Author Archive
Folk Beliefs
Legends

T Junction Spirit Pathways

“So you remember Papa’s (your grandfather’s) house right? Papa lived right where the road should keep on going, but it doesn’t because it is a T junction, you know, even like Aunty Piak’s house where the road is coming to an end. Anyway he…well, we lived in the house right where, at the T junction, it comes exactly at the point where the two roads intersect, right where the two roads are perpendicular to each other. So you have a house at the end of a road, like a cul-de-sac, but if your house is right at the end of the road at that path, it is not a good thing because that is like where the spirits come through. The spirits travel down the road and are hit with the road that is perpendicular to the road on which they travel, and without time to stop they automatically hit where our house is supposed to be. I guess the better way of saying it is that is where the passage way of spirits to go and when your house in in the way, it is not a good thing. You need some sort of statue to protect the family or the people who live in the house. My mom put statue by the window in order to protect people in the house. She put a Chinese tiger statue, she just believed…she knew something about the Chinese folklore that she used, you know, how certain animals represent certain characteristics. It was either a tiger or a lion. I never really knew where this belief came from but she was very superstitious about it and always had this little statue sitting by the window so that it would protect our house and our family from the many ghosts who were supposedly headed straight towards our house from their voyage up from the street that extended out beyond our house.”

Background information: my mother originally told me a much briefer version of this story because  always had this little statue of a tiger or a lion sitting on our countertop, and I never understood why it was there. She then told me about how her mother had this belief about ghosts, and even though we now do not live on a street at the cross of a T junction, my mother still kept it in our house. My mother told me this story in person and I think since it was such a long time ago, it was hard for her to remember certain details, so it was a bit of a slow process for her to tell me, but it was very interesting to learn more than I had originally known about this little statue that had been sitting in my household for such a long time. It was very interesting to learn about some of the beliefs that are associated not only with my family but with my nationality and ethnicity as well.

Folk Beliefs
Legends

La Llorona

“La Llorona is the story of a mom whose kids died… and I think it’s like her kids died, and she sent them down the river and was crying and killed herself because her kids died … and like her spirit resides by that riverbank in Mexico and apparently people can hear her cries, and “crying” in Spanish is “llorar” which is where the name “la Llorona” comes from:“the crier.” So yeah apparently people just hear her crying by the river. That’s all I really know. I have just heard it a couple times briefly from some of my older cousins and aunts over the years so I don’t really know too much about it.”

Background information: When I interviewed the informant about this story, I had already known a little bit of background information since we had covered this story during class and had to read up on it. It was very interesting to note how someone from whose culture this story stems hears about it personally and through he family members, and how she has come up with a general sense of the story, even though it may not be entirely accurate or detailed. I interviewed her in person because she lives across the hall from me.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Dog Lifts his Tail

There is a Thai proverb, which, loosely translated to English is, “When the dog shits, the dog has to lift its own tail up, nobody lifts his tail.” This basically means being independent and doing your own thing. You must help yourself. You have to do things yourself. Nobody will do it for you.

Folk Beliefs
Game
Legends
Signs

CARD

“Oh my god guys no this was like actually so scary. Okay I was like eleven years old… how old are you when you’re in sixth grade? I was at sleepwaway camp in the middle of bumfuck West Virginia. One rainy day me and my friend were looking for board games to bring back to our cabin because all of our activities got cancelled for the day. And we found a Ouija board. Me and my friend had never used one but we had heard about them. This was an old closet. Like Ouija board tucked in the back of it. We bring it back to our cabin, and convince everyone to do the Ouija board with us. The counselor was like, Yeah lets do it. So we go in our cubby room, which is a small dark room in the back of the cabin, sit in a circle with candles. My counselor was the only one who had ever used a a Ouija board because we were all eleven and no one had used that shit. So my friend and my counselor go on the Ouija board and start to ask it questions, like you’re supposed to. They ask pretty normal questions, like “what’s your name,” and the board spelled out Card, like C-A-R-D, its name was Card. Um… it said it went to our camp and it lived in cabin 25 in 1989. And then we made the mistake of asking “Did you die here?” Card said yes. So we just put it away, we were like whaatt … we were these eleven year old scared dweebs and we just put it away. Later that day we go to the dining hall for dinner and my friend who I found the Ouija board with, we were in line to get food and in the dining hall… each summer makes a plaque for their cabin and they can decorate it however, and they’re attached to the rafters in this huge dining hall. Hundreds of them. My friend pokes me on the shoulder and points to one specific plaque. This is where shit gets wild. The only thing painted on the plaque was a Ouija board, with all black letters except in red was CARD 1989 and at the bottom it said Cabin 25. And I just ran away I was freaking out. I was crying in the dining hall. Everyone was just like what? We couldn’t even express ourselves. My camp is haunted by Card. Next time I went there I tried to find the plaque and it was fairly hidden amongst the other hundreds of plaques. We just happened to see it that day, which is scary.”

