Episode 113: Brazilian Creatures

We’re rounding up some of the most interesting Brazilian mythological creatures. From chaotic good tricksters, to snakes that just want to be left alone, to headless mules that are definitely on fire, there are some great stories this week. And remember, gotta take the stink with the wish.


-The dark fantasy TV show Siren returns on Thursday, January 24th at 8 p.m. on Freeform! Be sure to watch!

- Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that finds and delivers clothes, shoes, and accessories to fit your body, budget, and lifestyle. Get started at stitchfix.com/spirits for 25% off when you keep your whole box!

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Amanda:              Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends, and folklore. Every week we pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.

Julia:                     And I'm Julia.

Amanda:              And this is episode 113, Brazilian Creatures.

Julia:                     I am excited. We haven't touched on Brazil in a while. I'm also very sleepy because we just got back from PodCon, but my excitement is not any less fueled for a very good episode.

Amanda:              Yeah, PodCon was amazing. We took the whole Multitude team out there, and people stayed with friends and used airline miles. And then we got an expo hall booth, which was so much fun to be there as Multitude and meet people, say hi to Spirits listeners, give out these incredible wooden stickers that our listeners TJ and [Alana 00:00:43] made for us. Oh my gosh, it was so fun.

Julia:                     It was in fact. And it was really nice to get to meet some listeners in person, and I think we might have met a couple of our patrons.

Amanda:              We totally did, and welcome to the fold. You can meet us at a future con. Sarah, Deliah, Katie, Nellie, Eleanor, Tove, Kate, and Jordan.

Julia:                     And they join the ranks of some of our favorite people in the whole wide world. We would hang out with you at a con any day. Our supporting producer level patrons. Philip, Julie, Eeyore, Cathy, Vinny, Danica, Marisa, Sammie, Josie, Amara, Neil, Jessica, Phil Fresh, and Deborah.

Amanda:              And we would give the hugest hug at any con or show to our legend level patrons. Jordan, Jess, Sarah, Zoie, Sandra, Audra, Mercedes, Jack Marie, and LeAnne.

Julia:                     All the hugs for y'all. All the hugs.

Amanda:              Julia, what do you have to recommend this week?

Julia:                     Well, I'm gonna stay on brand, and I'm gonna recommend hey, maybe you should spend a whole week with people that you love and who create things that you love because PodCon was super amazing. Getting to spend time with people who do the thing that you do, but are also on the same wavelength as you creatively is such a wonderful experience, and I wish I could do it every month instead of every year.

Amanda:              Yeah. It was so much fun. I don't know what else to say. And for me, it's always a little bit nerveracking to do a workshop. We did two workshops, one on sponsorship sales and one on pre-production for your podcast, and I always ... minutes before we start am like what am I doing up here? Why am I doing this? Why do I think I know enough to ... But listen, being upfront with people about what you know and what you don't and doing presentations where you try to help people shorten their learning curve and be able to do faster or a little bit easier stuff that you learn that Julia and I slogged through with Eric for three years figuring this stuff out was amazing. So yeah, I totally recommend it. I recommend sending the scary email, signing up for the thing that makes you a little bit nervous, and deciding to surround yourself with people who you love and who you're inspired by.

Julia:                     Absolutely. I like uplifting recommendations.

Amanda:              Me too. I know. I like recommending a book as much as the next person, but yeah, I totally agree with you. And to that end, we write so many articles. I write so many articles about how to podcast stuff, and they're all on multitude.productions. So if you're starting a podcast or creative endeavor, if you want some help or you wanna just learn more about how this is done, go to multitude.productions. And while you're there, sign up for our newsletter. That is the best place, the first place, to learn about upcoming shows, our appearances on other podcasts, and more, like when the audio from our presentations at PodCon goes up. So sign up for the newsletter, and make sure that you stay in the loop.

Julia:                     Amanda curates it, and it's very purple and very wonderful and there's usually a good GIF in there.

Amanda:              Thank you. I do my best to be a little ray of sunshine and [inaudible 00:03:43] energy into your inbox. Alright, well, without further ado, please enjoy Spirits Podcast episode 113, Brazilian Creatures.

Julia:                     So Amanda, we've had a couple listeners request Brazilian folklore. Thanks specifically to Anna and Victor. So I figured rather than really digging in deep to one story ... Because again, I don't always feel super comfortable doing areas that were colonized by white people's stories just in general.

Amanda:              Right.

Julia:                     But I thought if we do a bit of a roundup, we can touch on some very cool creatures from Brazilian mythology and folklore. And because there are some really, really interesting and really, really fascinating ones. We're actually also gonna see a lot of recurring themes that we've seen in other traditions as well, so let's keep that in mind and we can call them out as we go if you spot any. We'll make a little game out of it, how about that?

