Author Archives: Sofia Rubi

The Goat Lady


S, a 19-year-old from Houston, Texas, says her fourth grade teacher, Ms. Q, told her about the Urban Legend of the Goat Lady. Ms. Q detailed her own experiences with the Goat Lady, having encountered her in the woods with a couple of her friends during childhood. Ms. Q recalled seeing the Goat Lady stand on her hind legs and stare with lifeless eyes, before barreling rapidly forth towards Ms. Q and her friends. S remembers being absolutely horrified by the retelling of the Goat Lady encounter. S’s family planned a hike in the woods for Easter weekend, but having just heard the story of the Goat Lady, S was terrified to go on the hike with her family. For a while, she was extremely hesitant to go into the woods at all.


According to legend, the Goat Lady is a woman resembling a goat-human hybrid that inhabits the woods of Eastern Texas and eats wandering children who trespass onto her territory. The legend is usually, as is in this example, shared by word of mouth.


Notably, the Goat Lady is said to live in the woods and eat children, which is a common theme in cryptozoology. The woods are often viewed as a liminal space, where fear of the unknown easily takes hold and strange encounters are likely. Often, especially in many early American towns, the woods were viewed as the boundaries of civilization, and beyond civilization, is the perception of savagery. In many cultures, especially Native American cultures, the goat is viewed as a symbol of fertility and sexuality. Therefore, it would make sense for the figure of a woman to be crossed with a goat, given that women are primarily viewed as potential mothers and the bearers of offspring. Additionally, women tend to be inherently more sexualized for these abilities. The Goat Lady’s practice of eating young children could be an obscure depiction of backwards behavior, which juxtaposes the accepted norm of women mothering children in a civil society. The opposite of bearing children is eating them; therefore, the Goat Lady could represent the backwards and savage antithesis to the expected status of mothers in women. Given that the liminal space of the woods is often considered a backwards realm beyond civil society, the Goat Lady can viewed as an emblem of female dissent in opposition to societal norms.

Bloody Mary in the School Bathroom


When she was in elementary school, T recalls going into the girl’s restroom with a group of female classmates. She remembers it being an eerily cold and cloudy day, so she and her friends believed it was the perfect opportunity to put the Legend of Bloody Mary to the test. Before they had to line up to return to the classroom, T stood in a huddle with her friends before the only mirror in the girl’s restroom. After chanting the name three times, each girl began to scream and sprint from the restroom in fear. Afterwards, each claimed to have seen an older woman, but each girl described the woman quite differently. T recalls seeing a ghostly phantom with bloody and dejected features, and says that, after that day, she and her friends never used that bathroom ever again.


The Legend of Bloody Mary claims that if you chant “Bloody Mary” at a mirror three times, a woman– believed to be the historical and genocidal British queen, Bloody Mary— appears before you.


The trend of challenging the Legend of Bloody Mary is extremely common among young, pre-pubescent children, especially girls. At this age in life, young girls look forward to the daunting prospect of adulthood, or womanhood. The Bloody Mary challenge can actually be viewed as a metaphor for how the uncertainty of puberty and receiving one’s first menstrual cycle can be a terrifying experience. Like in T’s story, young girls confront a mirror, which in return projects back an image of themselves. Once completing the challenge and chanting Bloody Mary, the girls are faced with another image: the image of an older, often bloodier woman. This can be taken as a literal reflection of puberty, menstruation and other foreign aspects of womanhood through the eyes of young girls.

The Legend of the Alamo


19- year-old S grew up in Texas, where there is an abundance of lore surrounding the struggle for Texas’s independence from Mexico, a process that culminates in the story of the Alamo. This legend is spread by word of mouth but also taught in schools as part of the state’s history. S first encountered the legend of the Alamo when her family visited San Antonio when she was very young.

S believes that the legend of the Alamo is told as a reminder of Texas pride and independence. In Texas’s schools, all history studies in fourth grade are devoted to Texas’s history and specifically the War for Independence. A great part of what S was taught drew upon legends, especially the story of the Alamo.

At the end of fourth grade, S put on a musical performance of Texas’s history. She was absolutely ecstatic to be cast in the role of Susanna Dickinson and sing, “The Alamo, each one’s a hero, each one’s a hero, that the world will know.”


Interviewer: “Could you tell me what you remember about the Alamo from your experience in the Texas education system?”

S: “Legend goes that they were in the mission for 100+ days with less and less food. Davy Crockett was there, too… and the commander of the troops, William Travis, got up before the soldiers in the courtyard of the mission and drew a line in the sand. He said that everyone willing to stay and fight to their death for Texas could cross the line, and those who wanted to surrender and leave could stay on the other side of the line. Apparently everyone crossed the line.

S: “…Then ensued this epic battle when the Mexican forces finally attacked the Alamo. The Texan soldiers were outnumbered and inevitably the Alamo fell to Mexican forces. Another legendary sort of figure involved is Susanna Dickinson, a woman who was in the Alamo when it fell and was one of the few survivors. She suffered a gun shot wound to the leg but was spared as a prisoner of war and she’s mostly remembered for her bravery of choosing to stay in the Alamo.”

Interviewer: “What’s your opinion now on the way the Texas education system taught the Alamo?”

