Ghosts and staircases

Background: I asked about the informant’s background with Pacific Islanders and how they heard about it to which they responded, “I work with a lot of Filipino coworkers, I have friends who are various nationalities, I know some Indoneseians, I know some Fijians, Samoans, Hawaiians. And they all have similar, like, the one consistent thing is that the stairs cannot be in line with a door leading to the outside.”

KD: The Pacific Islanders have a superstition, that in a multi story home, the stairwell cannot be in-line with any door leading to the outside because that can allow ghosts to enter and go up to another floor so I know a lot of Pacific Islanders when they look at houses, one of the things that they check for is, okay, does my front door line up with the stairwell, does my back door line up with the stairwell? And if it does line up with the stairwell, is it a continuous set of stairs that goes all the way to the top, or is there a landing and a switchback, to which, ghosts cannot make that turn or the switchback to get up the stairs. It, it has to be one continuous route, so, in my mind that doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense, like okay well if a ghost can enter the house and they can go up the stairs, once they’re up the stairs, they’re free to move about, they can turn left, righ, turn around, they can go into any room, but, why can they not make that turn on a switchback and ascend another flight of stairs. So, the logic and the rationale of like, okay you don’t want your stairs to be in line where the ghost can move straight, can take a straight path up, it’s like okay that, some aspects of it don’t make sense to me, but I can understand the other parts of it’s like okay once it’s up the stars, it’s free to move about because it’s reached its path, it can do its haunting, it can do its uh–sometimes ghosts are good, sometimes ghosts are ebad, I know that as you move between the various island nations, in some cultures ghosts aree past residents, so if you destroy and build a new home and you’re the original owner, it’s safe for the stairs to be in line with the door, but if you move into, that house is now haunted or it’s, I don’t understand like when it’s haunting versus when it’s like okay these are my grandma and my grandpa and they’re visiting us and they’re blessing our children. I don’t understand the background of the ghost, but the superstition of, okay, ghosts can go front he outside straight into a house and up stairs that are in line, that kinda makes sense to me, like I understand it’s like yeah they do that, but why are they allowed to roam freely in the upstairs portion but not in the downstairs portion. Its, there are inconsistencies but that comes from a place of not being a part of that culture.

Context of the performance: This was told to me during an in person conversation.

Thoughts: This is coming from an etic perspective, so unfortunately I don’t have insight into the emic at all. This was shared with the informant from people he is very close to, but he is reiterating and sharing his beliefs based on looking into another culture’s beliefs. It seems to be preserved by the culture though as a way of maintaining identity.

For another example of ghosts and haunting as related to houses, see Valk, Ülo. “Ghostly Possession and Real Estate: The Dead in Contemporary Estonian Folklore.” Journal of Folklore Research, vol. 43, no. 1, 2006, pp. 31–51. JSTOR, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.