Author Archive
Rituals, festivals, holidays

One Dollar in a Bag

My informant is a 19 year old student studying neuroscience at USC.

“One short family tradition that my family has – which I don’t know if it’s like a Filipino thing or like a world-wide thing – but, basically any time that you give someone a gift that is a bag, or uh like a purse or wallet or something like that, you always, we always put a one dollar bill in it for good luck. Um, yeah I don’t know why, but that’s just what we do, so anytime I give a gift that’s a bag, I always put a one dollar bill or one dollar coin in it.”

Analysis:

This is a common tradition for people world-wide. It can be seen as rude to gift a purse or wallet that is empty. This can be interpreted as the giving the gift receiver bad luck if it is an empty wallet or purse, cursing them to have no money.

Legends

The House with the Blue Gate

My informant is a 19 year old student studying neuroscience at USC.

Um okay so, my first story is about this house on my street growing up that always was like a little bit – I just always had a weird feeling about it because…um. Basically my neighborhood has like, four, not four, maybe like, six different like basic housing plans and then like each house in the neighborhood is just like some variation or mirrored design of those different options. But there is one house on my street that was just like, looked very different than the rest and had this very ornate gate that led into their courtyard. It was like very, I don’t even know how to explain it. It was like this iron-cast gate that had very swirly-like type metal, uh. I don’t know like Medieval looking, but not Medieval. And it was painted royal blue. And basically never saw anyone going in or out of the house. And, even on Halloween, all the houses, you know, they usually leave their porch-light if they’re home and want people to trick-or-treat. This house never, uh, had the porch-light on and never had anyone home for trick-or-treating. And so it was always just this very mysterious house, uh, I just – we didn’t really know actually who lived in it. Um… except for one year, on Halloween the porch-light was on. And so I figured, okay, this..this is interesting because now we can trick-or-treat there. Um, and so, we go, and we trick-or-treat and then the people that answer the door – it’s like kind of this maybe twenty something year old guy with like his girlfriend, um. And so, yeah, they give us the candy, whatever, we leave. Um, and that was the only time that I ever saw anyone in that house. And I lived in my house like my whole life, so this is like, you, ten years that I’d never seen anyone in the house before. Basically then, so in middle school, so fast-forward like two or three years or whatever, um. There – I’m driving home from school, and, or my mom is, and the entire street is like, coned off. There’s police cars and caution tape across the road. Um, you can only get to my house by going, like, this opposite way, ‘cause we’re on the other end of the street. And basically what happened was I guess a woman was actually – an older woman – was the one who owned the house and she had been murdered … by her son – who, now, retrospectively, looking back, I think, was the guy that was there that one night for Halloween trick-or-treating. And basically, he killed his mom, who was living at the house alone. And killed her and cut her into pieces and put her in the freezer – in the fridge, of like her refrigerator – very gross. Um, so yeah, I feel like that house is like scary, and always got weird vibes from it, and then very bad stuff happened there. And that’s that. And obviously the house was foreclosed, and someone else bought it, and they redid the entire house and took out the gate and now it’s like a young family living there so. Hopefully, it’s like not … scary.”

The informant would perform this in a setting where everyone is telling some sort of strange or scary story.

Analysis:

People are afraid of the strange or unknown and assign these things supernatural or paranormal powers. My informant, as a young child, noticed something out of the ordinary and naturally labeled it as a bad thing. This time, she was right.

Myths

Cóiste Bodhar

My informant is a 23 year old student who is heavily interested in mythology and myths of other cultures.

 

Okay so there’s one little tidbit that I know. So in Ireland, kind of related to the banshees, is the death coach. The Irish is like um, “Cóiste Bodhar.” But it’s kind of, it’s driven by a headless horseman and once it comes, like once it leaves the heavens or comes to earth or whatever, it’s not allowed to return empty. So it has to uh… someone has to get in the death coach. It’s like, it’s a symbol for the inevitability of death – like banshees. That’s why I say they’re related. They’re both symbols of imminent death. So that’s the death coach – Cóiste Bodhar.”

In his own words, the informant explains why this mythology is important to him: “My knowledge of Irish folklore is important because although I’m not mainly ethnically Irish, I am partly. Ireland also has one of the most unique european mythologies due to their relative isolation.”

He learned this myth through research of his own volition.

