Outside the shores of Chile, there a tales of a ghost ship that will take you away if it gets you to make you one of their crew. Could you join to sail the sea forever with The Caleuche?
Outside of the Chiloé Archipelago, the group of islands outside of mainland Chile, rich folklore and mystical myths of the sea that surrounds the islands thrives. Here they believe in the great battle of the two serpents of earth and sea that created the area.
Fishing and sailing were the main thing the locals did for a living, and the mythology of the place reflects it. And when the fog comes creeping up to the shores of the canals, bright lights and the sound of jolly music can be heard from the sea. Just a fishing boat passing playing loud music? Or can it be The Caleuche, a ghost ship that collects the drowned and enslaves people to work on the ship forever?
Background of the Mythology
The Caleuche is a ghost ship from Chiloé mythology in southern Chile that has a pretty distinct mythology different from the rest of Chile as a mixture of the indigenous people and the Spanish settlers. It in particular reflects just how important the sea is in the life of Chilotes.
The word Caleuche comes from the Mapuche word Kalewtun, meaning to transform or to change and che, meaning people. It is also called The Enchanted Ship, Barcoiche or The Warlock Ship and has many different variations to the legend.
It has many similarities to the Flying Dutchman in the sense of being a ghost ship you can sail with for an eternity.
According to Chiloé mythology, it is Millalobo that is both the creator and owner of the ship, the second most important being of the sea after Caicai, God of water.
Ghost Ship of Never Ending Partying
The Caleuche is a ghost ship of music and light that sails along Chiloé canals. It has an extraordinary speed. You can not always see the ship, but in certain weather, like on a foggy day, you can both sense as well as see the ship.
People have always had a fear of being captured by The Caleuche and there are particular trees that you can hide behind that will give protection of being spotted, such as the Chilean wineberry and the olivillo. The reason being that in some versions of the legend, you can be enslaved and cursed to work on the ship forever.
One of the things the ship is known for is the music and sound of partying. In some legends, it is to lure the people to them so that they can be forced to work as a crewmember for eternity.
It is not always for a sinister reason that the party music is so loud from the ship however. In many of the versions it is a ship that recovers the dead bodies from those who drowned at sea, and offers them a place as a crewmate on the ship. They will then be able to spend the rest of eternity partying and celebrating.
Making Pacts with Sorcerers
Another version of the tale is that it is in fact a ship that transports the sorcerers. It is said that they make a voyage every 3 months to gain more power. It is from this legend the idea of merchants trading with these sources to gain wealth quickly, and explaining when a person in Chiloé becomes rich quickly, they have made a pact with the crew on The Caleuche.
It is not a very old myth that never gets told anymore. In the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, or the Great Chilean earthquake, there were many fires, landslides, tsunamis and floods in the area after the initial shock of the quake. Many houses were left untouched by the natural disasters and rumors and talks about a pact having been made with The Caleuche were told.
In the same decade stories about the sound of an anchor being dropped outside of the houses of many prosperous and rich merchants in the area. According to the legends they would lend out their houses to The Caleuche for a party location and other dark purposes. Although many could probably put the blame and the reason for getting rich on normal and mortal smugglers.
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