Tag Archives: Mitos


Las Nimitas, Luciérnagas and Bichos de Luz

Nimitas, or Fireflies, are the souls of the dead watching out for their loved ones still living.

Interpretation of las Nimitas by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu
Interpretation of las Nimitas by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu

Nimitas, or Fireflies, are a very common sight in the country around the open fields in the Dominican Republic. The males have a bright tail light that flashes hoping to get a return flash saying that the female is interested in getting to know him.

Las Nimitas, Luciérnagas and Bichos de Luz are known as Fireflies or Lightning Bugs. Dominican superstition says that the Nimitas are the souls of the dead who are watching out for their loved ones still living. They shine their light reminding all who see that they are there always there….watching.

Fireflies are also called Cocuyo which is a Taino Indian word.

Los Indios De Las Aguas

Los Indios De Las Aguas/ The Indians of the Waters

According to Dominican legends, these Indians are the fabulous beings who inhabit caves. They can be found in submerged caves of rivers and lakes or inside the mountain caves. It is said that these were groups of escaped Taino Indians who kept up with their old traditions and ways. In order to do this they had to stay hidden.

Interpretation of Los Indios De Las Aguas by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu
Interpretation of Los Indios De Las Aguas by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu

These Indians are said to be very beautiful, especially the woman, because of her dark eyes, smooth black hair, and cinnamon colored skin. These beautiful women leave the waters on the nights of the full moon to detangle their long hair with gold combs.

Some say they do not bother people and are quite generous. They share their knowledge of natural medicines and possess old and powerful magic. Others say that they are dangerous and fear to bathe in deep waters and unknown areas. Some say the Indios de las Aguas leave their caves to look for the men who may wander near. These men are taken to their caverns never to be seen again.

The children are warned not to sneak off to the “Pools of the Indians” because these Indians may take them never to be seen again. The “Mano Negra” will reach up from the dark waters and drag them into the water never to be seen again.

Do you think this is a way for parents to keep their children home at night and away from dangerous waters or could it really be that there is a dark hand waiting to pull them down forever to be lost…

El Galipote

El Galipote and El Lugaru (El Zangano)

El Gualipote is a dog-like creature and El Lugaru or El Zangano are flying creatures. The legend says that they are men who can change into animals and then back to human form at will.

Interpretation of El Lugaru / El Galipote by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu
Interpretation of El Lugaru / El Galipote by Artist-Illustrator Ray Wu

El Galipote and El Lugaru, both of these legendary magical creatures can change form. They are men who can become animals and become men again. Galipote can also become inanimate objects, like tree trunks and stones. He can transfer his desires to animals and in this way can make the animal do his wishes.

According to the belief, galipotes are cruel and violent. They are very strong. Bullets do not hurt these creatures. It is said they like to cause havoc by frightening people traveling in the night. They do not permit the person to pass and also can help people to get hopelessly lost.

It is difficult not to find a Galipote when traveling in the country. It is wise, just in case, to carry a protective amulet and to cross yourself often to protect yourself from these beings.

Galipote can become a dog. This dog-galipote is called a Lugaru from the French word that means Man-Wolf. It can also fly like a bird. These high-flying, nocturnal birds are called zangano or zancu. It is said that this legendary being sucks the blood of the children during the nights and will also have sexual activities with infants. It can also become invisible.

The only way to kill one of these beings is to get a branch and make a palo de cruz / wooden cross. This wood can only be cut on Good Friday. Some say you must use a knife or machete that has been blessed with water and salt.

There are still Galipotes

There still are Galipotes (also spelled Gualipotes) in existence according to some of the residents of San Juan de la Maguana located in the southern part of the country. Families tell stories of how relatives were known Galipotes.

To become a Galipote one must make a pact with the devil himself, selling their soul for the ability to change one’s self into another form. A witch doctor is also able to help transform a human into this evil creature.

There are recent stories coming from the Palma Sola Massacres of 1962 that says the survivors of this massacre were Galipotes. They were able to change themselves into elements of the environment such as rocks, trees, or animals. In this way the soldiers were not able to see them to eradicate them and thus came about their survival.

Parents to this day scare their children with tales of these people that can change their shape at will. “If you be bad and don’t listen a Galipote will get you!”

So, when you are roaming in the campo at night, be sure to carry your wooden cross with you at all times. Better yet, just don’t be traveling in the campo after dark. You may never find your way home…..