Tag Archives: Headless Mule

Mula Sin Cabeza, Brazilian Headless Horse


M: umm , oh another one is the, ah, mula sin cabeza. This is actual like folklore that umm basically is the…  mula sin cabeza its a type of horse without their head, that’s the name

Me: ok

m :  umm

Me: is it mula sin cabeza?

M: yeah, aaand what happened is it’s a creature that is created or born or whatever, when a woman sleeps with a priest. Which your no supposed to cause like a priest is like 

 Cannot have sex and bla bla bla. But, if you do, the woman becomes that horse 

O: what!?

M: yes..

O: that is so anti-woman.

I laugh

M: well, whatever, it’s, it is what it is

Me: maybe society is anti-woman

M: yeah

O: oh m goodness society

M laughs

M: and then so she would 

[I laugh because o realizes that I’m recording and leaves]

M: she would like walk around at night, cause you know the mystic anything will transform at night

[O leaves closing door]

M: and so, and the way she is, imagine like a horse without a head, and on the place the head was supposed to be its just flames

Me: yo, thats metal

M: right, it’s literally that! It like a horse without its head and in its place fire. What else we have…

Me: wait wait, what does the horse do?

M: just haunt the city

Me: the whole city.

M: yeah cause, like it would like walk around us when it was.. And don’t have a head. And it was like a punishment for like sleeping with the priest. Cause you’re not supposed to sleep with the priest

Me: that’s your take on it? You’re not supposed to sleep with a priest

M: yeah basically. In conclusion, do not sleep with priests

I laugh

M: so fleabag would not have survived Brazilian culture

ME: you’re right


The informant, M, is a 19-year-old USC international student from Brazil. She delivered this piece in the workroom of a campus center before class alongside other pieces in order to share some personal and Brazilian folklore. She learned about this legend growing up in Brazil.

O is a mutual friend of the informant and me, they briefly walked into the workroom and commented on the legend, before realizing I was recording and leaving.


As M said “You’re not supposed to sleep with the priest.” this legend clearly indicates the cultural value of not sleeping with priests.

To me (as partially stated in the text) transforming the woman who slept with the priest rather than the priest indicates blame on women for the sex rather than priests/men. This would indicate a larger cultural understanding that having sex with a priest is wrong, not a priest having sex. This could relate to western christian notions of purity culture that blame women for the loss of virginity and other sexual acts.

The specifics of M’s speech also indicate that mystic transformations are thought to more commonly happen at night,

The Headless Mule

“My mother’s Brazilian, so when I was growing up she would tell me the Brazilian folklore story of the headless mule.  The story goes that a sinful woman was cursed so that she was transformed into this headless mule that could spit fire out of its stump.  So every Thursday night the mule would run around in the dark spitting fire everywhere it went, and, if you happened to come across it, it could turn you into a headless mule, too.  But I think the contingency was that it could only turn you into a headless mule too if you had committed the same sin as the original headless mule, something like infidelity or something, I’m not sure.”


This folk myth is super interesting because of how many different variations there are of it.  Nothing the informant said is inherently incorrect, it’s just that this is merely one version of the myth, and there are many others that are equally valid.  Additionally, the authenticity and the heritage behind this myth really fascinates me, as it’s a traditional Brazilian myth, and the informant is familiar with the myth because of his mother’s Brazilian background.  The myth connects the informant to his heritage, which is something I really appreciate in folklore.

For another version of this riddle, see the Volkswagen commercial titled “The Legend of the Headless Mule”.