S: “Well, since there were so few survivors…I don’t really think there is any actual evidence whether William Travis drew that line in the sand. Knowing how embellished the story is, I question if Davy Crockett was even involved at all and it makes me laugh thinking someone may have just thrown him into the story to make it sound more legendary I guess. I definitely believed the elaborate story at the time mostly since it was taught in school…There is so much fierce Texan pride in the state.”


The story of the Alamo is a legend because of the legendaric elements involved in the narrative. Although a historical event, the truth value of certain aspects remain in question. The history is framed as an epic narrative to help highlight values of freedom, strength, and integrity that are central to the state’s cultural framework.

As S notes, elements of the Alamo are often exaggerated and over-embellished, creating a much more legendary genesis for the state of Texas. Romanticization of a country’s or state’s origins is commonly utilized to create a common identity and promote patriotism among inhabitants. Texans, through the legend of the Alamo, garner an intense patriotic perception of their state and their identity as Texans. The intense, fervid flames of this patriotism are stoked by the education system, which shares these legendary stories as irrefutable facts to the youth very early on.

The Color Changing Rosary


19-year-old S was raised Catholic in Houston, Texas. When she was in 9th grade, she attended her first overnight church retreat. During this retreat, she experienced the Catholic tradition of Adoration, in which the body of Christ in the form of the sacramental bread is displayed for prayer in the church.


During Adoration, S prayed her rosary, which was a gift from her grandmother. It had lavender-purple faux crystal beads. While praying she was overcome with emotion and started to cry. She put the rosary away and went to confession. Once adoration ended, she left the church and returned to a different building where they broke off into small groups to talk about the experience.

S opened up the little white bag containing the rosary and suddenly noticed that the beads were a bright baby blue. She believed that the rosary had changed color during Adoration, coinciding with her intense emotional experience. This belief was affirmed by the adults leading the retreat, who told her that blue is the Virgin Mary’s color, meaning that she must have performed the miracle. S told her story to the whole room (50+ people) and called her mom in tears to tell her about the miracle. This moment was the strongest she had ever believed in God, but it was probably the last moment she ever believed to that extent as well.

The next morning when her mom came to pick her, S pulled out the rosary to show her. Her heart sank as it was purple again. She snuck back into the youth center and realized the grave mistake: it was only the lighting of that room that had changed the color of the rosary. Immediately she felt embarrassed for having believed such a miracle could have occurred. S says that her belief in Catholicism pretty much declined from there, largely due to other factors but also the humiliation of such an underwhelming event.


S thought she had a personal experience of myth, or the occurrence of a miracle, which is central to Catholic mythology. Often, for people growing up in christian communities, they are instilled with expectations for God’s incessant greatness and love for all his creation. Catholicism especially holds the notion of every-day miracles at its core, preaching that the divine can send little miracles, or head-nods, to acknowledge his creation and the hope of their eventual salvation.

The Christian doctrine creates endless promises to its followers, giving them hope for when hope is absent. However, when such promises are not conceived in any way, people tend to drift away from God. It is an underwhelming and confounding experience, which in turn deters followers from Christian doctrine and introduces them into a realm of harsh reality.

S believed she had experienced a miracle, which was so central to her belief system at the time. However, once she realized her miracle was false, she not only snapped back to reality, but also realized the prospect that much more than just the color-changing rosary was an underwhelming lie. Although she mentioned that other factors played a role in her rift from the church, this instance is symbolic of what happens with many when religious beliefs get flipped on their head.

Spirit-Medium Friend


LB is a 20-year-old female who had a friend in High School, AS, who allegedly could see, hear, and sometimes communicate with the spirits of the dead. AS claimed to regularly be ignoring spirits when engaging in normal conversation and only mentioned that she perceived them after the fact. LB, who is deeply disturbed by paranormal activity and the supernatural, remembers being horrified by AS’s abilities.


Interviewer: “What’s one time you remember AS having one of these ghost-medium episodes?”

LB: “Once we were at my neighbor’s house dog-sitting at night and we were on a call with another friend. Out of nowhere, AS asked if I could hear knocking and I said no and got super confused. It didn’t take me long to realize what was happening, and I told our friend on the phone that we had to go. AS didn’t like a lot of people knowing about how she experienced this stuff. So she continued to hear the knocking and I still didn’t, so clearly we figured it was a supernatural thing. Then we freak out and get the dogs back into their kennel quickly and book it out of there. I was the one driving us home, but kept noticing AS looking behind us while we were in the car. I told her to stop because it was freaking me out. She didn’t tell me why at the time, but she eventually told me she saw a girl running toward us behind the car screaming for help.”


In those high school years of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, people feel like they are in a very liminal space. Therefore, it is common for youth to take on and be more aware of the liminal realm of the supernatural. Just as college students are more likely to believe in ghosts, the same can be said for high schoolers as they begin to become more aware of their futures and potential as future working members of society. They start to learn to drive, to work a minimum wage job, and as a result, eventually pay their own taxes.

For this reason, it makes sense why AS would be experiencing or perceive to be experiencing these episodes of spirit communication. Whether or not any supernatural activity occurred or if it was mostly in her head, AS’s mind was nevertheless in the bordering realm between childhood and adulthood, making her more superstitious overall.