USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘mythical creature’
Folk Beliefs
general
Myths

Duwende

The 21-year-old informant was born in the Philippines, but moved to the U.S. (Hawaii) at the age of 9. As ghosts and other mythical creatures play a large role in Filipino culture, the informant recounts personal stories and myths that she encountered during her time in the Philippines.

Informant: “So there’s this thing called a ‘duwende’– literally, dwarves. My parents had a concrete farm, and they had like, employees that lived there too. It was kind of a huge lot.

Collector: “Is this still in the Philippines?”

I: “Yeah still in the Philippines… And I guess they said like, they kinda live by trees or whatever, and then if you happen to just run by a tree, or like, kick a tree or whatever– just disturb where they live, they would follow you and like… what was the word for it…? You know like, exorcism? You know how you get like, taken over?”

C: “Oh like, they possess you.”

I: “Yeah! They possess you. There’s like a good kind, and then a bad one, and I remember one of the employees’ daughter that lived there apparently got possessed by it. I never met her ’cause I was little and my mom was just like, telling me about it, but she didn’t want me near her.”

C: “Wait, so there’s a good kind?”

I: “There’s a good kind and bad kind, and the bad kind possessed her apparently.”

C: “Oh so this was like, an actual thing?”

I: “An actual thing, yeah. Well so, my mom said that the dad said this, but she was like, ‘Maybe she’s just crazy’ haha.”

Myths
Narrative

El Chupacabra

Title: El Chupacabra

Ethnicity: Mexican-American

Age: 20

Situation (Location, ambience, gathering of people?): AJ is sitting on a sofa in front of the Trojan Knights house, it is a calm warm Sunday in South Central Los Angeles. It is a group of 10 male students from the University of Southern California sitting on the front porch, sharing stories. All of these men are members of Trojan Knights, and are relaxing after having started cooking homemade friend chicken. All of these men are close to one another, including the interviewer. AJ says he has a good one as he puts his drink down.

Piece of Folklore:

Interviewee – Ok so this thing ate my goat. Well, he sucked it really.”

Interviewer- “What thing?”

Interviewee – “The Chupacaba. At least I think it was one. It was back when I was in Texas, and my family has this farm you know? And I had to take care of a lot of animals, including our goats. Now heres where it gets good. (Long pause as he looks around at our faces). I went one morning to check on the goats and feed them, and I found it.”

Interviewer– “Found what?”

Interviewee – “My goat that I had lovingly named Joe Tuffhead. He was dead, and I can’t really explain what happened to him. When wolves come to feed, they feed, but Joe was still intact, mostly. This was the weird part, he… he was drained. You know what I mean? He had no blood anymore, it’s like something sucked it right out of him. He was hollow, yeah that’s what it was. I was looking for that word. Hollow. Poor Bob was hollow.”

Interviewer– “I thought his name was Joe?”

Interviewee – “Oh yeah, right, that’s what I meant. Sorry I have a lot of goats I mix up their names.”

Interviewer– “What did you do after you found Joe?”

Interviewee – “Oh my dad and I built another small barn house and had the goats in there every night from then on. No more Chupacabra attacks, no more dead goats. Everything ended well.”

Analyzation: AJ seems to have a hazy memory up until the actual scene of the dead goat, which would make sense. The most traumatic things are usually the ones that stick in our heads the clearest. We did not get to hear the father’s explanation of the situation, and so we get the idea of a young Adrian when he was growing up in Texas. Overall however, AJ is someone to be trusted, but there is also something to be said about the situation, and about how AJ was preforming this piece of folklore in front of 9 of his friends and fellow students, perhaps wanting to impress them. This idea of the Chupacabra however, is recurring within the Hispanic community in the United States and other countries. Often, when livestock die and there is no real reason as to why that has happened, people blame the Chupacabra. And it fits the MO. When animals die for no particular reason, the idea of a monster coming and killing them seems just a likely as anything else. The myth of the Chupacabra has been around for a while, and continually mutates in various ways. From this story, it appears the Chupacabra got tired of eating livestock in southern Mexico, and Mexico entirely, and has moved on to greener pastures in Texas. Of course this is better explained by pointing out that people from Mexico have been migrating every northward, and their myths and stories come with them. It is only logical to hear of the beast in the United States at this point.

Tags: Chupacabra, Goat, Mythical Creature, Farming

Folk Beliefs
Magic
Myths

Swedish Mythological Creature: Elves

Contextual Data: After talking to me about the Tomten, my friend mentioned that there was a similar tradition of elves in Sweden. They are seen as these mist-like creatures that come out at night over the lakes. The following is an exact transcript of conversation.

Informant: “One that I also think is really cool to talk about is, um…Has to do with elves. And in northern Sweden, when the temperature starts changing in the summer, um, you’ll get these clouds of mist [Mimes a sphere shape with her hands] that show up on like the lake surfaces — so the surfaces of the lakes, and obviously Sweden is one of the places that has, like, a ton of lakes just from the glacial paths and stuff. Um, and so at night obviously the lakes will be completely flat and then you’ll see these like balls of mist and the ball — and it’s weird because it’s not mist just like coating the lake, there are like balls of mist that are separate from each other, and I don’t know if it’s the wind or something but they kind of like twirl around. Um, and so when I was little and I saw them, my dad told me that they were, um…Elves that are dancing on the water and that’s kind of like a Swedish — well I mean at least in the northeastern part of Sweden where my family is from. Um…There’s this concept of the mist as being like the elves that come out of the forest at night and they dance on the water when you’re not watching. Um, and then of course by the morning — when the morning comes, the sun comes up and they disappear. So you can only see them in, like, the middle of the night when the temperature is just right… It’s actually really cool. And if you get too close, too, they kind of dissipate, so you can only see them — you can never actually get that close.”

Me: “Do you think that’s something they tell for the sake of the children? Or is there any other significance to it?”

Informant: “I think — That actually I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I think that—and one thing that I really love about northern Sweden is that, um, the connection between, like, humans and the land I think is much stronger than it is here in the U.S. or even maybe in more urbanized part of the country. Um, you know, people really—It’s remote. And you live out there, and my — I know my family, um, they built their house. Like, they cut down the logs and built the house, and then they — they built a boat to take them from the mainland to their house [Laughs]. I mean they’re very, like, they live off the land and in a way that a lot of people don’t now. I mean my…my…Like they weave their own blankets and I mean they’re…It’s really intense. Um, and just like I said: there’s this connection that doesn’t exist here… Um, and I think that people see — even adults see more magic in the land than we do now. And I think that’s something that, you know, while it’s for kids… I think people are more willing to accept it because they understand that nature has, like, a magical quality to it. You know…”

- End Transcript – 

My informant seemed to provide a pretty thorough account of why this tradition sticks around in Sweden. In particular, this idea of the elves as dancing on the water really does seem to speak to the perception of nature as having “a magical quality to it.” Beyond this, it also seems to be a way of making sense of an unusual natural phenomenon — this description of the mist as forming little balls or clusters over the lakes rather than just existing as a sort of loose blanket, as one might expect it to.

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