It was midnight when we arrived at the hole in the cemetery fence near the graveyard of the poor. At that moment, four bluish lights hovered in the air over the graves. My hair stood on end. I was terrified. I thought I saw blue lights moving toward me, and then they went back to the starting point. They kept hovering over the graves for about two minutes until they vanished into thin air.

Luigi passed through the hole without caring about the lights, while I remained outside the cemetery. I felt petrified, as if those bluish lights had cast a spell on me. I couldn’t move. My legs quaked as if there were an earthquake under my feet.

“What are you doing? Why are you standing outside like a statue? Come in. Don’t be silly!” Luigi cried out to me.

“Didn’t you see those lights over the graveyard?” I asked in a trembling voice.

“Yes, I did. They are nothing more than will-o’-the-wisps. Did you think they were souls of the dead wandering in the cemetery?” Luigi replied, shaking with laughter.

“What does it mean, will-o’-the-wisps?”

“It means small flames kindled by gas emanating from bodies in an advanced state of decay. You’ll see this phenomenon only in the graveyard of the poor, because here the bodies are buried under the bare earth inside coffins that have not been sealed with zinc. So keep calm. Don’t worry. You won’t see blue lights beyond this area.”

Absolute silence and peace reigned in the town of the dead. Only feeble lights came out from the candles in the tombs. We walked under a sky dotted with stars. The Milky Way was visible. My grandmother called the Milky Way Saint James’s Stairway. According to her, the souls of the dead climbed up and down Saint James’s Stairway when they came to our planet, and then they left Earth, bound to faraway planets and stars.

Walking in the cemetery, I didn’t sense any ghostly presence beside me. Luigi was right. There were only bones and decaying corpses in the cemetery, nothing else.

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind

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