USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘legends’
Legends
Myths

Pele, Kamupua and the Pali highway

Context:

The informant is a 28-year-old woman, of Indonesian and Caucasian ethnicity. Her hometown is Honolulu, Hawaii. While in school in Hawaii, she learned about Hawaiian Folklore. This story was told to her by her instructor.

Main Piece:

There are many stories of the Hawaiian Goddess of lava and volcanoes. The most common are of sightings of an old woman walking along the Pali highway. These are spread throughout our communities and in school so it’s difficult to tell you where I heard it first. Everyone says not to bring pork over the Pali because if you do your car will stop till you get rid of it. I learned later in my senior portfolio research in high school, that it was because Pele and Kamupua’a (the pig god) were lovers but they fought constantly. Kamupua’a stayed on one side of the island and Pele on the other. The Pali highway connects these two sides so if you try to bring pork from his side to her’s she’ll stop you.

Notes:

I am not familiar with Hawaiian Folklore, however after doing a little research, Pele which is pronounced peh-leh, is described as the goddess of lava, of fire, lightning, wind, dance and volcanoes. There are many different stories as to how Pele came to be. Most stories include her sister, Namakaokahai either attacking her, or killing her. In one instance, Pele was said to have seduced Namakaokahai’s husband and was sent away by her father. The story of Kamupua and Pele is well known among locals in Hawaii and the stories come from actual happenings of people accidentally taking pork in their vehicles across the Pali highway. This is due to Kamupua calling the Windward side of the Island, home and the leeward side belonging to Pele. Because of their radical relationship, bringing pork across the freeway is bad luck and the vehicle carrying the pork will stop until the pork is removed.

 

 

For more info about Pele and legends about the Pali highway check out these sites:

 

https://www.robertshawaii.com/blog/legend-behind-hawaiis-goddess-fire/

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/7322206/pork-and-pali-are-recipes-for-disaster/

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/33478838/spooky-stories-pork-over-the-pali/

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Myths
Protection
Tales /märchen

The Fair Folk

Context:

The informant is a 35-year-old Caucasian male of Irish and Polish descent. He will be referred to as DB. The Folklore piece came to him from his father’s side of the family which is his Irish side. The story was shared by his grandmother and is told in his own words:

Main Piece:

The Fair Folk (or Fae) were fairytale creatures that lived “under” Ireland in what was known as a Faery Raft. They loved humans, loved tricking them, and loved marrying them or trapping them. If you fell asleep, you could be lulled into the Faery raft. You NEVER ate or drank in the presence of the Fae. If you ate or drank anything from the Raft, you were trapped there for 100 years. Little kids were usually taken because the fae loved them and loved raising them in the raft, and then letting them go hundreds of years later when they got tired of them as children. They also loved wagers, and could be tricked out of things like magic, gold (leprechauns), and favors if you could best them at things. They loved riddles, they were the reason you would lose mittens or socks or your favorite things, and they were most active under a full moon.

Background:

DB was told this story of the Fair Folk by his grandmother who enjoyed telling him these stories when he was a kid. DB finds the story important because he isn’t connected to his Irish roots and this story is a way to stay connected to them as well as to his grandmother. He doesn’t believe in the Fair Folk however, but he feels the tradition of passing on the story is important, and he believes in that.

Notes:

The story of the Fair Folk seems to be a tale told by parents to their children. Like many other creatures in stories shared from other countries, these fairies are known to be tricky or mischievous. The story seems to be a warning to protect themselves from their tricks. They also serve a purpose as an explanation for missing things. When something in one’s home goes missing, this is a way to explain why. People need to have an explanation for things to put them at ease. When something cannot be explained, it creates more questions, so it seems like these creatures are made to explain what can’t be. Talismans made from steel or iron are used to protect against fairies and their negative magic as they are unable to touch or be near these metals.

