USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘curse’
Customs
general

Lil B NBA Curse

The informant DP is a 19-year-old male studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He has recently become a huge fan of the NBA and he describes something that the casual NBA fan would not know much about. In this piece, he talks about the “The BasedGod’s” curse to me (AK) which was popularized over five years ago by a rapper by the name of Lil B.

For some context, Lil B became a viral sensation with many provocative rap videos and tweets. He refers to himself as the “Based God” and he has drawn a very loyal fan following due to the hilarity of his tweets and rap videos. He is also known for the “Based God” curse which he has given to star athletes who have disrespected his rapping ability.

DP: So I don’t know the entire story, but I do know that Lil B and Kevin Durant (famous basketball player) had beef a few years ago.

AK: What exactly caused the beef?

DP: Well … KD basically said that Lil B is a wack rapper and that his music sucks. Lil B responded to this by dropping a video titled F*** KD and giving him the “Based God” curse.

AK: What does this curse entail? Is there any way to become uncursed?

DP: In this context, he meant that KD would never win a championship. Also, KD was recently lifted of the curse because he decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors and Lil B is a huge Warriors fan.

I found this entire piece to be hilarious. After some further research, I found Lil B to be very outspoken on twitter and most of his fans simply quote him out of the absurdity and comedy of some of his proclamations. Most of his songs have a comedic element to them and in his F*** KD song he states that he could beat Kevin Durant in a one on one game of basketball. For some NBA fans, however, the curse does hold some merit as Kevin Durant is perennially one of the best players in the league, yet he has never won a championship. While most rational fans scoff at the claim that the curse is the reason why, a small but significant subset of fans contend that the curse is the sole reason why. I’m not sure which side of the argument I’m on, but I do find humor in the fact that Lil B has gained so much fame over a simple tweet and video.

Folk Beliefs
Life cycle
Old age

Compliment or Curse?

Informant: The informant is Thomas, a fifty-five-year-old man who has lived in Westchester, New York for his entire life. He is a financial consultant for hospitals, has two children, and is of English and Russian descent.

Context: We sat across from each other at the kitchen table in Thomas’s house one afternoon during my spring break from college.

Original Script:

Informant: When I was little, my grandmother always told me about her belief that if I, or anyone for that matter, complimented something in her home, she felt that I wished her dead because I wanted the item. I was at her house one day when I was about twelve years old, and she had just gotten a new coffee table in her living room. I admired it, and she responded, “You wish me dead!” Then she went to my dad and said, “Your son wishes me dead; she wants my coffee table.”

Interviewer: Why do you like this piece of folklore?

Informant: I like this piece of folklore because after she died, my family said that I should be the one to get the coffee table. It’s still in my living room today, and every time I look at it, I smile and recall what she told me.

Personal Thoughts: I think that this piece of folklore is interesting because I had never heard of someone being offended by a compliment, or taking a compliment as a curse. What I like most about Thomas’s story is that his family got involved in accepting and appreciating the folklore after his grandmother had passed and gave him the coffee table. In a sense, the tradition can then say alive through Thomas.

Folk Beliefs
Initiations
Narrative

Curse of Dudleytown

Informant is a teacher living in LA.

The story is one from a  summer camp in CT where he and I met originally. The subject of the story is a town called “Dudleytown” which suffers a horrible curse: every 7 years, somebody nearby dies.

“So Dudleytown as you know, is haunted. Every seven years, somebody nearby dies. That’s because Edward Dudley was cursed by King Henry for treason, and the curse followed him across the Atlantic Ocean and caused all their crops to die. Now, nobody’s growing crops there anymore. But the curse still comes up once every seven years……. some things just stick with the location geographically, you know?”

He says he heard the story from other people at the camp when he first got there, as the location was relatively close by. He swears it is real and true but he does so with an air of silliness, indicating to me that this belief is faux-sincerity. I think this choosing-to-believe makes sense: people like the strong narrative of a 7-year-curse more than they want to “ruin the fun” in applying logic. It’s a fun belief and brings people together over a common fear, even if it is just pretend.

 

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends
Magic
Narrative

Glacier National Park Curse

My mother worked several summers in Glacier National Park at the Many Glacier Hotel. This is the curse of the National Park:

Mom: “Every summer an employee dies. The Blackfoot tradition considers the mountain peaks and valleys that make up Glacier Park to be a sacred space, and not in a good way. Supposedly one only ventures into Swiftcurrent or Two Medicine Valleys if they are brave enough to tempt fate – the deities in charge of these dramatic geographic formations do not welcome humans. Only a Blackfoot Chief or holy man dared venture in. This was the land of Grizzly Bears, Eagles, dramatic weather and ancient glaciers.”

