreover, sometimes their voices are not their own... "
"Has anything happened that might explain all this?" asks the Pastor, who now looks very concerned.
"A few weeks ago Don Lorenzo's granddaughter got sick and since she didn't have the money to see a doctor she went to see a spiritualist," confides the man in a low voice. "That spiritualist had the granddaughter do all kinds of stuff. In Don Lorenzo's house they burned copal, lizards and snakes, and they killed a black chicken and buried its head in the floor of Don Lorenzo's house."
The Pastor suggests to the man that the family must disinter the black chicken's head, burn it some place away from the house, begin praying to God that the evil influences will go away, and fast until things are back to normal. The man acts grateful for the advice, and we part.
Later Pastor Bercián tells me that around here this kind of phenomenon is not uncommon. However, down at Colegio Linda Vista lately they've been seeing more cases of "demonic possession" than normal. The Pastor explains:
"One student started playing with a ouija board, which is an instrument of the devil. Another student got into contact with a spiritualist. A third student was doing poorly in his studies, so he made a pact with the Devil that if the Devil would help him he'd do the Devil's work. So the student began making good grades, but when he wanted to be free, the Devil wouldn't leave. The poor student became tormented and would scream and throw his arms about and curse. And when someone asked the Devil inside the student what he wanted, that voice answered, 'I want all the students to leave this place.' Some other students, maybe they just got curious, and became trapped. In the end, six students had to leave school, and some still were not freed."