In the south of Chile, heads fly with wings of witches who have come out of their dens.
(Myth of the Tue Tue)
Materiality and work description: A series of video recordings of stories about strange events in the south of Chile. They have a video-portrait format speaking of people’s experiences involving strange, paranormal, fantastic events that they remember and which make us think of that South American magical realism in the south of Chile. Each portrait is a cultural projection, a subjective myth, a palpable test of the imaginary weirdness, and the respect there still is in some places for our landscape, geographical space and anthropological heritage with its own cultural mixture.
The videos in this case trespass the immaculate layer of the feature-like and symbolic pose of portraits, with other aspects such as biology and culture, specifically the local phonetics, being added to the psychological status and the cultural layer which I intend to add as information specific to a syncretic portrait of natives and people of mixed blood narrating myths and apparitions in a magical landscape.
Gorbea sector, fourth faja (belt), Araucanía Region
I remember one day, it was a nice day I remember. But it is like a dream, a kind of dream only I have.
We were playing with some carts, these carts were out in the pampa (plains) around the house, so I was there with my brothers, taking care of them, entertaining them, and playing with them, and I don’t know what time of the afternoon it was, when I see my mother arriving. My mother was in a pasture further away from the house, very near the mountains. We were in between two streams with gullies, one on each side, which made a kind of pointy end and this forest grew very close to the house, there were dense mountains, they were quilantos –quilantos is what we call very closed quila extensions- and this was very close to where they were planting potatoes, I remember it was potatoes they planted at that time and they say they suddenly felt a sow we had at home scream, she was always near to us and whatnot, so they heard her scream, but like she was being killed, and they say they went out to see what was going on because they thought it was the lion that had caught her and was eating her, then the two went off running and the screaming moved away to the mountains, then they were running to the mountains in between the wood and thrown about sticks there, and everything, they practically got into the mountains and this scream led them to that deep gully that had like abysses if you will, right? Then they ran behind this screaming and later they were not like pig screams, they were another kind of scream, like sinister screams, then my mommy tells me that they ran and ran, they arrived to a place at which she told my father: “Stop running! We are very near the gully”, she told him, “it is not the lion who is taking her with him, this is the devil”, she told him, and in that moment they felt this scream and it was no longer a scream but it was a kind of hoot, as if someone was laughing at them, and there was so much panic that they were left cold, then my mommy ran, ran, ran, and arrived were we were, tired, exhausted and scared, very scared I remember and she asked us: “Have you seen the sow?” “Yes, the sow is here”, the sow never was where they were chasing it, then my father arrives from further behind, and they tell him, “You see, it wasn’t the sow, this was the devil who wanted to take us to the gully”, she said.
Quila: perennial Chilean bamboo
Lion: Chilean puma.
San Carlos del Ñadi, Los Muermos, Region of Los Lagos.
…My family – my father, my mother, I mean – had taken out a huge debt, like many neighbors of this town, San Carlos del Ñadi, in order to get connected to the electricity supply; that’s why they got indebted. My father had to sell every animal he had, cattle, oxen, to pay his debt, which he really never could, and he had no better option than to go away. He got a job in a town called Llico, on the farm of a gringo  of German origin, Alfredo Sibar, where he started milking cows. Many years he spent there milking cows with my eldest brother, and I also went to help him during my summer holidays from school.
Something happened then. My brother had to join the army to do his military service, and he had to go to Punta Arenas for two years, as was usual then, and my father and mother asked me to replace him at the farm and help Dad with his milking job, to help him pay his debt, right? We lived then in a very poor shack, earthen floor and all. We cooked our food on a fire, in pots blackened by constant use. We baked our bread in the ashes every day of the week. The only day we could go home was on Sundays, when our boss gave us a lift. We arrived home in San Carlos at nine o’clock, and had to be ready by 3 o’clock next morning to get back to the farm. As a young boy I loved soccer and enjoyed playing in every event in town; but I couldn’t do it any more because I had to milk cows, and it made me feel bad, enraged, because I had to sacrifice soccer in order to help Dad. It was like that for two years until my brother returned.