 

 

Legends

Parrot Legend of Los Angeles

“If you have been in Los Angeles for a little bit, eventually you notice the parrots. It’s weird because you wouldn’t think parrots live in Los Angeles but there are tons of these very loud and annoying green parrots. There are a couple different stories about why they are here, like, one of them is that these green parrots escaped from the LA Zoo and had no predators so now there are way too many. That’s the main one I heard. I think the other one I heard more recently is that they came from some guy who ordered these pet parrots and they got loose.”

Context: The informant grew up in Pasadena, California and was home from college at the University of Chicago. We were at her house and I prompted her with what reminds her of home.

Informant Analysis: “Honestly, I never thought about where the story came from, I just kind of assumed it was true. I guess, it’s like, you never really think about where the parrots came from unless they are being particularly loud.”

Collector Analysis: As the informant said, people tend to only be reminded of the legend is while they are currently being annoyed by the birds. The legend itself carries on because most people do not know the truth or falsity of the legend. Of course, it could be possible that these parrots are indigenous to this area, but most do not believe that such a tropical looking bird could be from here. I think there is actually an undertone of politics intermixed with this legend. The idea comes from the worry of invasive species and trade imports. Recently, there has been a lot of fear over Chinese imports bringing in beetles that destroy our pine trees. The parrot idea of importing this invasive species that are a nuisance may be a legend generated or propagated because of this similar fear.

Legends
Narrative

The Pig at the Baptism

Main Piece:
“The story goes that a family… they were getting ready for their first child’s baptism and first birthday. So, the family invited many people to the party and had decided to serve a whole roasted pig. A week prior to the baptism/party, the family had gotten a really fat and big pig. That whole week they fed the pig lots of food in order to get it bigger and more fat. The day before the party and before the pig was to be killed, the family starved the pig. I am not sure why, maybe to cleanse it or something. Well the pig was used to eating lots of food, so it was really hungry that whole day and night. The next morning which was the day of the baptism/party, the father went outside to kill the pig, but the pig was gone. He called his wife out and she then noticed dirty prints on their house floor. The father and mother followed the prints into their child’s crib, they screamed and were horrified to see the pig eating their child. The pig stared at the parents and its eyes were blood red.”

Context:
The informant is a 77-year-old Spanish speaking woman, born in Mexico. She first this story as a child and would then tell it to her children and grandchildren. She believes the pig was possessed by the devil, that the pig was evil from the beginning.

Analysis:
This story is a twist on the cruelty we inflict on pigs when we kill them for food. I believe that this story helps people come to terms with why we should kill pigs and eat them. If pigs could they would inflict the same pain to humans. In some ways this idea of the pig eating us makes us feel better about why we eat them.

general
Legends
Narrative

Ogopogo Lake Monster

Context: The informant is a Canadian-American who has family from the regions surrounding the Okanogan lake, reportedly the home to the “Ogopogo,” a monster treading the waters.

[Speaking face to face]

“So it’s like… Ogopogo, and it lives in… yeah I think it’s the Okanoga. But, um, yeah right so Ogopogo is basically Lochness Monster for Canada and it says like… it’s to live in Okanogan Lake in British Columbia. And it was, according to Wikipedia, it was allegedly seen by the first nation peoples in the 19th century. Um… so it was like… as far as Canadian folklore goes, it kind of all I know.”

KA: How did you hear about that?

“My mom, I think, yeah. Um… but like, everyone knows about Ogopogo in my family, ’cause like, most of my family is from British Columbia. I mean, the Okanogan- like my family lives in the Okanogan, so wait… where is Okanogan Lake because I might’ve actually been there. Oh right, I’m actually closer to this lore than I thought. Um, my aunt lives in Colona, and it’s IN Colona, where the Okanogan Lake is. It’s a very big lake, but… yeah. I think even if you go to the… I think there’s like some mini golf type thing there in Colona, and they have like, an Ogopogo monster… like… in the place. It’s like a family fun center”

Introduced: The informant knows of the legend due to it being socially constructed around them, having family from British Columbia. It was primarily introduced through Informant, (LG)’s mother.

