To properly say farewell to both Halloween and Día de los Muertos, I’m dedicating this entry to some spooky cuentos and leyendas I grew up with. Since Latin culture doesn’t view death as a final step, rather a transitory stage to the eternal world, we tend to have an odd relationship with the spiritual realm. Paranormal and supernatural happenings are commonly accepted as everyday life. So, stories of ghost appearances, spirits, duendes, Santeria and Voodoo rituals, and scary ass tales are common for most Latinos and also believed to some extent. Whether we choose to dive deep into the rabbit hole or not, Latin culture instills in us an intrinsic understanding and appreciation for the spiritual world. Here are three of the most popular tales or leyendas throughout Latin America:
La Llorona / The Weeping Woman
Everybody should fear the wrath a scorned woman can unleash… That’s the moral of La Llorona. Over the years, many variations have emerged but the one I know is the version in which a beautiful Mexican girl named Maria falls in love with a Spanish conquistador. He courts and seduces Maria, she falls head over heels for him giving birth to two kids as she naively believes his empty promises of matrimony. Eventually he leaves her for a refined Spanish lady. Maria loses her shit, drowns her children and kills herself in an outburst of rage. Talk about overacting huh? She is denied entrance to the afterlife until she finds her murdered children. Thus the weeping at night as she searches for her lost kids by yelling “mis hiiiiiiiiiiijos”. This story terrified me as a kid and ensured I didn’t wander around by myself late at night. Below, check out the awesomely animated version from studioFREAK’s Fantasmagorias series. Find the English version here.
La Lechuza / The Witch-Owl
As is the case with the oral tradition of sharing stories, the origins of the tales morph and adapt throughout time. The version I know of lechuzas (white owls) is that they are actually witches that transform into birds to spy on people and eat out their eyes. Now, I grew up listening to a fair share of creepy stories but the one that kept me up at night was this one. I’ve never been fond of witches and their sneaky ways! According to the story I was told, one time a man shot a scary white owl in a nearby village but the following morning a woman was found shot in the leg in place of the bird. Far-fetched? Absolutely. Still when you grow up in a tiny village that gets pitch black dark at night and you hear the sounds these owls make… Well you get frightened.
El Silbón / The Whistler
This disturbing story originated in Venezuela and versions vary from person to person. However, the gist is that a dude murdered his father as vengeance because the father killed his mistress. The grandfather punished the dude by tying him to a tree and nonstop whipping his back . To seal the deal, the gramps went medieval on his ass, squeezing lemon and pouring liquor on the dude's back. Before gramps finally released the dude, he cursed him to carry the bones of his dead father with him. But the cherry on top of the shake is that grams also unleashed rabid dogs after him. Now this ghost roams freely looking to kill while whistling hence the name Silbón. They say if one hears a loud nearby whistle not to worry but if the whistling sounds distant, to beware because he’s about to strike! Here is studioFREAK’s version:
I hope you’ve got a slight case of the goosebumps after reading this! Do you know of scary stories such as these? I want to hear ‘em. If not, what are your thoughts on supernatural and paranormal activity? Do you believe in it? Why or why not? Have YOU ever experienced a spooky and unexplainable situation? Tell me, tell me!