Analysis:

My informant uses this mythology to connect himself to the culture he partly grew up in. His grandmother is completely Irish and tried to impart certain traditions and my informant and his relatives. He uses this folklore to further connect back to his ethnicity and he is heavily intrigued by mythologies of all kinds.

 

Myths

Selkies

My informant is a 23 year old student who is heavily interested in mythology and myths of other cultures.

“So there are these creatures called “Selkies” and selkies are a mythological creature, so you know like unicorns and griffins and stuff. Anyways, a selkie is essentially an Irish mermaid, except that they are not like fish. Like in water they turn into seals. And then they can come up onto land and appear as beautiful women. And I’m not sure if I, I think I might be mixing up this with classical mermaids where they kind of invite people to their death. I don’t think that’s right. I think a selkie is, they kind of, um, they lure sailors in and then they kind of, they drag the sailor underwater but they live with the sailor and give them eternal happiness, instead of the more morbid mermaid-type thing where they eat sailors. So yeah, selkies are like a, a benevolent, beautiful seal-mermaid instead of the evil version of mermaids that are more like sirens, you know in Greek mythology.”

 

In his own words, the informant explains why this mythology is important to him: “My knowledge of Irish folklore is important because although I’m not mainly ethnically Irish, I am partly. Ireland also has one of the most unique european mythologies due to their relative isolation.”

He learned this myth through research of his own volition.

Analysis:

My informant uses this mythology to connect himself to the culture he partly grew up in. His grandmother is completely Irish and tried to impart certain traditions and my informant and his relatives. He uses this folklore to further connect back to his ethnicity and he is heavily intrigued by mythologies of all kinds.

 

 

Myths

The Banshees

My informant is a 23 year old student who is heavily interested in mythology and myths of other cultures.

“So another tidbit of Irish folklore, uh, one of their big spirit-type things, is, you’ve probably heard of this before, the Banshee, right. Um and, so banshees aren’t malevolent spirits really. Um, they’re considered bad luck though because you hear their screams, like the banshee screams, because it’s a herald for death. So if death is on its way, then you start hearing the banshee scream and that’s why they’re… kind of have that ill-omen attached to them. But they themselves, the banshees, they’re not malevolent. They’re usually, like um, incestual… kind of things. So like, um, there are stories where they help out. There’s also stories where they do like, uh, they do harm. But they’re not like you know, quid pro quo malevolent. It’s just, it depends on the banshee I guess. So yeah, they’re heralds of death ‘cause that’s when they do the famous banshee scream. Banshees are one of the big things in Irish mythology that’s carried over to modern um, video games and pop culture and everything. If you haven’t heard of a banshee before outside of  like an Irish movie, it’d be kind of surprising because it’s so iconic. Like um, they’re a big thing in World of Warcraft, for instance, and other, um, other fantasy games like Dungeons and Dragons has banshees also and so on and so forth.”

In his own words, the informant explains why this mythology is important to him: “My knowledge of Irish folklore is important because although I’m not mainly ethnically Irish, I am partly. Ireland also has one of the most unique european mythologies due to their relative isolation.”

He learned this myth through research of his own volition.

Analysis:

My informant uses this mythology to connect himself to the culture he partly grew up in. His grandmother is completely Irish and tried to impart certain traditions and my informant and his relatives. He uses this folklore to further connect back to his ethnicity and he is heavily intrigued by mythologies of all kinds.

 

For more information on this myth, click here.

 

Myths

Cú Chulainn

My informant is a 23 year old student who is heavily interested in mythology and myths of other cultures.

