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Latin America: More lore, ghosts, demons and frights

On this second installment on the Myths, Lore and Legends of Latin America, we will get to know the Venezuelan Animas and their unfinished business, the Sayona and the Whistler, and Ecuadorian myths such as the foundation myth of Guayas and Kil, Father Almeida, the Headless Priest, the gagones (something similar to familiars) and the Cantuña Cathedral myth. You can read Part 1 here.

starry night
Starry Night by Noahg.

Venezuela's myth and lore seem to be geared towards teaching people about the importance of keeping promises, whether they are marriage vows or vows made to the dead. On the first type of broken promises, The Sayona and the Silbón are similar. In the first case, the Sayona is a fright that appears to unfaithful men to scare them, and hopefully make sure they never again try to be unfaithful. The legend goes that she thought her husband was sleeping with her mother, and she murdered them both. Her mother with her last breath cursed her to wander forever, never at peace. Pensamiento Crítico [es] blog includes one of the “first hand accounts” of how the Sayona's appearances have turned stray men onto the straight path.

The other fright, the Whistler or Silbón, as told by Ricardo in the Ghosts and Apparitions of Venezuela blog [es], has to do with a man that according to some versions of the myth, thought his father had abused his wife, and decided to kill his father. His grandfather punished his grandson for this atrocious murder by tying him to a tree and whipping him, and then rubbing hot pepper on his woulds, and letting out the dog to chase after him. The Whistler, as his name indicates, makes a whistling noise when he gets close by, and the closer he is, the weaker the sound is. If you hear it really close by, it means that the Whistler is far far away. Another way of telling if the Whistler is close by is for a clacking noise that follows the Silbón everywhere, caused by the bones of his father that he carries in a bag on his back. It is said that if the Silbón stops at some one's house to count the bones in his bag, and no-one hears him, someone in the house will die the very next day.

The other myth related to broken promises has to do with the Pica-Pica ghost. Apparently a farmer had lost a mule on the field, and looking by a tree, found the unburied corpse of a soldier. He asked the soldier for help finding the mule in exchange for christian burial. The mule appeared, but the farmer didn't keep his side of the bargain, and later fell ill. He told his children about the broken promise, but even though they went and buried the soldier, their father still died. This is told by Kbulla on his blog.

From Ecuador, Steven, Álvaro, Andrés and Alexis write in Legends of Ecuador about the two versions of the Cantuña Indian Legend, the false one stating how he made a pact with the devil to finish building a cathedral on time, and later managed to avoid selling his soul by managing to keep one brick from being laid and “finishing” the building, and the “true” one that mentions that Cantuña was an native who was adopted by Spanish settlers, and when they were in financial distress, Cantuña promised that if some changes in the floor plan were made, he would solve their problems, and so it happened, there was always money to go around, much of it, and when the priests came asking where this fortune came from, Cantuña told them he had made a pact with the Devil to keep getting money: in truth, he had a gold smelting operation, where he would melt down gold bars and Inca figurines and turn them into coins.

Full Moon night
Noche de Luna Llena by *L*u*z*a*

The Guayas and Quil (or Kil) Legend [es]states how the city of Guayaquil got its name: it says that prisoner Indian chief Guayas discovered that the Spanish wanted to take away his beautiful wife, Kil. He told them he would get them lots of riches if they left his wife alone and granted them freedom. He then took the Spanish up a mountain and asked them for a long strong stick to push up a rock. Once they gave him the spear, he pushed it through his wife's heart and then impaled himself, telling the Spaniards that he was taking two treasures, the river, full of his brother's blood, and his wife, to accompany him up to the land of the Sun.

Blogger Dunn [es] has something to say about this myth, and the statues that have been erected to its name. He states that the word Guayaquil comes from the Huancavilca language meaning “Our Big House” and it makes no sense to keep perpetuating a legend instead of making monuments for real heroes, like the Native Indian nation as a whole.

The Headless Priest and Padre Almeida have similar origins. According to Mama-puma's blog [es], the Headless priest appeared in the popular neighborhood of San Roque, and was in fact nothing other than a regular priest, who having to sneak to his lovers’ houses in the neighborhood would lift his cassock over his head so that people would be scared and run away, and wouldn't recognize him.

On the other hand, Father Almeida is said to have been a monk who decided that a life of contemplation wasn't his cup of tea, and would sneak out of the monastery by climbing onto Christ on the cross behind the altar and sneak out through the clerestory windows. Whenever he would come back very drunk, he would hear and see Christ moving his lips and saying “Until when, Father Almeida?” And the monk would answer: until the next time. Finally, on one of his outings, he saw a funeral procession, and when he asked the monks surrounding the coffin who had died, they all answered “Father Almeida”. Seeing that it was actually skeletons who were carrying the coffin, he ran all the way home, and never sinned again.

The last myth, the Gagones, is a bit stranger than the previous ones. It is said that the Gagones are the form one's spirit takes if it is in sin. They come out at night and find their mates, and start frenzied lovemaking, caressing and twisting about each other, but their owners can't see them. Those who see the gagones may know the state of sin the soul's owners are in: if the gagones are stuck together like dogs it means that those who have them are in an adulterous relationship. The gagones appear to those who are sinning with a family member or relation, and if a gagon is caught and a cross is painted with soot on its forehead, then you can find the owner of the gagon because its forehead will also have a sooty cross on it. If you are pure of heart, then you can easily catch a gagon and keep it retained until daylight, and then let it loose and see where it runs to meet its owner. This was found on Yapa Digital's blog [es].

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