Analysis & Interpretation: The Ogopogo is clearly comparable to the infamous Loch Ness Monster of Scottish folklore. I find it interesting how though it is perceived as such a prevalent part of Scottish culture and identity, particularly regarding inhabitants of areas directly surrounding Loch Ness, it is such an internationally recognized legend. As someone from the U.S., I grew up hearing of Loch Ness and not necessarily attributing that to a specific region; Essentially, anywhere you went with a body of water could potentially be home the infamous Nessie. I’ve found that many children may tend to generalize it and attribute it to their own location. But beyond this, the Ogopogo, very far from reported Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) sitings, has exemplified the globalization of a multi-version mysterious lake creature.

 

For similar renditions of the hidden lake monster tale in other regions, refer to the Scottish based “Loch Ness Monster” legend at:

History.com. (2019). Loch Ness Monster [Video file] https://www.history.com/topics/folklore/loch-ness-monster-video

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends
Narrative
Signs

The Nightmarchers

Context:

The subject is a 19 year old student at USC, her ancestors are Hawaiian and has grown up hearing and experiencing different stories about Hawaiian culture and old folktales. I asked her to coffee to discuss such things.

Piece:

Subject: “The Nightmarchers, are like ancient Hawaiian warriors who basically walk during certain parts of — in certain parts of like Hawaii, and, like, um, if you see them, they appear as just a bunch torches – glowing torches. And as they come towards you, you’re slowly going to see a strange procession, it’s like a parade, but sad. Procession, get it, like Pet Semetary?”

Interviewer: “Yeah, I do.”

Subject: “And they’re ancient Hawaiian warriors, and if you look at them it’s said that you’re going to die, or someone you love is going to die soon. So you’re not supposed to look at them.”

Analysis:

Upon further research, I’ve found that these Nightmarchers are deadly ghosts of previous Hawaiian warriors. On the nights honoring the Hawaiian gods Kane, Ku, Lono, or on the nights of Kanaloa they are said to come forth from their burial sites, or to rise up from the ocean, and to march in a large group to ancient Hawaiian battles sites or to other sacred places.

If a mortal looks at these warriors without fear or defiance, they will be killed violently, unless a relative is within the Nightmarchers. Legend also states that planting living ti shrubs around one’s home will keep away evil spirits, and will cause the huaka’i pō to avoid the area.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Narrative
Signs

The Headless Drummer Boy

Context:

I conducted this interview over the phone, the subject was born and raised in Scotland before moving to England, Canada, the United States, then to Northern Ireland, and, finally, back to the United States. I knew she continued to practice certain traditions which were heavily present in her childhood and wanted to ask her more about them.

 

Piece:

Subject: Grandpa used to tell us this ghost story when we were kids about a drummer boy who had no head and would patrol the castles in Scotland. I have no idea why he’s headless or what happened, but he would sometimes get lost from the castle and show up to houses and play the drum to find his way home.

Interviewer: Was he scary at all?

Subject: Yeah, it was meant to scare us, cuz I think if you heard the drum it meant bad things were coming because the boy was so mad that he couldn’t find his way home.

Interviewer: Did it scare you?

Subject: When I was a kid it was frightening!

 

Analysis:

I looked up this scary story to find The Headless Drummer is a known tale in Scotland. According to visitscotland.com, “His identity and the story behind his decapitation remain a mystery, but it is said he made his first appearance in 1650. This was the fateful year Oliver Cromwell launched his invasion of Scotland which culminated in the capture of the castle following a three month siege.” I think there’s a certain fascination with young children who die at the hands of war, or defending something larger than their innocent selves. It’s a sad, glum fascination, but it’s clearly tied heavily to their past.

Source:

Fanthorpe, Lionel, and Patricia Fanthorpe. Mysteries and Secrets: The 16-Book Complete Codex. Dundurn, 2014.