Once he came back I thought that things would change and become easier for me. But it turned out that my brother was wrongly accused of robbery by a wealthy gentleman, and was sent to prison for three years. So I had to work with Dad for three more years, milking cows all day long, twenty five cows they were. My Dad milked thirteen cows and I milked twelve, with our own hands, since then there were no machines for that, no mechanical milking.
As I liked soccer, after finishing my daily milking in the afternoon, I walked home, to my parent’s house, and played soccer in the evenings, or went to take part in soccer tournaments on Sundays, and had to go back to my working place late at night, or I stayed at my parents’ place and went back to the farm in the morning, at three a.m., so I could be there at three thirty or four, before… And I walked every time. My mother used to do loom weaving, sweaters and blankets, so she could afford to buy me a bicycle, which she gave me as a present. For she saw all the sacrifice I had to make to go to work, and she gave me that bicycle so I could ride all the way home from my job and return the morning after at three a.m.
I had to go along a narrow mountain road, under thick trees, pellines, quilas and all that, and the road was very dark even by daylight, when even the sun could not be seen. That part of the road was very dark, especially at night, and older people used to say that when the road was under construction someone was murdered there, some people were murdered, and their lost souls appeared at night to passers-by. That’s why I used to pray whenever I had to go along that road. I am a religious man, a Catholic, and before I arrived at the bridge or the hill, I made the sign of the cross and started to pray to have courage. Many times I went up that road, and one day I was walking up the hill with the bike at my side, not riding it, and the hill was very steep, when I suddenly sensed that someone was close to me, some evil spirit, and my hair bristled from head to toe. A terrible fear came over me, and then something grabbed my bike. The brakes weren’t on, I didn’t have my hands on the brakes, but it was stopped and I couldn’t move it forwards or backwards. I was terrified and enraged at the same time, and I don’t know how I got the guts to extend my hand to see or grab whatever was holding my bike. But I couldn’t grab anything, and the bike continued to be stopped, so I couldn’t move it. I was really furious and I tried to push the bike backwards and forwards, and then it was suddenly released, and I started running up the hill to reach the hilltop, while still praying. Once I reached the hilltop I calmed down, but I swear I suffered a most terrible fear. Afterwards I kept using that road over and over again, for I said to myself that I had to overcome that fear, since it could have been, I don’t know, only my fear.
 Gringo: According to popular etymology, a term originally from the 17th century, introduced into Chile by Mexican movies, to refer to North Americans of Anglo-Saxon origin.
Hilda Ruiz Santana
El Ñady, Los Muermos commune, Los Lagos Region
You see, we had just gotten married. Beto made a hut, some fifty meters away from my parents’ house, so when we moved there, to the hut, I could not go inside during the day, a tremendous fear seemed to come and touch my back, and Beto the same thing. Then, afterwards when Beto would go out and had to go take a bus, because we were in the countryside and it was far away to take the bus, one had to set off at night. You see, before Beto left there was already a shape showing at the door… and it hid and one day he left to take the bus, he went with his sister, and I, for him not to be afraid, and for that shape not to appear, I would get close to the bed, then I sat on the bed, and as we used candles, I left the candle burning. Sitting on the bed I started to pray and that thing came out, I still heard people talking nearby and this shape opened the door and got inside and crawled under the sheets, it started to raise the sheets and to get in there. I was sitting on the bed, like it hypnotized me and the only time I saw its face, it was a kind of green face, a big face, this big, and it was as tall as a person, but I didn’t fight back so hard, but… I screamed and I was sitting on the bed, my despair was such that my mother, she like knew what was happening to me, then she, as soon as it was day, went over there; I was sweating and my mother arrived and the shape disappeared. Beto would sometimes get up very early while still dark and he could not leave me alone because that shape would come right away and when I was with my son, it started taking away my baby, it would come and take it away from me and I would hold on to the baby with both hands and I screamed like it was going to kill me and that thing was holding on to the baby and one day we went out, we went to a doctor, because over there were no doctors nearby, then we stopped to spend the night at an aunt of Beto’s, we slept just fine that day, and the next day we went to take the bus, in the end we came here to Fresia to see a doctor because there were no doctors there, and that afternoon, says my father, it was already getting dark, he said he heard the treiles scream and he went out to have a look, because it was on the way to the our hut and there was… there is a little uphill slope… he says that, he turns around the corner of the hut and that thing is coming up with something like a blanket covering its head all the way down. He says he got there and saw that thing and turns back to call my mother and we had some very intelligent dogs, yes they were… so good those dogs, and he says he went to look for my mother and they came out to have a look and there was nothing and there was nowhere to hide, because it was just the plains so there was nowhere to hide, they didn’t find it anywhere, and they urged on the dogs to search, because one of them shouted “Search!” and they looked everywhere, and the dogs played dumb and barked at them, he said, and they didn’t know where it was hiding.