“Okay, so the big bad of Irish mythology is a guy called Cú Chulainn, and he is the Irish equivalent of Hercules. He actually shares a lot of similarities with Hercules too. Um, first off, he’s a demigod. I can’t remember the name of the Irish god that he was born to. But, kind of like Jesus, he’s considered the son of the god while at the same time kind of being an incarnation of him. Anyway, so, he’s a half-god. Um, he was born Setanta, I think is his … born-name. But, um, he became known as Cú Chulainn because he killed the dog – the guard-dog of a king called Chulainn. Cú means hound. So he became known as the hound of Chulainn because, like, by his young honor – ‘cause he was only like, toddler or something at the time – he’s like ‘I’ll replace your guard-dog for you until you get a new one.’ And so he became known as the hound of Chulainn because he spent like ten years of his life guarding that king… as like, a child, essentially. But um, kind of like Hercules also, he can go into a mad rage. Like Hercules is cursed by Hera and when he went into a mad rage he killed his wife and children. That’s a big aspect of the Herculean mythology. But um, Cú Chulainn goes into, like, a madness that’s known as “warp spasm” – and it’s such a weird fucking name for it. The, ‘cause it’s an Irish word and there’s not like a perfect translation in English. So, warp spasm, where he kind of – he Hulks out – he turns into literally a giant, muscly beast, and fucking kills everything around him, like a boss. Um, which he used that ability in like – his biggest thing was that he single-handedly fought off an entire invading army. Like um, I mean this is Irish mythology, so it’d be like, it’d be a couple hundred to a few hundred men. That’s still, like single-handedly fighting off an army. So, yeah, that’s Cú Chulainn. He’s the big… uh, hero. He’d be equivalent to, like, uh – Hercules is the biggest equivalency that you can see. Um also, another good example of an equivalent would be Roland for French mythology, or Lancelot for English mythology. He’s the big hero.”

 

In his own words, the informant explains why this mythology is important to him: “My knowledge of Irish folklore is important because although I’m not mainly ethnically Irish, I am partly. Ireland also has one of the most unique european mythologies due to their relative isolation.”

He learned this myth through research of his own volition.

Analysis:

My informant uses this mythology to connect himself to the culture he partly grew up in. His grandmother is completely Irish and tried to impart certain traditions and my informant and his relatives. He uses this folklore to further connect back to his ethnicity and he is heavily intrigued by mythologies of all kinds.

 

More on this myth can be found here.

 

Legends

The “Beat”les

My informant is a 22 year old musician. He is a bass-playing vocalist who plays in a  band while running his own youth-oriented music school in Los Angeles.

“So the legend goes that Paul McCartney suggested after they had been had been Johnny and the Moondogs and The Silverbeatles for awhile, basically Paul McCartney suggested that they were, they call themselves just The Beetles as a play on Buddy Holly and the Crickets. But then John, uh, Lennon, apparently because he was just a funny guy and liked puns, he decided to, he suggested that they change the ‘e’ to an ‘a,’ being Beatles so that it would be a play on beat music.”

This informant learned this story from his uncle, who is also a musician. It would be performed during band practice or in conversation to prove knowledge of musical legends and to delineate himself from non-musicians.

Analysis:

The Beatles were and are one of the most popular bands to ever grace the face of this earth. They completely altered the course of main-stream music forever and the echoes of their influence can still be heard in today’s music. It makes sense that a musician who currently plays in a small, local band would discuss the legend of The Beatles whenever possible. It also shows the importance musicians place on naming their bands. The Beatles had two unsuccessful names before changing their name and making it big. Musicians often talk of changing their bands name in the hope that it will finally make them successful.

Legends

Questlove Meets Prince

My informant is a 23 year old drummer from the suburbs of Cincinnati. He is a drummer in a band as well as an employee at one of the three major record labels left in America today.

“Okay, so I am going to tell you a story that isn’t actually my story – this didn’t happen to me, it happened to Questlove. And it is my favorite Questlove story because he’s led an incredibly interesting life and has lived more life than I’ve lived in like – will ever live. So one of Questlove’s biggest musical influences, as is the case for every right-thinking person, is Prince. And ever since he got his first Prince record, Questlove has always wanted to meet Prince. And the day it happened, he gets a text, not from Prince, but from Prince’s manager… out of nowhere. This was how Prince communicates with everybody. Um, out of nowhere, with no explanation of how he got Questlove’s number, he gets a text saying ‘Hey, Prince wants to hang out with you tonight. Meet at this place,” you know he’s in Minneapolis. It says “Come to Paisley Park. Bring cool people.” So Questlove rolls up at Paisley Park, brings most of the Roots, brings every cool person he knows. He brings like Jill Scott, a bunch of other people, a bunch of the Soulquarians. He gets to the place and Prince isn’t there. And they wait around for like two hours. This is also classic Prince. And Questlove gets another text being like, “Yo, Prince is ten minutes away. Be ready.” And then, Prince rolls up. It’s important to remember at this point, that like, Prince is like half Questlove’s size. Prince was a tiny, tiny man. And Questlove is a very, very large man. Questlove is huge – which I didn’t know until I saw him like, step away from a drumset. He is a giant man. Uh, but, um Prince rolls up. And the first thing he says is “Everyone give me your cell phones.” He collects everybody’s phone and he walks up to Questlove and the first words that Questlove hears from his idol, his lifelong musical hero, is like “Gimme your phone, I know you have it on you.” And Questlove gives him his phone. And then he’s like “Okay, come with me” and they all go together into the basement of Paisley Park … and there’s a roller rink. And Prince is like “Alright, we’re gonna rollerskate.” And Prince walks over to the jukebox, it’s like the perfect playlist, and they go rollerskating until five in the morning. And Prince had disco ball roller skates that lit up – it was the coolest shit ever.”

