The Witches Of Hidalgo County

Y el who, who, who...

For the longest, as adults, we’ve had the ongoing debate with my mother that the owls who used to surround our house in Hidalgo County were actually witches.  She says they aren’t and never were, but we all distinctly remember her calling them brujas when we were growing up in Edingburg, Texas.

They’d show up at night, very late usually, with their wretched crooning – who, who, who – and scare the living crap out of all of us.  We knew they were “evil,” choosing our house out of all the open space and tree branches outside to sit on every night and hold their nightly rituals… which felt went on for hours. In all honesty, I don’t remember how long they’d been using the roof of our little cream-colored home with brown trimming for their chanting before my mother got fed up, but the night she confronted them I will never forget.

Like a mad woman, no insult intended, she swung our flimsy little screen door open with one hand.  It ricocheted back and forth for a while, at first making a heart-stopping crash heard round our house, which immediately called us all to attention onto the foot-and-a-half-tall cement patio in our back yard to see what all the fuss was about.  With a gallon of holy water in one hand, a rosary in the other, walking so fast it felt like she was sprinting, there she went, repeating over and over in loud speak Ave Marias and Padres Nuestros, throwing handfuls of holy water onto the roof, while the brujas on top chanted louder and louder every time.

“Mom was possessed,” I shivered within myself, my legs trembling uncontrollably, my little eight year old heart pounding as fast as it could, wondering what in the world she was doing.

My mother was performing an exorcism, or something very similar to it in our back yard!   It was the only explanation!  Their confrontation went on for several terrifying minutes: the yelling and the crooning, the yelling and the crooning, the yelling and the crooning… who, who, who… WHO! WHO! WHO! Until all of a sudden, in one tic of the clock, they were gone.  Silence is all we heard and none of us said anything.  The yelling we kids had been doing, gone with the brujas.

Never again did they show up at our home in Hidalgo County!

Now when we ask mom about it she laughs and shakes her head, yo no sé si eran brujas o no…

We’ll press her, then why did you call them ‘brujas’?

Finally she’ll give in, pues allá en el rancho yo oía la gente decir que los tecolotes eran brujas, pero yo no sé si sea cierto…

Personally I really do believe they are, and to this day I am completely terrified by their existence, not to mention their horrible who’s. We don’t see or hear them often here in Houston, and that to me is one of the best things about not living in the country.

What do you think brujas or just my traumatized imagination?

11 thoughts on “The Witches Of Hidalgo County

  1. AH! So THAT´S what happened to me and my friends that one day while we were hanging in Hidalgo County! ;D

    Well, your mom is a brave woman! Going out and shooing (or exorcising) those tecolotes even when she was scared of them… that´s what I call courage! Que buenos pantalones de tu mamá!
    Great post Juan!

    1. jajaja, no me digas que eras tu Sue! Tu eres demasiado linda para eso… but yeah, this was one of those experiences that left me very shocked for quite a while! Am I th only one that associated tecolotes with brujas??

  2. The first time I saw an owl was at a nearby park. I was 5 years old and walking with my Dad so the amazement wasn’t tied to fear. I’ve never had owls outside my window so can’t judge them them as a supernatural entities. I have had “regular” birds nesting outside my house and they would aggressively dive bomb anyone who would get too close to their nest. So I do understand how birds might be less than welcome at times.

    1. One of my friends is very frightened by pigeons. She associates them with a bad omen or bad news because the few times she’s been around them something negative has happened. It’s odd, but every time we run into pigeons she wants to walk completely away from them… as far away as we can get.

  3. You know what Juan? Mi Abuelita was born in a little town called Tecolotán – yes, place where the tecolotes live – so I will ask her if there was an association between los tecolotes and witches
    (maybe that´s why I became one! jajaja)

  4. This was a cool story – felt very spooky! … I’ve always known owls to be “lucky” – (some Anglo people believe that, and I believe Suegra told me they’re considered lucky in El Salvador too – though I know that directly contrasts Mayan beliefs.)

    1. Okay… that I had not heard. Owls as good for luck? I guess it really makes difference who you are and where you are on how you will view a certain thing or concept. Maybe owls aren’t so bad after all… never mind, just saying that gives me the creeps! jajaja

  5. Okay – had to come back to correct myself. Suegra does not believe they’re good luck after all. She believes they’re BAD LUCK. Carlos says that if one lands on your house and hoots, it means someone will die. (So similar belief as to the story about your family!)

    I’m very certain that my (Anglo) great-grandmother thought they were lucky though. She had a collection of little porcelain owl statues at her house. I’m sure it would have given you nightmares. lol

    1. I’m glad you came back and told me this. I was beginning to think this was just a quirk on our part, but now I’m going to need to do some real research and see just how common this crazy belief is!

  6. I’m so glad I finally read this post! I love the: “the yelling and the crooning, the yelling and the crooning… who, who, who…” These are the things that as kids have you petrified because you’re witnessing a ritual of good/evil and of wills. My family from the ranchos in Mexico always had stories of las lechuzas, which (from what I understand) are female owls who are really witches transformed into owls. But I’ve heard the same thing about night hawks in Sonora and AZ as well.

    Growing up on the Rez, most of the Indians I know are fine with owls until they show up or hang out at your house nonstop. If they come inside a structure- that’s not good. Some tribes have a real hard time encountering coyotes while other tribes have no issue w/ them.

    Are you familiar with a nagual?

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