Mexico is one of the few countries in the world that have kept their werewolf legends pretty much exactly the same as they were several hundred years ago. Even though the Spaniards started colonizing Mexico in the 1500s, the people in the area still held fast to their werewolf beliefs. That, and the fact that the Spaniards didn’t seem to bring over any werewolf legends of their own all mean that the werewolf legends of Mexico today are some of the most authentic and original you can get.
Werewolves in Mexico are known as “nahual” which is derived from the pre-Hispanic language of Nahuatl, and is a variation of the word “Nuahualli”, which means “warlock.” The nahual would change into a black or dark coyote and they were considered to be very evil by the indigenous people of Mexico. It was believed by these people that the people who were being attacked or killed in their villages were being harmed by the nahual, and that it was also these coyotes that would steal the corn and chickens from the local farms.
The people of Mexico knew that the nahual could run extremely fast, and that they were very strong. They also believed that the nahual were very protective of the territory that they roamed, and that if another nahual were to try to invade that territory, it would be a fight to the death. It was also well known that the nahual could be injured while they were in coyote form, and that they could even be killed if wounded badly enough. It was also the early Mexicans that believed that, should a nahual be harmed while in animal form, they would also show the injury when they returned to human form. Perhaps this is where that same popular belief of today came from? Nahuals were also thought to be vulnerable to things such as holy water, fire, and gunshots. Stoning and hanging nahuals was also thought to defeat the coyotes, but you first had to be able to grab onto one long enough.
Today in Mexico, near the mountain of La Malinche, it’s thought that nahuals still exist, but they are a bit different than in other areas of Mexico. Here it’s thought that nahuals are actually women werewolves or witches, and that they sneak into homes at night to kill and eat children. Parents sometimes keep a mirror that shows the sleeping child’s reflection as well as a pair of scissors or a knife, that’s thought to ward off the nahuals and keep the child safe. I’m not so sure that putting a sleeping child beside scissors is so safe though. Guess it’s better than letting the nahual get to them!