Author Archive
Folk Beliefs

Lead Melting

The following story is collected from my friend. She lived in Turkey for the most part of her life. She talks about a Turkish tradition in this collection. This interview is done on phone. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

A:”What is “Lead Melting”

B: “It is a practice we do in Turkey in order to send bad spirit away from us.”

A: “Do you have any personal experience with this tradition?”

B: “Yes. I was feeling bad and wanted to do this practice. My mom was not believing in “lead melting” so I could not do it at first. One time I went to my aunt and talked about this subject. She told me she believes in this practice and do it once in a while if she feels negative energy on herself. She told me if your life is not heading in the right direction and you are not sure how to solve it, you can try it. She told me her neighbour in the apartment actually do this practice for those who want. So we went to her home. She started to melt the lead and covered my head with a towel. With one held she holds a pot filled with water and on the other hand, she holds a spoon full of melted lead. She poured the melted lead to the water while she was praying. As the lead quickly turns solid, she says “Nazarini aldim” (“Nazar” vaguely refers to “bad energy” and people use various methods to prevent it, such as wearing an amulet. Phrase can be translated as “Taking away Nazar”, which means bad energy is thrown out of the body). Then the lady looked at the solid lead, shaped in an abstract and random way, to tell my fortune and problems. She says how people’s “eyes” affected me. And I really felt relieved and better. I paid her and left.”

A: “Did she say anything real?”

B: “She told me I was having problems in my career. It was true, I lost my job a few months ago.”

A: “Would you say this practice is common in Turkey?”

B: “Yes. Many Turkish people believe it is true and many people practice this.”

A: “Do you believe it really works?”

B: “I believe there is an energy in the universe, sometimes good, sometimes bad. I feel like, if a person emotionally feels good after doing this, for whatever reason, the practice is a success.”

 

Folk Beliefs

Tie tree

The following story is collected from my friend. He lived in Turkey for the most part of his life. He talks about a Turkish tradition in this collection. This interview is done on phone. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

A: “Do you know any interesting traditions in Turkey?”

 

B: “There was a tree near my grandmother’s home which was placed in a cemetery. People, who could not have kids, used to go there and tie a rope around the tree. They assume it will help them with having kids. Then if you happen to have a kid in the future, you go back to tree and offer free food to people around as an act of kindness.  “

 

A:” Do you have a personal experience?”

 

B: “I wanted to go to university and was stressed because of the coming exams. I went to “Aya Yorgi” Church in Buyuk Ada (An island close to Istanbul). The date was 23 of April, because that is the day it is believed to work best. I went to the top of the island and found the tree everyone believes to have magic powers. I was told, I have to walk all the way to top without getting help from anyone or anything. When I was in the top, I tied a rope to the tree, which is connected to a spool. Then I walked all the way to the sea, while holding the spool. There were a lot of people doing the same thing.”

 

A: “Did you get in the university you wanted?”

 

B: “Yes”

 

A: “Do you believe, you got in to university because of this?”

 

B: “I don’t know. I just wanted to give a try.”

 

B: “Is it a religious activity since tree is located in a church.”

 

A: “It is a tradition in Turkey. It is not connected to religion, people from any religion can go there. You can see Muslim, Christian and Jewish people there.”  

 

Folk Beliefs

Peganum Harmala

The following story is collected from my friend. He is from U.S.A. This interview is done face-to-face. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

A:” Do you know any Iranian tradition?”

B: “Yes, Peganum Harmala. So it is essentially this plant, that is used in persian culture to bless someone in your family or someone for an important event. You get this plant, and burn it. It is very smelly and scent covers the whole place. You get the burned plant and put it on the person’s head. You wait until their body absorbs the smell. According to the myth, this keeps you safe and protected from people, who don’t like you. Smell is believed to protect you from the bad energy, other people sent to you.”

 

A:” Do you practice it?”

