Monsters, Medicine Men & Witches: Frightening Texas Folklore

Jack Beavers

Texans are known for tall tales, but some Texas folklore is downright frightening --- and some swear its real!
Texas folklore is loaded with spooky tales - which some believe are real!Photo byJon Butterworth/UnsplashonUnsplash

Growing up in South Texas, I heard my share of spooky tales but only encountered one of them myself - well, maybe.
The legend of La Lechuza lives on in South Texas and across nearby Northern MexicoPhoto byAgto Nugroho/UnsplashonUnsplash

I've seen my share of Las Lechuzas (which means barn owls in Spanish) but some of my more superstitious friends warned me I may have been in the company of witches. As the story goes, an old woman (a witch) shape-shifts into a giant owl, La Lechuza, to take revenge on people who wronged her during her life.

So feared was La Lechuza that a giant owl actually made headlines in South Texas during the 1970's for terrifying the residents of Alice, Banquete, and Robstown (where the local paper reported she liked to hang out in a wooded area west of town near Bosquez Street and Rabb Road). Eventually she flew off to the residents' relief and disappointment of reporters.
Has the legend of the Chupacabra been solved?Photo byRay Hennessy/UnsplashonUnsplash

Which brings us to the more famous tales of the feared Chupacabra - which literally translates to "goat-sucker." The chupacabra has been variously described as a strange breed of wild dog, to a form of a reptile that hops around like a kangaroo. Most tales of Texas Chupacabras favor the dog-like form. Whatever shape it takes everyone agrees it seems to favor goats from which it sucks their blood.

Texas A&M University claims to have solved the mystery of the Chupacabra in a scientific paper that says the creatures are actually coyotes with severe mange. Still, the legend persists.
Curanderismo (folk medicine) is still practiced in Northern Mexico and South Texas where a shrine honors a legendary healer.Photo byJan Ranft/UnsplashonUnsplash

Finally we get to the curandero - or folk healer - which can either be male or female. Their powers are said to come from God and they often treat physical symptoms that patients believe come from supernatural causes.

The most famous South Texas curandero was Don Pedro Jaramillo of the Los Olmos Ranch near Falfurrias who died in 1907. People came from as far away as New York City to see him and today an historical marker and shrine stands in Brooks County to his memory.

Do you have some spooky Texas Tales or encounters to share? Leave them in the comments.

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Emmy award winning journalist (writer, reporter, photographer, content editor, managing editor) who has covered news for publishers in five states and Washington, DC. Credits include USA Today (Television) and Geekbeat.

Dallas, TX

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