USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘healing’
Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Magic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Healing Touch

Context:

The informant and I were talking about an injury he had since high school and shares with me a particular healing practice he received during his time recovering.

In the transcript of our conversation, he is identified as S (storyteller) and I am identified as C (collector).

 

S: As a Christian family, my mom believes in spiritual gifts. Specifically, the gift of healing. She goes to this church in downtown LA and goes to the elder whenever she’s in pain. The elder lies my mother down on the table and proceeds to gently touch and poke different places. The elder touches the area that hurts as well as any area that may connect to the afflicted area. My mom says the elder’s hands are warm, with spiritual fire. After praying for my mom, the elder runs her hands over my mom while my mother cries out in pain. The elder does this a few more times and my mom is still in pain. However, once the elder finishes, my mom says she is beginning to feel better.

My mom strongly believes that this woman has the art of spiritual healing as she’s gone to doctors with internal organ pain before and their medicine has done nothing. This elder has helped her with that internal pain and much more.

My mom now takes my brother and me to the elder when we are in pain. My brother is a firm believer now in what she does even though he is always in pain. I still struggle to see that it’s real, though I have gone many times as a result of my mom forcing me after my many knee surgeries.

 

Analysis:

Traditional medicine lives among the people as a part of their culture. Many believe in and adopt older medical practices and choose to prefer them over popular medicine backed by science. Although the validity of these practices is up to debate, many people turn to these practices when they are in need of medical care. The idea of the healing touch is an intriguing idea that places a special importance on the powers and skills of elders. In general, both forms of medicine often interact with each other. In many cases, people employ the help of popular medicine with other medical remedies that have been passed down in a culture or family. We can’t simply say that it is a placebo effect and dismiss the notion that the practices may actually yield results. Maybe it is the combined effects of both that help one recover from their ailments.

Folk medicine
general
Homeopathic

Running Faucets for Cramp Relief

Context: I came home one day at the beginning of this year to all of the faucets running and I asked my roommate what was going on and she told me this story. So I asked her to re-tell me why she does it.

Piece: So basically, I don’t know where my mom… well let me tell the long version of the story. So you know when you are you they tell you not to keep the water running when you brush your teeth? They’re like “turn off the faucet to save water!” Well I would always say that, and my mom always left the faucet running when she brushed her teeth and I would be like, “Mommy, you’re wasting water!” And she has always said, “I have to leave the faucet running or I’ll gag or like throw up.” And I never understood that until I started like, when I’m on my period or nauseous for any reason and so I turn the faucet on and leave the water running. It’s supposed to help you like feel like less nauseous. Something about the sound of running water can like ease nausea. I feel like it might have been something my mom got from my grandma. It sounds like something my grandma would do.

Background: The informant is a 19 year old USC student of Pakistani and Indian descent. She is very close to her family and shares many traditions and beliefs with them. She learned this from her mother and does it whenever she gets her period cramps.

Analysis: This tradition is something I have never heard of before. It is a sort of remedy/ homeopathic healing technique. It is often said that water sounds are soothing, but this is the first time I have heard them help with pain. I have heard of soaking in hot water to ease pain, but it is interesting that this piece refers to sounds, which tackles the mental state rather than the physical.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
general
Magic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Healing Charm

sana sana colita de rana si no sanas hoy sanaras mañana por la mañana”

Translation: “heal heal, little frog’s butt, if you don’t heal today you will heal tomorrow”

Context: Informant and I were talking about childhood memories and she shared this healing charm her mom would do on her.

Background: Informant is a student at the UCI. She lives in a Mexican American household. She recalls this charm that her mom would do whenever she would hurt herself by falling while playing. She would run to her mom crying and her mom would say it and rub her “boo boo” in a circular motion. She doesn’t think it took the pain away but it made me feel better. When asked if she would do this with her kids, she nodded enthusiastically.

Analysis: This charm was performed on little kids as a way to acknowledge their pain but also help make them feel better. When a child goes crying to his/her mom, she can give him/her the attention that is needed and they can go back to playing. When translated it does not have the same rhyme and effect attached. It does not really make any sense, but in Spanish it does not sound so bad.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Folk speech
Protection

Sana Sana Colita de Rana – Spanish saying

“Sana sana, colita de rana. Si no te alivias hoy, te alivias mañana”

Translation: Heal, heal, little tail of a frog. If you do not heal today, you will heal tomorrow.


