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May 24, 2010 / Brooklyn news / DUMBO / Meadows of Shame

More dead animals — this time in Brooklyn Bridge Park

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A Santeria-style shocker has washed up on the shores of DUMBO — a bag full of dead birds, fish, food and even some cash!

Pro photographer Steve Harris spotted the macabre mess during an otherwise pleasant stroll last Sunday in the park at the foot of Main Street, just east of Empire–Fulton Ferry State Park.

Inside a soaking blue sack were decapitated turkeys, a smaller bird, dead fish, beans, corn, root vegetables, plantains, and six $1 bills.

“I was so horrified,” said Harris. “I’m a photographer — normally I would go get my tripod and come back and shoot it. But this time I was so taken aback, I took a few pictures with my iPhone and fled.”

Harris believes that the latest incident may be linked to our ongoing coverage of the injured Cayuga duck in Prospect Park, the latest in a months-long saga of mysterious happenings in the natural area that includes dumped chicken heads and intestines along the lakefront.

“I read about the wounded duck and thought, ‘This is a part of the puzzle of what is going on over there,’ ” he said, adding that he was so grossed out he didn’t even take the $6 from the bag.

The connection to Santeria seems clearer in the current incident — though a scholar was hesitant to declare that the sack of spooky stuff was without a doubt an example of the syncretic religion.

“I don’t want to jump to the conclusion that anytime there is a dead animal in a bag, it’s Santeria,” said Miguel de la Torre, a professor at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. “Many times there are copycats who don’t understand the religious traditions and copy traditions they don’t understand.”

Birds are not typically decapitated, he said.

“If you make a sacrifice, you sacrifice the whole animal,” he said. “The only time you cut the animal is if you’re going to eat it.”

Worse, a blue bag corresponds to a different god — Yamaya, of course. This offering should have been in a yellow bag, for the goddess Ochun, the lustful, flirtatious deity.

The scholar also had no explanation for the cash.

“Copper pennies are more typical for OchĂșn,” he said. “But someone could be making an offering by throwing a few bucks in there.”

This is far from the first time an unsettling Santeria discovery has shocked a gentrified neighborhood. Just last year, a severed pig’s head left outside of Green-Wood Cemetery along with candles.

Harris, for his part, was all for freedom of religion, he just preferred that such practices be kept indoors.

“If you’re going to do these things to these animals that’s one thing,” Harris said. “But don’t throw it somewhere where kids will see it by the playground!”

Updated 1:01 am, May 26, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

adrian from seattle says:
everyone, please calm down! This is a harmless offering to a form of the Goddess of the Sea, used during a very specific initiation--an offering to cleanse protect and uplift, a bag of food (birds) and grain and coins that, after the age-old ritual, is tossed into a river or the sea to complete the process. it is an offering of gratitude. it couldn't be more harmless.
May 24, 2010, 4:09 pm
YearInWhite from Florida says:
Who comes up with this stuff...?

Birds are not typically decapitated? Since when?!?!? Obviously the "professor" hasn't seen many sacrifices, then... But, yeah, the offering is a bit confusing...

An offering to Yemaya or Olokun, who both are typically associated with the color blue, would've been left in the ocean.

How this offering could have been linked to Oshun is a little perplexing. If it was $5, maybe... since Oshun is associated with the number 5... I could see how someone might think that. But it was $6. And since when are "turkeys" considered something an offering to Oshun?

To me, the $6 plus the turkeys points to an offering to Shango... but no matter how you look at it, this just sounds suspicious... like it was done by someone who doesn't really know WTF they are doing.

And, yeah, I totally agree with the general sentiment as others, disposing of the animals, offerings, etc. should be done in a way that is both respectful to the religion as well as to those outside of the religious community... which means it shouldn't be left where it someone can see or smell it... and, ideally, it shouldn't be "trashy" (i.e. no plastic bags or any of that nonsense).
May 24, 2010, 11:36 pm
YearInWhite from Florida says:
One last thing...

The goal with something like this is to show your respect/gratitude/etc. to the orisha you just received, who just helped you out with something major in your life, etc. Assuming this was indeed for Yemaya or Olokun, trashing up the beach and getting bad press for the religion isn't exactly all that respectful.

For future note, don't tie the cloth so tight next time. That way, if you drop it off a bridge, it all comes apart, the food and animal remains get dispersed, are eaten by the wish and wildlife, and the most someone finds washed up on the shore is a blue cloth and, if they are really lucky, those couple of bucks you tossed in as well... ;)
May 24, 2010, 11:51 pm
John from East Williamsburg says:
This is why all religion should be illegal, including the more popular human sacrifice cult that drinks people's blood.
May 25, 2010, 9:33 am
Freethinker from Brooklyn Heights says:
Harmless? Says you. Animal mutilation and killing isn't harmless. And this kind of archaic, ignorant practice doesn't do the human race any good either. We should have moved on from this superstitious nonsense hundreds of years ago. In fact, a good many of us have; those bringing up the rear of civilization not included.
May 25, 2010, 5:15 pm
Terell from Bed Stuy says:
a local scholar said this probably didn't have to do with Santeria.

so why are you being sensationalist racists and crapping on an already misunderstood very beautiful and peaceful religion?
May 31, 2010, 2:45 am
Santero from Atlanta , GA. says:
After reading this article I felt compelled to write here although I know I am late .

First of all I would like to state that the scholar Miguel de la Torre, a professor at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, needs to due his homework a bit more, or return to his studies.

In the above Photo those are not "Turkeys" but yet Guinea Fowl and a Hen. Being wrapped in a blue bag suggests it was made for Yemaya the deity of the Ocean.

Continuing on the decapitation of animals ( birds) is common in santeria, I am sure within contained the heads were also present somewhere below the beans and other ingredients inside the blue bag .

The blue bag does suggest and imply that this was left for the deity Yemaya the goddess of the oceans. And has nothing to do with Oshun the goddess of the river, why this was mentioned I have no idea, other than to sensationalize the story.

As to the copper pennies they are in deed added to the ebo ( sacrificial cleansing ) as payment for the deity ESU/Eleggua .

Although, most santeros/as would not just leave things like this as it was found . Currently there are many discussions in the santeria Cuban- Lukumi community on handling this types of matters in better ways , and even our community is extremely upset with types of disposals. We are pressing the elders to teach better ways to dispose of the waste.

Our religion is a beautiful one that we are trying to remove the stigmata's and religious persecution's that have lingered on throughout the years from other religious groups . First by asking the santeria community to remember that things like this is what brings a bad outlook and undesirable feedback as well it shows carelessness on our communities behalf.
June 16, 2010, 2:13 am
Tifase from Atlanta says:
I get so tired of hearing stuff like this from people who don't know anything about Orisa worship. And I'm sorry, anyone who eats meat should have to kill their own bird once in a while so that a turkey with no head doesn't seem so horrific. In my area we never leave offerings closed up like that. It would be open and the items would easily move so it would have never been "found" in this way. Does it disrupt the offerings affect if it is opened like this by people that don't know anything about it?
Aug. 10, 2010, 12:15 pm

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