Background: The informant told this piece with a lot of excitement because everything in her story had happened in such a creepy, ironic way. The fact that she was able to spot out the plaque right after this Ouija board experience was very creepy. Now, it doesn’t mean as much to her as it did back then, because she now believes it could have been a trick played on her by her counselor, but she is still unsure and remembers very vividly how terrified she was of what had happened that day. I think this piece is very interesting and I like the aesthetic presented of a boring, rainy day at camp turned into a creepy ghost story. This seems very typical of a bizarre experience that a young child might experience at a camp, those of which have been told many times and exaggerated, about for example ghosts haunting certain cabins and such. This was a very interesting story for me to hear as I did not attend summer camps like these every summer as the informant did.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic

Allagash River

“What happened… so I’m a camp counselor at a campsite along the Allagash River, its in the Maine forest… so um… its mostly… the campsites are enclosed by streams, and this is the only one that is completely open. So I guess the story is that these two men…they went to sleep in their tents, everything was normal, but then they woke up outside their tents without their clothes. Both of them had memories of going in a UFO off to another universe. The people who found them pulled them aside separately, and their stories were exactly the same. Both their individual stories matched up completely. It’s a weird campsite, just really weird vibes, most people are scared to go there alone. All my campers always freak out.”

Background: The informant told me this story in person; this interview was conducted live. She knows this piece because she works in the area where it happened, and she learned it from the other older camp counselors there. I thought this piece was very interesting and a specific example of the cliché disappearance of people in the woods by mystical creatures. This is interesting to see the after effects and how the little campers freak out whenever they are there and how even people are afraid to go there by themselves, which shows  a certain amount of belief in these stories, so much that people are afraid to trespass alone.

Magic
Narrative

San Diego Hotel Presence

Okay so one time for a soccer tournament my mom and I were staying at a hotel in San Diego… we fell asleep easily one night, and then the next day after my soccer game, my mom wanted to go shopping but I was too tired, so I stayed in the hotel room. It was pretty dark out, like 7, 8 ish in the afternoon at night and …um… I kept feeling something around me, I couldn’t really explain what it was, but it was the same feeling I would get in my house with the lady, where I felt someone watching me constantly…so I went to the corner of the room and sat on the bed so I could see everything in front of me. As I was watching TV I kept thinking that I saw black shadows pop up in different places in the room, and I got sweaty, and my heart started racing, and I called my mom multiple times to ask when are you coming back and blah blah blah. Then my mom came back and I didn’t really tell her anything about it … I didn’t think it was a big deal so I didn’t really acknowledge it. Then, fifteen minutes after turning off the light to go to bed, um, I felt something hovering over my bed from the sides… it was as if someone was… like a witch was… sneering and um…crawling and pacing and creeping around, over and around me… going back and forth from the left side of my bed to the end and right and up. I quietly called for my mom because I obviously didn’t want to disturb this thing, but she didn’t wake up or answer so I snuggled deep into my bed put the covers over and fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night to light thinking, “Oh it must be time to get up and go.” I looked over at my mom and said, “Are we going?” She said, “No go back to sleep its only two in the morning.” And just throughout the night I kept waking up to the light that was on in the room. And eventually it was time to get up at 7. I asked my mom why the light was on the whole night and she said I felt something shove me on my leg. She said she started sweating, didn’t know what to do, so she had to turn on the light and stay awake. I was shocked, and I said to her, “Mom, oh my gosh…” and I told her the story from earlier the day before, from when she was shopping… we connected the dots and agreed to leave as fast as we could.

 

Background: I had heard this story a few times before here and there, but I had only retained a small amount of the story, so to hear it in depth and very detailed was very interesting for me. I conducted this interview live at my house with my sister, so the story was given to me in person. My sister really remembers this story because it was not just her who was affected – it was also my mother who had felt something weird happen that night, and I think it is all the scarier when someone else experiences the same thing because it makes it all the more realistic and the person knows they cannot be crazy when someone else is feeling the same things or feeling the same way. This is freaky for me, and I now understand why my mother and my sister both refuse to stay in hotel rooms alone…beforehand I was thinking it was nonsense that they couldn’t sleep by themselves in hotel rooms but now I am very aware of what they both went through. I think my mother and my sister will both remember this story for awhile because it is truly scary, especially for my mother, to have been physically shoved by a presence that was not visible. I truly believe them.

Folk Beliefs
Myths
Narrative

Pele and the Legend of Maui

Pele is the goddess of the volcano I’m pretty sure there’s like… there are white rock beaches… that… if you remove rocks it’s really really bad.

Well somehow Maui is a god that is related to Pele because they’re all related… and he is younger and there’s like… he did all these things that had to do with ropes. His mom was Hina the moon and like… she, the moon, couldn’t get all her work done in one day, so Maui tied a noose around the sun to keep it from rising so that the moon could get all her work done that day. And then, he also went fishing with his brothers one day, and caught some fish and he had always been ridiculed for not being a good fisherman, and this one day whatever he caught was really big, and they were pulling for a long time and an island popped out and that’s why it’s called Maui.

