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Get In The Halloween Spirit With These Scary Urban Legends From Across the Latinidad

With Halloween nearly here, we are fully immersed in spooky season. What better time to encourage a little good-natured fright. While haunted houses and scary movies are a good source for a quick thrill, we also have an underutilized resource when it comes to all things hair-raising. The many countries that make up the Latinidad are full of terrifying urban legends that are sure to give you a chills. No doubt you’ve heard of La Llorna and El Cucuy ⁠— two of the most well-know monsters from Latin America ⁠— but there are many more monsters to explore this Halloween season. Here are the most spine-tingling urban legends the Latinidad has to offer.  

1. La Lechuza

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La Lechuza is a shape shifting witch with the body of a giant owl and the face of a woman. Originating in Mexico and South Texas, the legend around La Lechuza states that she was a woman who sold her soul to the Devil for her magical powers. She attracts her prey by mimicking whistling and the sound of a baby’s cries. When people venture out to discover the source of the noise, she swoops down and catches them with her sharp talons. Legends also say that she can conjure thunderstorms and that those who survive her attacks always die under mysterious circumstances soon after. 

2. El Silbón

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A lost soul legend dating back to the 19th century, El Silbón comes from Colombia and Venezuela. He is the spirit of a young man who killed and disemboweled his own father for killing his wife. For his crime, El Silbón’s grandfather whipped him and set two ravenous dogs upon the injured man. Before he died, his abuelo condemned him to wander the world carrying a bag of his father’s bones. Also known as the Whistling Man, his whistles warn victims before he attacks. The further away his whistling, the more danger and the only thing that can stop him from attacking is the sound of a dog barking. 

3. El Basilisco chilote

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Originating from Chilota mythology, El Basilisco chilote is a fearsome animal that lives in Chile. Having the crest of a rooster and the body of a snake, El Basilisco hatches from an egg incubated by a rooster. The creature digs a hole underneath a home and then feeds off the saliva of the house’s inhabitants. This causes the house’s occupants to all dehydrate and die. The only way to defeat El Basilisco is to burn down the house it dwells under. 

4. El Sombrerón

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Most famous in Guatemala but also found in Mexican legend, El Sombrerón is a bogeyman figure similar to El Cucuy. Though he is known by many names, his characteristics usually describe him as being a short figure dressed in all black with a large sombrero and boots that make lots of noise when he walks. Weirdly, he likes to braid hair; especially the long hair of women who draw his attention. If he falls in love with a women, she won’t be able to eat or sleep until she returns his feelings.

5. Luz Mala

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Unlike the other legends on this list, this one isn’t a personified spirit or mythical animal. No one knows for sure what the Luz Mala is but its story is most popular in Argentina and Uruguay. It appears as a ghostly light or trio of lights appearing off towards the horizon. Sometimes the light is still and other times it is said that the light will chase the observer. The legend says that if someone digs under where the lights appear, they will find metallic objects or indigenous pottery. However, a deadly gas will escape the ground and kill anyone who attempts to claim the treasures. 

6. El Peuchen

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From Chile, El Peuchen is a mythological shapeshifter which usually takes on the form of a flying serpent. The creature makes a whistling sounds as it flies through the sky. El Peuchen’s stare paralyzes its victims so it can suck blood from their bodies and is often accused of attacks on local livestock. The only thing that can defeat El Peuchen is Mapuche Medicine Woman.

7. El Pishtaco

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From the Andes, El Pishtaco is a man-like creature especially well known in Peru and Bolivia. Originating from the time that Spanish conquistadors came to South America, the monster typically appears as a white-skinned stranger. El Pishtaco will sneak up on its prey and suck the fat from their body using an appendage that comes from its mouth. Pre-Hispanic natives in the Andes prized fat so this legend is an allegory for the White Man stealing their wealth and treasures. 

8. La Ciguapa

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Hailing from the mountains of the Dominican, La Ciguapa is a human-like, female-appearing creature. With long, silky hair that covers her body, this legend has blue or brown skin and legs that face the opposite way than they should. Magical beings with nocturnal habits, La Ciguapa are supposed to be bringers of death but other tales warn against becoming bewitched by staring the creature in the eyes. Both beautiful and grotesque, there are still sightings of La Ciguapa to this day.

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