Tag Archives: Demon

The Nain Rogue Demon

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AB: From what I know – which isn’t the most accurate account – is that the Nain Rouge is a disgusting hairy and horned demon. The story goes that the first time it showed up was before some battle where the demon danced on the corpses of the dead soldiers and turned the river bloody. Since then, it shows up prior to devastating events in the city as like a bad omen. The 1967 Race Riots were the most common example I heard since my grandparents moved out of the city due to them.

Context:

AB: The Nain Rouge is one of those myths not really in circulation in my family. I know growing up it was used as a boogeyman for a child’s bad behavior, which deviates pretty heavily from the original myth of it being a foreboding omen. I mostly just thought it was my parents needing a local legend derived from their parent’s catholic backgrounds. I lived in the suburbs surrounding Detroit but I did live close enough to the Rouge River for cultural osmosis to propagate. Myth went from chastising bad behavior to a reason to be back home before sundown (I used to bike up and down the Rouge River at Hines Park). Eventually my parents kinda just grew out of it, I didn’t really believe in it so they stopped using it.

Analysis:

There are a lot of similar boogeyman type stories in American folklore. Other common examples include stories like the Jersey Devil. The most likely origin for these stories is from somebody who witnessed a tragedy and wants some way to rationalize what occurred. Seeing a battlefield is damaging to the psyche, it isn’t too unbelievable that people would tell stories about the aftermath. As the stories grow popular, there are more “sightings” of the monster because more people know about it. Though, these stories are rarely believed, and like AB mentioned, are mostly used to scare children into behaving.

Ma Ho Saddha Jataka

Nationality: Burmese

Primary Language: Burmese

Other Language(s): English

Age: 19

Occupation: Student

Residence: Baltimore, WA

Performance Date: 03/19/2024

Y.Y. has been my friend since Kindergarten, and is also a Burmese person who is originally from Yangon, Myanmar. He recounts the time P, his grandma told him a story that is a well known legend back home. Their relationship is very close knit, as his grandma would regularly tell him Burmese legends and superstitions that she has learned about. 

“When I was younger, maybe 13 or 14, my grandma told me about a legend about the Ma Ho Saddha, a scholar prodigy that is well known in the Buddhist community. He is also someone that became Buddha after his next few lives. In this story, a mother is traveling with her baby. She wanted to take a bath so she stopped by a river and left the baby on the shore momentarily. In Buddhism, there’s a type of ogre or ‘ogress’ as you know, called Belu Ma. They can shapeshift and such and they also like to feed on humans. This one Belu Ma that disguised herself as an extremely beautiful woman, and tried to take the baby. She picked up the baby and was about to leave, but the mother saw her and started arguing. She exclaimed that the baby was her child and why she was taking him. In response to this, the Belu Ma claimed that the baby was her child, and they started arguing in front of many other people who started to look at the loud scene. The people told them to go to the Ma Ho Saddha so that he can decide whose baby it is and resolve the problem. They went to him and he said that they should play a game. He told them to pull the child on either end of his limbs, and whoever is able to take the baby will be known as the mother. The two women did as they were told, but of course the baby started crying since it hurts. The true mom started to feel bad and let the baby go. The Belu Ma started celebrating and said that she was the mother but surprisingly, the Ma Ho Saddha stopped her. He said that no, she isn’t because the true mother would have stopped pulling since she would care for her child. And so he gave the baby to the real mother. I think my grandma told me this story mostly because she loves to share these types of legends; she even has a  subscription to a magazine on Burmese superstitions and legends! I think this was one of the stories that showed how knowledgeable and smart the Ma Ho Saddha was so I took it as a lesson showing how Buddha’s past life as a scholar was very wise.”

I personally found this story kind of creepy but also really interesting because of its twist. I think it’s possible that this story was used to spread Buddhism and preach about how Buddha was a very good and wise figure even in his previous lives. Since it is perceived as a true story that he was a prodigy scholar in his past life, it would only encourage people to live by Buddha’s morals. The series of stories about Ma Ho Saddha’s intelligence continues to prove that. I think this story also solidified people’s beliefs in Belu and Belu Ma (demons) which in turn can enforce people to pray often out of fear for the Belu.