Me: So what happened when you worked there?

Mom: “So, the story goes that every summer the powerful forces of the area would take the life of a seasonal Glacier Park employee as the price to be paid for the encroachment of tourism. In 1967 there was the famous “Night of the Grizzly” where multiple young women were mauled to death by bears in more than one campground in the park. That was before I worked there. Later, in the summers of 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976 there were employees who met their deaths respectively, as follows: 22 year old bellman had a heart attack and died while attending a Thursday night bonfire kegger, 21 year old hotel groundskeeper fell off a cliff and died while hiking, 86 year old gift shop clerk drove off a cliff and died; and a 19 year old kitchen worker slipped while taking photographs of a waterfall and fell only 10 feet but hit his head and died.

Me: But it didn’t get you.

Mom: “I was careful every time I hiked in the park. I’d wear a bear-bell and always go with other people, and thankfully, the curse passed over me.”

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This curse is interesting. It makes sense that people would die in a place like Glacier National Park, simply because the great outdoors are a force not to be reckoned with. The consistency of the curse is a little unnerving– that every summer one employee would lose his or her life– not simply a reckless hiker. I do wonder if having a certain reverance for the curse, like the interviewee suggested, meant that she was less at-risk of dying. This could be correlation, in that people who are afraid of the curse take more precaution to stay safe, or it could be causation, in that the curse “sees” that you are afraid and therefore avoids you.

Legends

Legend of Lokrum island

Legend of Lokrum island

NK is my grandmother who was born and raised in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Being a local she knows a lot about the city and its folklore. She first told me this story in elementary school right before I went to Lokrum for a school trip.

“Did you know that the island of Lokrum is haunted?”

 

No, why is it haunted?

 

“well to know why its haunted you have to know the history of the island. Once upon a time, a huge fire spread in Dubrovnik. The fire was so vast it posed a threat to the city and all the citizens in it. In desperation and sorrow, the people of Dubrovnik turned to prayers and promised to build a monastery if they survived. Suddenly the fire stopped. The citizens of Dubrovnik held its promise and built a Benedictine monastery on Lokrum. The monks took care of the island and, for centuries, have turned Lokrum into a paradise. But interest Lokrum aroused by Dubrovnik rich families who wanted the island all to themselves and their own personal benefit. These rich families drove the Benedictines of the island, but before they left the island, they cast a curse on Lokrum.”

 

What was the curse?

 

“After the holding the last mass on the island, right before they left they surrounded the island 3 times in the dark mysterious procession, the persons buried deep inside the hoods lit candles and held them upside down. During the procession, quietly repeated, “Damn everyone who gets Lokrum for personal enjoyment!” And so it was. From that that day on any one who owned Lokrum has died a mysterious death.”

 

After doing some research other versions are really similar and historically the story happened. All owners of the island did die in a mysterious death or had some big tragedy happen in their life. To this day no one owns the island, and I find it interesting how people still believe in the curse.

 

For another version of this story visit http://anavie.net/lokrum-the-cursed-island/

Childhood
Contagious
Folk Beliefs

“El Ojo”

LP, the informant, is 19 years old and grew up in Mexico. She now lives with her mother and sister here in LA while her father still lives in Mexico City. She learned the following superstition from her mother who said that when LP was a baby, she suffered from this curse and had to be cured by her grandmother. LP doesn’t quite believe it, but her mother and grandmother truly do.

“Mexicans have this thing where when you’re a baby and for example you’re on a train and other adults look at your baby from far away thinking about how cute they are, if you don’t let that person touch your baby, it translates to the stink eye, or as we know it “el ojo”. So it’s known as they gave me the eye. The baby comes close to dying, becomes really sick, they get a cold and chills, and the only way to get rid of it is to let that person hold your baby. And we also wear a red and black beaded bracelet to protect your kid from the stink eye. I actually still have my bracelet back at home.”

This curse only applies to babies and can happen whenever someone looks at the baby, admiring them but doesn’t ever touch them. It’s as if looking at them and admiring them can invite the Devil to snatch them, because they will become vain and narcissistic, LP tells me. If the person staring doesn’t come into contact with the baby, then it’s believed that the curse of “El Ojo” is upon them.

