We stop here, in Fragoso river, to warn you about the danger: : The vákner walks free! And this is not the only beast you should be scared of: hurry up, because the Santa Compaña goes out every night.
The forest is life sustenance, but it is also death. It can be a dark, gloomy place, where the vegetation doesn’t allow you to see anything, where the beasts roar, the wind hums and you want to escape but you are paralysed .
The vákner is a mythical figure described by the Armenian bishop Mártis de Arzendján, in a tale about his pilgrimage to Finisterre between 1489 and 1496: “I got the blessing in Santiago and I arrived at the end of the world, in Santa Virxe beach, at a building built by the apostle San Pablo himself and which is called Santa María de Finisterre. We found the Vákner, a big and very dangerous wild animal. How did you save yourselves while groups of 20 people cannot go through?”.
It used to scare the pilgrims around the Xallas forests and the coast of Finisterre. Researchers say that probably, it was a big dog with rabies outbreaks, but nobody really knows… it was a fierce beast, fast and with a strength and aggressiveness out of proportion. In other Atlantic cultures there are similar figures; actually, its name could have Indo-European root, since “wagh” means shout or resound; in Latin “vagio” means moan or whine, in Danish “vakker” means alert, and in Nordic “varg” means wolf (video).
The lobishome (werewolf), a man who becomes a wolf in full moon nights because of a curse or voluntarily according the legends, is other of the most popular figures in our imaginary. But, without any doubt, the most popular and the scariest is the Santa Compaña. It is a group of lost souls dressed in black tunics and hoods, who wander around at night. You cannot see them, but they are there. You can hear the chants and the prayers, there is a thick fog, the wind hums and you can smell wax…a bell rings…The group is led by a living person who carries a cross and a bucket with holy water. That person will die soon, unless they give the cross and the bucket to other person who they find while wandering around. The next day, they cannot remember anything, but there is something consuming them inside. They become thinner and thinner, paler and paler, more and more tired…until they die.
If you come across Santa Compaña, flee! Run away! And if you do not have time, draw a circle on the floor, lay down face down and start to pray…! Let them go and don’t look at them!. Is there a stone cross close to you? Run there and go up the steps; it is a sacred place, and they cannot take you there. But if today is Saint John’ day (23rd of June) or Day of the Dead (1st of November)… it’s unlikely that you get rid of this…