The Nahuatl-speaking descendants of the Aztec people of central and southern Mexico have in their culture a living VAMPIRIC WITCH called a tlaciques. There is no way to divine or prevent this witch from being born, and prior to her first menstrual cycle when her blood lust develops, there is no way to predetermine if a young girl is a tlaciques (see LIVING VAMPIRE). The only visual sign that may betray her nature is that as she matures she will develop a limp. Usually when her family discovers that there is a tlaciques amongst them, they will protect her secret out of both fear and a bizarre sense of shame. If anyone in her family kills her, he will carry the curse through his blood and pass it on to his children.
Upwards of four times a month the tlaciqueswill need to feed and her usual prey are infants, family members who may reveal her secret, or people whom she has quarreled with. First the witch will detach her upper body from her lower so that she can shape-shift into a buzzard, CORPSE CANDLE, cat, dog, flea, or turkey. Her lower body is laid out to form a cross on the ground. While in her CORPSE CANDLE guise, the tlaciques has a hypnotic ability that she can use to cause people to commit suicide. Before she can enter into the home of her intended victim, the tlaciques must have first flown over his home in the form of a buzzard traveling from north to south and then from east to west. Once inside the home, she will glow briefly right before she attacks.
Tlaciques form pacts with one another so as not to infringe on each other's hunting grounds. This is done because the amount of blood that one tlaciques needs to survive is not so great as to be noticed, but should two or more start hunting in the same area their presence would be noted and they all would be at risk of being discovered and killed.
If it is suspected that a tlaciques is in the area,the common repellants of crosses or CRUCFIXES, GARLIC, holy water, and mirrors will ward it off, as will an onion wrapped in a tortilla.
A tlaciques, should one be discovered for what it is, is usually killed by being clubbed or stoned to death or by any means that does not require touching her while she is in her animal form. Should she be captured in her human form, she is then clubbed or stoned to death followed by removing her sense organs. Her body is then left to rot in an isolated area.
Source: American Folklore Society, Journal, vol. 68,
129; Bunson, Vampire Encyclopedia, 254; Edmonson,
Nativism and Syncretism, 16162; Madsen, The Virgin's Children, 167