Wednesday, July 18, 2012

La Lechuza (The Witch Bird)


In the Hispanic folklore of Mexico and Texas, tales are told of a strange shapeshifting witch known as La Lechuza. In Spanish, the word lechuza simply means “owl.” To those who believe the stories, she is known as the “Witch Bird.” According to legend, La Lechuza was once a curandera (someone who practices black magic) who, after being exposed as a witch (or bruja), was killed by the angry and frightened townspeople. Folklore says that she returned from beyond the grave as a ghost to seek revenge upon those who murdered her in the form of a human-sized bird with a woman’s face. Sometimes, she is the ghost of a woman who was widowed by a man who remarried, or was the devoted wife of an unfaithful husband. At least, that’s what they say.

The legend of La Lechuza is very popular in Mexico and Texas. She can appear at any time, and seems to be particularly widespread in Zavala County. She particularly enjoys attacking people who have had one too many beers. Many people believe in her existence, while others claim to have actually seen this creature. The legends seem to vary quite a bit. In some, she is a vengeful spirit. In others, she is a woman that has sold her soul to the Devil in order to gain supernatural powers. Every night, she is said to transform into a five to six-foot tall bird (most commonly an owl) with the face of a beautiful or wizened old woman and enormous wings. This resembles the Harpy of Greek mythology in many ways, but she also bears traits of the Siren and the Banshee. And like those two entities, La Lechuza uses sound that bears a supernatural compulsion to lure her prey to her. It is said that when Lechuza locates her prey, she perches herself in a hidden area, and will then commence making strange whistling sounds or an eerie sound resembling the crying of a newborn baby. And anyone who attempts to locate the source of the sound risks their lives, for they may become the Witch Bird’s next meal. Once she has them in her sights, she swoops down on the confused and frightened individual and carries them off to her lair, where she may devour them at her leisure. In the manner of the Banshee of Irish and Scottish legend, to hear the cry of the Witch Bird is an omen that someone in the household of the one who heard the cry will die. In this day and age, most encounters with La Lechuza occur when she swoops down on cars that are driving on a deserted road late at night. Usually, nobody is hurt in these encounters. But all who report such sightings mention one thing: the encounter terrified them. 

Having made a pact with Satan as a witch, La Lechuza possesses supernatural powers that are granted by her magic and her shapeshifting abilities. The Lechuza possesses a nearly supernatural degree of strength, as she can pick up children and possibly adults with her talons and carry them off. This makes her more powerful than any known bird. One of the distinguishing powers of the Witch Owl is her ability to summon storms (and, quite possibly, to direct and control them). In the olden days, sightings of La Lechuza almost always coincided with the appearance of thunderstorms. One of the more obvious abilities of La Lechuza is her power of shapeshifting. She is able to become a man-sized bird creature by night. However, it is unknown if she is able to take the form of other birds, or if she is only limited to becoming an owl (although some legends do tell of her becoming an eagle). Furthermore, as mentioned previously, she can disguise her voice to make it sound like a crying infant’s in order to draw human prey closer. It is said that La Lechuza is immortal, and that mere bullets and forged steel cannot harm her. 

Other legends of the Witch Bird beg to differ. According to these tidbits of folklore, La Lechuza can be killed or warded off. Like most creatures that serve the darkness, the Lechuza hates salt (renowned for its purity). An unbroken line or circle of salt should ward her off (either table salt or sea salt will work, but it must be free of any impurities, like iodide). Saying the “Hail Mary” backwards (in Spanish) will cause her to flee. Cussing at the creature in Spanish will also drive the Witch Bird away. Some of the older tales suggest that a Mexican shaman can walk out to where the Lechuza is supposed to be and, after he recites a specific prayer, the creature will drop dead out of the tree. It is recommended that one fall back on four basic remedies if La Lechuza comes after them: Prayer, tying seven knots into a piece of string or a rope, hiring a witch (again, a curandera), and finally, blasting the creature with a shotgun while she has taken the form of a bird. Some legends say that the gun must be loaded with bullets that have a cross engraved into the bullet's head (which can be done by cutting into the soft lead with a knife to make the cross shape). Folklore varies widely, so knowing all of this may prove to be invaluable when hunting this creature. 