I think this superstition is common in many cultures but also in various forms. I feel like I’ve heard something similar to this, but not necessarily applying just to babies. I also never really knew why the evil eye was bad, but now I understand it’s religious connotations concerning the Devil and sin. It’s also interesting that her culture has a specific bracelet that an infant wears to defend them from this curse. It’s similar to the evil eye amulet that people wear to protect them from a similar type of curse.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Homeopathic

Remedy for Curse of Mexican Evil Eye

The informant’s family is originally from Mexico. She learned this cure from her grandmother who performed it on her and her siblings. She doesn’t think that it’s really a cure, however her mother and grandmother told her that it helped cure her when she was cursed with the “ojo”, or eveil eye.

“Some of the things they do to get rid of the curse from el ojo I learned from my grandma. She blesses your whole body with an egg. She grabs it from the fridge and rubs it all over your body and cracks the egg open over water. If it floats, then your good and if it sinks, it’s bad…like the egg absorbs all the bad from your body and it sinks, but I can’t remember…it might be the opposite actually.”

This remedy is used when a baby is cursed by “El Ojo”, or the Evil Eye, as it’s known in other cultures. It’s usually performed in the home, as the informant told me. There are also different variations to it concerning what one does with the egg when they crack it. Some say to leave it under the victim’s bed overnight and check it in the morning.

I had previously never heard of this remedy and I’m very curious as to why they use an egg. I don’t know if there’s something symbolic about it or where it came from originally. I did some more research and there are various methods to this. Some say you have to crack the egg in a bowl and leave it under the victim’s bed, and by morning something will happen that let’s you know they have been cured. It’s apparently a well-known remedy among their community, and I’m surprised it’s so well-revered. When I think of a remedy I usually think it’s something that a person needs to ingest in order for them to be cured.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Narrative

Cursed Rock

The informant, T, is 19 years old. He was born and raised on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. His parents were also born and raised on Oahu. His grandparents on his mom’s side came from Japan and from his dad’s side were raised on Oahu. He is majoring as an Industrial and Systems Engineer. He considers himself American and is full Japanese.

T-“ Pele is the goddess of volcanoes so like currently the big island, which is the furthest right island in the Hawaii chain, is like active like a volcano erupting and it is said that Pele lives there so you can’t take lava rocks from the big island or its said that Pele will curse you or something”

Is it only from the big island? Can you take it from the other islands?

T-“Well you’re not supposed to take it from the others, but it is well known you’re not supposed to take it from the big island. That one I think everyone knows that”

Did you hear this since you were little?

T-“Yea since I was little”

Do you know if there are any laws behind it?

T-“I don’t think there is any laws but there’s like Hawaiian laws which like you can’t enforce them”

Do share this story?

T-“Yea. This is one of the ones that I mainly tell other people when we’re talking or having in depth conversations about my culture”

Analysis- While there are no official laws, the story of the curse could be a way of the natives to protect their land. By scaring tourists into believing in the curse, they can ensure that the land will not be disturbed and/or damaged. The fact that most, if not all, of the people know it and tell it can be seen as possible proof of this. Since the locals do not have the power to enforce this law, the curse story could have been made up. Overtime, however, it appears that the legend has been canonized and is becoming more known and accepted by the people to be true.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Myths
Narrative

Duende’s Curse

Informant (J.B.) is a 19 year old Los Angeles native. J.B.’s mother is an immigrant from Thailand, and his father is an immigrant from Guatemala. J.B. speaks English, Thai, Korean, Japanese, some Spanish. J.B. and I grew up in the same neighborhood, with mutual friends. One afternoon while overhearing another collection I was conducting, J.B. offered to share a story about his late uncle.

J.B.: “My dad, when he was 8 years old, he was living in Guatemala, and his older brother was about 16. He had this job as a dude who delivers to the construction workers up in the mountains. There’s a folk story that in the forest there were spirits that would ask you to bring them a child as a sacrifice to eat, and they’ll reward you with fame, money, and whatever. If you decline than you’ll die or get sickness, your life is screwed over somewhere. My dad’s brother was walking one day, at night, to do a delivery, and a tree was talking to him, and he thought he was tripping out. And the tree asked him to bring a child and he said no. And the tree said I’ll give you a chance, if you don’t bring it in a week you’re going to get sick and die. So obviously he didn’t go back, and in a week he actually did get really sick, like on the verge of death. They had doctors there, and I don’t know exactly what it was, but he had an illness that couldn’t be cured for the rest of his life. He lived out the rest of his life pretty normal, but would have episodes from his sickness. A few years ago he died from one of the episodes from that sickness. I don’t know what he had, I’m trying to remember but I have no idea.”

