A. is a 55-year-old mother of two in San Antonio, Texas. She grew up in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, a small town nearing the center of the country. She immigrated in her mid-twenties to join her husband in Chicago. She claims in this story that she saw a witch and describes the personal experience in detail every year near Halloween or Dia de los Muertos.
This performance was over the dining table. I was bringing her family conchas and other traditional Dia de los Muertos’ breads like pan de muerto.
Intv: Ok entonces, puedes reiterar ese cuento que siempre me contaste? / Ok then, can you reiterate that story you always told me
A: Claro, claro. Primeramente, el cuento tomo lugar en San Luis Potosi, mi hogar. Allí, viviamos en este casa de dos niveles y dentro del centro habia un patio real lleno de arboles de fruta. En el segundo nivel habia un pasillo que siempre recuerdo nuestro perro, Willie, corria por para saludar visitantes, tambien se podia ver los arboles de nuez que crecieron alrededor de la casa y tambien la entrada de la casa. Claro que esos arboles crecieron un poco mas alto, y por ese pasillo dormia Willie anoche. Acuerdo este noche donde cual Willie no tranquilizaba. Le invite dentro mi cuatro que mi mama, la abuela de Mili, prohibia pero sabia que ella pusiera de peor humor si le deje ladrando. Willie no quizo, y finalmente sali a media noche en mis pantuflas para ver que se notaba Willie. Al abrir de mi puerta escuche un silvando. Acerce al frente del pasillo y vi una figura donde escuchaba el silvando. De repente acorde de un cuento de mi ninez del vecindario. En las noches acerando la noche de todos los santos salian sombras en los arboles que silvaron. El cuento seguia que esos fueron brujas o gente embrujada invitando ninos para sequestrar.
Of course, of course. First, the story took place in San Luis Potosi, my home. There, we lived in this two-level house and inside the center there was a courtyard full of fruit trees. On the second level there was a hallway that I always remember our dog, Willie, ran through to greet visitors; you could also see the walnut trees that grew around the house and the entrance of the house. Of course, those trees grew a little taller, and willie slept down that hallway at night. But one night Willie wouldn’t calm down. I invited Willie into my room, something that my mother, Mili’s grandmother, forbids but I knew she would be in a worse mood if I left him barking. Willie didn’t want to, and finally I went out in the middle of the night in my slippers to see what Willie saw. As I opened my door, I heard a whistling. I approached the front of the corridor and saw a figure where I heard the whistling. Suddenly I remembered a story of my childhood. In the nights approaching the night of all the saints, shadows came out in the trees that whistled. The tale followed that these were witches or haunted people luring children to kidnap them.
This myth seems closely linked to the myth of La Lechuza, the bewitched owl women. As aforementioned in the annotation for La isla de las munecas, cultural syncretism plays a large part in La Lechuza’s etymology as well. Owls interestingly are a shared omen amongst many cultures, often developed worlds away from their parallel symbols. This bird of prey with empty black eyes and a scientifically proven silent flight brought chills to dozens of indigenous cultures, being cited as an omen of death repeatedly. La Lechuza moved into Tejano folklore easily with the frequent migration between Mexico and Tejas. As a tejano, I’ve encountered many barn owls near the Gulf of Mexico that glide atop the coastal winds and seem distinctly out of place with their white feathers and habit of flying at eye-level of humans. La Lechuza’s mythology capitalizes off the owls’ nocturnal habits and follows the myth of a persecuted witch that shapeshifts in the night hours and perches in trees as a 7ft tall woman with an owl face luring children. Rumors also dictate the unlikeliness of surviving an encounter with La Lechuza, once again solidifying it as a death omen. Some of her rumored powers are controlling the weather, causing supernatural accidents and deaths and amidst many other claims, gripping a child with their talons and flying off.
To read more about La Lechuza, see “Owl-Bewitchment in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.” Humberto Garza in the Celebrating 100 Years of the Texas Folklore Society 1909-2009 Page 38. https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc271470/m2/1/high_res_d/9781574413601.pdf 03+