Amanda:              Okay. I'm down for games. I'm down for games. And as always listeners, if you know of a great author or primary source or person with firsthand experience in some of these myths, let us know. Send us an email and we would love to get in touch.

Julia:                     We're first gonna start with the [Caipora 00:04:51], which is specifically from the [Tupi–Guarani 00:04:54] tradition. The name is a Tupi word meaning inhabitant of the forest, and it is a very mischievous being.

Amanda:              You know I love a trickster.

Julia:                     You gotta love a mischievous being. That's just one of the rules of Spirits Podcast. So it is a forest dwelling creature. It is sometimes referred to as the king of animals, and it will enact vengeance on hunters when they do not respect the rules of fair play when hunting.

Amanda:              I love it.

Julia:                     In the tradition, hunting is not supposed to take place on Fridays, Sundays, or religious days. So if he finds hunters hunting on those days, he will punish them.

Amanda:              And how does he punish them, Julia?

Julia:                     He will disorient hunters. He will make animal noises and leave fake tracks to get them off the path and at the same time also scaring away actual prey and hiding actual animal tracks.

Amanda:              I love it. Chaotic good protector of the forest come to me.

Julia:                     There are a bunch of them actually. I think you're gonna be very excited about this episode then.

Amanda:              Oh my God. I'm so delighted. This is like to me ... This is like the actual form of what we think of as chivalry. Just some kind of ... I don't know how to phrase it exactly, but enforcement of the way things should be and up keeping rules and fair play, like you said.

Julia:                     Yeah.

Amanda:              You know, it just ... It makes me so happy, and it's not some dumb knight shit. It's a protector of the forest being like no, I'm sorry. You have to stick to some guidance here.

Julia:                     Yes. [crosstalk 00:06:20]

Amanda:              It's the circle of life, but also the circle of life has some guidance around it.

Julia:                     It is funny that you compare him to a knight because I was gonna say this later on, but he rides around a little pig.

Amanda:              Oh, he has a little pig stead.

Julia:                     He has a little pig, and he's got a little stick as a weapon. It's very cute.

Amanda:              Aw. Adorable.

Julia:                     So other things about the Caipora's appearance. It varies depending on the story. Sometimes he's a man, sometimes she's a woman, but they're usually portrayed as a naked, dark skinned indigenous person having a long, black mane and smoking a cigar.

Amanda:              Wow.

Julia:                     The little pig that he rides around on is a native pig called a peccary, and he is said to sometimes be a cannibal. So he'll basically eat anything from small insects to unfortunate hunters that he's tricked.

Amanda:              I mean, you know, eat or be eaten. We're all animals here. That does make sense as a sort of enforcement of the forest rules.

Julia:                     For sure, for sure. Also, I would be afraid of a thing that was gonna eat me and maybe think about how I'm gonna kill the animals that I'm killing.

Amanda:              Yeah, have a little empathy for other animals whom you are trying to eat.

Julia:                     I just got very excited because I can't wait for you to hear some of these other stories. So the Caipora was said to be afraid of light, so indigenous people would protect themselves by using fire brands if they were traveling through the forest at night. Caipora is a term used in northeast Brazil to mean someone who is going through tough times, whether they've been super unlucky or they're just generally unhappy. Historically, the term was also used by the Portuguese to refer to enslaved people who escaped enslavement and then took shelter in the woods to avoid capture.

Amanda:              Wow. Raising people who escaped this horrific system, sort of othering them, right? As supernatural or cannibalistic or primitive with big air quotes.

Julia:                     You can tell that this is kind of one of those stories that's been corrupted by colonization.

Amanda:              Right.

Julia:                     Clearly there were ... There's certain aspects of the story that you could tell probably were in the original folklore and the original mythology and then other ones where it's clearly the Portuguese kind of messing with the idea of what this thing is. And we'll see that in a lot of the stories that we're gonna be telling in this episode.

Amanda:              Yeah, it's sort of the opposite of the [sacritism 00:08:32] that leads to [inaudible 00:08:33] it's not pagan, it's fine, when you take a tradition and just glom it into yours so that people don't think of it in other terms. It's sort of like saying, "[inaudible 00:08:42], it's not real. It's pagan." In making something legitimate, which is enslaved people escaping bonds and living the way that they want to live and making it into some kind of otherworldly, supernatural folkloric kind of presence.

Julia:                     Yeah. It's definitely a strategic thing in that it ... Definitely not in a good way obviously, but it's definitely a strategic thing that enslavers would use in order to control their enslaved populations.