 

Background: This interview was conducted live, so this story was given to me in person. The informant has learned this piece by hearing bits and pieces of the original story over the years from many people, as she is from Maui. She knows this piece because it is one of the famous myths about how Maui came to be, which is important for a small island to find some sort of national identity or to figure out how or why they came to be as a small island in the middle of the sea. I think this piece is really interesting and I had no idea that this was the reason the island was called Maui. I had heard about Pele before and how if you stole things from Hawaii like rocks or flowers or anything that one would be cursed or something, but I did not know there was a whole accompanying back story where all these gods were related and that that is how the name of Maui came to be.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Protection

Night Marchers

Night marchers are a legend in Hawaii … um about … so traditionally when Hawaiian royalty had to travel long distances, they would do it at night for their safety and the night marchers were their security that walks with them, and as tradition goes you’re not supposed to look at night marchers, so like, it was also at night so that people weren’t out in the open when they would travel. So people could not see them and if they did, they would die or something, but now… so now there’s a legend that the night marchers still will sometimes be seen in the most sacred areas of the island and they’re really scary. They’re pretty feared by people… you don’t want to get near them. I camped in Olowalu, a spot on Maui, and it’s a super sacred spot… it has a lot of ceremonial sites, and they told us to watch out for the night marchers, so we were really scared that night but we didn’t see anyone.

 

One man was camping one time at another sacred spot on Maui, and he saw a line of torches of lights on the mountain above him, and he thought it was pig hunters maybe, but he realized they were all carrying these torches… but no one carries torches, so he realized they were night marchers. And they didn’t come down to the beach, so he didn’t see them face to face or up close, but he was really spooked. He never went back there or camped there again. Maybe it was the spirits of the night marchers. They, apparently, don’t look like ghosts and they’re supposed to look like real people.

 

Background: I had heard a version of this story earlier when my friend was telling me a little about this, but to hear an in depth version was very interesting for me. I conducted this interview live, so this story was given to me live. What was very interesting for me was to hear how even though these people served as seemingly benevolent people to protect Hawaiian royalty, people were still very afraid of them and could not even look at them or they could expect death. Perhaps this is a continuation of a belief that if people even dared to approach the night marchers and harm the royalty, they would be killed instantly. I thought this was a very interesting piece of Hawaiian folklore that I had not really understood or even heard of before I met my friend and then subsequently had this in depth description of them.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Protection

Thai Spirit Houses

Not sure if it is a Buddhist thing or just a general thing, but a lot of Thai people have little miniature houses on a pole or a stick called spirit houses. The Thai belief is that every house or every dwelling has a spirit who inhibits the house, so the Thai people build a house which they keep outside in which the spirits may reside. It is where spirits live, usually right on the property in front of the house, and they give it food and water and take care of it so that the spirit of their house may be kept happy. This is also so that the spirit of their house may protect them from outside threats.

This tradition may also be found in an article by Michael Pearce, who writes about it in The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief in Volume 7, Issue 3, 2011.

Michael Pearce (2011) Accommodating the discarnate: thai spirit houses and the phenomenology of place, Material Religion, 7:3, 344-372, DOI: 10.2752/175183411X13172844495939

http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175183411X13172844495939

Background: I had first heard about the spirit houses from my mom, who did not know too much about them. But then she reached out to her aunt (my great aunt) and told me a little bit more about the tradition of keeping spirit houses, which can be seen all over in Thailand. This interview was conducted live; this story was given to me in person. I thought this was a really interesting combination of folk beliefs and folk objects — mainly a folk belief carried out through the implementation of a folk object. I really enjoyed hearing about this and how it really is believed in Thai culture and that is why so many people have spirit houses outside their own houses, apparently usually out front. This is also something my mom remembers really well from her childhood in Bangkok because she said that she would see them everywhere — in front of every house.

Folk Beliefs
Magic

Lepers of Molokai

Another place was Kalaupapa which is where the lepers… it was a leprosy colony on Molokai. I stayed there for a week and there’s like a certain area we were driving through, and there was a big field next to the road and about 2000 bodies buried in the field. We all just got… the most eerie feeling came over us in the car … so clear there was a presence…I think there is a lot of…they would say that those were souls that were never able to be put to rest because they were forced to go to this peninsula and they were trapped there… they were not there by choice, these people suffering from leprosy didn’t want to be there. They’re definitely still lingering on the peninsula.

 

Background: I conducted this interview live, so this story was given to me in person. My friend remembers this story because it happened to her, and there was such a tangible feeling and it was such a visceral experience that she really remembers it very well and it has stuck with her. I had heard about the lepers of Molokai, but I had not known they were trapped on a certain peninsula and forced to stay there; I had originally thought the leper colony was just trapped all over the entire island. That is also scary to me that there are 2000 bodies just buried in the field without the ability to have been put to rest, so I believe that there are probably very strong presences there who reach out to the living in order to try and escape, which is sad. This story is very scary for me to hear.

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