The Legend of El Silbón

Sara B

El Silbón (The Whistler) is a spirit found in Colombian (and Venezuelan) legends, specifically in the Los Llanos region of Colombia. A tropical grassy plain in the Orinoco basin spread between Colombia and Venezuela.

The legend states that El Silbón was once a spoiled child, born to very loving parents. They wanted to provide and give him anything he wanted; little did they know that this behavior was toxic and would end him. One night the boy demanded venison for dinner and would not stop crying and screaming. To please him, the father went out hunting for a deer.

After hours of searching, the father came back empty-handed. When the son saw this, he was infuriated. How could his father not bring back the deer as requested? In the son's eyes, this was unacceptable, and he took matters into his own hands. The son took the knife from the father and killed him. The mother and grandfather saw what had happened, and the grandfather punished the boy.

As punishment, he was tied to a tree, beaten, and left with chili on his wounds; some say lemon and salt. Eventually, he is released from the tree, and his grandfather gives him a sack full of his father's remains, curses him, and sends him to walk into the plains. As the boy walked away from his grandfather, he began to whistle. Shortly after the attack dogs were released and killed him.

The grandfather's curse ¨You should not have done that to your father; your soul is damned for eternity¨.

El Silbón is described as a tall thin ghost wearing a big-rimmed farmer hat. He carries a bag of bones from his victims, or it could be only his father's bones; it will rattle as he walks. Many think he is a death omen; if you wander the plains at night, you might be next.

He slowly stalks his victims, and often his whistling can grow louder and softer to confuse his victim. It is because the Silbón is already close if you can hear its whistle. However, if you can not hear the whistle any longer, it is because he is already upon you.

Many say he looks for those who do bad things against the family, for he uses their souls and sins to feed himself. But, on the other hand, some say he does not pursue any victim except the closest one.

I have linked a few references below, I also got parts of the story from my Colombian family, to whom I can not refer back, as the story has been passed down for generations.


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I share legends, myths, and bizarre history, sometimes news. Living nomadically since 2018, currently in Colombia.

Pasadena, CA

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