The urban legend surrounding Mexican vampire witches

Legends based on witches are known throughout the world, so most people have heard stories about these evil beings who predominantly attack children at night. Though many dismiss these legends as fictional stories, there are some that take what they hear about witches as fact. In the Mexican state of Tlaxcala, for example, many families take measures to protect themselves against witches called the tlahuelpuchis.

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Tlahuelpuchi means "illuminated youth." It's said that these beings — generally women — had led normal lives until they sold their souls to the devil. Others believe that these women were cursed at birth and their powers came to the fore once they experienced their first menstrual cycle at the onset of puberty.

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It's at this point that their supernatural side is revealed. The tlahuelpuchis are able to shape shift into birds, usually taking the form of turkeys. Far from being harmless, the tlahuelpuchis are similar to vampires in that they feed off human blood. In their case, they suck the blood of infants. 

It's said that these beings transform into birds in the dark of night, find their way into a home, and suck the blood from the baby inside through their beaks. Sometimes, these "birds" leave their human limbs under the bed for the mothers of the victims to find and burn.

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The reason they do this is because the "new" blood keeps them young; many tlahuelpuchis are actually older than they look. Meanwhile, their victims — the innocent babies — appear blue when they're discovered dead the next day. As a means to ward off these evil beings, frightened parents surround their newborns' beds with items such as scissors, mirrors, pins, and crucifixes.

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Most people who believe in these beings generally live in villages with high indigenous populations. However, there have been no reliable studies on this subject and media attention remains low. While it's true that babies die in ways that may seem inexplicable to some parents, these deaths can usually be attributed to causes such as suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome.

Even so, many people stick to their beliefs. Though no local government recognizes their existence, the last tlahuelpuchi was executed in Tlaxcala not so long ago in 1973. Were they really contending with a witch in this instance? Or was a terrible atrocity committed against an innocent woman?

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Watch the following video to find out more about the Mexican witch vampires (in Spanish):

In any case, this is a fascinating story that brings to light what these supernatural beings are said to do. But what do you think? Have you heard about similar stories where you're from?

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