Several months have passed since I wrote about a proper legend – since May, to be more specific. I had so many personal issues to tell that without realizing it they took over me. Looking for a legend with which to return, I found one that, although sad, has a message that I loved: La Mula Maneada, “the Hobbled Mule.”
A Beast from Hell
According to legend, a woman who lived during the colonial era, although without specifying the exact place, Ramona Esqueda, had a private mule. She had trained it to kick and was using it to unfairly punish the workers she had. It is said that the kicks of the mule were even lethal.
Over time, the mule became so dangerous that its owner had to manear it. Manear is a word that means “tie the animal’s legs.” This is done so it doesn’t move, usually to milk them or do anything else. However, the peace would be short-lived.
The Venezuelan War of Independence broke out on April 19, 1810, and the ranch was burned down. All the animals managed to escape, except for the mule. When the war ended, on November 10, 1823, the peasants sought to recover their crops, but eventually they saw a creature that caused havoc: a ghost mule that breathed fire.
What was once a dangerous animal had turned into a beast from hell. The curious thing about all this is that I did not find anything about a protection, a prayer, an offering, or anything that appeases the mule. It seems that hatred is stronger in this case.
A Noble Hybrid
My first thought upon reading about this specter was the spiritual symbolism of the mule. In this, Diffen was quite helpful:
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey (called a jack) and a female horse (called a mare). Mules inherit desirable qualities from both donkeys and horses; from the horse they inherit strength and stamina, and like donkeys, mules are generally patient, sure-footed, intelligent and have an even temper. Mules are sterile but female mules are known to produce milk.
Reading about the donkey and the horse as spirit animals was also helpful. Basically, the mule is a hybrid that combines the responsibility and cunning of the donkey with the freedom and endurance of the horse. It is a wise spirit that can help so much, and one person went to the trouble of corrupting it.
Evidently it wasn’t a matter of one day to break the noble character of a creature like the mule. Ramona Esqueda had to work day and night, and I’m sure of it, to turn it into a violent animal, capable of kicking so dangerously that she herself would end up fearing it.
As I said before, the legend does not mention any protection, and I think that speaks volumes about the message of the story itself. Sometimes the danger is too great, the risk is too high, and it is better to stand back. Sometimes it’s better to save yourself the fight – we can’t always be the superheroes.
For me, this has been a difficult lesson to learn. Since I was a child I always despised violence. Being a victim of bullying for 11 years made me even more of a pacifist, preferring words over blows. I’ve taken several hits in my life, but I’ve never felt comfortable about it.
I had to learn to defend myself in some way, and although I didn’t like it, I learned to respond to mark a distance. It got to a point where I wanted to answer everything, something I’m still working on. I have gone through beautiful moments, but also difficult situations that brought me to the brink of madness, and I lost my way.
I realized this when I noticed that I was not enjoying writing. It was supposed to be my passion, my love, my vocation, my life path, but it annoyed me. I looked at the computer angrily, tiredly, and that’s when I knew something was wrong.
I decided to put everything aside, forget about what I thought I should do and start doing things my way, at least when it comes to writing. My mood changed, my vision, too, even my stories got transformed (although I still write horror, quite explicit from time to time). I have never wanted to be a person who is filled with hate.
People who are passing through
I recently put it to the test. I had an argument with one of my best friends, and she decided that it was better to end everything. I thought that I would come to hold a grudge against her , that it would make me angry to remember her, but that was not the case. It’s weird not hearing from her, not talking to her, but it was a decision I learned to respect from day one. Meanwhile, I smile when I remember her.
Contrary to the goat, I have learned to deal with the hatred of others, but also to distance myself when I see a hellish beast on the way. I don’t breathe fire, or at least I do my best, and I don’t allow anyone near me to do so either. When I had that argument with this friend, it was because I got tired of her treating me and making me feel a certain way, and I asked her that I wanted my friend back.
Although I lost a very special person, I have realized that it’s for the best. I have always known that there are people who pass through your life without having to stay, although it was the first time that it really hurt me. Still, I also realized that I’m better off without her, and she without me. I learned to stop my own fire, but also to recognize when someone isn’t wiling to do the same.
Things would have gotten so complicated that neither of us would have been at peace. I knew how to set a limit, and she decided to distance herself. It was the best thing that could have happened, and I can only see it now, almost a month later, because she took everything in the worst way. I had to distance myself so as not to get hurt more than I already was, something the peasants will surely do when they see the goat spitting fire.