There are various myths around the world. Growing up with Hispanic parents, I was told stories about monsters and spirits that could take me away if I misbehaved. To this day, I’m still scared of supernatural entities.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and the upcoming Halloween season, here are some urban legends that traumatized me and, I’m sure, other Hispanic children.
La Ciguanaba, Central America
I heard first about La Ciguanaba from my mom, who said my grandfather once spotted her. I was like, “That’s so fun!” However, her legend is anything but.
One account of her legend says La Ciguanaba appears to men at night as a beautiful, long-haired woman either in a flimsy dress or naked. She lures them away before revealing her true self to them, causing them to go mad or disoriented.
There are many stories about how she came to be. Some say the Pan-Mesoamerican god Tlaloc cursed her because he found out she cheated on his son multiple times. Others say she was forced to marry a man 40 years older than her and he cursed her. Either way, the once beautiful woman was forced to become a hideous monster who targets womanizers and abusive husbands.
Watch out guys.
Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico
The infamous Island of the Dolls, on a chinampa in Mexico, in the canals of Xochimilco is a creepy tourist location full of even creepier dolls. It all started with one man.
Don Julian Santana Barrera, the island’s caretaker, said he found a girl’s body face down in the water. A few days later, Barrera discovered a doll floating in the canals. Believing it belonged to the girl, he hung it on a tree in her honor.
The girl’s spirit began to torment Barrera, so to appease her, he hung up more dolls. After this, dolls started mysteriously appearing on the island. He began to believe these dolls were possessed by the spirits of others who had died in the canal and hung these dolls up as well.
Today, the island has hundreds, maybe even thousands of dolls, and has become a shrine for the young girl’s spirit, which haunted him for 50 years.
After he passed away, his body was discovered in the same spot as the young girl.
El Sombrerón, Guatemala
El Sombrerón is a goblin-like creature obsessed with braiding hair. It goes around braiding the tails of horses, mules, donkeys and occasionally dogs. It travels through towns with a pack of mules and ties them to the doors of women he’s interested in.
The legend says a young woman was out enjoying a full moon when she caught the eye of El Sombrerón. The creature began appearing outside her home, playing her songs with his silver guitar. She couldn’t sleep because of his constant serenading, and she couldn’t eat because he put soil in her food.
Her parents finally had enough. They cut her hair very short and had it blessed by a priest in hopes he would leave them alone, which he did. Parents tell their daughters this story as a way of ensuring they stay out of trouble and aren’t out late at night.
I’m not one to stay out late, but if someone starts putting soil in my food, I’ll chop my hair off myself.
La Llorona, Mexico
Perhaps the most famous story across Latin America is the story of “La Llorona” or “The Weeping Woman.” Though there are some differences depending on who tells it, the themes are generally the same.
Hundreds of years ago, La Llorona, believed to have been a woman named Maria, was married with children. After either discovering her husband’s infidelity or being abandoned by him, she decided to seek revenge by drowning her children in a river.
After realizing what she had done, she immediately drowned herself in her grief. When she arrived at the gates of heaven, they asked where her children were. Maria confessed to her actions and was denied entry.
La Llorona is now cursed to roam the world weeping, in search of her children so that she may be allowed into heaven. She mainly lurks near bodies of water, and if she sees any children alone at night, she takes them, thinking that they’re hers.
Were you spooked? There are more creepy legends and myths out there. If you want a scary bedtime story to tell at a campfire with friends, find some wild Hispanic ones.