Amanda:              But you mention this does have kind of pre-Columbian roots.

Julia:                     Yes. Absolutely. You can tell kind of based off the fact that indigenous people had stories about them before the Portuguese got there. So the fact that they were afraid of light so they used fire brands, the fact that they would attack hunters.

Amanda:              Right.

Julia:                     You know. But the addition of the religious days that people can hunt on was a different thing that probably came in with the Portuguese.

Amanda:              That's syncretism.

Julia:                     Syncretism for you, baby.

Julia:                     So similar to the Caipora is the Curupira, which is a slightly more westernized version of the Caipora. He blends European fairy stories with West African traditions. His name in Tupi means covered in blisters, and he is a small man that is known to have flaming red hair and backwards feet so he confuses hunters and travelers trying to track him.

Amanda:              I love that in its application. I hate the fact of it. I hate backward feet, Julia. I hate them.

Julia:                     I know. And that's a very European thing. We've seen that in multiple traditions before.

Amanda:              Yes. Yeah. I mean, I don't know how recent the sort of image of demonic possession as turning your head backwards is, but that is always what backward feet reminds me of.

Julia:                     Fair enough.

Amanda:              But I love it tactically. That's so smart to leave false trails and to leave a backward foot trail. Oh my God, I love it.

Julia:                     Yeah. I knew you would. So similarly, he also rides a peccary. And rather than imitating animals, he will produce high pitched whistles that can drive a person mad or create illusions that help lead them off their path. So again, kind of the mischievous forest guide kind of situation we've saw before.

Amanda:              Shout out to the best character on Lost Girl, Detective Hale.

Julia:                     He in particular protects animals that are taking care of their offspring and are being targeted by poachers and hunters.

Amanda:              Aw. Thanks.

Julia:                     There is also Saci, who is a black or indigenous folklore character in Brazil. He too often smokes a pipe, and his most common identifier is the fact that he only has one leg and wears a red cap that is magic.

Amanda:              Oh, what does the cap do?

Julia:                     It allows him to disappear and reappear wherever he desires.

Amanda:              I love it.

Julia:                     The cap, however, is said to always have a bad smell.

Amanda:              Okay.

Julia:                     And it is said that if you steal his magic cap or trap him, he will grant you wishes.

Amanda:              Oh. So sounds like there's a bunch of stories about how he gets trapped, grants wishes, but then stuff is not better.

Julia:                     Probably. It's said that if you steal his cap and wash it, you lose all of the magical abilities of it. So you're like, I got this stinky hat, but I can't wash it because then I don't get my wishes.

Amanda:              Oh my gosh.

Julia:                     He's also said to travel from place to place in the form of a dust devil, and stories say that people have been able to capture him while he's in that dust devil form in a bottle.

Amanda:              Whoa. What is the dust? It's like a little tornado type thing?

Julia:                     Yeah, yeah. Like when you see ... Remember in the playground when we were kids you'd see all the leaves and the dust start to circle around like that?

Amanda:              Oh yeah. Yeah.

Julia:                     That's what a dust devil is.

Amanda:              Little swirlies. That's what I would call them.

Julia:                     Little swirly swirl. Yeah.

Amanda:              Man, sometimes Julia, you gotta take the stink with the wish. Can't have the wish without the stink.

Julia:                     I love that so much. I picked him specifically to talk about too because there's a cocktail that we're drinking for this episode that's named after him.

Amanda:              Whoa.

Julia:                     It is 2 ounces of [Cachaca 00:12:30], which is a fermented sugarcane liquor, and then 1.5 ounces of honey. And you mix that all together, and it's actually a traditional home remedy for curing a cold as well as being delicious and very, very sweet.

Amanda:              Well, I ... It is very sweet, and I feel like this would be an incredible hot toddy if you added hot water to it. But I wanted to enjoy the pure experience that you have provided me with.

Julia:                     I appreciate that. Thank you.

Amanda:              The color also reminds me of [Chicha 00:12:54], the best liquor of all time or alcoholic beverage, which I enjoyed many, many pints of when I was in Cusco.

Julia:                     Aw. Nice. In general, Saci is a mischievous trickster. He'll hide children's toys, he'll tease dogs, he'll set animals loose, he'll prevent eggs from hatching, he'll sour milk, he'll burn stews. If a popcorn kernel fails to pop, it's because Saci has cursed them. Isn't that hilarious? I love that one. It's so cute.

Amanda:              And are there any ways to deter his influence?

Julia:                     Yes. So basically, if anything goes wrong in the house, Saci is blamed for it.

