Author Archives: Isabelle Perez

The House Ghost in Singapore

Background/Context:
The interlocutor, EF, is a close friend of the interviewer (INT). EF’s parents were staying in Singapore. They were sharing a house with another person during their time there.

Description (as told over email):
(EF): “okay story time: this takes place in singapore. my parents were washing dishes at around 2pm and they share a house w another person. that person wasnt home and was away in the philippines. their bedroom door was locked and no other person had access to tht room. when my parents were finishing up washing dishes. they noticed in the hall tht leads to their housemate’s room, that there was a white figure and they saw it walk through the door into the locked room

When my dad was playing around his house at night and he noticed that there was somebody sitting on his neighbor’s porch. When he approached the figure, there was a very dim light so he couldn’t see anything but a shadow or a silhouette… nothing too defining. The weird thing tho was tht the figure’s eyes were glowing orange-red but my dad didnt really think abt it at the time bc he thought it was normal. he went up to it to ask where his neighbor/playmate was. The figure didnt answer and nobody really knew what my dad was talking abt when he told other ppl

one night my mom was cooking and she heard the front door closed so she peeked to see who it was and she saw like a shadowy figure pass by and walk into their housemate’s bedroom so like she thought it was her housemate. when she turned around, the fire on the stove was like WAY higher than it was before and she had to turn it off right away. and then after a few mins, the front door closed again and when she looked it was the housemate she thought was already there. she asked him too like “didnt u just come in?” and he said no and tht he just came back.”

INTERLOCUTOR’S OPINION:
(INT): “do you think it was actually a ghost?”

(EF): “i mean, kinda, yeah??? idrk how else to describe something like that happening over and over again yknow? it’s just too weird lol like if that happened in my apartment i think i would definitely think it was a ghost plus my parents and their friends are all 100% it was a ghost so…

then again Filipinos can be pretty superstitious lol so u should also take that into consideration”

FINAL THOUGHTS:
I definitely find EF’s interpretation of this story interesting. I’m sure that something odd or seemingly unexplainable occurred in that house that made EF’S parents feel some unnatural presence. The roommate being in the Philippines also eliminates a possible explanation for these strange occurrences. Perhaps it was her parents’ superstitious nature that led them to believe these separate instances were indicators of the supernatural. Overall, I don’t doubt their story but I do think that other factors should be considered before downright saying it was a ghost.

Mooncake Lady: Chang’e

CONTEXT:
The interlocutor (ZG) is a high school friend of the interviewer. She and her twin sister grew up in a Chinese-American household in Los Angeles.

DESCRIPTION: (told over call)
(ZG): “I don’t know if this is what you want but there’s this mooncake woman story my mom used to tell me and my sister of her and her husband! Did she tell you this already?…Mm, okay. 

So basically, there’s this Chinese moon goddess named Chang’e, right? And she’s supposed to be really pretty, with like, long black hair, y’know? Anyway, my mom told us about how Chang’e was this woman who was kinda in love with this human guy named Houyi. Houyi’s, like, an archer, by the way, and he’s supposed to be, like, the best archer. So basically it’s about this husband and wife? And the husband, Houyi, did something courageous and legendary and was given a potion of immortality for it, I guess? And then he gave it to his wife, Chang’e, to hang on to it while he went out to go hunting or fight somewhere, and she was alone in the house. But then this OTHER guy came to steal the potion from her. I think his name was like… Fengmeng? But I could be wrong. So like, instead of giving it to him, she drank it, which caused her to become immortal. And then because she was now immortal, she floated up to the moon and became the moon goddess.

So now there’s a Chinese celebration or festival that kind of honors her, I think? And mooncakes are also kind of in her honor too! The salted duck yolk, yum, being like a little yellow moon of course!”

INFORMANT’S OPINION:
(ZG): “My mom grew up in Hong Kong, which is where she learned this story from her parents and from celebrating the Moon Festival. She moved to the U.S. when she was, like, 10 or something, I don’t really know. I don’t really remember when she first told this story to [my sister] and I… we’ve kinda just known it forever, I guess.”

FINAL THOUGHTS:
As someone who grew up in two cultures with heavy folkloric traditions, I got the gist of what it’s like celebrating a tradition or a festival based off a myth. It’s really interesting to hear the different ways folklore can weave itself into a culture and pass itself down from generation to generation, withstanding elements such as migration to a different country or community as well as the test of time.

 

Mexican Curses and Eggs

CONTEXT/BACKGROUND:
The interlocutor (JG) has many relatives living in Mexico and is a first-generation Mexican American themself. The following describes one example of Mexican superstitions regarding witchcraft and curses, along with the use of eggs in magic.

DESCRIPTION: (told over the phone)
(JG):”One more–I’m so sorry! Okay, so I think like, 10 years ago? My uncles, they work in like, construction stuff, they were remodeling my grandma’s house and cleaning up her basement, uh… and as they were looking around, they found another little charm! But this one was directed at my grandfather, and it had a little coin which is a sign for a money curse. Someone cursed my grandfather, basically. And that curse, we believe, went down to my dad as well. I’m not sure if to my aunt. But-But my dad…something about male inheritance? I don’t know. So someone cursed my grandfather. Somehow that charm got into my grandma’s backyard, which is weird.

But basically, it was while we were living here [their current home], it was a few months ago. It was after we discovered…because all of this stuff, we were talking about a few months ago, like specifically my dad being cursed…I forgot… Oh! It was because my grandfather passed away. So we started talking about things relating to him and somehow the curse came up.