 

This saying has been promulgated throughout almost all Spanish speaking households, and the interlocutor asserts that it is an essential aspect of growing up and learning the capacity of one’s body and mind. The last part of the saying usually goes “si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana,” which is more directly translated to heal, while the verb aliviar, as used in my interlocutor’s version, translates more directly to alleviate. She mentioned that her personal version is one she learned from her own mother despite the other version being much more popular. She taught this version to her own children, saying it when they came to her with scrapes and bruises, seeking comfort amidst their tears.

This saying is most commonly used to comfort an ill or hurt child. Arguably a universal notion, children have quite an immense amount of energy that requires some sort of exertion. Through this, many children play throughout their youth, and in doing so, they are exposed to myriad dangers and possibilities of getting injured. Therefore, this saying allows and even encourages the exploration that children experience through play, asserting that an injury by way of play is one that is trivial and easily cured. This saying also illustrates the compassion and care that Latino parents give to their children, reassuring them that tomorrow promises healing and opportunity for further exploration.

Childhood
Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Narrative

Heal, Heal, little tail of the frog – Spanish Saying

Piece: “Something I heard a lot as a kid was Sana sana colita de rana, si no se sana hoy se sanara manana. Heard it from my grandma as a kid, she said it to me all the time, she’s a baller”

Background information: The informant is a very comedic student with an Argentinian background. Although he resides in the US, he strongly identifies with his Argentinian roots.

Context: This is a hispanic saying used whenever you got hurt as a kid. You’d run to your mom/dad crying about a new injury and they would say this while rubbing the area of pain. The informant heard this a lot from his grandma and it stuck with him because it’s a saying that’s used a lot in Latin countries. The saying translates to “Heal, heal, little tail of the frog. If you don’t heal today, you’ll heal tomorrow.”

Personal analysis: I can personally vouch for the informant. I also heard this a lot as a kid. Every time I got injured I would run to my mom and she would say this saying to make the pain go away. Although there’s no healing happening, it was used as placebo to force you to think that if it didn’t heal today, it would heal tomorrow. Almost like a reassurance that everything would be okay. The saying served no real purpose except that it would make you stop crying as soon you heard it. The saying includes the line “tail of the frog” but I never got around to asking why it was mentioned.  I just accepted it and moved on.

 

Folk medicine
Magic

Healing Magic

Nicolette’s grandma believed she was imbued with magical gifts. For generations, her matriline thought themselves to be types of witches. Nicolette often visits her grandma to be relieved of bad spirits when she was feeling upset or physically hurt.

Musical

Salvadoran Children Song

Sana, Sana culito de rana

Si no sanas hoy, sanaras manana

Translate to: Heal, heal, little bug of frog, if you don’t heal today, then you’ll heal tomorrow.

This song is usually sung to small children that have been hurt. it is a way to keep children from crying to when they get hurt.

My informant is a service coordinator. She likes to help people. She also migrated from El Salvador to the United States. Most of her stories are from her mother or personal experiences.

I talked to my informant over coffee in our house.

 

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Homeopathic
Magic
Musical
Protection

“Sana que sana” song

The folk song/chant: “Sana que sana, colita de rana. Si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana.” (Magic healing song repeated at least three time or more if child is hysterical) The literal translation means “Heal, heal with the tail of a toad, if it does not heal today, it will heal tomorrow.” Obviously they are talking about a tadpoles tail or are being funny because a toad/frog does not have a tail, intonating something magical is about to occur. It works as a great distraction when your child gets injured and to stop him from crying because they are being imbued with the belief that the chant will actually make it hurt less especially if they say it in unison. Although my Grandfather tells me that the Chibcha Indians of Colombia, which he is a ¼, use dried out frog/toads all the time for healing and good luck and would even wear them around their neck (whole died out toad) for protection. He tells me that my mom went to Colombia at age 16 and she was given a necklace made out of small stones, which had a small, carved frog in the middle and was told to wear it for good luck and protection.