Amanda:              Right.

Julia:                     But you can appease him, much like European fairies, by leaving him gifts.

Amanda:              Nice.

Julia:                     He prefers tobacco, and he prefers the Cachasa liquor, like we mentioned before. He's also said to be able to turn into an illusive bird that cannot be captured.

Amanda:              Whoa.

Julia:                     And in this form he has this melancholic, sad song that no one can quite track where it comes from. You'll just hear it in the forest, and you're like, where's that bird at? I don't know.

Amanda:              I love that a lot, the sort of ... I've been picturing [Will-o'-the-wisp 00:13:57] a little bit. Those traditions [crosstalk 00:14:00] are sort of informed ... yeah ... by the same things, and so I imagine just like the Will-o'-the-wisp can kind of appear all over the marsh, I'm picturing the sound is coming from all over the place like in a horror movie, but nice and just melancholy instead of horrifying.

Julia:                     Yes. I dig it. If you were being chased down by a mischievous Saci, you simply need to cross a body of running water and he will be unable to follow you.

Amanda:              He's not gonna give up that stink.

Julia:                     Yeah.

Amanda:              Gotta get that stink back.

Julia:                     Oh my God.

Amanda:              Gotta take the stink with the wish, Julia. [crosstalk 00:14:33] Gotta take the stink with the wish.

Julia:                     That's our new slogan. Goodbye. Kind of creepy, kind of cool. Gotta take the stink with the wish.

Amanda:              Can't have a wish without the stink.

Julia:                     Can't have a wish without the stink. You're absolutely right.

Amanda:              No stink, no wish.

Julia:                     Do you have more? Do you have more? Come on. Go for it.

Amanda:              No.

Julia:                     No? You're good?

Amanda:              I think no stink, no wish is the best version of this. We'll put up a Twitter poll. Let us know what you think.

Julia:                     Alright, alright. I'm going to get us more drinks real quick. Doesn't seem like we need them right now, but we're gonna go get some more drinks real quick and then I'm gonna tell you about the less humanoid versions of [crosstalk 00:15:09] Brazilian forest creatures.

Amanda:              Oh Jesus, get me a refill.

Julia:                     Woo hoo.

Julia:                     Hey Amanda.

Amanda:              Yes?

Julia:                     We just got back from PodCon. We're both very tired.

Amanda:              Yeah.

Julia:                     But hey, here's a cool thing that happened. I got a very cool outfit from Stich Fix right before I left for PodCon.

Amanda:              Oh, that timing. Excellent.

Julia:                     And I asked, I was like, hey Stitch Fix, I'm going to a con. I gotta look professional, but I'm also a big ole punk. Can you send me some good clothing so that I can look like a bad ass while I teach people how to podcast? And Stitch Fix was like, "Yes. Of course we can. Here is a leather panel pencil skirt that you can wear to your conference." And I was so happy.

Amanda:              I mean, each of your outfits, every morning I was like damn. Damn. Damn.

Julia:                     Yeah, Stitch Fix crushed it. Also, several podcasters that I talked to at the conference were like, "Oh yeah, this is Stitch Fix." Just gestured to a part of their body [crosstalk 00:16:05] that they were wearing clothing on.

Amanda:              Doing great work. We love Stitch Fix. We love our online personal styling service. They deliver clothes, shoes, and accessories that fit your body, your budget, your lifestyle. No matter who you are, no matter your gender, they send you dope stuff that you're gonna love wearing.

Julia:                     Yeah, you just have to go to stitchfix.com/spirits and tell them your sizes, what styles you like, and how much you wanna spend on them. And then you get paired with your own personal stylist, and they handpick five items to send right to your door. Then you try them on. You only pay for what you love, and then you return the rest. The shipping, the exchanges, and the returns are always free. And you don't have to pay into a subscription. You can sign up to receive scheduled shipments or you can just get your fix whenever you want. And the styling fee's only $20. As long as you keep an item, that $20 is applied to that item.

Amanda:              Right. So then the whole service and the shipping both ways becomes free, which I really love. There's always something in my box that I really, really dig. And if you end up keeping everything in the box that they send you, you can get 25% off the whole thing when you use that code. So make sure to go to stitchfix.com/Spirits to get started, and that will automatically apply any discount to your box when you keep all five.

Julia:                     Yep. That is stitchfix.com/Spirits.

Amanda:              Thank you Stitch Fix. Alright. And our second sponsor this week is Siren. We told you about it last week, but I just wanna emphasize again, this is a TV show. It is kind of sexy, it is kind of creepy, and it's about mermaids. And they wanna advertise with Spirits, so I think it's just the coolest thing ever. But the protagonist is about a powerful and alluring mermaid named Ryn. She mysteriously comes to shore in a small town, and she throws men into windshields to defend herself if she has to. Which, mood.