My informant learned this story from his father. It would be performed during a band practice or in conversation with fellow musicians or non-musician friends to prove his knowledge of musicians – particularly drummers.

Analysis:

Questlove is a modern-day legend when it comes to drumming. He is well-known and well-loved. It makes sense that a drummer who is aspiring success would tell legendary stories of a legendary drummer meeting his idol. It also makes sense that the informant told the story in a way to make Prince appear mysterious and aloof.

Legends
Narrative

UFO Sighting

My informant is a 23 year old filmmaker who grew up in San Diego.

“So this is the story about how I saw a UFO. uh, this is the summer, uh between eighth grade and freshman year. At the time, I was living in a condo next to my middle school because our house wasn’t done, uh, being built. And so I was in the pool with my brother, and I’m laying on my back and I see this black orb. Like this black dot just like in the middle of this crystal blue sky. And it first moves 500 feet north, 500 feet south, goes back to the middle, 500 feet east, 500 feet west, goes back to the middle. So it’s basically like operating like a joystick. And it’s hanging there for a really long time and I’m really into airplanes. I know a lot about aviation. It’s making no sound and I can see that light is being reflected from it, so like light is clearly hitting this object. It is a real thing. It’s not just a floater in my eye. And then suddenly, it’s hanging there for maybe like a minute and I’m starting to think like “Oh my god, I’m seeing a UFO.” It suddenly shoots straight up and it basically disappears in this crystal blue sky. And so, if people ask me like “Do I believe in aliens?” like, mmm, pretty much, but I definitely believe there’s something out there.”

This story would be recounted when sharing stories about things that are out of the ordinary or strange.

Analysis:

My informant believes, like many Americans, that he saw a UFO. It is not completely impossible that he actually witnessed a UFO, but it is unlikely. He was in San Diego County, near Camp Pendleton, where the military frequently runs tests without notifying the public. It is more likely that my informant was witnessing one of these tests. Perhaps it was a military drone or other small aircraft that was being secretly tested.

Legends
Narrative

Those Big Orange Eyes

My informant is a 23 year old filmmaker who grew up in San Diego County.

“So this is the story about um, it’s pretty much like the- the scariest thing that ever happened to me when I was like a young child. Uh, one night I was really thirsty and I wanted a glass of water. So I woke up my dad, he walked me downstairs, and at the time we were living in this house we called “The Big House.” It was a house on a five-acre property deep in the woods in Temecula in this area called Deluz. So we were surrounded by these massive oak trees that were easily hundred, two hundred years old. And me being a young kid, I called it the “Hundred Acre Woods” like in Winnie the Pooh. And so, uh, I walked into the kitchen with my dad and there was this pale orange light. And I look, and we have these huge plate-glass windows looking out, and there’s these massive orange eyes. And I’m not kidding you, they were probably like the size of a large dinner plate. With um, an orange, basically there were – it was an orange circle and then the inside was black as night and then another orange circle. So it was clearly an animal, but in my young mind, I was so paralyzed with fear that I thought it was an alien. And my dad saw it too, and he was like, “It’s nothing, don’t worry about it.” Got me my glass of water, went back to bed. But to this day, when I think about the woods, or when I think about going out at night, I always think of these orange eyes. And they are just so vivid in my memory that I will never forget not only the color, the size, where I was, and what I said. And it was, I think it was to the – it was just the sort of “what is that” and that fear alone.”

This would be performed when sharing stories about strange childhood experiences.

Analysis:

My informant was very young when he experienced this. He was frightened by something that he did not understand and naturally assigned it supernatural qualities. After being told by his father that it was fine, he calmed down. But he is still haunted to this day by those eyes, demonstrating how fear can create the most vivid memories.

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