Teodoro Schmidt commune, Araucanía Region
I was like seven, eight years old, when in February, we were threshing with my father and my brother, I started playing with the bosses’ girls and it got dark, and I noticed my father and brother were missing and I ran down the slope, and I arrived in a plain, when a gentleman went by with a blanket, a chupalla (a horseman’s hat made of straw) and a very big dog, and I went ahead and crawled into a dry tree trunk, and meanwhile my brother came down from a hill, then he asked me: “What are you doing inside the dry trunk?” I answered, “Because a gentleman was passing by with a big dog and entered the gully and I didn’t see him come out”, and he told me I was a liar telling stories, and I said: “Yes, it’s true, it’s true, Nano”, and he told me: “No, look the land has just been laid fallow, you would see the footprints, and there are no footprints”, he told me: I told him: “I don’t know, but I did see him.” After that I went home with my brother and I told him I got a chill in the back, and I told my father the story and my mom said I was fantasizing, telling stories for grown ups. They did not believe me and still don’t.
Castro, Chiloé archipelago
This town here has a lot of stories and beliefs. Here, I remember in the old times when I was a little girl; my father, my mother, my grandparents spoke a lot about the Chiloé witches, I never saw any witches, they always told me they existed, we had an experience, my mother tells me that when she had –we are twelve brothers and sisters- my second sister, when she was a little girl, my father behaved very badly with an old man and at that time the old man threatened him, the girl grew up and when she was something like five years old, my father loved my sister very much, but time passed, my sister became sick, my mother always told this story crying and one believes one’s mother, logically, and she says that she became sick little by little and got worse. My father worked in Quellón, on Coldita island, they lived there, and one ordinary day my little sister got sick and he says that a tiuque  arrived one day, a bird, a little bird called tiuque, typical of the region, and it arrived here like a chick, eating the breadcrumbs on the floor, then my mother did not make anything of it because they were everywhere, like the parrots, the tiuques are also tame and could get close to people. The tiuque stayed with us more or less one week she says, it used to perch on the edge of my sister’s crib, it ate the little crumbs she left behind, and she was happy like that, but she got worse and worse until, like a week afterward my little sister died, the tiuque flew away and never came back. Then my mother always tells us it was because of my father, as he had treated that old man badly, that old man took his revenge because he was a witch. That is a story that happened to us as a family, my mother tells us, nobody else told me the story, so that is an experience one always thinks about. And as I said, I didn’t see any witch, I don’t know, I never saw a witch when I was a girl, because they say they appeared as animals, like dogs, or something, but they say witches exist and one has to be careful, and also be respectful of people one doesn’t know, because it is like that sometimes. When there are people and you mock that person something can happen to you, that I do believe, because you must never make fun of or look down on someone, because it can have consequences.
 Tiuque: South American daytime bird of prey.