 

B: “Everytime I go back to visit my family, they do this to me. Especially if I achieved something important, we will do this since other people can be jealous of me and sent bad energy to me.”

Folk Beliefs

Black magic spell

The following story is collected from my friend. She lived in Turkey for the most part of her life. She talks about a Turkish tradition in this collection. This interview is done on phone. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

 

A: “Did you experience anything that can be described as supernatural?”

 

B: “At one point in my life, I was feeling down and could not sleep at night. I was in depression. I was talking to my aunt about my problem and she told me I can be under magic. She told me I should get help from someone. She referred me to a woman who practices “istihareye yatmak” ( there is no literal translation for the Turkish word “istihare”. The word refers to someone sleeping and trying to dream in order to see fortune. “Yatmak” literally means sleeping). I talked to the woman and she told me she will help me. The woman who practices this prays before going to sleep. Then she tells to herself something like “Why this person is feeling bad”. After this, she goes to sleep. Her purpose is to find the reasons for my problems in life in her dream. I think colors are important, each have a different meaning. Like, seeing blue is different then seeing red. At first night, she told me she did not see anything. But on the second night, she did. She told me that a tall, brunette man made a spell on me to not leave him and marry him. She also told me this spell was given to by a food. There was really a man like that in my life back then. She told me there are ways to block the magic but I did not try to block it since it is against my belief. I believe magic should not be practiced and for me to block to magic, I knew an opposite magic should have been done.”

 

B: “What people in Turkey, generally, think about magic?”

 

A: “There are people who believe in it. Even if you don’t fully believe in it, you can still want to avoid it.There are people, that I know, who carry magic with. This magic is written in a small paper and carried like an accessory. Magic can applied with different methods. Few years ago, around my summer home, people found locks buried under ground. Like many different locks. They broke each of them and threw it to sea in order to stop the effect of magic. It is scary to imagine that someone bury locks under your home. My friend found a small written magic hidden in her closet. I heard people cover the paper with pig fat. I think, people with low incomes, are the ones who most believe in magic.”

 

Folk Beliefs

binding the devil

The following story is collected from my friend. He lived in Turkey for the most part of his life, then lived in Australia for some time. He talks about a family tradition in this collection. This interview is done on phone. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

A: “Any tradition that is special to your family?”

B: “I remember that when I was a kid, every time my dad lost something he would always call my grandmother. In order to find the lost items, she would do something, which she called as; “binding the devil”. How this practice worked is very interesting. My grandmother would bind her scarf, while singing some songs in order to find the lost items. And every single time my dad was able to find the lost items he lost.”

A: “Can you tell me more about this?”

B: “She gets a scarf, which is a normal scarf, nothing special about it. She would bind the scarf few times. And while she was doing this, she would sing. She sings religious songs, which are called, “Ilahi”. It is kind of like praying.”

A: “Do you believe in this practice?”

B: “When I lost my stuff, I remember doing it and finding my lost items but I don’t believe hundred percent in it. But it is interesting because, one time, before “binding the devil”, my dad was searching for his passport everywhere and could not find it, but as soons, as the devil was bound, he was able to find it. 99% of the time it was successful. When I witnessed this, I thought about how it can work, because it can not be explained with science.”

A: “Do Turkish people usually have this kind of superficial beliefs?”

B: “Most of the older people, especially older women, have this beliefs or traditions. I think it comes from puberty since when you do not have money, you seek comfort from leaving some problems to unexplainable things.”

 

Folk Beliefs

Umbilical cord

The following story is collected from my friend. He lived in Turkey for the most part of his life, then lived in Australia for some time. He talks about a Turkish tradition in this collection. This interview is done on phone. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

A: “Is there any interesting Turkish tradition you know?”

B: “When I was born, my mother gave my umbilical cord to my aunt, who lives in Australia. My mom told my aunt that she wanted my cord to be buried in a park in Melbourne. And according to my mother’s beliefs, which is very common with Turkish people, when my cord is buried in one country or city, I should end up, or interact in a way, with that country at one point in my life. As a result, I ended up living Australia for 9 years, which can be shown as a proof of the fact that beliefs and traditions can sometimes be true.”