 

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

The Graffiti House on Sullivan’s Island

Context:

The subject is a student at USC who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. I wanted to know if there were any local tales or folklore she knew of while growing up, so one night in my dorm I interviewed her for the project.

 

Piece:

Subject: “Okay, the graffiti house, right, is this house, this little structure, near the sewage behind a giant hill in a children’s park. Do you remember this, when we went to the park?”

Interviewer: “Yeah, I remember the park, but you didn’t show us a house.”

Subject: “Yeah I should’ve shown you guys the house, cause it’s super creepy. And you like walk down these stairs through this little bamboo forest and then you come to this house with a shit ton — sorry, a lot of graffiti. And, um, stories say that at midnight, the graffiti, they come off the walls.

Interviewer: “What?!”

Subject: “Yup.”

Interviewer: “How does that work, what does it look like?”

Subject: “I’m not sure I’ve never seen it for myself, but I hear the shapes and art and words they all just come off the walls. And turn the people that come in there into graffiti.”

Interviewer: “That’s terrifying.”

Subject: “Especially when you’re a kid, cuz like everyone talked about this place and everyone was so afraid of going in cuz they thought they’d become, you know, graffiti.”

Interviewer: “And who’d wanna become graffiti?”

Subject: “Exactly.”

 

Analysis:

While this may seem like a small childhood fable, the location has a long history. According to Charleston’s local paper, The Post and Courier, The mound was Battery Capron, an American army ammunition store and mortar battery constructed in 1898 for $175,000. The earth and reinforced concrete structure was part of the Endicott System of seacoast defense. It was active from the outset of the Spanish-American War through much of World War II, according to news reports. In 1947, Battery Capron became the property of the state before officially being handed over to the island in 1975.”

The area clearly holds a lot of history dating back hundreds of years ago, so it comes as no surprise that the children in the surrounding area would create horror stories for their own amusement. The city is looking into refurbishing the area and turning it into a recreation zone.

 

Legends

Werewolf of Morbach Legend

The following was recorded from a conversation I had with my mom regarding ghost stories she was told in her childhoods. Our family has German origins, and she specifically remembered an old German myth she was told as a child. She is marked JS, and I am marked CS.

 

JS: “Okay so I believe the city is Morbach, and according to the legend, this is the last place a werewolf has been killed. I think it was killed in the late 1900’s or something. Anyways, the legend is called ‘The Werewolf of Morbach” because it is about a candle that has always been lit as a reminder to the village that the werewolf wont return. And allegedly, one night, the candle went out and soldiers spotted a wolf like figure. And to this day, the candle hasn’t burned out, but allegedly, if it does the wolf is destined to return.”

CS: “And when were you first told this legend?”

JS: “God, I wanna say when I was like 5? My mom loved legends like these and always told them to me before bed.”

 

Context:

A phone call conversation with my mom, JS, discussing old ghost legends and tales she’s heard of.

Background:

JS currently resides in Laguna Beach, California but was previously raised in Minnesota.

 

Analysis:

I enjoyed this legend because I like how its undertones ties back to war with the soldiers being the ones to discover the unlit candle. I think this is indicative of when the legend arose and why it arose when it did. The legend thus serves as a good reflection of the political and social climate of Germany of the time.

 

Legends

La Siguanaba

She was a woman that went out every night to wash by the river. Everyone would hear her washing. But no one would go outside. They would see a woman that had long hair that would drag on the floor. She seduced the men. The story is often told to children to scare them into not misbehaving.

My tia Estella did not listen to my grandmother and went out at night. She was using the bathroom outside and she saw a tall women standing there. The woman had long black hair. And she was washing. My tia thought it was one of the neighbors washing. She approached the lady and when the lady turned to her she was a skeleton. My tia became mute and ran away from the women.

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.

The interesting part of this piece is the similarities between this and the Llorona of Mexico. It is also interesting because my own aunt experienced it. This story is a classic tale Salvadoran parents use to keep them from misbehaving.

 

[geolocation]