Chile | Chile's and its Mystical Explorations: Unveiling the Rich Tapestry of Chilean Myths and Legends

Chile's and its Mystical Explorations: Unveiling the Rich Tapestry of Chilean Myths and Legends

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A legendary journey to take on in Chile


As a traveller and adventure, as well as history enthusiast, I find myself taking on yet another adventure, this time however back in Chile's history, delving into the mystical realm of Chilean folklore. Join me as we traverse the diverse landscapes of this captivating country, where ancient myths and legends lie patiently for us to discover and share them.

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First things first: The Diversity of Chilean Folklore


One of the things that astonished me the most about South America, was its stories, and Chile is definitely no exception. Chile's folklore is as diverse as its geography, as you would imagine, with each region offering its own unique tales and traditions. From the snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the rugged coastlines of Chiloé, every corner of this country is steeped in myth and legend, waiting to be explored, and we are here to unveil together!

The backbone of Chile's Myth Culture: The Influence of Indigenous Culture


Everything has a reason for its being, for existing. For Chilean folklore, this is its true nature of Chilean folklore are the ancient traditions of its indigenous peoples. First off, let's talk about the Mapuche, and their deep connection to the land and the spirits that inhabit it. The Mapuches have crafted a rich tapestry of myths and legends that speak to their reverence for nature and their ancestral heritage, a true remarkable aspect to admire even nowadays. Similarly yet a bit different to the Mapuches, the Chilote people of Chiloé have woven tales of magical creatures and supernatural beings that inhabit the mist-shrouded forests and foggy shores of their island home.

Women | Machupe | Chile
Photo: Marcelo Silva

The Mapuche: More than just a story


To understant this story, we need to understand the Mapuche, an indigenous group in Chile, boast a rich and intricate mythology that reflects their deep connection to the land and their spiritual beliefs. In the hert of their mythology, lies the cosmic story of its creation, which narrates the struggle between the serpentine deity, Cai Cai Vilu, that is representing water, and the earthbound creature, Trentren Vilu, which on the other hand is symbolizing land. Both of them encountered problem, which lead into an epic battle that resulted in the formation of the earth as well as the birth of the first Mapuche people, who were said to be the first ever descendents of this cosmic and godly creation.

In addition to their creation myth, the Mapuche also venerate a pantheon of supernatural beings. Amongst them, we find spirits of nature, ancestral guardians, and powerful shamans who are known as Machis. Both of them play a central role in Mapuche rituals and ceremonies. These rituals are performed to maintain harmony with the natural world and seek protection from malevolent forces.

Through their myths and legends, the Mapuche have preserved a profound understanding of their environment and their place within it, offering valuable insights into their cultural identity and spiritual beliefs.

Artisan | Mapuche | Chile
Photo: Rodrigo Celedon

Tales of Love and Loss: The Legend of the White Lady


As interesting as The Mapuches, there is another legend that Chile shares and is as astonishing as it sounds. The legend of the White Lady of San Juan de Dios is a haunting tale that has captivated the hearts and minds of Chileans for generations after generations. This legend is set amidst the cobbled streets of Chile's capital city, Santiago. The legend revolves around a young woman whose name was Inés de Suárez, and arrived in Chile during the 16th century Spanish conquest.

According to this Chilean legend, Inés was deeply in love with Pedro de Valdivia. Which for context, was the Spanish conquistador who led the expedition to conquer Chile. Nevertheless, tragedy struck when news arrived to the city that Pedro had been killed in battle. After hearing the awful news, and surrounded bz distraught and grief, Inés refused to believe the reports and vowed to wait for her beloved's return.

As expected however, days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, yet Pedro never returned and Ines desperation only grew more and more by the minute. Undeterred, Inés continued to wander the streets of Santiago de Chile, always wearing her white mourning attire whilst searching endlessly for her lost love, Pedro. Over time, her ghostly figure became a familiar sight to the residents of the city, who were already accustomed to seeing her and began to refer to her as the White Lady of San Juan de Dios.

To this day, locals claim to have encountered the apparition of the White Lady in the lookout for Pedro, wandering the streets of Santiago de Chile. Some say she appears as a spectral figure bathed in moonlight, while others report hearing her mournful cries echoing through the night. Whatever the case, the legend of the White Lady of San Juan de Dios endures as a poignant reminder of the enduring power of love and loss.

Santiago de Chile
Photo: Maciej Bledowski

Experiencing these tales and legends by immersing ourselves


To truly appreciate Chilean folklore, one must immerse in the landscapes that inspired these tales, and this is what I love to do during my traveling journeys. Regardless of it being a hike through the ancient forests of Chile or if it evolves around the exploration of the landscapes of the Atacama Desert, every step is imbued with the magic of myth and legend, the echoes of stories long told by the people who call this land home. From The Mapuches, to the White Lady of San Juan de Dios. One must truly cherish their surroundings to live these stories to the core.

Chileans: Living to tell the Story


For me to live and experience a country's mythological value and symbolism throughout the destination, I like to feel the essence of the country and the city that I am in. Hence, meeting its people, its neighbors is something that I consider a must. As I meet with local storytellers and artisans, I am always struck by their dedication to the preservation of Chile's heritage. How do they do this? Through beautiful traditions, through festivals, rituals, and art, Chileans ensure that these myths and legends continue to resonate with future generations, keeping alive the traditions of their ancestors in a rapidly changing world.

In conclusion to this mythological journey that we have embarked throughout Chile's myths and legends, it has been nothing but the most transformative experience I have lived to share. From the depths of the sea to the heights of the mountains, I have witnessed the power of storytelling to connect us to the land and our descendants, our ancestors and our true past, to each other, and to the mysteries of the universe and the future. Any fellow traveller, I recommend you to live the country you visit so that you can be like me and carry with yourself not only memories of its breathtaking landscapes but also the timeless tales that can capture your imagination and soul. 

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