A: “What are the reasons for people to practice this tradition?”

B: “They bury for many different reasons. You can bury it in a park of the university that you want to study in the future. If you want your kid to be a doctor, bury it around a hospital. If you want your kid to be a soccer player bury it in a soccer field. Once you bury it in a university, this does not meant your kid will have to go that university, he can go to a better one. You can bury it in a university in Texas, just giving an example, but your kid can go to Harvard in the future. Main purpose is to make sure your kid gets a high education.”

A: “Do you know anyone else who practiced this tradition?”

B: “Yes, my dad. My grandmother buried my fathers cord to ODTU university in Turkey, which is one of the highest ranked universities in the world. He ended up graduating from that school. Another example is my friend’s father. His cord was buried in a hospital when he was young and now he ended up being the head of that university.”

A: “Do you believe this tradition works?”

B: “There are many cases this tradition was successful but this does not mean it works or not. People can be more motivated to achieve their goals with  this tradition and end up working harder.”

Burying umbilical cord is very common in Turkey

Folk Beliefs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Hidirellez

The following story is collected from my friend. She lived in Turkey for the most part of her life. Now she lives in the U.S.A. She talks about a traditional event. This interview is done face-to-face. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

A: “Do you celebrate any tradition?”

B: “Every year to celebrate Hidirellez, the new spring, we write our wishes in a paper and we bury them near a rose tree at midnight. After burying the paper we go to sleep. Next day, we wake up early in the morning, like at 6 AM,  and go back to the tree. We dig out the paper and walk towards the sea. Then we throw our wishes to sea, and the reason is that; we believe that, there are two souls that represent the earth and the water. “Hidir” represents the earth and he takes your wishes at midnight and brings it to god, I guess, and “Ellez” is the soul of the water, who makes your wishes come true.  And these wishes should not be seen by anyone else but the person himself or herself.”

A: “Do you practice this often?”

B: “Yes I try to practice every year. But could not for the last 2 years”

A: “What kind of things do  you wish?”

B: “Like I said before… no one should see your wishes”

A:”Do they camo true?”

B:” Yes they do”

A: “All of them?”

B: “Not all of them”

A: “Do you believe in it?”

B: “Yes I do believe in it but it’s more of a tradition then reality.”

A: “Is this a common practice in Turkey?”

B:” Yes and also Persian”

A: “Where did you learn it from?”

B:  “My mother and my friends, when I was in high school.”

Hidirellez is still one of the most famous traditions in Turkey and Iran

Folk Beliefs

Astrology

The following story is collected from my friend. She is from U.S.A. This interview is done face-to-face. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

A:” Do you know any interesting Indian belief? “

 

B: “Many indians believe in astrology. If you can plot when and where you are born, you can learn about your future.”

 

A:”Do you believe in it?”

 

B: “No, not really. I don’t believe. It is old fashioned tradition, I learned it from my mother. I think it is very traditional now. Became a part of Indian culture. It is a way of honoring your legacy. I think people can really believe in it sometimes. “

 

A: “Is there a person you need to see for this practice?”

 

B: “You go to astrologist and they tell you what you want to know. They charge a certain amount of money, it is their job. They can be vague about their assumptions, so there can be a better chance for them being correct.”

 

A: “Can you tell me more?”

 

B: “Astrology is also connected to Hinduism. You can which day for your wedding would be the most auspicious. There is a very famous Indian actress called, Aishwarya Rai. Because of her astrological beliefs, she married a tree before marrying her husband. This event was criticized because it is not modern. Many people see it as old tradition. My generation is usually less likely to believe in this, but older generations are more likely to believe.”

