The following was a story told to me by the informant.
“So there is a legend called Davy Jones’s Locker. In reality it is just the bottom of the ocean, some think it is Marianas trench and some just think it is the general bottom. It is where all the shipwrecked sailors and their vessels go to rest. It is where the sailors who die live an afterlife on the sea. While the legend varies, as most sailor stories do, it is largely believed that Jones captains the Flying Dutchman. The Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship whose crew is made up of the sailors who have been laid to rest there. They are forced to sail the seas at night for eternity since they can never ever make port. Going to Davy Jones’s Locker is not the worst thing for a sailor, it’s actually the best death for a sailor outside of dying naturally of old age. It is something sailors are taught about and joke about from their first moments on the sea and it always remains a very realistic possibility that a sailor will end up there”
The informant was a yacht captain for his whole life, like his grandfather. He grew up on the water and he says it is the only way of life he can accept. As a captain, he says there have been many moments in his career sailing the world that he was convinced the sea would indeed send him to Davy Jones and that would be that. Although he was never scared about it, because if that is how he died then that was a death he could accept. He also said his ideal way of being buried is to be put in a bag and thrown over the Marianas trench, so he can spend the rest of eternity in the sea.
The informant is a family member of mine, and I grew up on these legends as my bedtime tales and tall tales over dinner. The story was retold to me by the informant upon my asking for a proper recounting of the story.
I think the concept of Davy Jones’s Locker is a way to keep sailors a little less terrified about what is at the bottom of the ocean. The ocean is dangerous and largely unpredictable for a very long time, even now with technology rogue waves still appear out of nowhere. The concept that there is a resting place for all the lost sailors at sea to continue their passion is not only an ease for them when waters are rough, but also a way for their family members to validate the disappearance as most all shipwrecks at sea are never rediscovered.
The following is a retelling of a performative event experienced by the informant:
“ In the rave culture, that is the community and happenings surrounding EDM (electronic dance music) there are a lot of things that everyone in the community partakes in together as acts to show unity and respect. Actually, there is a term P.L.U.R., this stands for Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. There are these bead bracelets that are worn called “Kandi” and people make all kinds of kandi, some are really simply and just a single strand of beads and some are very intricate and are even 3-D. Ravers have these kandi to trade with people at shows that they have moments with – like they dance together for a song or a set and have fun, one person lends someone something etc and then at the end of a moment they will exchange these bracelets with a handshake that emulates “P.L.U.R.” . For Peace they both make a peace sign, like a “v” with their index and middle finger, touch the finger tips together and from that they keep their hands pressed against each other and make the shape of a heart for “love” with each person making one side of the heart. For unity they move their hands so they are flat against each other’s, palm to palm like a prayer position, then they interlock their fingers on respect and while their hands are interlocked one of them pulls a bracelet from their wrist over their interlocked hands and then to the other person’s wrist and the other person with reciprocate. It’s a fun way to remember wholesome moments with strangers, and a lot of times people will keep their favorite Kandis and only trade them with people who mean a lot to them.”
The informant refers to himself as a raver and has partook in the giving and receiving of kandi. He says it is sometimes a really lovely moment and is one of his favorite things about going to EDM festivals. He says he often makes Kandi for people he is going to raves with, and then if he is with that friend at a set for a Dj they both love, he will trade the person a specialized kandi and it is always a really special moment for both of them as the other person has often also made a special kandi for the moment.
The informant is a friend of mine and I was asking him questions about why he likes raving so much. He then brought me a kandi and he taught me the handshake.
I think this is a really wholesome way to share and remember events with strangers. Not only is it a performative moment that can serve as an initiation into the in-group since it’s a big deal to receive your first kandi.
This conversation was held between the informant and myself. The informant shall be named GG and I will be MH.
GG: So in catholicism there is a belief that if Our Mother [Mother Mary] blesses you, or God, your rosary bead chain will go from silver to gold. And in Medjugorje, in the Herzegovina area of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is a hill where it is believed Mary will visit and deliver messages to a family that lives at the base of the hill and that those who pray there will have their prayers heard and where there are multiple accounts of the silver rosary chains turning gold.
MH: When you went did your rosary beads change from silver to gold?
GG: I wouldn’t know as mine had already turned gold long before I went there.
MH: Wait, what?!
