USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘rocks’
Customs
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Death Ritual

Me: do you have a ritual you do when you lose someone close to you?:

“When I was seven years old during one summer my cousin who was three years older than me passed    away right around her birthday. She had a rare heart condition that no one really know about… I was with my younger cousin     who was visiting me when we both got the call and found out. Now whenever I       see a heart shaped rock I always pick it up for her.”

Me: When did you start doing that?:

“I started doing it right after it happened I think. When we went to her actual funeral we all put heart shaped rocks on her grave during her ceremony, and ever since then it’s been something I’ve always done.”

 

Background: Zoe is a twenty-year old girl from Aspen, Colorado and currently attending USC.

Context: Zoe told me this story at brunch discussing the pain of experiencing a family member who passes away.

Analysis: I was very touched by this story that she shared with me because losing someone important to you is a very intimate, difficult, and emotional thing to share. I have been fortunate enough to only have lost one person in my immediate family in the years I have been alive, so I could not fully understand what losing a close friend or cousin would feel like at such a young age. Everyone has a different understanding of what happens after death and what capacity we have to maintain in contact with the deceased when we are still living. I think collecting something beautiful that reminds you of a special person you lost is a really amazing way of remembering what they meant to you. Zoe has a physical manifestation of remembering her cousin, which I think is a really incredible away of believing that she is seeing a little piece of her cousin every time she comes across a heart-shaped rock in nature.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Don’t Throw Rocks At Glass Houses

“Don’t throw rocks at glass houses.”

The informant learn this proverb from her mother when she was very young, and it was deeply entrenched in her consciousness. It influenced her so much that once when she was faced with a bully who was verbally abusing her, she looked at the bully dead in the face and spoke the proverb. Then she explained to the bully, “That saying meant that everyone is fragile, and you can’t just carelessly throw insults someone’s way and expect them to be alright when it’s all over.”

So for the informant, not only does she have a deeply intimate connection to it because her mother would continuously say it to her, bringing her comfort, but it also steeled herself against a bully who supposedly stood down to her and apologized.

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