Ancud, Chiloé archipelago
It was in the year sixty four more or less, when I was little, we were coming back from Santiago to Queilen with my aunt, and in those years in Agoní, a place where there wasn’t anything, I mean it was totally isolated, we even had to get there on boats, there was no road, there was nothing, so my aunts brought things they made in Santiago and in some big cities, because there were not many things around here, among those things they brought noodles, tomato sauce, Santiago food and my aunts brought noodles for dinner and we had visits, a pair of old ladies who lived very far away, like on the mountain and they stayed over, so when serving the food, and they didn’t like it, because they said: “Who thought of making this dough so long, what is this? We eat chapaleles , not this dough like that, so why didn’t you make potatoes with cabbages, which is an ancient Chilote meal, potatoes with cabbage, do you have cabbage?” Then my aunt said, “No, these are good and they’re called noodles and they are served with tomato sauce and if you want to you can put some chili on it, the old ladies said no, that they didn’t eat chili, then my aunt cracks a talla (joke), to make up, she told them “Us there in Santiago call people who don’t eat chili witches”, and that was enough for the old ladies to leave angrily, so at night, at the time of going to sleep the beds were full of fleas, at that time you slept in the kitchen with a stovetop, so everything… was plagued with fleas and according to my grandmother those old ladies were witches, they had gotten angry because they were told they were witches and they left, and that the bewitchment was that the fleas were everywhere and didn’t let us sleep and bothered us, then as grandmother was quite brave, she went out in the middle of the night in the plains shake the blankets out… and that these so and so witches… that they are going to come and throw fleas at us and that… And that is the story my aunts told, but I don’t know if it’s true or not, or a matter of chance, or maybe my grandmother’s house was full of fleas, I don’t know.
 Chapalele: a flour and water dough that is boiled, it is used to accompany meals, such as the curanto, a typical Chiloé dish.
Ana Ruiz Santana
Yerbas Buenas, Los Muermos commune, Los Lagos Region
I am going to tell you a story that happened in Puerto Montt once. This is in the south of Chile in a place called Yerbas Buenas, my brother and nephew lived there and they went to a tournament in Traiguén, another small locality: On their way back, late, after dark, the road had to cross mountains and they had walked a lot when suddenly they felt a mob coming up behind them, for a long time, then they said to each other “Let them pass”, so they hid behind a tree and the mob that was coming also stopped when they did, and when they started walking again, so did the mob, then they got scared and went back into hiding behind another tree further ahead, and they stopped again, then my nephew said: “Hey, this is the devil, it’s not people coming after us!” And they started praying because they got really scared, so my nephew knew how to pray the twelve redoubled words and told my brother: “I’m going to pray the twelve words, which I am going to tell you in case it does anybody any good:
Friend, tell me one, friend I will tell you: one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me two, friend I will: two are the tablets of the law, which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem. One is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me three, friend I will: three are the three Marys, two the tablets of the law which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem, one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me four, friend I will: four are the elements, three the three Marys, two the tablets of the law which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem, one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me five, friend I will: five are the commandments, four the elements, three the three Marys, two the tablets of the law which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem, one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me six, friend I will: six are the six candles, five are the commandments, four the elements, three the three Marys, two the tablets of the law which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem, one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me seven, friend I will: seven are the sacraments, six are the six candles, five are the commandments, four the elements, three the three Marys, two the tablets of the law which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem, one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me eight, friend I will: eight are the pleasures, seven are the sacraments, six are the six candles, five are the commandments, four the elements, three the three Marys, two the tablets of the law which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem, one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me nine, friend I will: nine are the nine months Christ was in the womb, eight are the pleasures, seven are the sacraments, six are the six candles, five are the commandments, four the elements, three the three Marys, two the tablets of the law which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem, one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me ten, friend I will: ten are the commandments, nine are the nine months Christ was in the womb, eight are the pleasures, seven are the sacraments, six are the six candles, five are the commandments, four the elements, three the three Marys, two the tablets of the law which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem, one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me eleven, friend I will: eleven are the eleven thousand virgins, ten are the commandments, nine are the nine months Christ was in the womb, eight are the pleasures, seven are the sacraments, six are the six candles, five are the commandments, four the elements, three the three Marys, two the tablets of the law which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem, one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me twelve, friend I will: twelve are the twelve apostles, eleven are the eleven thousand virgins, ten are the commandments, nine are the nine months Christ was in the womb, eight are the pleasures, seven are the sacraments, six are the six candles, five are the commandments, four the elements, three the three Marys, two the tablets of the law which Moses passed with his twelve disciples of Jerusalem, one is none, always the pure virgin.
Friend, tell me thirteen, who says twelve does not say thirteen, blow that one up a hundred leagues from here, a thousand times amen.
And after praying these twelve words, the boys went running and, scared to death, they ran to the house of some relatives that lived closer by, and they got there white as paper, and they say that they didn’t dare to go home because the fear was killing them, so they didn’t dare leave that house and stayed over, and both of them told the story like this separately, it was shocking how they were still scared when they told the story.