Julia:                     Mood. Very, very much mood.

Amanda:              And in this season more mermaids arrive, so this is the moment in any story ... I think we talked about this in the heroes journey with our friend [Miesha 00:17:58] where the hero's individual life becomes much bigger, right? Their story opens up, and the world expands.

Julia:                     The stakes rise.

Amanda:              Exactly. This is a really wonderful time. You can check out Siren on Freeform, and the new season premiers tomorrow, Thursday, January 24th at 8 p.m. So don't miss it.

Julia:                     You should watch it. It is very sexy.

Amanda:              That is Siren on Freeform. And now, let's get back to the show.

Julia:                     So Amanda, let's talk about the less human side of creatures hiding in the forests of Brazil.

Amanda:              Do we have to?

Julia:                     Yes we do.

Amanda:              Will Jim [inaudible 00:18:31] be really stoked about these creatures?

Julia:                     Probably.

Amanda:              Because if so, I'm scared.

Julia:                     Almost assuredly actually.

Amanda:              Alright.

Julia:                     I will say, there's a couple that I left off the list just because we've kind of talked a little bit about them in the past, like [inaudible 00:18:46], which are the river dolphin seductress creatures. We've talked about those a little bit.

Amanda:              In the mermaid roundup.

Julia:                     We did. First, I am going to talk about [Mapinguari 00:18:56], which I'm gonna go out on a limb here and call it basically Brazil's Sasquatch. It is usually considered either ape like or like a giant sloth, and it's said to have thick red hair and lives in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil and Bolivia.

Amanda:              Checks out.

Julia:                     The creature is said to have only one eye. Sometimes rather than the red fur it's said to have lizard skin, long claws, again, backwards feet. They love a good backwards feet creature.

Amanda:              Again, appreciate how it confunds people in the forest. Hate the image.

Julia:                     And then probably my favorite aspect of the creature, a second mouth on its belly. Nom, nom, nom.

Amanda:              No!

Julia:                     Gonna eat you twice.

Amanda:              Oh no.

Julia:                     Modern crypto zoologists think that it might be a thought to be extinct giant sloth called the [Megatheriun 00:19:48]. You know, that's just theory and whatnot. I do give the crypto zoologists credit where they're like, "Well you know, there are those giant sharks that we thought were extinct for hundreds and hundreds of millions of years, but they're still around." And then you're like, oh yeah, cool. Thanks. Thanks crypto zoologists. Appreciate you.

Amanda:              I know. That kind of ... That tie to evidenced historical fossils and stuff always makes the theory that much more tantalizing.

Julia:                     It's very good.

Amanda:              But hold on. So let's interrogate the second mouth, please.

Julia:                     Cool. Do it, please.

Amanda:              So same prey, both mouths, just nomming more at once. My feeling whenever I have movie theater popcorn, like Julia, I'm a pretty well mannered person. My mom raised me with manners, and yet, every time I'm in front of popcorn, I hold as much as my hand can hold and shove it all into my mouth.

Julia:                     I completely understand that feeling. Jake and I have a rule when we go to the movies now that I am not allowed to touch the popcorn during the previews because it will be gone by the time the movie starts.

Amanda:              I just like ... I don't know. I can't have three pieces in my mouth. I have to have 15.

Julia:                     Yes. No, I get it. Trust me.

Amanda:              So is this what this mouth is for is to just nom on that prey all the way?

Julia:                     Yeah, I think it's just like I'm gonna split it up and eat as much as possible with both my mouths.

Amanda:              Okay. [crosstalk 00:21:02] Which good IBS tip too is to eat smaller bites and eat more small meals throughout the day so that your tum gets a chance to just work on it throughout the day and doesn't get too overwhelmed.

Julia:                     It's IBS corner with Amanda [McLaughlin 00:21:12].

Amanda:              That's me. But I also would like to pause it to you that second mouth at different level is a great way to just eat the whole tree. Imagine a giraffe where the giraffe had second mouth on his chest. That would be great. Giraffe head gets all those top foliage, but belly giraffe gets all that medium foliage. All those small plants. All those little forest dwellers.

Julia:                     This reminds me, I can't remember where it's from, but there's a comic about how centaurs graze. Because obviously they're not reaching down with their weird [crosstalk 00:21:47] human body, and so someone suggested that centaurs where the horse chest kind of ends ...

Amanda:              Right.