Ironically, it is said by some that not all Lechuza are evil, or even bad. Some only go after those who have done harm to others. But, as the people of the border say, “Las lechuzas, por regular, no son peligrosas.” What does this mean? That La Lechuza is not dangerous. Normally.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank my good friend Jaime Gallinar (aka Cryptid Hunter) for introducing me to this strange creature the other day. He provided resources and information for me when I needed it. Thanks, Jaime! I owe you one, man!

Sources 







http://frontiersofzoology.blogspot.com/2012/07/giant-owls-and-mothman.html

18 comments:

  1. There are many storys told of La Letchuza, but no sketches nor drawing of this human sized owl witch, they claim to have seen.

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    1. Well I hear her all the time since I was 14 I have had moments when I was sad about losing my family to foster care and a disappointment that the guy I was engaged to would not work out. She whissels like words some times. I think she prays after me because I am a someone who has been dealt a heard deck of cards and she comforts me it is scary sometimes and I want it to stop but I can't deny I am able to show people around me if she has started whistling then I always have a believer and I am not crazy just know from experience even tonight. :)

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    2. Saying things backward, especially a prayer, is Satanic. Trust Our Lady with the petition to her, who gets The Lord, Jesus, help. If you can't bring yourself to go to Mary as our intercessor with her son, who intercedes with the Father for us, at least say Christ's name. Demons fear the name of any of them.

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  2. Your blog is incredible, so informative! As someone who studies the Occult, paranormal and cryptozoology...this blog is heaven, lol! Keep up the good work, and I look forward to reading more of your blogs!

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  3. My family and I grew up learning about these creatures. You say cuzing at em in spanish drives em away, DON'T DO THAT EVER!!! That is the worse thing you can do. They will feel insulted and will attack. My uncle did this and the creature litterally threw up some kind of stuff on him, and attacked him. He mocked her n apparently she did not like that at all.. And you have to get a rope n pray el santo rosario basically all hail marys n tie a knot after each prayer with a rope to kill it.

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    1. Well, then...I guess that it's a good thing that I really don't speak much Spanish, eh? I'll be sure to remember that.

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  4. Heard it as child, its normally a witch owl..with a man s face...practice by native indians of the southwest...cn b a curse...careful what u said...

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  5. I too have heard this story growing up..being from San Antonio my grandmother used to say that when I was a baby and I would cry LA LECHUZA would try to grab me because it thought I was trying to lure her prey away from her..she would sit on the tree outside our house waiting for me to be himself until my great grandmother blessed the house and cussed at her in Spanish...this scared the hell out of me!!!

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  6. My great grandfather studied this black magic book extensively after working in the fields. My grandmother says he'd use black magic to help cursed individuals. He'd say a ritual and tie specific knots in a rope and the lechuza wouldn't drop dead but drop from the sky and turn back to human. He then would curse and interogate the witch.

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  7. My neighbor was supposedley cursed by one and saw it flying above her at a walmart. Story has it crows would infest s tree outside her window and wouldn't let her sleep. Atleast everyone I know has a lechuza story and I think dates back to the native american aspect of hispanic history

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  8. I've heard many stories but I have a friend from Mexico who told us a story,
    The story goes if it's windy and you blow Into the wind and the wind stops and then the wind licks back up bit you can hear a loud windy whistle that means laechuza heard you and wants to kill you or hurt your family
    That's the first warning
    The second one is you'll hear scratching on your roof and flapping
    Don't go to your window because they say she'll be waiting for you to get close so she can grab you and fly away
    And the last part is
    You'll get a knock on the door late at night and you'll see an old lady and she'll ask for a drink of water
    Give her water and say goodnight
    She's very tricky and will ask to come in don't let her come in or she will kill you and your family
    The only way to rid her is fireworks and a blessing of a priest and
    One more thing my friend says never look into her eyes or she will turn you into stone and take your soul to the devil

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    1. I believe what your friend told you. I have a lechuza right now. And she's outside....waiting idk why or for what..the other night I went to the restroom and when I came out I heard an owl hoot.then for some appearent reason it stop so I went back to my bed. Then suddenly..I heard a cat meowing right at my door...wanting to come in...she is real. Her shift shaping powers are real. My little sister heard her fake baby cry. And my brother has seen her through the window... idk what we did to the lechuza...but I seriously want her gone...

