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.
“I really like the story of Scylla and Charybdis– which also relates to the saying of being between a rock and a hard place; and some people alternatively say ‘between Scylla and Charybdis.’ It’s because the whole tale goes, in two stories, people are trying to sail through this narrow path. It’s between this big cliff where this legendary monster known as Scylla resides within. Scylla used to be this normal and beautiful woman, but she was cursed to be a monster with dog heads sprouting from her lower half, and now she’s gained monstrous features like scales. These dog heads constantly hunger, so now she’s just become a monster who hides within the cliffs.”
In the water is Charybdis. Charybdis is a child of Poseidon, I think. She’s a huge monster, and you never actually see her in her entirety. What stays the same among depictions, however, is her gaping maw that summons a whirlpool going down into an unending amount of teeth.”
In the tales, the main character is on the ship, but the problem with sailing through is that sailing away from the whirlpool places you next to Scylla where the wolf heads will begin to pluck crewmates off the boat and eat them whole. But if you sail away from Scylla, you risk your entire boat getting completely destroyed by Charybdis.”
RELATIONSHIP – “I really like this mythos because– first of all this would be a terrifying situation. As a fan of big monsters, there’s not a lot of big monster situations that would be as dreary as this.”
WHERE THEY HEARD IT – “Dad showed me cool monster things because he got me into that stuff. So there were Greek mythology books and games and figures that I enjoyed, including sea monsters like this.”
INTERPRETATION – “This story is very relatable to picking the lesser of two evils. In order to carve your own path forward, you have to show your resolve. This was also probably something used to explain the phenomenon of whirlpools and jagged rocks that probably sunk ships.”
The tale of Scylla and Charybdis was certainly heavily referred to as a way for early humans to make sense of the world around them. I think an important piece of this tale is the lesson of making the most of a bad situation. It teaches people that sometimes there just seems to be no good option. The tale ensures and validates the idea that it’s impossible to know what choice is the right one at every given moment, but no matter what, one must resolve to press on, push through, and handle the consequences.
NC: So there’s this story about crossaway or crosu (Krasue) I don’t know exactly how to pronounce the name but in southeast asian folklore she is supposed to be a very beautiful woman and she’s only a head, so she’s a decapitated head and her entails are hanging out and she’s supposed to float around uh a building- a haunted building or something um she’s- I think she’s searching for something and she might also kill anyone who comes into the building. That’s all I’ve heard about it.
Location of Story – Southeast Asia
Location of Performance – Dormitory room, Los Angeles, CA, night
Context: This performance took place in a group setting – about 2-3 people – in a college dormitory room. This performance was prompted by the call for stories about beliefs, ghosts, or superstitions as examples of folklore via a group message. NC approached me in person in response to the text and had just discovered this creature herself.
Analysis: Krasue is physically unlike any other “monster” or creature I have heard of before. I was particularly interested in the dichotomy between the woman’s beauty and the grotesqueness of her lower half. For me, this hints at a commentary about how women are viewed around the world globally: her head is attached but her body has been ripped apart by what exactly? If women often fall victim to objectification, then it makes sense that this lore would depict her “body” has being completely consumed by something else or at least lost to something or someone besides herself. Additionally, the fact that she is bound by a building, confirms the archetypical “domestic” woman, but the threat she poses to anyone else trying to reside in her household disrupts this stereotype and protects the space as her own.