Julia:                     There is a second mouth there that allows them to graze easier.

Amanda:              I'm just saying that it would really give you that whole vertical experience. It would open up so many possibilities.

Julia:                     Yeah. I would think it's an evolutionary trait.

Amanda:              I know. I frequently wish that I had second pair of hands so that I could do dishes at crotch level, which is where most sinks feel like they are for me. My bathroom sink is fully at my hips. It's very low.

Julia:                     I wish I had extra arms coming out of my shoulders so I could retire things.

Amanda:              Yeah. I know. But instead, Julia, we just have to be [BFFLs 00:22:27] and help each other with everything.

Julia:                     That is true. Together we make a reasonably sized person.

Amanda:              I thought you were gonna say together we make a reasonably okay cryptid, which I think is also true.

Julia:                     That is also true. Fan artists, please draw that right now. Okay, bye.

Amanda:              Okay, bye. So this has been second mouth interrogation hour with Amanda McLaughlin.

Julia:                     Thank you. It was very good.

Amanda:              Thanks.

Julia:                     So according to the legend, it is slow and can move through thick vegetation without making a sound.

Amanda:              Yeah, because it eats it.

Julia:                     This is why it's so dangerous.

Amanda:              Okay, that's fair.

Julia:                     Because you can't hear it coming. Luckily, you can tell it's coming your way from the putrid smell that it has and the fact that it releases a very loud shriek.

Amanda:              Oh no. That'll do it.

Julia:                     Back in 1937 there was a report that Mapinguari were going on a rampage for three whole weeks. They killed over 100 cows and ripped their tongues out.

Amanda:              Yikes.

Julia:                     It did not eat any humans, but observers say that when it smelled humans in the area it would straighten up in an effort to intimidate the humans, standing at about seven feet tall and moving similar to a grizzly bear.

Amanda:              Whoa.

Julia:                     Yeah. It's a big boy.

Amanda:              I know. I guess there's a temptation to treat humanoid looking creatures or cryptids as a thing you can reason with, but that must be pretty terrifying to see a creature, a person. I think that's part of the appeal of the Yeti and Sasquatch is like, looks like you could reason with them, and yet-

Julia:                     Probably not. How about the headless mule?

Amanda:              More scary horses, Julia. What are we doing here?

Julia:                     Oh, so this is a thing. And it also very clearly has roots in early colonial era of Brazil because of its origins.

Amanda:              Right.

Julia:                     So the headless mule is said to be the ghost of a woman who has been cursed by God for sins. In some stories, the sin is that she had sex with a priest inside the church. In others it's just that she had premarital sex.

Amanda:              Yeah, that first version sounds so over the top that I'm like, I don't know about that.

Julia:                     I don't know about that.

Amanda:              You wanna sin? Here's a sin times three.

Julia:                     Yeah, so really neither of these reasons are good enough to punish a woman in particular and not the man, but that's a rant against the patriarchy for another time.

Amanda:              Yep. I feel like Spirits listeners are with us on that.

Julia:                     Yeah.

Amanda:              We all know. We know what's going on.

Julia:                     She was condemned by God to be turned into a headless mule who has fire spewing out of where the head should be.

Amanda:              Okay. Okay.

Julia:                     So she gallops across the countryside every Thursday evening from sun down to sunrise the following morning.

Amanda:              Oh no.

Julia:                     Usually the mule is brown or black and has silver or iron horseshoes that make a terrible trotting noise much louder than any other horse you've ever heard.

Amanda:              I bet.

Julia:                     When the mule neighs, it is kind of deafening and it sounds more like a woman crying and screaming than actual neighing.

Amanda:              That is very bad.

Julia:                     Did you see the Annihilation movie, Amanda?

Amanda:              I did.

Julia:                     Okay. Do you remember the horrible bear creature that gives me nightmares that does the woman screaming?

Amanda:              Oh Julia, I sure do.

Julia:                     So that's what that reminds me of.

Amanda:              Yeah, the image is tolerable for me, but the noise, that's pretty bad.

Julia:                     Yeah.

Amanda:              I feel like any ... We talked about this before, but noise based horror is particularly unnerving and hearing a thing before you see it. So both of the shrieking, thanks. And the very loud horseshoes.

Julia:                     The clip clop.

Amanda:              Oh yeah, [crosstalk 00:25:43] to me that really rounds it out. Yeah.

Julia:                     I love horrifying clip clop.

Amanda:              Horrifying clip clop is definitely like ... I don't wanna say EDM. That's too easy. Maybe like a , I don't know, death metal band?

Julia:                     It's a death metal band.

Amanda:              Maybe a house music band?