 

Legends

Dyatlov Pass

The following story is collected from my friend. She lived in Russia for the most part of her life. Then she lived in England for few years and now lives in L.A. She talks about a famous event, which up to this day not solved. This interview is done face-to-face. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

A: “Is there any legend you can tell me about?”

B: “American director made movies about this. The story is called “dyatlov of pass” in English, I think. There were 6 teens from my city’s university. It was part of their vacation or something to go to Ural mountains. So they took a trip to the mountain. One of the girls wanted to go with them but she broke her leg just before the trip, so she could not go. She stayed but 5 of them went to the mountain. They had to return in few days but they did not come back. So a search team is sent and they were shocked by what they have found. The tent was cut and everything was damaged. Members of the group were killed brutally and some of them were cut in pieces For example; ears, legs, and hands were found in different parts of the place. Maybe they found one or two bodies, which were not cut in pieces but they were damaged as well.”

A: “What do you, or other people, think happened to them?”

B: “There are 5 theories people believe in.

1)    Something to with KGB. I think there was a hidden military base around the area. Group had to be killed because they saw something they should have not, like a secret operation. But this doesn’t make sense to me since KGB wouldn’t kill them this brutally.

2)   Yeti. Apparently, there are Yetis in the are and this makes sense to me, because when you see the pictures of what is left of these people, you think they are attacked by a monster. No officials materials were revealed about the event and it was a classified case. Many people heard that the tent was opened from inside, but there was blood outside. The thing that killed them was out of this world.

3)    There was a maniac like a cannibal who killed them brutally.

     I don’t remember the other theories but this case is still a mystery. I can’t come up with a reasonable answer.”

 

This event is very famous and known widely. For another version of this legend, you can check the movie “Devil’s Pass” by Renny Harlin.

Folk Beliefs

HOCA

The following story is collected from my friend. He is from Turkey. This interview is done face-to-face. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

 

A: “Did you experience anything mysteries?”

 

B: “I am from Istanbul. I have a friend who is also from Istanbul, but he’s grandparents had a summer home in Kinaliada. He invite me to stay there for a couple of days and I accepted it. We were touring the island, late at night, and my friends showed me an abandoned home. It looked very old. My friend told me, a “Hoca” used lived there, who was known to have a relation with jins. We decided to explore the building, but did not want to do it at night. So next morning, we went to home and got inside. There was this horrible smell coming from the home.”

A: “Can you explain me who is a “Hoca” ?”

B: “People from all classes, can go to a “Hoca”, when they need advice for their personal problems. “Hoca” is believed to have a mystic powers. They are usually old man with long beard. People think they have connection to supernatural stuff.”

A:”Such as jins?”

B:”Yes”.

A:”Can you give me example of how someone can seek help from these people?”

B: “People, who come from any kind of background can go to a hoca, when they want something really bad or want to solve a problem. For example; Instead of going to doctor, or after they went to a doctor, for a medical problem, they seek advice from a “Hoca”. “Hoca” can pray to heal the person, talk to jinns, or create a mixture with herbs, like a magical potion.”

A: “Continue your story please?”

 

B:” So we got inside and looked around. It was empty and not much to see, but we noticed a crack on the wall. Crack was shaped like the face of a bull. We didn’t think much about it and left the home. Next morning, we were having breakfast and we asked my friend’s grandparent about abandoned home. Grandfather told a “Hoca” used to live there and his name was “Boga Hoca”.

A: “What does “Boga” means in Turkish?”

B: “It means bull. So when he said this, me and friends were shocked. Because we did not talk to him about the crack that shaped like a bull. “

 

A:” Do you think “Hoca”s have mystical powers to heal people?”

B:” I believe is that, after trying all practical solutions to a problem, people, who are religious or not, try to get hope from cultural tradition. People look for safety and comfort. Maybe Americans watch movies or read books to get comfort. In Turkey, people go to “Hoca”. I don’t think we should evaluate this tradition by standards of practical science. They are very different. A visit to “Hoca” is different from a visit to doctor; they heal different things in a person.”

 

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