“My grandmother was somewhat of a curandera. People would come and wait on the weekends for a chance to see her. She was always busy on the weekends with people needing help with health issues and other issues that had no explanation, like black magic. The mark of a good curandero is the need to genuinely help people. She never charged and only accepted donations. One day a woman came in with her son. He was having terrible stomach pain and was not eating.

He was deteriorating. The pale young man looked gaunt and frail. When pressed, the young man began to speak of what had happened. He said that he fell in love with a young girl and he was to be married but the parents did not want the boy to marry their daughter because he was poor and came from a “bad family”. They ran away together but they were found and brought back home. Shortly thereafter the girl’s family moved away but before they left the woman cursed the very ground the young man walked on and said that she’d find a way to hurt him as he had her.

Turns out the young girl was pregnant. Shortly thereafter the young girl was taken away, the young man began to get very sick. My grandmother heard the story and asked the mother to take her son home and administer an elixir made up roots and other plants to aid in the recovery of his appetite. She prayed over him, “lo curo de susto (she cured him)”, and “con un blanquillo (with an egg)”. She told the woman to come back in a week and see how he was doing.

The woman returned in 4 days with her son in the middle of the week on a Wednesday or Thursday. My grandmother usually didn’t see people during the week but saw the urgency in the woman’s eyes and asked her to come in. The young man trailed behind her. He had his color back (which was a good sign) but he had “ojedas” (bags under his eyes). Those were a sign of restless sleep or insomnia. She sat down, and tears started to stream down her face. She began telling my grandmother how she began seeing a “Lechuza” (owl) outside her window at night.

She explained that her son had begun to eat again but that he kept having nightmares about a Lechuza telling him that it knew where they went to and that a curandera would not be able to help. She was scared, and the son looked defeated. My grandmother told her to go home and to continue with the elixir and that she would be out on Saturday to see her. Unfortunately, she could not travel till then due to prior obligations and what was required would take a bit of time. The woman hesitantly agreed.

My grandfather was a very quiet man. He was born In Sinton and grew up in South Texas. He would ferry over laborers to the “piscas” (picking fruit, cotton, etc…). It was hard work but good pay at the time. He was enlisted by my grandmother to help. She would only call upon him when she needed absolute back up. He was the big gun and he was called upon to help this family in need. My grandmother explained the situation and he agreed to help. In those days it took forever to get anywhere. The woman and her son lived almost two hours away near the Tilden/3 Rivers area.

When they reached home. Everything seemed in order. It was a quaint parcel that had some monte behind the house. Nothing out of the ordinary. The sun was beginning to set, and the family was sitting outside eagerly anticipating their guests. They greeted my grandparents and invited them inside. My grandfather never went inside. He sat on the porch and nursed a few beers that he had brought along. They drank coffee and waited. The night grew heavy and was starless. The clouds were low and covered the expanse above.

After an hour or so there was a screech at the window and my grandmother knew that it was time to set things straight. She told the family to go into a room with no windows, pray for their family and what needed to be done and to not come out no matter what they heard. My grandmother told them she would return for them when it was time.

My grandmother walked out and looked at my grandfather. He knew what he needed to do. They walked around the right side of a great oak tree and saw what was tormenting the house. The lechuza or bruja (witch) was large and dark. Upon seeing my grandparents, it slowly withdrew into the shadows and not afraid but predatory, as if stalking. My grandmother began praying and the Lechuza let out a screech and then a hackle as if it was laughing. It took flight and swooped in an attack, but my grandfather took of his Hat. He was in work attire most of his life. Always in khaki pants and khaki shirt and a hat to shield him from the sun. He threw it on the ground brim facing up and pulled out a length of rope and yelled: “hasta aqui, ya no…” (up to here, no more).

My grandmother began to a prayer known as “Las Doce Verdades del Mundo”. As she did, my grandfather methodically began to tie knots in the rope. He positioned himself in between the tree and my grandmother. The lechuza let out another screech and lunged toward my grandfather. Clawing at his arm. He continued tying the knots. The creature returned to the tree then took flight again. This time it caught the fleshy part of his upper arm and dug its talon into the muscle. He grimaced in pain but continued. The bruja returned to the tree.

As my grandmother finished the prayer, she paused and began reciting the prayer backwards. My grandfather halfway through the ceremony began the other half of the rope. Tyng knots into rope and praying to himself. As my grandmother concluded and my grandfather tied the last knot the creature screeched one last time and fell to the ground in a thump. There on the ground was an old woman. Moaning in pain. She had been bound.

What was said between the two was unclear and not meant for ears of some. What I can say for certain was that after talking with the bruja for a few minutes. They released her, and she scampered off into the monte. Never to be seen again.

My grandmother returned for the family and let them out of the room. She explained that what had been to them was a mal from someone who had a very hateful spirit. No names were given. She told the family that they would be ok, but they needed to pray every night for the next few nights for the people that had wronged them. They were also instructed to light white candles and honestly offer forgiveness to those who had wrong the family and pray for their forgiveness of that which had come. It must be genuine and sincere. For darkness and malice can only be combated by light and goodness.

They were thanked and offered money and gifts, but my grandparents turned them down. My grandfather took a few aspirins and washed it back with the last swig of beer and slowly slumped in the passenger seat. My grandmother drove away. Leaving the family. They parted ways and never saw them again which was a good thing. The last she ever heard of them was that young man had married and moved away.” -Blue

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