We realized there was a possibility that my dad could also be cursed. My dad, no, my mom did this thing with an egg. So eggs are like, symbolic of purity, I don’t know. Eggs can see the bad stuff. Eggs can tell the energy. So like, when I was younger I used to have a lot of nightmares, so my grandma blessed me with an egg and it cured my nightmares, that type of stuff. So my mom did this thing with an egg to my dad, just to see if he was cursed, to see if there was bad energy surrounding him because of what happened. So she did that.

She meant to put the egg under the bed and he was supposed to sleep over it and in the morning she’d crack the egg and the color of the yolk would say something. So in the morning, she cracked the egg and the yolk came out black. Like, blackish-reddish. Like the egg was completely dark. So that was added evidence for why my family thinks my dad is cursed.”

FINAL THOUGHTS/OBSERVATIONS:
I definitely think that this specific curse falls under the category of homeopathic magic since the coin is representative of a money curse. I find it interesting how people turn to magic to gain some sense of power over others, putting their faith in something bad happening to their target even if the effect they want never comes. It’s difficult to wrap my head around feeling so powerless and desperate that one would need to turn to wish pain and misfortune onto others to feel better about their own circumstances.

I also liked JG’s explanation of the egg! It reminded me a lot of one of the discussions we had during the lecture, in which we talked about the meaning of eggs in many different cultural practices. In this case, JG’s explanation of the egg’s ability to detect dark energy fit perfectly under what we had discussed in class since eggs mean purity and life (among other things) across many different traditions.

Curses and Ghosts

CONTEXT/BACKGROUND:
The interlocutor (JG) has moved into different houses and buildings with their family, taking note of strange occurrences happening in each location. Documented below are some of their experiences with the paranormal.

DESCRIPTION: (told over the phone)
(JG): “The houses and apartments that I’ve like, lived in have been very active with ghosts. If you can’t tell, we have a lot going on in the family.” (They laugh).

“So the house I lived in before this one [their current home], I lived in an apartment before that one, before that one. So like, three household…residences ago. That one was like, really, really active. There’d be a lot of stuff going on, like doors would open and close by themself. At that point, my brother was a baby and that was when my uncles had just passed away. And so there was a lot going on with that. Like, he would sit in the middle of the living room and babble to himself. And-he-my dad and my uncle, like as [my brother] was talking to seemingly no one, would feel, like, rushes of cold air. My mom had sent up like, a little altar for my first uncle that passed away and we put like a little beer thingy there. And somehow all of the beer that was in that cup disappeared in a few minutes, but the only person who was there was [my brother], but [my brother] was a toddler, like he couldn’t even walk at this point, or reach the thingy. We never told him my uncles’ names either, but when he grew up and got old enough to talk, he knew their names and that’s because we think that whoever he was babbling to as a baby was my uncles.

There was also, whenever it would rain, if you went all the way to the back, you could hear heels. Like heels heels. Every single person who went over to our house heard them at least once and they would come up to the back door. There was that. Yeah. Stuff here and there, doors opening and closing, napkins floating around, aprons moving, wind always passing around, lights and the TV turning on by themselves. There’s been a lot of things in every single house we lived in but those are some examples. From every place we’ve lived in.”

FINAL THOUGHTS/OBSERVATIONS:
Personally, I have never had an experience quite like JG’s with the supernatural. I found it interesting how JG notes that their baby brother (at the time) was the only one who had the ability to “communicate” with who their family believed to be the recently passed uncles. It’s even eerier how JG said how their family never told their brother about the uncles’ names, but he grew up and was able to recall them. I don’t understand how exactly, but it is definitely worth mentioning! JG stated that they’ve moved houses a lot, so I’m curious about whether or not other residents of the homes or apartments felt the same ghostly presence.

Witchcraft and Curses in Mexico

CONTEXT/BACKGROUND:
The interlocutor (JG) has many relatives living in Mexico and is a first-generation Mexican American themself. The area their family is from is very superstitious about witches, curses, and magic. The following describes one of the stories about the community’s cemeteries acting as a hotspot for placing curses

DESCRIPTION: (told over the phone)
(JG): “There’s also a really….because witchcraft is just like—fairly common in Mexico, especially in the cemeteries. So like, when we went to the cemetery, ‘cuz we went to go visit my uncles and we also went for like, a spooky little tour that they do.

There’s this grave that’s like, split open, like it’s broken open, and they regularly have to send people to like, check, because they put like, little witchcraft charms in there to curse people…because of, like, the energy of the cemetery. So they do that.

And then also, when we went to go visit my uncle, my brother saw something sticking out of the ground. And he was like, “What is that?” (He was like, younger.)

So he went to like, dig it out and it was a picture of a guy and it had like a coin and some pottery stuff… and it was meant to cure him. And that man had been, like, cursed. So we had to take it to a priest and he had to like, bless it and undo the curse. So that was that.”

FINAL THOUGHTS/OBSERVATIONS:
Different stories about magic and curses are prevalent across cultures, and I definitely find it interesting to hear about the different ways people acknowledge and try to free themselves of these malevolent forms of magic. Oftentimes, we hear about curses being lifted by some kind of shaman or healer, one that the community designates as someone who can control or get rid of a curse. JG and their family taking the cursed objects to a priest is an example of this.

I also find that the graveyards being a hotspot for these curses to get placed makes a lot of sense. Since death is a major element of these curses and is considered one of the worst effects a curse can allegedly have on a person, it’s no wonder that curses and cursed objects can be found throughout a cemetery.