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Horror Stories from El Salvador

Posted By Michael Lee On May 14, 2013 @ 9:38 pm In Folk Beliefs,Humor,Legends,Narrative,Protection | Comments Disabled

This story was told at midnight. The lights were off, and it was during a horror-story telling game. The windows were open, and a small lamp was on in the middle of the room. There was no moon. There was a window in the room as it was being told, and the lamp was reflected clearly. The stories are meant to be told for fun, according to the speaker. They were stories heard from the speaker’s mother, who had heard them herself when she was young. The stories have not changed over time, and are fun stories meant to amuse and frighten young children.

Ziguanaba

This story takes place back in the time before Western civilization arrived in the southern peninsula and took over with their new customs and traditions. In that location,  there lived a tribe that was apparently somewhat similar to Aztecs. At this point in time, their names were forgotten, but the tribe was definitely said to have existed. Apparently, the chief of the tribe would go out and start wars on a whim, because that was his nature. He would go out and fight wars with the neighboring tribes according to his whim and leave his wife at home. Supposedly, his wife was very beautiful, and they had a son together. However, what would end up happening was that while he was away, his wife would cheat on him. He was often away, constantly fighting wars, so he was not home enough to fulfill her desires. This happened on for quite a long time, until one day he found out. As soon as he found out, upon his return, he had her taken out of the village and had her killed near a river. It was a violent death, because she constantly returns as a ghost to haunt men and lead them around.  When men approached rivers, apparently she would appear to men as a beautiful woman. She would proceed to seduce them, and most of the men would be unable to escape her charms. Additionally, once she had them seduced, she would stupefy them. Once they were found by the other villagers, the villagers would see that the men were all brain dead. Ziguanaba continues to appear to men who approach the rivers, and if they are not careful, then they will also end up brain dead just as the men who fell to Ziguanaba’s allures were.

Ziguanaba’s Child

Ziguanaba had a child with the chieftain of the tribe before she cheated on him and died. Apparently his name is Zipitio. He was not good looking, and therefore could not find love, because nobody would look at him. He was incredibly short with a large pot belly and always wore big hats. Unfortunately for him, he easily fell in love with the beautiful girls of the village, but they never spared a glance at him because he was so ugly. However, when he falls in love with a girl, be becomes incredibly frightening. He throws flowers at them and leaves flowers for them no matter where they go. He is a jealous type though, because if they have a boyfriend, he is known to get really angry. If he sees the girl that is the subject of his affection with her boyfriend, he will get angry with her and begin throwing his own fecal matter at them. Throughout his short life, he was unable to be loved by a girl, and that strong desire keeps him alive as a ghost even now. He will still appear and fall in love with beautiful girls that pass by. He will try to grab their attention by throwing flowers at them and presenting them with flowers at every turn. However, if they have a boyfriend, then problems will occur due to his incredibly petty jealousy. In the event that the girl that caught his eye and her boyfriend are together in front of him, he will throw foul matter at them to express his displeasure even now.

La Llorona

In a small village, there was a married couple. In the beginning, they were very happy with each other as the image of a perfect husband and wife. Indeed, they even had children together who she cared about very deeply and loved to take care of. However, as time passed, she found that she did not truly love her husband anymore and she became bored with him. As a result, she cheated on her husband all the time. Nobody said anything out loud, but rumors spread about her promiscuity, thinly veiled behind vague analogies and metaphors. One day the husband found out about the rumors and confronted her about them. She had no choice but to admit to it privately before it became a village wide scandal. That was precisely what happened. Although people were not inclined to say anything originally, as soon as she was discovered by her own husband, the townspeople were very willing to call her out for her supposed crime. For being a harlot, she was given a very painful death sentence. The village decided that the appropriate punishment for a harlot was to be stoned to death. When the day came, all the villagers banded together and killed her. The last thought on her mind was her regret that she could no longer take care of her children. She did not regret cheating on her husband, because he was a bore to her. But her beloved children who had done nothing wrong were to be without a mother. Now, it is said to not walk around alone in the dark. If you are not careful, she will appear before you and cry out “Where are my children?”

Cadejo Blanco/ Cadejo Negro

Be careful when it’s dark out! The forces of life have a special interest in rewarding or punishing you depending on what kind of life you have lived. If you are a good person a white dog will show up. Its name is Cadejo blanco. It is a sacred protector, but it will only manifest its presence during the night. It will wander around you, and it will ensure that you are safe along your way.  It will ward off evil spirits and it will keep harm away from you. However, it is mandatory that you are by yourself. If you are walking about with other people, then it will not appear. However, it has its own form of danger, because it cannot protect you from itself. You are forbidden from looking directly at it. If you do look directly at it, then you will fall asleep and never wake up with irreversible brain damage. Otherwise, it will do you no harm. As said before, this will only appear if you are a good person. If you are a wicked person, then a black dog will appear. Its name is Cadejo negro, and it will also appear only at nighttime. However, it does the opposite of Cadejo blanco. It does not protect you. It does not necessarily bring harm to you, but it is possible that it will. If it feels like it, then it will attack you or curse you so that evil spirits will haunt you continually. It will follow you until you reach sacred ground or the sun rises.

As the collector, I see these stories as meant to amuse or to frighten. They are rather fun vignettes with small morals embedded, such as living a chaste life or living an honorable life. Other than that, these stories are ghost stories that seem to have multiple versions, as I have heard some of them before. This also seems to reflect how historical occurrences may shift and become the subject of rumors and folklore, often becoming more fantastical in nature. Interestingly enough, the basic features of a horror story seem common to many cultures, rather than being limited strictly to a few. I suppose in a way, these stories are not horror stories at all. Although they do involve ghosts, they are more cautionary than actually frightening stories.


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