Author Archives: Elluz Martinez

Crooked Mouth

EA is a student at USC majoring in Creative Writing. She is also a co-worker at the United University Church [UUC] working at the front desk. This story comes from her Mexican heritage.



Transcribed from Audio Recording:



I’ve heard um oh I told my friend two days ago and he started laughing at me. But my mom and my grandma would always tell me like, “Y si comes like y luego te bañas o te metes a la alberca o whatever like se te… la boca se te hace chueca.” [and if like…and then you shower or go in the pool or whatever, like it…your mouth gets crooked.] I’m so serious and like to this day I, I shower first and then eat. If I come home late I would shower first and then I’ll eat even if I’m starving ‘cause I don’t wanna like eat then shower and come out with this mouth over here but I guess, I didn’t, I never thought about the logistics of how does that happen, but uh I was always scared of that.


While I have heard that you will get cramps if you go into the pool soon after eating, this is a new take. The reason for the crookening of the mouth may be that the mouth is a symbol of intake. It could be that the water is seen as trying to cleanse something of the body and the extraction has damaged the jaw. It is a harsher punishment for not following a rule.

Spiritual Spouses

AU is a student at USC majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Journalism. She will begin her graduate studies next year at USC Dornsife. She is also a co-worker at the United University Church [UUC] working at the front desk. The story that she told me comes from her African origins.



In Nigeria there are other things that can happen between humans and the spirits if the marine kingdom. Other than pacts, there is the possibility of a human unknowingly gaining a spirit spouse. A marine spirit may take a liking to a human go passed by their river often and decide that they want that person, so they lay a claim on them. The way that people discover this is by having problems with relationships. They will be unable to form a romantic relationship with anyone. There are also dreams that are had by the person afflicted. The person who is chosen can be in any age range. There are accounts of young kids having a spirit spouse and not knowing until they reach puberty and start dreaming of a specific figure they have never met before. The only way to get rid of these spouses is to be cleansed by a Catholic priest.



This story brings to mind the belief that wet dreams where the cause of succubi and incubi before the discovery of hormonal imbalance. It is an interesting take on what the problem could be for not being able to form relationships.Something that has become prevalent is how Catholicism and Christianity are being used as a way to fight against the beliefs of a region. If there are bad things that can happened, there should be things that can be done to remedy that from within those same systems of belief. It is interesting to note how pervasive Abrahamic beliefs have become as they are spread by Western practitioners.

Marine Kingdom-Pacts

AU is a student at USC majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Journalism. She will begin her graduate studies next year at USC Dornsife. She is also a co-worker at the United University Church [UUC] working at the front desk. The story that she told me comes from her African origins.



Transcribed from Audio Recording:



So what’s the story? Like…


So basically there’s kind of this um folklore about um people that live in rivers state and that is kind of called a delta state and it has different types of nigerian ethnic tribes which include um the ogoni tribe um and the uwera tribe and so you know nigeria is divided by lots of tribes and so there’s kind of this folklore of people that live near the river um nigeria is a very like um spiritually heavy um nation so when you talk about um you know demons and angels it’s a very real thing and there’s this kind of story about when you live near the river there are certain spirits that inhabit the river and they’re not nice spirits they are usually demons that inhabit the river and they call it um and they call that kingdom the marine kingdom where a lo tf those mermaid spirits um inhabit the river and stay near the river causing issues whether it is causing shipwrecks or or um granting people wishes and so um so i heard of a story a long time a go and his goes along with other stories of women but if there is  a women that is barren and she is not able to have children um she can go to the river and she can um go pray and cry at the river saying that she wants to have you know a child and she doesn’t know how to go about getting a child but she really wants one so then a spirit will appear will usually appear in the form of a human um and they’ll say yes you can have a child but once you have that child that child belongs to our kingdom. to the marine kingdom and they said that um theres a lot of different types of like demons in marine kingdoms in nigeria um theres one that deals in the shrines theres kingdom in you now the mountains and the bush but the marine kingdom is said to be the most wicked um thats where the meanest spirits are and um so once you know you make that deal with the spirit they are the most stubborn and the most resistant to let go um of that promise or pact that you made originally with them so people theres more fatalities with um with people who make pact with those people in the kingdom the marine kingdom um and so you know a women will go and have her baby but then once the baby turns becomes you know is born they start manifesting supernatural powers they’ll start seeing things at night they’ll start seeing different spirits the most seen spirit that you can encounter with is um sometimes the parent forgets that that was the pact that they made and so when their starts you know manifesting all these things or having issues or being violently sick you know they try to go and get them healed by like  Christian pastors and stuff um only to find out that the child is inhabited by a demon and that the demon has inhabited the space of the child um and so that requires this like really intense christian deliverance and deliverance meaning that um you know its a nicer way of putting exorcism um but um those spirits of the marine kingdom usually show up as humans but um most of the time like their true form is in the form of mermaids and mermans and um fish heads with human bodies you know it its really fantastical like crazy and um but yeah its just one of those stories in nigeria um where if you ever meet someone from rivers state you kind of give them a side eyed because you don’t know…


If they’re human.


If they’re human or not. You don’t know what pact they made.



This story brings to mind the stories of changelings who are left behind in exchange for human children. Later in life when the child left behind starts to experience differences they realize their origins and go back to their people. There is a common thread of other realms and the pacts that they make with humans and the price that they will have to pay in exchange for having their wishes fulfilled.



For more information on this mythology this site may be helpful:

Guardian Angel

RB is a USC Student majoring in Business and is a co-worker at the United University Church [UUC].


My uncle followed an angel once. When he was four he was being taken care of by my mother who is the oldest of all the siblings. While they were out in the fields she lost him and the started to look for them. She was heartbroken because she thought he was dead but the next day around midday they found him in another pueblo across the mountains. Recently my father asked him if he remembered what he saw. He said that he saw an angel. Other people said that he had seen a guardian angel and that he had followed him to safety.


There are many have recounted stories of having seen angels during times of peril. There are several magazines who have articles written by people who have had similar experiences. It is interest the interest that is prevalent in angels particularly in the last several years as seen by the rise of TV shows that include angels. Fr example: Supernatural, Constantine, and most recently The Messengers. Angels are not very prominent in the bible so it is interesting to see that they are popular across generations and cultures.



SM was born in San Miguel Amatlan a pueblo in Oaxaca, Mexico. He was lived here for half his life time working as a cook at various restaurants throughout L.A. County. The story that he has told me was from personal experience.



When I worked in Hollywood, i was in the locker rooms with F- changing when we heard the heels of a woman talking on the corridor outside the door. We turned around and there was no one there but we still heard the heels walking past. We got scared and left quickly. when we got down we asked the others who the woman was that came down but they said that they didn’t see anyone. There were a lot of stories told there. That they heard things since there was a cemetery there before they built the restaurant.



When there are stories told of hauntings it is usually because they were built over cemeteries or sacred grounds. It can be a way to say to others that they should be respectful of these places and not build things over them.