The Headless Mule – Brazilian Folklore

Informant: A bizarre creature of Brazilian folklore that for some reason, people, like, actually believe in, is… there’s a tale of a headless mule, and it’s just a mythical creature that’s a mule without a head. And the part without the head is, like, fire. Neck up of the horse thing is just fire. The legend is that it was a woman that was cursed, and then – I don’t remember why she was cursed, but it was a woman who was cursed by God, and then she… turned into a horse. Without a head. And she would just run through empty spaces…. Just… terrorizing people. Like horses do when they don’t have heads. I don’t know man, I grew up with the story. It’s weird, but yeah. I heard my mom talking about it all the time. 

My informant is a 19-year-old college student at a small liberal arts college in Washington state. She was born in Brazil, and grew up there, moving to Florida in late elementary school, back to Brazil for a few years, then finally settling outside of Seattle in our last two years of high school. Her father’s American, and her mom’s Brazilian. Portugese was her first language, and she still speaks Portugese at home with her mom. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this piece was collected via an interview that took place over FaceTime. 

This creature sounds nothing like the creatures in the folklore stories I grew up with, which is fascinating. Part of that may be because mules are much more integrated into the culture in South America than they are in North America, so they wouldn’t be showing up in the most well known Native American myths, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where I’m from. Another thing I found interesting was that she said people actually believe in it. Some of the other creatures she described to me, such as an alligator lady who eats children, seem more plausible to me than this one because this one is missing a head, which should mean it’s not alive anymore. Even though an alligator lady eating children also defies the rules of logic, this one feels a little too out there for me to genuinely believe it exists.