Stories That Never Die
Gifted storytellers of goblin and ghoul folklore were grandmothers, wives, mothers, ranchers, farmers, sheepherders as well as many others. The tales that were told spoke of ghosts, sorcerers, witchcraft, tricksters, the young helped by supernatural forces and the evil people who ultimately paid for all of their misdeeds. There were also the tales of the people turned into animals from a cast spell. Any and all embellishments made the stories more interesting and frightening.
Last year my husband and I spent time in New Mexico and I purchased a book locally full of stories about the “undead”–Many of the stories were passed down by Franciscan monks, Comancheros (Mexican traders) and ciboleros (Mexican Buffalo hunters) to remind us all of the evil that exists in the world. The majority of the tales are about goblins, vampires, witches, even a werewolf; all supposedly true.
There is even a story about Maria Flores (Mary Flowers), also known as Bloody Mary who was a weird child, spoiled by her parents (who were suspected of really being her grandparents) and a girl who preferred the company of her pet parrot to people. The Flores family lived in El Porvenir, a ghost town in northeastern, New Mexico. She disliked other children and fired her slingshot at other kids, hitting them with rocks. Whenever she went into town with her parents, she stared at any children and would make strange faces at them. So weird was this trio, that rumors began to circulate as to what they were actually doing at their homestead. The father was often observed going into the woods behind their property and was known for carving weird figurines. Maria wanted a carved wooden doll so was sent off into the woods to choose a piece of hardwood that she liked. She search for several hours and could not find anything that she wanted. She ended up deep into the forest and eventually found a huge wrangled tree trunk that had enormous tree branches towards the top. She wanted one of the branches and started to climb up the tree but fell several times. She eventually sat down under the tree and a branch fell and landed in front of her. It had hit her in the head and left a gaping wound which bled all over her. When she eventually got home after dragging the limb through the woods, her mother shouted “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.”
Once work was started on the doll, the story is that Mary’s own hair and nail clippings were used. Mary’s mother hand made a dress for the doll and Mary placed her saved baby teeth into the mouth socket created on the doll. The doll was names Ari. Maria kept the doll at her side at all times while her parrot clung to her shoulder.
When winter arrived Maria became extremely ill. She was known to refuse to wear her coat outside. Regardless of the amount of herbs and spices fed to Mary by her mother, her health continued to decline. She paled in color, all the while her doll started to appear lifelike. While Mary became cold, the doll felt warn. The parrot disappeared and never returned to the household. Mary eventually died and her parents were heartbroken. They took her body into town to have a Memento Mori (mourning picture) taken of her. The parents decided not to bury the doll with Mary. After a mourning period the doll was placed in a silver case and stored under a bed.
The parents died and the home was shut down. After many years the home was in dilapidated condition and area children started entering the property. One young girl, named Valeria, found the silver case, still under the bed and found the doll. She was holding the doll and looked at her reflection in the bedroom mirror. The doll was covered in blood, but only in the mirror’s reflection. She started screaming, “Bloody Mary, Blood Mary, Bloody Mary!” Valeria dropped dead, and the rumor was, from fright.
A folklore expression used pertaining to the tale is: “Left for love and good for spite; left or right, good at night. What do you see and what do you hear? The days has eyes, and the night has ears.”
Other folklore titles popular in New Mexico include:
- Wailing Woman
- Vampire Witch
- Thunder Mountain Goblin
- Attack of the Werewolf
- Dead Ringer
- In the Gloom of the Night
- Holy Company
- Duendes (mythical creatures that lured boys and girls)
All around the world, children have been put to sleep with various nursery rhymes and most rhymes are based on fear and superstition. Many relate to war, storms and plagues.For example, “Rock-a-Bye-Baby:
*The first printed version from Mother Goose’s Melody (London, c. 1765), has the following lyrics:
Hush-a-by baby, on the tree top
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
- When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall.
- And down will fall baby, cradle and all.
*The version from Songs for the Nursery (London, 1805), contains the wording:
- Rock-a-bye, baby, thy cradle is green,
- Father’s a nobleman, mother’s a queen…
*Alternate Lyrics as shown in The Real Mother Goose published in 1916:
- Rock-a-bye, baby, thy cradle is green;
- Father’s a nobleman, mother’s a queen;
- And Betty’s a lady, and wears a gold ring;
- And Johnny’s a drummer, and drums for the king.
*The most common version used today is:
- Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,
- When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
- When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
- And down will come baby, cradle and all.
- Nursery Rhymes were meant to keep evil at bay and children were taught to be careful at night because werewolves were especially feared. One belief was that if a person’s middle finger on each hand was longer than the second finger, the person was a werewolf. (I would have been in big trouble) Werewolves were believed to have the power to control all creatures of the night. They drew their strength from the moon, slept with one eye open and were associated for the most part, with men.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave comments or questions below.