In culture after culture, people believe that the soul lives on after death, that rituals can change the physical world and divine the truth, and that illness and misfortune are caused and alleviated by spirits, ghosts, saints ... and gods.

STEVEN PINKER, How the Mind Works

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mexico's Isla De Las Muñecas

Mexico's Isla De Las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls) near Mexico City looks to be a dark and curious place, filled with old doll parts placed there over 50 years by Don Julián Santana, a hermit who died in 2001.

Island of the Dolls

Above is a short video about the place. More from Bizarre:
...The Island Of The Dolls is a shrine to a dead girl who was said to haunt (Santan), and in whose honour he collected dolls, to calm her restless spirit.

“There are many stories about why the dolls are here,” says Don Julián’s cousin, Anastasio, one of several family members who now curate the island, welcome visitors, and charge a token fee to take photos.

“Some people claim Don Julián was mad, and that he’d fish dolls out of the canal believing they were real children, and that he could nurse them back to life. But the real story is that, soon after Don Julián arrived on the island, he came to believe this place was haunted by the spirit of a poor young girl who drowned in the canal. So when he saw a doll floating past he took it and put it on a tree, both to protect himself from evil and make the dead girl happy. But one doll wasn’t enough; soon Don Julián had made the entire island into a shrine.”

For decades, Don Julián amassed a huge collection of dolls that had been rejected by their owners, either plucking them out of the canal as they bobbed past, or scavenging toys from rubbish heaps on rare excursions from his secluded home.

In later years, locals began to trade old dolls with Don Julián in return for home-grown vegetables, and before his death the hermit’s cadaverous collection covered every inch of the island – each unloved toy receiving a second lease of life as part of his surreal shrine.