El Silbón

El Silbón is a harbinger of death and a cannibal. He is depicted as the worst kind of evil in most Hispanic cultures since his doomed fate is tied to having murdered his father. This is not a Disney nor Brother’s Grim tale though so be warned.

Before we get into the many versions and tellings of this tale, I would like to share some of the attributes that I rather enjoy about it. This legend encompasses good vs. evil, the possibility of something as innocent as a whistle can be a foretelling, and of course of a monster in human form. All of these things appeal to my grim nature. Also, the moral lessons like murder is bad, drunkenness or adultery are punishable and to be aware of your surroundings. These are all lessons I grew up within the Hispanic Christian home of my Abuelita and these same teachings were very similar to my German mother’s warnings about things that go bump in the night. The only problem I had about all these things, well, they fascinate me and piqued my curiosity as I hope they do yours.

I am sure we could debate additional “lessons” that are encompassed in the various tellings too. This is something else I find fascinating is the adaptability of the stories. Have a kid that is staying out late the whistler becomes the point. Beware of drunkenness then the missing drunkards becomes the point. Kids not listening to their parents then the mom’s curse of eternity as a tormented ghost is the point. These are the urban legends and folklore that can also become lost to time. The original version already has in a matter of speaking but the adaptations give this tale a new life.

How Does This Spector Appear?

An image os of a statue from Venezuela as El Silbón is depicted there.

This would be the only part all the versions seem to basically agree on, is how El Silbón appears and when. He roams the plains every year from May through June at least as he follows the rainy season so that changes each year a bit. He is a spectator in a wide-brimmed straw hat and is very tall. Most say three meters in U.S. measurements that would be about nine feet. Other descriptions of his height are that he pears down from above the treetops. So far, everyone is following along right, he is super skinny and often depicted as an emaciated skeleton-ish, (I grew up with Hollywood so my modern description would likely be more similar to a walking zombie.) his flesh is tattered sometimes showing the bones beneath. His clothes are worn and tattered threads, his once white jacket is covered in earth stains and his pants are also threadbare and tattered just below his knees from all of the dog’s nips that have been torn away. Since he is reported to be a spirit I would think this is why the statue of him is blue for his flesh color, it just seems so unnatural and dead.

The Whistling Man

The image is a sketch of a hunched over skinny, skeleton-like man who is carrying a bag of bones on his back hunched over a cane and is whistling a tune. Very creepy! Hat man
El Silbón, The Whistler an original sketch by hubby (aka Grimming Papa) after I shared parts of the tale with him.

“When the boy’s grandfather found out what’d happened, he punished him, like people used to punish. He cursed him to wander without rest for all eternity, and handed him over to the dogs, so they could fiish him off.

The story doesn’t end there, the boy revived, and he continues to wander the Savana carring his father’s remains in a bag, burdering womanizing men, always whistling his infernal melody.

When you hear it close by, he’s far away, and when you hear it it is far away . . . It is close. To this day, it continues to happen in the Venezuelan plains.”

Fantasmoria from HBO as referenced by damasoddelgado.blogspot.com

For all my interweb searches I only found one post that says it gives the first published story as “The Whistle Man” by Damaso Delgado, a Venezuelan poet, and writer from the state of Portuguesa, and then it was recorded in 1967, and broadcast by radio throughout Venezuela. (I don’t know if this is a fact, as far as, the story’s first public telling if any of the Grim Family finds additional sources that I can verify I will be happy to update the post to reflect the new information.)

His whistle is made up of seven notes that are on a scale with the first four notes ascending (A, B, C, D) and the next four notes descending in tone as E, F, G, A. His whistle goes from a thick tone to a higher pitch then back down again.

Beware of Heavy Rainy Nights

It is said, on nights with heavy rains, El Silbón leaves the roads and instead visits houses to shelter himself from the rain. Hiding under porches or overhangs near doorways where he waits for the rain to stop. He will toss his bag to the ground and squat nearby and begin to count the bones of his victims, one by one. If anyone in the house hears the bones clicking and clacking while El Silbón is counting then nothing will happen. But if no one in the house hears, the bones rattling, one of the members of the house will die. One version I read about this part states a member will die in their sleep that night and never awake the next day.

El Sibon, the slender man wearing a wide brimmed hat and holding a skull looking down.

Versions of El Silbón

Venezuelan Version of El Silbón

A young man was working on his father’s farm in Venezuela, he found out his father (some versions say it was her father) had been calling his wife a whore (some versions say his father raped his wife). This enraged the young man, so much so, that he killed his father. The young man’s grandfather was now angry at his grandson, so he asked other farmers to brutally torture his grandson by first whipping his grandson’s back, and then they put salt, and alcohol on the open wounds, to intensify the young man’s pain. Then the men let two monstrous black dogs loose who bit the young man’s ankles, while the young man screamed in pain and fled into the jungle nearby. The young man’s body was never found after this attack.

Some people said that afterward, the young man’s spirit became a damned soul. He set out to kill mostly drunks or adulterers he found in his wanderings. He was also known for attacking and scaring any person who hears his terrifying whistle.

Colombian Version of El Silbón

The Colombian version of El Silbón has much the same backstory as the Venezuelan version, except drunkards are his main victims. It seems this legend was used as a way of deterring people from drinking too much. In this version, El Silbón stalks the Llano region in Colombia, on rainy nights during May and June. Drunkards going home from the bars meet with El Silbón. The Whistler is more sympathetic than his other counterparts when he does meet up with the drunks. El Silbón only attacks the drunks and there are far fewer killings or disappearances.

Alternate Version of El Silbón

In this version, El Silbón is a spoiled young farmboy who demanded his father make him some venison for dinner. Upon finding out his father had never cooked any meat, El Silbón became angry and killed his father brutally before ripping out his father’s entrails and then cooking them up. He then takes his father’s cooked entrails to his mother, and they eat them together. His mother finds out that the entrails were from her husband, she gets sick and angry and curses her son, forever having misfortune. El Silbón flees into the wilderness and returns as a malevolent spirit.

Send him running if you can

How To Ward Off If Possible?

Is there anything you can do if you encounter El Silbón? It turns out you can ward him off by mentioning what happened to him and sparking his memory. Just in case someone might need it there are two other options having a barking dog nearby, or chili peppers since both of these terrify El Silbón into running away.

For a Little Fun

For even more this episode below from Monstrum can be very entertaining too.

Thanks for spending time with us here at Grimming It Up, we hope you enjoyed our sharing of this spooky urban legend. We would love to hear from you on any of our platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, or post a comment below. All we ask is that you keep things respectful, we don’t allow bullying or harassment of others, those types of comments are not allowed.

If you like what we are doing feel free to share and invite others to the Grim Family.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silb%C3%B3n

http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/leyendas-venezolanas-que-te-dejaran-piel-gallina/

https://seeksghosts.blogspot.com/2014/06/el-silbon-whistler.html

3 responses to “El Silbón”

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