GG: Yes. When Jennifer [the informant’s youngest daughter] died, she had this rosary on her. It was gifted to her by myself at Grace’s[the informant’s mother-in-law who is long passed] funeral because Jennifer had forgotten hers at home so I gave her the beads I had on me. After I received the phone call from the police that she had been brought to the hospital dead I went to go retrieve her belongings they had pulled from the crash. When I found the rosary in the bag of things, I saw it had turned gold. And in the worst moment of any parent’s life, there was this tiny moment where I knew Jennifer was with Grace in heaven and that it would be ok.
The informant is my grandmother, she is Italian Catholic and deeply spiritual. She was raised by only ever going to Catholic school and lives her daily life with religion and spirituality and God always in mind. She went to Medjugorje in 2018 on a pilgrimage to meet this woman who is believed to speak directly to Mary.
My grandmother and I were having a conversation about the paranormal in religion and how much of a role it plays in the modern world. It was a casual conversation over a glass of wine at her house.
I don’t know where I stand in the belief of alchemy, silver turning to gold. But the fact that she experienced this phenomenon is intriguing to me. There are possibilities of debunking the myth such as many silver chains are actually made of brass and coated in silver so eventually the silver will wear off and leave a gold-ish brass, a person could also take the newly formed gold chain to the jeweler and have them inspect the quality of the gold to see if it is real. But there is also no way to say these paranormal and spiritual events aren’t real.
“There is a common saying in Chinese (Mandarin) : 箭双雕”
Original Script : 箭双雕
Phonetic: Yi (Yee) Jian Shuang Diao
Transliteration: Complete two tasks with one job
Full translation: to shoot two birds with one arrow
This saying is also present in English, it is the same concept as “to kill two birds with one stone”. The theory being you can complete two separate tasks with one action. For example: say a person has to go get a test done at the doctor’s office and also a check up with a different doctor. But both doctors happen to operate out of the same medical office building. By scheduling the appointments back to back, the person is able to complete two tasks (the doctors’ appointments) with one action (driving to the medical office building).
The informant of this info is my friend and she is Chinese and used to live in Shanghai. She always found it interesting that this phrase exists in both English and in Chinese in an almost synonymous context. She can’t find anywhere as to which phrase came first and who got it from who or if the similarity is purely coincidental, and if it is a coincidental likeness then she wanders what does that say about human nature?
The informant is a friend of mine and we were video calling over the phone during quarantine and just chatting about life and funny coincidences across cultures.
I kind of agree with my friend on how she feels about the odd coincidence between the two languages and the same phrase. It is interesting that they are so similar in literally every aspect of their meaning.
So in China we have the Mid-Autumn festival, as I am sure you have heard of, the mooncakes are famous. But, what a lot of people do not know is the myth of how it came to be. It all became long ago. There is a princess who lives on the moon in her moon castle with her little bunny. And as it goes, on the full moon -the 15th day of the month on the Lunar calendar- the princess could see Earth at its fullest. Every full moon she would look down at earth and she would always look at this one farmer and she eventually fell in love with him from afar. So one day, she went down to Earth and disguised herself as a human. Her and the farmer fell in love and she was happy on Earth. Then one day her brother noticed she was missing, so he searched for her and found her on Earth having married a mortal human. Outraged, he came down to Earth, and took her from her lover since it was a disgrace that a god would marry a human and he took her back to the moon. There, he imprisoned her in her castle and she could no longer see her lover. Eventually, the other gods felt bad for her because she was so very sad. So they made the agreement that in Autumn on the full moon she is allowed to go down once a year to visit her lover. So, the festival happens on the full moon on the 15th in Mid-Autumn every year and it is all about reunion and time with loved ones.
The informant is ½ Chinese and ½ French. While she spent the first 13 years of her life in Paris, she moved to Shanghai for high School to reconnect with her Chinese heritage. This story is one of her all time favorite stories from Chinese culture that her grandmother would tell her. She holds it very close to her.
The informant is a good friend of mine, and the conversation was held organically as she was reminiscing about things she loves about her culture one night over dinner at an Italian restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.
I found this to be such a cute and lovely legend to how the festival came to be. Another one of my friends loves the Mid-Autumn festival. He is from Vietnam though, and while he never mentioned this moon princess story, he also loves the festival and what it signified for him and his friends and family spending time together. I love how this festival brings up such good memories for many of the people I have spoken to and it shows such a wholesome lineage between cultures.