Author Archives: Daniel Kang

When your ear itches, someone is talking about you.

Whenever your ear itches, it mean’s someone is either saying good things about your or bad things about you, depending on which side of your ear itches. Specifically when your left ear itches, bad things are being said; when your right ear itches, good things are being said.

 

My informant’s mother told her this proverb when she was 10 years old. She stated that one day while my informant and her mother were walking home from school, her mother said “My ear itches, someone must be talking about me.” My informant then asked what that meant and she explained this superstition to her. She then always answered with that statement when someone she knew said that their ear itched.

She said that this proverb was passed down from her grandmother to her mother. She believes it was a simple superstition due to the fact that Korean women are known to gossip frequently. Thus every time someone’s ear itches either good things or bad things are being said about them. She believed as a child if her ear itched a lot a certain day either people liked her a lot or despised her. My informants analysis makes a lot of sense as it provides quite the answer for a simple body reaction.

Whistling at night attracts snakes to your bed.

When you whistle at night you attract snakes to your bed.

My informant first heard about this proverb from her mother.  Due to this superstition my informant never whistled at night as a child as she did not want to bring harm to her family. She lived in a small country town in Korea, thus this environment helped this superstition gain steam. In her specific city, snakes were prevalent all over the neighborhood. She believes now that this proverb was told to discourage children to make noise at night, as this bothered the neighborhood. She also once witnessed her sister whistling while she was about to go to sleep, my informant then quickly told her the proverb so she would not brings snake into her bed.

This is actually quite an interesting usage of folklore as it was used to discourage children from doing a certain thing that bothered other townspeople. It also makes sense as snakes were prevalent all over the town and children usually hate snakes, thus the adults used a familiar animal to discourage children from whistling for generations as adults constantly passed this folklore down.

The Exorcism at St.Louis University

My informant stated that the library of St.Louis University was taped off and there were rumors that some sort of supernatural experience took place. This experience eventually was found out be an exorcism within the library itself. It was said that there was foreign writing on the walls mostly in the form of symbols and depictions. Some people state that a student was actually possessed by a demon and acted in an obscene and violent fashion. The student actually had to be imprisoned within the library and a Jesuit Priest reportedly came in an exorcised this student.

My informant’s uncle passed down this story to him and told him it was a passage when pledging his fraternity, while attending the University, to enter the allegedly haunted library and spend a night there to remember this event. To this day, this library is infamous to those who know of or heard of this assumed supernatural anomaly.

This is actually an example of annotation of authored folklore. As the alleged exorcism that took place at this university inspired both the film and novel titled The Exorcist.  This folklore is more as a legend within the university as this incident cannot be proven to have actually have happened, however students at this particularly university all know about this incident. This is a strong example of a legend quest and also part of a ritual, as fraternity pledges need to prove their bravery by spending a night in this haunted library. What is also interesting about this is that is a form of adapted literature, as the original legend was about a boy but however this was soon transformed into a tale about a little girl who got possessed.

Annotation: This case actually inspired the film and novel, The Exoricst. The boy that inspired The Exorcist, was given the name, “Roland Doe,” by the Catholic Church to protect his identity.

Creation Myth: Raven, the Trickster

This myth is known to mirror Christian theology and was spread by the natives of Alaska, specifically the Inuit culture.

Inuits first of all believe in a “divine spirit” that created the Raven. The Raven was originally a seagull, who was brilliantly white and pure. The “divine spirit” also created man and the man lived in a hut. The divine spirit forbade the raven from going in to the man’s hut. However the raven would continually intrude on the man’s hut. Yet one day the raven was caught by the divine spirit in the hut. The raven in fear of the divine spirit escaped through the smokehole, and thus turned black due to all the soot. This is the story of how the seagull became a Raven and from then on the Raven became a trickster. The raven is known as the source of sin and trickery to humans, as this Raven taught humankind to lie, steal, and other evils.

My informant stated that in Alaska, that many regions have variations of this story. This version of the story comes from the Chignik Tradition. My informant has heard this from elders of Chignik as he was listening to their stories while at a fishing stop. He shares this myth as he belives that it is very interesting as it is a variation of the fall of Lucifer. My informant states that the elders love to share this myth and keep the Inuit stories alive and he also think it is a creative take.

This is a very entertaining creation myth as seagull must be prevalent on Alaska, yet so are raven. It is an interesting connection that the Inuit people have made that the a raven use to be a seagull. What is also interesting is how similar this story is to the fall of Lucifer: the raven betrayed the divine spirit’s trust and thus spread evil to get back at the divine spirit, Lucifer betrayed God and thus has a vendetta against him. This legend also has a nice narrative structure where a seagull which is white is pure, and a raven which is black contains all of mankind’s evil. Not only is this a creation myth about the raven, but also the birth of all the sins in the world.

Rave Culture: PLUR and Kandi

This is my informant’s account on the rave term PLUR and the exchange of Kandi,

“I first heard about PLUR in Electric Daisy Carnival LA: 2010. I heard of it because my friend and I saw everyone exchanging kandi, which are beaded bracelets that ravers make. These beaded bracelets are color and nice to look at, which include messages of love and such. We wanted our own so I asked a girl who was fully decked out in kandi if I could have a bracelet. She said yes enthusiastically and held two fingers up expectantly. Little did I know it was the beginning of a kind of ritual that is involved in the trading of kandi. You press two fingers together against your partners, create half a heart and complete it with your partner’s hands, and then clasp your hands together and each person pulls a bracelet from the others’ arm onto theirs. These actions represent Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, respectively. These values constitute rave culture that started in the 90s. I later heard that PLUR originally included an extra “R” which stood for responsibility, but it’s not usually thought of because it was left out of the handshake.”

My informant stated that he now practices saying PLUR to people whenever he sees a kind act at raves. Such acts would be sharing water, menthol cigarettes, and also exchanging kandi.He states this is very prevalent at raves and such with the inclusion of kandi.

My analysis on this is that raves are generally a place where people have fun and want to feel a sense of happiness. The inclusion of drugs most likely help with this ritual of sharing pleasantries and connecting with people through the act of sharing “kandi” and also stating PLUR. The acronym of PLUR even explains the message of this act. Interestingly this also proves that the rave culture contains beneficial messages of peace and happiness. These rituals also help unite and connect people through the sharing of items that are visually pleasing. My informant’s experience of attaining Kandi, even demonstrates how simple the process is. Also supposedly the drug ecstasy makes lights and bright colors look better, thus kandi is attractive to users to see one women and men dancing.