Julia:                     It's a death metal band that uses steel drums.

Amanda:              There it is. We got there. Excellent.

Julia:                     Very proud of us. So the headless mule is not always a mule. It's actually very similar to lycanthropy. The transformation usually happens at a crossroads, but the curse cannot be transmitted like vampires or werewolves because it needs to be acquired as a result of sin.

Amanda:              What do you mean at a crossroads? A literal crossroad?

Julia:                     Yes, a literal crossroads.

Amanda:              So you get to one and you're like, oops, mule now.

Julia:                     Yep. Basically.

Amanda:              Oh no. That would ... I mean, I get it as a wanderer how those would be tied together, but oh no. That would very much incentivize me to never leave my village.

Julia:                     Well, I assume that they must be drawn there because they're cursed to do this thing every Thursday night.

Amanda:              Right.

Julia:                     Like a DND session that you wanna get out of.

Amanda:              Sorry, can't. Oops, I'll mule.

Julia:                     So you can temporarily reverse the transformation by spilling the mule's blood with a prick of a needle or by tying her to a cross.

Amanda:              I mean, there's some kind of crossroads pun here that I'm just not gonna interrogate.

Julia:                     Yeah. You should never cross the mule's path if you run into it, or it will follow you until it can trample you down and kill you.

Amanda:              I mean, I'm ... Actually, respect to all the crossroads motifs here because crossing a person's path makes an X, right? It makes a crossroads, and then you make them kind of veer off the track.

Julia:                     Do you wanna hear what your best case scenario is if you run into the headless mule?

Amanda:              Just hide and let her rip.

Julia:                     Your best case scenario is to lay down face first on the ground and make sure that you cover your teeth, your nails, or anything on your body that shines and hope that the mule doesn't notice you because it doesn't have good sight. You know, like a T-Rex in Jurassic Park.

Amanda:              I mean, does it have sight because it has no head, or just unearthly, otherworldly sight?

Julia:                     I would assume unearthly, otherworldly sight.

Amanda:              Wow. Well that definitely checks. I'm glad my instinct was right that you just lie down and hope that no one hears your breathing. But covering the reflective stuff, that's a whole 'nother visceral level of hiding.

Julia:                     Well, its, you know ... Its head is flaming, so your fingernails and your teeth will reflect the flames.

Amanda:              Oh damn.

Julia:                     I assume.

Amanda:              Good point.

Julia:                     Another creature of the forest is the Boiúna or the black snake. It is a huge nocturnal black snake that is extremely territorial. It basically ... It lives in rivers, and it will attack and frighten away any fisherman that wanders into its territory and can transform into various forms.

Amanda:              Like what?

Julia:                     Stories say that it is turned into a canoe, a sailboat, even a transatlantic ship, or simply a woman who will try and lure fisherman away from its place of rest.

Amanda:              Whoa, I really didn't expect the vessel transformations. That's awesome.

Julia:                     The fact that it can turn into a transatlantic ship, I'm thinking steam engine.

Amanda:              Oh yeah.

Julia:                     Lusitania.

Amanda:              Yeah, yeah.

Julia:                     Yeah, yeah.

Amanda:              Yeah, Lusitania.

Julia:                     Whatever. Yeah. That's how I'm picturing it, just chugging down a river and then it's like, by the way, snake time.

Amanda:              Very little scarier than a river snake.

Julia:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative)- That's true.

Amanda:              Snakes aren't bad enough on land? Now they can swim.

Julia:                     Except for Mami Wata. She gets a pass.

Amanda:              Oh no, I mean, she's the best. I'm assuming this is a scary male snake.

Julia:                     Yes. Yes, of course. Only the scary male snakes.

Amanda:              Oh my God, on Instagram today I saw a tiny little snake that was the size of a segment of your finger, and he was so sweet

Julia:                     I love snakes. They're very cute, and they're so pretty.

Amanda:              Tiny, tiny nope rope. Tiny danger noodle.

Julia:                     Love a good tiny danger noodle

Julia:                     There is also the Besta-fera, which I saved towards the end because it is the Brazilian version of the centaur and also the devil.

Amanda:              Oh boy. Oh baby.

Julia:                     So it is said to be a form of the devil who leaves hell during full moon nights and does devil stuff. It's not out there killing anyone, but it is said that it has a ... such a terrible look that if someone sees their face, they go mad for a few days and then eventually recover.

Amanda:              Okay, well I'm glad it's not fatal. But Julia, what if all the devil wants to do is just go to book club? What if they just wanna get some fro-yo? What if they just wanna take a walk? And people are always like, "No, no, no, no, no. Persecute, persecute, persecute." And the devil's like, "I just wanna talk about Middlemarch."

