Bloodsucking Witchcraft: An Epistemological Study of Anthropomorphic Supernaturalism in Rural Tlaxcala, Mexico

The people of Tlaxcala Mexico believe in a supernatural entity called the tlahuelpuchi (plural tlahuelpocmimi). A type of vampire who lives with her human family, is able to shapeshift and sucks the blood of infants at night.


TlahuelpuchiThe tlahuelpuchi is similar to the nahual in that they both can shape shift into various animal forms. The nahual, however learns his craft and does not need to suck blood. Also the nahual looks like a natural animal when shapeshifted. The tlahuelpuchi has a kind of glowing aura.

The tlahuelpuchi is born with their curse and cannot avoid it. Sometime around puberty they first learn of what they are. The vast majority of tlahuelpuchi are female and the female tlahuelpuchi are more powerful than the male. From the time of puberty they must feed at least once a month on blood. If they don't accomplish this they die. Feeding kills the victim. The victim of choice is an infant. There is no way to detect a tlahuelpuchi except by catching her in the act. Her family protects her out of shame and because if a family members is responsible for the death of a tlahuelpuchi the curse will be passed down to that family member.

Tlahuelpuchi are able to change form by detaching their body from their legs. They then go hunting, usually in the form of some bird like a turkey or a vulture. This is because of the bizarre ritual the tlahuelpuchi has to perform before she can enter the house of a victim. The tlahuelpuchi must fly over the house in the shape of a cross from north to south, east to west. Coincidentally the shamans of the region cleanse the bodies of victims by uncrossing them. Victims also are given different burial rites. There was no indication that this was because people thought the victim might come back as a Tlahuelpuchi.

Often people report seeing glowing animals before a tlahuelpuchi attack. The tlahuelpuchi are able to avade capture by turning into an animal so small, like tick, that the glowing is not noticable.

The tlahuelpuchi have a form of society. Typically they each have their own territories. They also have a kind of pact with shamans and other supernatural creatures. This is why a shaman won't turn in a suspected tlahuelpuchi.

The typical sign that the victim was killed by the tlahuelpuchi are bruises on the upper body

Tlahuelpuchi are repelled by garlic, onions and metal. Sometimes the metal is represented by a pair of open sizzors left near the bed, sometimes a mirror, sometimes religious medalions pinned on the front and back of the shirt and sometimes safety pins in the form of a cross pinned to underwear.

The book examined several cases of death attributed to the Tlahuelpuchi and concluded by attributing the deaths to accidental infant smothering caused by sleeping with infants.

Source: Originally posted to the VAMPYRES list by Holly Turner in September 1994

Fanged Films

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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