Some time back I promised I would post my findings after I read the book _Bloodsucking Witchcraft: an Epistemological Study of Anthropomorphic Supernaturalism in Rural Tlaxcala. Well here they are...
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. The 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 evade capture by turning into an animal so small, like tick, that the glowing is not noticeable.
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 scissors left near the bed, sometimes a mirror, sometimes religious medallions 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.
Author: Holly Turner