Upon conducting further research, I discovered a mythological creature, present mostly in Latin American culture, called the ‘duende.’ Europe’s goblins, fairies, and leprechauns all fit into the same category as the duendes of Latin America and the Philippines. While the duende has many different oikotypes throughout the Latin world, they are broadly defined as magical sprites known to cause mischief, especially in areas surrounding forests. I am not acquainted with J.B’s family, however J.B. was happy to share a piece of their heritage with me this afternoon. As J.B. lost an immediate family member to an unknown illness, his father’s account of the duende’s curse carries sentimental value to J.B., and will forever be entwined with the folklore of his father’s distant homeland.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Narrative
Protection

The Devil’s Curse in Guam

Original Script: “Okay so this is crazy…but basically my friends dad is in the marines, and he is usually based in Guam or San Diego like at the Marine base. So, she was born in San Diego and lived their the majority of her life, when her dad would be deported she would stay with her grandparents. Anyway, while in Guam, her dad would go to bars with his friends when they had some time off… Well one night they were bored…or something, so they all went to someone’s house and there was a Ouija board and they started playing with it. And they were all drunk too so that made it worse. So, they asked a couple of questions and actually did work, so they got freaked out and wanted to get rid of it and they ended up throwing it away. But the friend had gotten the board from someone that lived there. Like the Island is still an old world nation so they still have a lot of old cultural things and they believe in demons attaching themselves to a living person. A couple days later he found it under his bed and thought, ‘who the hell is playing tricks on me it must of been one of my friends or whatever.’ So he went to throw it in a dumpster far away from where he lived because it still freaked him out a little bit and so nobody could find it and put it under his bead again. However, a couple of days later he found it under his AGAIN, and he was like, “No this is bullshit,” so he burned the Ouija board because he didn’t want to mess with it anymore. A couple days later, he found it under the bed, AGAIN. It literally unburned, like how the hell does that happen? And he got so freaked out he went to priest, the priest had to keep in the church because the Ouija board was possessed and had to close the portal that created the bridge between the spirit world and the living—so spirits and demons couldn’t come into where they were living. The priest had to go to all of the people who participated in the Ouija board and had to bless where they were all living. However, I don’t know if it worked because at her house she was possessed, like I’m not friends with her anymore because she acted that way…like her family is haunted, cursed! I would never mess with a Ouija board, that stuff brings in bad shit.”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Kamilah and her mother have always been spiritual people. The belief in witches, demons, and angels is strong to Kamilah’s mother however, it is even more so in her home country—Nicaragua. Kamilah has always believed that spirits and demons haunt Ouija board and had repeated multiple times that she would never participate in the practice of the Ouija board in fear of letting a devil haunt her and her family.

Context of the Performance: Ouija board usage in Guam

Thoughts about the piece: As a firm believer in never using a Ouija board, I have to say this story chilled me to the core. The legend of the demons in Guam is an interesting one. In this account of a Ouija board, the unexplainable—like the board ending up under the father’s bed and the board being mysteriously unburned—becomes prominent. This legend shows the prominent cultural influence of Guam and their old-world mindset. It also shows their belief in the demons and spirits not only attaching themselves to a Ouija board but also these entities attaching themselves to the living.

However, what fascinated me the most was the extent of the curse of the Ouija board. This curse of the girl’s father, travelled over seas to San Diego, where inevitably the whole family ended up being affected. Even though Kamilah was not a first account of the story happening in Guam, she was the first account of how the curse had affected the entire family, to the extend where it terrified her so badly that she had to cut ties with them. I believe this example of the legend of the Ouija board is relative to not only the Guam culture, but also the American culture. Even though, the people of Guam were terrified of the Ouija board, for example the priest having to lock it up in the church so that he could seal it properly, it also shows how an American, Kamilah, even I, were chilled by the story of the board. Perhaps, it is because of the unknown that scares us, but the aftermath experienced by Kamilah was what led her to believe that the family was cursed. Nevertheless, I do wonder who gave the father’s friend the board, for if the people of Guam were so afraid of them, was it considered an act of revenge to give the board to someone else? Nonetheless, this story demonstrates how legends can transcend upon different cultures, affecting them the same way—instilling a feeling so powerful that it influences people—in this case the feeling was fear.

[geolocation]