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This week on Cryptids Decrypted, we talked about two of my favorite spectral myths, La Llorona and La Madremonte. Both of these myths serve as cautionary tales in their own right but inhabit different regions of Central/South America. Below, you can find some supplemental info as well as a few videos I mentioned in the podcast, but the best way to learn about these myths is to listen! Cryptids Decrypted is available for free anywhere you listen to podcasts. You can find your links here:
Hailing from the jungles of Colombia, Madre Monte, or Mother Mountain, is a forest spirit known for protecting the land and punishing intruders. Depending on the storyteller, she is described in a variety of ways ranging from a stout woman in a floppy foliage hat, to a skeletal specter with claw-like hands. While the appearance may differ, the lesson is almost always the same, respect the jungle or La Madre Monte will make your life a living hell. Be it changing paths to send explorers astray, causing extreme weather, or simply wailing menacingly from the treetops, La Madre Monte is a rough customer.
In our podcast, I mentioned a few videos, and you can find them below. The first looks like an early Shrek prototype gone horribly wrong but does hit on some basic tenets of the myth. The second is an alleged sighting where we can see a spooky lady in the jungle canopy with a backdrop of wolf howls.
La Llorona, or The Weeping Woman, originates from either the southern United States, or Mexico, depending on who is asked. She is described a skeletal figure, wandering around rivers and ditches crying. Her face is often covered by a veil, and if it’s ever pulled off, well, things get gross. Her story begins with the drowning of her children in a fit of rage after she found out her husband was cheating on her. Stricken with grief for her misdeed, the woman killed herself, but was denied heaven. Rather than being sent to the alternative, La Llorona was cast back to earth to wander the Earth as a spirit, forever in purgatory, alone with her thoughts. Pretty nasty start to a myth if you ask me.
Now, similar to La Madre Monte, La Llorona serves a cautionary purpose as a myth. The story of a wailing ghost is still used to this day to keep children away from water where they might drown. In our first episode of Season 4 with Benjamin Radford, he recalled growing up in New Mexico and hearing stories of La Llorona at school and even recounted a man’s tale of encountering her. The myth has been adapted to nearly every medium and continues strong to this day.
For more information, I highly recommend listening to our excellent podcast about these two myths, available everywhere now.
For EVEN MORE information, you can listen to my interview with Benjamin Radford, where we discuss spirits, specters, and frauds at length.