Cuban mythology (Fragments)

By: Samuel Feijóo

From our mythical fantasy, we bring the authoritative voice of one of his most notorious researchers. From samuel Feijóo’s ledger, Cuban Mythology, where countless stories are collected, we offer some of his reflections and a couple of examples of Cuban myths.

In Caribbean mythology Cuba reaches a cimero place, either by the imagination of his children, by his poetic fabulation, his exaggerated fantasy, the superstition aided by the imagination of our Indian, the Creole of Spanish or African, or the Cuban already in his full ethnological definition and his developed culture that invents myths, sometimes of excessive dangerous fantasy.
Our mythology has one of the most original in America, sometimes dominated by humor, sometimes by a deep artistic fantasy and by a harmful superstition.
Emerging from the popular imagination, from their longings and dreams so many times, and even from superstition and fear, myths reveal one of the greatest forces of the world’s folk creation. Sources are powerfully original and symbolic myths. Even under superstitious fears, creative gifts are stimulated by alarmed senses. When the myth is beautiful, it’s art.
Moreover, legends, myths, fantasies, are the very beautiful oral documents of the people, which indicate and specify the varied cultural strata to the general specialists. Folklore, to more than its creative strength, is also a clear warning of the different formations and deformations of popular cultures.

La Gritona de La Yaya
(Myth collected by Samuel Feijóo)
Neighbors in the Escambray area say that in a place called La Yaya, there lived a woman who had two girls, but in the war they were killed and as the girls were un baptized, she went out every night at the river pass screaming. This happened for many years, until one day a gentleman came who when he heard the screams asked the woman what was wrong with him. She replied that she wanted to baptize her daughters. He got off the horse and in the waters of the river he did the ceremony and never left La Gritona de La Yaya again.
(Informant: Maria Machado. Ranchuelo, Villaclara).

La Llorona de El Roble
On the estate El Roble comes a woman wears white, crying and screaming with a child in her arms who screams too. A lot of people have come up and a lot of people have a look at living there on that farm. Uh, yes, that crybaby is famous!
(César Martinez, 49. Peasant. Santa Clara).


Rider on the street
To my house came often visiting a lady about seventy years old who told me that one night, meeting in a mortuary in Maceo Street felt the trot of a horse on the street. Then he thought it was the couple of guards who at the time guarded the streets, and peered out at the door of the house to see her and
he saw was a rider who had no head. From the scare fell to the floor passed out.
(Informant: Juana Hernández. Barrio Carmen, Santa Clara).


The Lactating Majá
(Myth collected by Adalberto Suarez)
When my aunt’s husband, my father’s sister, entered the house on her return from work and entered the room where her newly parsed wife was, she saw a majá lying on her breasts. He was frightened, and as he was afraid of the majá he ran. He went to the father-in-law’s house to get help. And by the time he returned to the house, his mother-in-law had frightened the majá. They say that the majases when they feel the smell of the milk of the brown women, they make sure that they are asleep to suck their milk, and so that the child does not wake up they put the tip of the tail in their mouth and so does not cry, because it is believed that he is sucking. The majá is said to bring the woman down and sleep her down. My dad told me this and that’s true because those cases have been given so much. In some bohios the majá is left milk in a vase under the bed. Ω
(Informant: Juan Hernández Aguila. Manacal).

Taken from Samuel Feijóo: Cuban mythology (Selections), digital edition, Cubaliteraria, on the edition of Cuban Letters, Havana, 2007.

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