Analysis: Many frogs in Colombia have a variety of toxins, some medicinal, some deadly so there is more than simple folk belief there might be some factual basis for the song. Growing up my mother would always do the magical healing song “Sana que Sana” that her dad taught her whenever my brother or I got hurt and sprayed the area with Neosporin. She told me that when she was young, her grandmother (my great grandmother) who was a “botanica healer” would always sing the song while rubbing the injured area with some kind of balm. I do find the song soothing and silly at the same time, which is why it was probably so effective as a distraction. In terms of healing, the balm or Neosporin was probably what made it stop hurting and heal faster but rubbing an injury does stimulate endorphins to alleviate pain but the distraction is extremely helpful in stopping the blubbering and crying.

Customs
Folk medicine
Foodways
general
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Sorrel and Yams

The informant was born and raised into the American culture and way of life. Her mother’s side of the family is in touch with their Jamaican culture and heritage and as the informant grew older she was able to become more into with the beliefs and customs of Jamaica.

Jamaican views on Yams and Sorrel.

Informant…

“Sorrel is a drink that is used in Jamaica that has magical properties that are healing. When an individual becomes sick they will drink sorrel to heal, if they are injured they will do the same. Yams in this culture have a superstition on them where in a sense that they are said to give the ability to help an individual run fast.”

I asked the informant if she believes these things to be true about the two foods and she responded, “I am a track athlete here at USC, and I rely on my ability to be fast and I eat yams because in my tradition yams help you to be fast, but they are also delicious! I would consider myself to be fast and I believe they have helped in that aspect. I don’t think that yams gave me the ability to be fast I just think maybe the have enhanced it because I have eaten so many in my life. With the Sorrel, I believe that it is a form of medicine. When I can feel myself getting sick I will drink some Sorrel and hopefully start to feel better. I believe in this because it has worked for me in the past so I will continue to use it.”

Analysis…

Using foods as a means to achieve something is definitely not unheard of. It is totally normal to have food remedies to help with sickness or whatever other conditions we want to fix or enhance there is a food remedy. I have never heard something this extreme with food remedies. Yams will make you fast, that is a different and interesting concept to me. I think that this traditions is one of those traditions that the community has a superstition about, so it becomes true. With the sorrel that reminds me of hot chicken noodle soup or vitamin c. Whenever we feel a cold coming on we take proactive methods to try and prevent the sickness from taking its toll. The healing properties of sorrel, I connect with honey. Honey is used to heal sore throats and wounds similar to sorrel it comes from a long time ago and is still used today because it actually works.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
general

Healing With An Egg

This is one of the weird things he (my stepdad) actually did when we were kids…

So he would grab and egg and if we were sick, he would rub us down with alcohol and then rub us down with the egg wherever it was aching/hurting… focused on that one spot. So like for a headache, a stomachache, or if they had a leg injury—like issues where they couldn’t walk, and then he also had sage and a lot of other plants (that’s the only one I can remember by name), that he would burn, so it was kind of like incense and the smoke from that would also be spread over your hair and body. It was an actual like clump or branch, not small—but a bundle of sage, yerbabuena (I don’t know what the name of the plant is in English, but it translates from Spanish into “good herb”) and a few others. He would get a glass, usually like a taller glass, so you could see the different densities of the egg, and the cloud—the whites, and… depending on the shape of that, he could see what made you sick, like he would “read” it. I told him people did that during the Salem witch trails and died for it, but he really (thought) he could read it.

 

How did you come across this folklore: “I refer to these as “sketchy stories from my (step)father/sketchy things he did when I was a kid…”

Other information: “My dad has a lot of stories like these, but my mom was big on not sharing them, or letting us hear them—so I heard this in my teens, when were allowed (finally) to ask and he would actually answer… my mom said it would invite bad people/things to us or something…”

The healing comes from the idea that the egg will absorb the pain/sickness, which will then be transferred into the contents of the egg, and then be revealed in the glass to tell a reader the source of the pain/sickness. There are a number of groups that link eggs and healing, especially by way of transference. Folk medicine, although not based on any empirical scientific evidence, can still be effective, which is why many traditional practices are still practiced.

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