This Latin Heritage Month, mitú highlights the root of Latin joy. We delve into the subcultures and traditions that have shaped our societies – the reason we sing and dance. We continue to build thriving communities together because of our strong roots and with the support of State Farm.
For many of us, there was nothing more frightening than El Cuco, the shape-shifting bogeyman who could come at any time to drag us away if we misbehaved. I pictured him living under my bed, quickly grabbing an ankle or a humble foot if I stayed too long—especially at night.
And who can forget El Chupacabra, our version of Bigfoot, similar to dogs and reptiles, with glowing red eyes as it drank the blood of goats and other cattle across the Americas? Although considered an urban legend, not all of us are convinced.
If you find yourself fascinated by cryptids, folklore, and myths, here are some book recommendations that are sure to satisfy your curiosity. From La Llorona to duendes to Sihuanaba – who knew Latin America was such a scary, scary, creepy, creepy place?
If you want to start with a body of undistinguished knowledge, look no further than John Bearhurst’s book “Latin American Folk Tales: Stories from the Spanish and Indian Traditions.”
Its main focus is on folk tales and fables, usually with some kind of spirit, from ancient civilizations to modern times.
However, if it’s ancient cryptids you’re particularly interested in, Ilan Staffan’s book, Best Pre-Columbian: Fabulous Indigenous Creatures of Latin America should be of interest.
Admittedly, Stavans consumed ayahuasca in the Amazon in preparation for this project, which seems correct. The book acts like a real animal, with each of the 46 entries beginning with the creature’s name, pronunciation, indigenous culture, and illustration by Mexican artist Echo.
Another good option that explores the myths of ancient civilizations is “Mesoamerican Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs of Mexico and Mesoamerica” by Kay Almer Reed and Jason J. Gonzalez.
Mary Ellen Miller’s “Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya” quenches a similar thirst, with more than 300 entries describing the gods and monsters of various ancient people, including the Zapotecs, Toltecs, Aztecs, and, of course, the Mayans.
If there are specific characters you’d like to know more about, search for “Tracking Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore”, “From Amazons to Zombies: Monsters in Latin America” and “La Llorona: Encounters with Women” The weeping.”
The latter “La Llorona” is a first-hand account compilation curated by writer Judith Shaw Petty, featuring more than 50 stories from people from both north and south of the Mexican border. The stunning illustrations were made by the famous southwestern artist Anita Otilia Rodriguez.
We can’t forget the Caribbean, because they also love Linda. Written and edited by Rafael Ocasio, “Folk Stories from the Hills of Puerto Rico / Cuentos folklóricos de las montañas de Puerto Rico” provides a bilingual extract of the most famous folk tales from La Isla del Encanto.
Finally, Cuban Mythology by the original Cuban writer and critic, Salvador Bueno, provides a comprehensive overview of the diverse folk stories, stories, and legends of Cuba.
Bueno draws on a wide range of influences, from indigenous beliefs of the Taino and Siboney, to Afro-Caribbean religions such as Santeria, to the stories passed down to us by our ancestors from their ancestors.
It truly captures the essence of Cuba and, by extension, all of Latin America. Even though we are all different, we are still the same. As it turns out, we have a lot of common monsters at our disposal, and we’re not afraid to use them.
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