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  9. I was dropping off a friend in hargill in the middle of the night several months back. Saw what I thought was a cat crossing the road and when my car got near it, it jumped and spread it's wings. It was HUGE. Maybe 15 foot wingspan. Hit the thing on accident in my car and have scratches on my driver side pillar cuz of it.

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  10. According to my dad, I had an aunt name Juliana who was supposedly into witchcraft. Most of the things she did were spoiling food and filling them with worms, nothing major. At one point they were holding a funeral for this man in a village when all of a sudden they saw a Lechuza. The people started showering it with rocks until it finally ran away. The next day, when people saw my aunt Juliana she was covered in in wounds. Her face was black and blue and when people asked her what happened her only reply is that she fell. Kinda suspicious.

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  11. I live in Illinois. I'm 19, as a young baby i was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Adopted @ 8 months old we moved place to place settling down finally in the small town of am hour north of St. Louis. Never before have I heard of this legend until tonight. I've always had an unnatural fear of owls. They terrify me. Watching a show I learned that Mayans feared owls. Believing them to be gods of the damned. My neighbor is around my age and was also adopted from Guatemala. That being said we are the only ones in this town born out of the country. The only ones born in I know of in the county from Guatemala. And oddly enough there is this owl that sits on top of either my house or his. I've seen this same owl well over a dozen times with my own eyes. My neighbor, on the other hand, has never seen it. I hear it several times a week. I don't think it means us harm. While my neighbor is spoiled and seems like his life is all good, my life has been turmoil. Full of death, pain, suffering.. I've stared directly into the eyes of this owl, just glad I was always walking with my girlfriend at the time. She saw it. Scared we would always rush into the house. Tonight I read this blog. I'm not lying when I say this is the first time I've heard this legend and I'm not lying when I say as soon this show came on about the La Lechuza it started to rain and as soon as the show ended it stopped raining. I decided to research just based on the owl sitting on my roof and me being Mayan. I read it can cause and possibly control storms.. That part scared me a lot. But I think this possible La Lechuza may be my protector rather than my demise. I've almost lost my life several times due to women and bad circumstance.. I was told each time I should have died. I'm still here. Maybe she is.. But then again I'm very religious. I have all religious tattoos on my body. And I almost always have a crucifix necklace or a ring with the cross on it on. Jesus Christ is tattooed on my right arm. A nailed cross. The alpha omega crown symbol. Maybe she can't touch me. But rather just watching. Waiting. Either way.. I'm still scared of owls.

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  12. Just heard about this tonight from neighbor.Scary!! She said one had lived in old barn near by. I heard the Cry's, and thought was a cat! Wow, Live in Austin,Tx

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  13. A curandera is not a person who practices black magic! Those are witches! A curandera is a traditional healer or shaman in native and latin american culture. There are many stories of such things.

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  14. I am front West Texas and was driving from Big Lake to Iraan in 1997. It was around 11pm and there was not a car in sight. I drove this route late a few times a week...its always pretty quiet. I could see way down that long straight road and there was something standing right in the middle of the road. I started to.slow down so I wouldnt hit it. It didn't move so ii kept slowing down. Ahh, I shed a tear and have the chills as I write this. An animal will run out in the middle of nowhere and a car comes unless...its dead. As I got closer I could see eyes looking at me red as satans, about 3 or 4 foot tall wings closed around body. I was mesmerized and slowed too much and snapped out of it and took off. I have never seen anything like it and I was born right out there in the Chihuahuan dessert. I had always heard of all the legends out here and thought they were just that...but now, I know.

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