Juan of Words

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?

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