The Witch of Tahquitz Canyon: October 2020

Around this time of year, whispering through the desert winds, you begin to hear the faint utterances of “She’s back!”

“Who?”

“The witch?”

“Which old witch…” Oops, wrong story.

When I first moved to Palm Springs, I thought it was a joke. I would hear rumors of local folklore about a witch who lived in the hills – specifically “The Witch of Tahquitz Canyon” – who would do nasty things like eat children and steal people’s souls.

I was curious about this local luminary. Was she a good witch or a bad witch (oops, I did it again)? I wanted to find her, see who she was and what she was really all about.

Now, for the easy part, you can readily see The Witch’s outline embedded on the western hills of Tahquitz Canyon. On a good day, you can see the shadow of her body and her broom. It appears that she has a protruding chin, somewhat bulbous nose and a pointy forehead (at least this time of year). She wears a flowing gown and is grasping her broomstick with both hands, ready as ever for flight.

I see her many days on my morning dog walk and I always say “hello” because I don’t want to get on her bad side.

Now, why would I not want The Witch to be cross with me? The legend says that on cloudy days beware – she is out on the prowl and may be looking for souls, or at least to wreak havoc with local weather.

So, how did this witch get her wherewithal?

As legend has it, the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Indians, who have resided within the area for thousands of years, at one point had a leader who was advised by a Shaman name Tahquitz. Tahquitz was known for his trickery which eventually became more sinister.

The legend continues that at one point he “hooked up” (for lack of a better term) with a woman named Mena, who was later to become known as The Witch. 

Mena and her medicine man (aka Tahquitz)  had a lot of fun together — they also discovered they had a knack for sorcery. At first they were harmless, sucking the evil out of the souls of seekers searching for support. Eventually they got greedy and began sucking out the entire souls of their clients. Obviously, not good for business.

So, Mena’s mayhem continued. She became such a glutton that she turned to cannibalism and eventually even killed Tahquitz.  It wasn’t until the early 1900’s when a posse set out to kill the malicious Mena.  She was discovered, shot and killed. Legend has it, when the posse came back the next day, her returns had disappeared.

But, for anyone looking for Mena – we all know where we can find this wicked witch. You need look no further than the western hills of Tahquitz Canyon and you can catch her looking down upon you, perhaps plotting to steal your soul.

Boo!

And with that, I end this as “Poolside From PS.”

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