Title: Las brujas que le chupan la sangre a los niños o los recién nacidos
General information about the item:
- Language: Spanish
- Country of Origin: México
- Informant: B.G.
- Date Collected: 20 May 2020
Informant Data: B.G. was born on May 20, 1974 in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, México. He is 3rd generation Otomí. He learned about his culture from his grandparents and parents.
Contextual Data: The piece of folklore that BG shared was a story his grandparents shared with him which they assured him was true. BG mentioned that as a child he and his family members would sit outside and listen to stories about Otomí culture that his grandparents would share. He states that the story has impacted him emotionally because first, he didn’t know whether to believe it or not, but he did choose to believe it because his grandparents said it was true. He felt he needed to share the story to pass along his culture. This particular story he shared was about witches, which his grandparents encountered, who would suck the blood from babies and newborns, killing them. Note: B.G. was given information about the collection project and how the purpose was to collect folklore on indigenous plant and animal origin myths. Although this is not an origin myth, this is the myth B.G. chose to share about his Otomí culture.
“Bueno me contaban los abuelitos, pero según que, si pasaban en la vida real, acerca de unas señoras ya ancianas que en la noche salían, según ellos, se sentaban en la lumbre y, alrededor de la lumbre hay unos tipos de piedra que se llaman fogón. Y entonces ahí se sentaban, se quitaban de la rodilla para abajo, [apuntó a su rodilla y para abajo a los pies], y salían en la noche para chuparle la sangre a los bebés. A los recién nacidos. Según era lo que me contaban. Mucha gente cuando se daba cuenta, las señoras, o las, les decían brujas, no vivían en el pueblo, sino venían de otros pueblos. ¿Sí me entiende? Entonces, la gente ya se daba cuenta y cuando se daba cuenta– normalmente ellas siempre salían en la noche, en la noche. Entonces cuando llegaban, los señores, los abuelitos, este, se ponían de acuerdo, y ellos miraban a donde se iban a sentar, porque según ellos, se sentaban arriba de la casa en busca de los recién nacidos. Entonces los abuelitos se daban cuenta y ellos iban y se zafaban los calzones. En esos tiempos se usaban calzones de manta. Entonces ellos iban y zafaban los calzones y los volteaban. Entonces, la bruja ya no podía, o la señora ya no podía regresar al lugar de donde venían. Que, porque eso era una creencia qué con quitarse los calzones y voltearlos y déjarlos ahí al lado, que ellos ya no podían levantarse y regresarse a la casa de dónde venían. Entonces, este, ellas suplicaban que no hicieran eso. Que les dejarán regresar de dónde venían. Pero los abuelitos decían, “Sí te vamos a, te vamos a regresar las piernas, digamos así. Pero con una condición de que ya no te queremos volver a ver acá en nuestro pueblo.” Porque, ellas, según, ya después del amanecer, antes de salir el sol, ellas ya no podían regresar. Entonces tenía que ser antes de amanecer. Mhm. Antes de amanecer. Mucha gente cuando se daban cuenta de eso–, también la gente le ponían unas tijeras o un cuchillo abajo de la almohada del bebé, de la cabeza del bebé. Según eso, no sé si serán creencias, pero con eso, según, no les hacían nada a los bebes. Pero si la, la, señora o la bruja, [unintelligble], que no, no le hacía nada al niño. Sí. Y sí, dicen que sí hubo muchos casos en el pueblo. Que al otro día encontraban al niño a un lado a la mamá ya muertos. Y que sí, como veían que venían las luces. Ellas traían unas luces que se prendían y se apagaban y se prendían y se apagaban. Entonces la gente ya sabía. Dicen que sí, que mucha gente, con muchas de las señoras, sí los agarraron.” * Note this is transcribed exactly as it was spoken to me during the interview, including grammatical errors.
English Translation; the brackets signify edits made for clarity, i.e. [edited for clarity]:
“Well my grandparents told me, [that] according to [them], [it] happened in real life, about old ladies who came out at night, according to [them], they, [the old ladies], sat on the fire and, around the fire there are some types of stone that they are called a fogón. And then they would sit there, take [their legs] off from the knee down, [B.G. pointed at his knee and down on his feet], and [would] go out at night to suck the blood from the babies. Newborns. [This is] what they told me. Many people when they realized, [who the ladies were], the ladies, or the–, they called [them] witches, did not live in the town but came from other towns. [Do] you understand me? So, people noticed and when they did – [the witches would] usually go out at night. So, when they arrived, the gentlemen, my grandparents, agreed and looked [for the location] where they [the witches] were going to perch, because according to them, they [the witches] sat [on top of] houses looking for the newborns. Then when my grandparents noticed [the witches], and they [would go] and [take] their undergarments [take the witches’ undergarments]. In those times mantas were used. So, they would go and undo the breeches and turn them over. Then, the witches could no longer return to where they came from. Because that was the belief, [that when you] take off the undergarments and turn them over and leave [them] there, that they [the witches] could no longer get up and go back to where they came from. So, they [the witches] begged [B.G.’s grandparents] not to do that. [So B.G.’s grandparents stated] that they [would] let them [the witches] return to where they came from. And his grandparents said, “Yes, we are going to return your legs. But on the condition that we no longer want to see you here in our town.” Because, according to them, after sunrise, they [the witches] could no longer return [to their place of origin]. So, [this interrogation] had to be before dawn. Mhm. Before dawn. A lot of people [would] also put scissors or a knife under the baby’s pillow, [near] the baby’s head. With that, according to [B.G.’s grandparents], they [the witches] did nothing to the babies. [By placing the knives or scissors under the newborns’ pillows they would stop the witches and nothing would happen to the babies]. Yes. And yes, they say that there were many cases in my town. That the next day [the townspeople would find] the child next to the mother, dead. And yes, they [the townspeople] saw the lights coming [alerting the townspeople of the arrival of the witches]. They [the witches] brought lights with them that went on and off and on and off. Then people knew [that the witches were coming]. They say yes, that many people had encounters with the witches and did kill them. [As in many people did encounter the witches and they did kill the babies, although some people would stop them].”
Notes about the item: B.G. referred to the subjects of his story as both “old ladies” and “the witches” and used both titles interchangeably. Additionally, our project was to collect origin myths related to the Otomí culture, but B.G. relayed this piece of folklore instead. Not wanting to disrespect him, I still collected the myth. Additionally, B.G. said he didn’t know a lot about the Otomí culture, except for what his parents and grandparents told him as a child and what he himself has experienced, and could only say as much since he is 3rd generation Otomí. But, and I quote, “I assure you this is true”. B.G. has a lot of respect for his culture and made sure to let me know he was proud of his indigenous heritage. B.G. also spoke to me in Otomí and taught me some phrases, such as, “Jamadi”, which means thank you. The interview was conducted in Spanish, as this was the language B.G. was most comfortable speaking in, and I then translated the text to English making edits for clarity using square brackets. However, his Spanish was not perfect and contained various grammatical errors which I corrected when translating to English.
Collector’s name: Rosa Mendoza