The Cocolo people are an Afro-Caribbean community residing in the Dominican Republic, whose cultural heritage can be traced back to the British West Indies. The Cocolo people are known for their rich beliefs, mythology, and rituals, which are heavily influenced by their African roots and the syncretic blending with Catholicism.

Beliefs and Mythology

The Cocolo people's beliefs are a complex fusion of African traditional religions and Catholicism, which was introduced during the colonial era. Consequently, their mythology consists of a pantheon of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures from both African and Catholic traditions.


  • Anaisa Pye: Anaisa Pye, also known as Anaisa la Chiquita or Anaisa Pie Danto, is a prominent deity in the Cocolo pantheon. She is a syncretic figure associated with Saint Anne in Catholicism, the mother of the Virgin Mary. Anaisa Pye is a spirit of love, happiness, and abundance, often depicted as a beautiful woman wearing a yellow dress with a sunflower in her hand.

  • Belie Belcan: Belie Belcan, or San Miguel, is a powerful deity associated with Saint Michael the Archangel in Catholicism. He is considered the protector of the people, and his role is to defend them from evil spirits and dark forces. Belie Belcan is depicted as a fierce warrior holding a sword and a balance, symbolizing his dual nature as both a warrior and a judge.

  • Papa Candelo: Papa Candelo is a fire deity who is also associated with Saint Charles Borromeo in Catholicism. He is a passionate and powerful spirit who represents justice and is often invoked to resolve conflicts and protect the community. Papa Candelo is typically depicted as a man wearing a red cape, holding a lit torch or a machete.

  • Filomena Lubana: Filomena Lubana, or Santa Marta, is a deity associated with Saint Martha in Catholicism. She is a powerful female spirit who represents wisdom, prosperity, and family. Filomena Lubana is often depicted as a woman wearing a green dress, holding a broom and a snake, symbolizing her dual nature as a healer and a protector.

Mythological Creatures

  • El Ciguapa: El Ciguapa is a mythical creature in Cocolo folklore, described as a beautiful woman with long, flowing hair and the ability to walk backward with her feet facing the opposite direction. She is known to lure men into the forest, where she ultimately leads them to their demise. El Ciguapa represents the seductive danger of the unknown.

  • El Bacá: El Bacá is a supernatural creature in Cocolo mythology, believed to be a shape-shifter capable of taking on the form of animals or humans. It is said to be the servant of a sorcerer and is often sent out to do their bidding. El Bacá embodies the dark aspects of the magical and supernatural world.

  • La Sirena: La Sirena, or the Mermaid, is a mythological creature that combines the features of a human and a fish. These enchanting beings are believed to dwell in the depths of the sea or rivers and are known for their captivating beauty and alluring songs. They are often associated with both good fortune and danger, as they can lure sailors and fishermen to their doom.

  • El Galipote: El Galipote is a shape-shifting creature that can transform into various animals or objects. It is typically associated with dark magic and malevolent intentions. El Galipote is believed to serve sorcerers or witches, carrying out their bidding and wreaking havoc on those who cross their path.

  • El Duende: El Duende is a small, mischievous creature often associated with the spirits of the forest. These beings are known for their playful and trickster-like nature, capable of causing minor inconveniences or leading people astray. While they are not necessarily malevolent, they serve as a reminder of the unpredictable and capricious nature of the spirit world.

Unique Beliefs and Practices

  • Vodou: The Cocolo people have a unique belief system rooted in African Vodou, which has been adapted to their local environment and fused with Catholicism. Their Vodou practices involve invoking spirits and deities through music, dance, and rituals, and it is believed that these spirits can possess individuals during ceremonies. The ceremonies often include offerings of food, drink, and other items to the spirits, as well as the use of various ritual objects, such as dolls, talismans, and sacred symbols.

  • Spiritual Healers: Within the Cocolo community, spiritual healers, or "curanderos," play a crucial role in maintaining the well-being of the people. These individuals possess knowledge of traditional medicine, rituals, and prayers, which they use to heal physical and spiritual ailments. They also perform cleansing ceremonies to rid individuals or spaces of negative energies and protect against evil spirits.

  • Ancestor Worship: Ancestor worship is a significant aspect of the Cocolo belief system. The Cocolo people believe that their ancestors continue to play an active role in their lives, offering guidance, protection, and wisdom. Ancestors are honored through rituals, prayers, and the maintenance of ancestral altars in homes, where offerings of food, drink, and other items are made to ensure their continued blessings and support.

  • Community Rituals: The Cocolo people are known for their vibrant community rituals and celebrations. One such event is the Feast of San Juan Bautista, which is held annually on June 24th. This feast involves processions, music, dancing, and the preparation of traditional foods, all in honor of Saint John the Baptist. These communal celebrations serve to strengthen social bonds, maintain cultural identity, and honor the spiritual forces that guide and protect the community.