About a life devoted to the love for Folklore, Mythology, Legends and.....Art

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tell me a story; El Silbón (The Whistler)

You'd better not read the following story if you are alone at night. For the tale which I am about to share with you now is most certainly one of the scariest folktales I have ever read.
For those of you who would like to listen to the whistling sound please follow this link:

(But do read the tale first!)

Note: If you are not familiar with the project, please check out my previous blogpost here.

(Please, click picture for bigger and better view)

Story Title: El Silbón (The Whistler)
Submitted by: Jose
Country: Venezuela

This is story of The Whistler, perhaps the most famous and feared ghost in Venezuelan folklore. As with many folk tales, this one is preeminent in rural areas, specifically in the vast plains of the midwest of Venezuela.

There once was a man who killed his father. There are at least two main versions of how this came to happen. One says that the man had a beautiful wife and one day he came home to find his father behaving abusively towards her. The man exploded in rage and killed his father. Another version has it that the man was very spoiled, and one day he started craving deer heart and liver for supper. His father went out hunting so that his son could have his meal as requested, but he had no luck in finding deer. As it was becoming late and the father had not returned home, the son decided to go fetch him over at the hunting grounds. Once there, seeing his father as-of-yet empty handed, he burst into anger and killed him. Then he extracted the heart and liver from him, and took them home to his mother so she could prepare them for his dinner. The meat was too hard and wouldn't soften no matter how long she cooked it, so she started to suspect that these were in fact her husband's innards, and so cursed her own son for killing his father.

Independently of which "murder version" is told, the story always becomes consistent when it arrives to the point of punishment. The man's brother, hearing the news of his father being murdered by his own kin, set out to hunt and find the man, and when he did, he punished him with a whip until all his body was covered in wounds. Then, he sprayed burning flakes of red hot peppers onto his open wounds, and lastly, he unleashed a great, vicious dog and ordered it to go after the man and hunt him down.

Now the man is forever doomed to wander the vast rural plains of the midwest, carrying on his back a large sack full of bones - some say his father's bones; some say they're the bones of his victims. He prefers to haunt cruel, un loyal men who cheat on their wives or treat them badly, but it has been said that he also attacks drunks when they're fast asleep.

Sometimes The Whistler ventures into homes at night, and lays open his sack over the floor and starts counting the bones it carries. it is said that if nobody hears him counting, or if nobody notices his presence, then the next day one of the inhabitants of the house will die.

The image of The Whistler is a terrifying one. He is said to be disproportionately skinny and tall, about 6 meters in height, towering over the tree tops with his sack of bones slung over his back. The vicious dog still chases him, and bites his heels over and over again, until the end of time. He wears a tattered white suit and a wide-brimmed hat of the kind used in the Venezuelan plains (wider than an American cowboy hat, but not as wide as a Mexican sombrero). Very few have seen him and lived to tell about it.

In fact, the most distinct sign of the presence of The Whistler is... his eerie whistling. He whistles while we haunts the plains at night, a simple yet bone-chilling sound consisting of the seven notes, in order: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti... whistled rather slowly and extending a bit each note at the end. It is said that when the whistling is heard to be close, The Whistler is in fact far away, and there is nothing to fear. But if the whistling seems to come from afar, then it means that The Whistler is near. Some people barely notice this seemingly long-distant whistling, and when they do, it is usually too late.

However, as with many ghosts and creatures of this kind, there are ways of being saved from their evil intentions. if someone happens to encounter The Whistler, it might be a good idea to remember him what happened: his horrid crime, his punishment, his eternal curse. Other people prefer to have a whip around the house, or carry some hot peppers, or even have a dog around, as it is said that these are the three things The Whistler fears the most.

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