Julia:                     That's actually very funny because ... So let me just get through this. We have established a centaur is a horse body and a human torso. The sound of its hooves is enough to strike terror into anyone, and it is said that a pack of dogs will follow it as it rides about, baying and howling and making just everything much scarier.

Amanda:              Okay.

Julia:                     It is said that it will ride through town until it finds a tomb and then disappear into it. So all I'm thinking is, now that you brought it up, all I'm thinking is this like ... This poor little centaur just wandering around, and then all of a sudden a bunch of dogs start chasing it. It's like, "Oh no, oh no I just wanted [crosstalk 00:30:52] to go for a walk," and then he just runs. And it's like, "How do I get home? How do I get home? There's a tomb." And then jumps into it.

Amanda:              It reminds me of Spike in later seasons of Buffy where Spike is like, "I just wanna have a house." And it just wants to live his life.

Julia:                     Can I just not live in a mausoleum for two seconds please?

Amanda:              Can I just not deal with slayers ever?

Julia:                     Except for the one that I fell in love with. I saved my favorite for last, and that is the [Anhangá 00:31:17]. This is another Brazilian spirit who is known to be a protector of animals. I did put it to the last because I really, really like it, and I think you're gonna find it very interesting. The name means old soul, and it is sometimes confused with the phrase that the Jesuit missionaries used for the old devil. But Anhangá is not demonic, though it should be feared. I love when I write things down like that. On second thought ...

Amanda:              Yeah. Yeah, you give me a knowing arch look. Oh yeah.

Julia:                     Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Tupi believed that Anhangá were spirits that wandered the earth after death sometimes tormenting the living. But the most common form the Anhangá would take is that of a white deer with fiery red eyes.

Amanda:              Whoa.

Julia:                     The Tupi believed that if prey managed to escape from a hunter, it was because the Anhangá had protected them and helped them escape through illusions. Again, we're seeing that kind of same parallel. The main story of the Anhangá goes that an indigenous man captured a young fawn and was torturing it so that the screams of the fawn would attract the mother, making her easier to kill.

Amanda:              Yikes.

Julia:                     Yeah. When the mother deer came near, he killed her only to realize the Anhangá had created an illusion and that he rather than killing the deer had killed his own mother instead.

Amanda:              Oh man.

Julia:                     Yeah.

Amanda:              Got that real cyclical, make your own fate type fable.

Julia:                     Yeah. Yeah. For real. I really like the Anhangá, not because I love deer spirits.

Amanda:              Right.

Julia:                     My entire body, I'd love a deer spirit. Deer spirits are just my shit.

Amanda:              Yeah.

Julia:                     But the fact that it almost has kind of a ... It reminds me of the story of Dionysus where a man is spying on the women worshipers of Dionysus going through a bacchanal basically.

Amanda:              Yeah.

Julia:                     And Dionysus noticed that. He's like, na dude. So he uses his madness on his followers to convince them that the man was a lion, and the women attacked him and ate him.

Amanda:              Yep.

Julia:                     That's what this reminds me of.

Amanda:              The Bacchae. Great play. Very fucked up.

Julia:                     Yeah.

Amanda:              I'm glad that our high school theater teacher took our class to see it when we were 16.

Julia:                     Yeah, it was great. Really enjoyed it.

Amanda:              I was very into it. [crosstalk 00:33:31] Very metal.

Julia:                     Yeah, so that is my roundup of some Brazilian creatures that we should know and love, even if some of them are terrifying.

Amanda:              I love it. I love it so much. I just really felt the location, like the grounded-ness of these spirits and the environment in which they come. And I really wanna learn more about Brazil and it's many, many traditions. Just the amount of people and cultures brought there willingly and unwillingly have produced such a fascinating and multifaceted country.

Julia:                     Yeah.

Amanda:              And I bet the traditions are unending.

Julia:                     Yeah, for sure. This just a small sampling of all of the stories that we can get from Brazilian folklore and mythology. I would love to chat with someone who is more of an expert on this at some point, but I just wanted to give our listeners a little taste so that hopefully at some point we can do a guest episode with someone who knows a lot more than me.

Amanda:              Well, I really appreciate it. I feel like you chose really great kind of appetizer, little amuse-bouche spirits for us, and I hope this is one of many visits we make to Brazil in the future.

Julia:                     Me too. Me too.

Amanda:              Can't have a wish without a stink. Gotta take the stink with the wish.

Julia:                     Remember listeners, take the stink with the wish and just stay creepy.

Amanda:              Stay cool.