The Haunted House of a Pagan High Priestess

Informant: A

Interviewer: B

Text:

A: “So I have a friend who, she was like 22 or 23 when I met her, but that doesn’t really matter, but she is like a certified Pegan High Priestess um a very interesting lady um and we stayed the night at her house one time uh me and my boyfriend at the time and we stayed at her house because we were all going to go to an anime convention the next day. Um and we were staying in her room and she was like “I have to warn you that my house is haunted” and we were like ‘Kimi what do you mean?” *laughs* “What does that mean?” and she was like “As a kid I did a ritual to summon a demon in my basement” and she didn’t realize it was a demon but she did the ritual to summon something in her home and since then, she was like 12, and since then it has been in her house. And we’re like “okay” and she was like “do not go down this specific hallway” and we’re like “okay umm” *strained voice* So um we stayed the night at her house and neither of us could sleep because of this feeling of awful. We were both like “did you just feel dreed all night” and we were like “yeah” and I don’t remember if it was that night or a different night but I distinctly remember um her coming to us and telling us that she woke up with gouging scratch marks on her back which she showed us and we were like “oh that’s fun and cute, how did you sleep through that” and she was like “this happens not infrequently because my house is haunted” and we were loke “COOL were not gonna spend the night at your house again, cool goodbye” and I’m pretty sure to this day that her house is haunted which is weird because she like cleanses houses, like she cleansed one of our rooms, but apparently she can’t get rid of the demon so *laughs* that’s the tale.”

A: “One is always skeptical when a friend of yours comes over and tells you they’ve summoned a demon and in hindsight I had a very high impression of this person because I met her when I was like 14 and she was like 20 something and so I like I already had a very, they’re like an older sister role model to me um but I did believe her because um idk it felt off before she told us that her house was haunted and there were actively, again this could be placebo, but my boyfriend at the time, we had concluded, we had seen things on her balcony. I guess this is a separate story but whenever we went up the stairs you would get up to the top of the stairs and, not out of breath or anything, not out of exertion, but our chests would feel heavy and other people had reported, had told us this too that “your upstairs has bad vibes”, and there was no reason for the upstairs to have bad vibes but it did and we had like seen things on the balcony like shadowy figures and were like you know what this is not good, so she like came and cleansed it and it helped. So obviously it could the placebo and the kind of wanting it to be better but um and I think a lot of ghost stories, their reliability has to do with how much you believe in it sometimes. I don’t know I think it’s fun and I hope she’s not being hurt by something that might be in her house.” *laughs*

B: “What was the house itself like?”

A: “It was a very normal house, the only thing is, it wasn’t out out in the middle of nowhere, but it was kind of on the outs. It was less suburbia and more like, I don’t know if other people use this terminology, but it’s what I would call ‘out in the country’ so but like the inside was perfectly normal. It’s not like the pool where it has an inherently creepy vibe, it was just like a house, yeah.”

Context:

The informant learned of the haunting as they were spending the night in their friend’s house. The informant and the owner of the house had been friends for years prior to the incident. The informant believes that the haunting is real and that the High Priestess is telling the truth. The informant saw deep cuts on the High Priestess’s back the night after sleeping in the same room together and barely sleeping due to a feeling of dread. Given that experience, the informant believes that the simplest explanation is that the High Priestess is telling the truth about the demon haunting.

Analysis:

I’m sure that understanding the particular form of Paganism that the High Priestess practices would help provide further context to interpret the haunting. However, the informant does not recall the specifics of the High Priestess’s beliefs. From preliminary research on overarching principles of Paganism, the inclusion of demons appears to be quite sparse. Perhaps the lack of information regarding demons in Paganism is why the High Priestess has not been able to remove the demon. It is also noteworthy that the house itself seemed quite normal and was not an uninviting space—further emphasizing the power of the High Priestess’s beliefs. I do not know what to make of the gauges in High Priestess’ back. The informant reported that the High Priestess’ back was smooth before going to bed and that she shared a room with two other people, none of whom slept deeply or left the room. Given that information, I cannot easily see an explanation for how the cuts appeared. However, I doubt the High Priestess felt that she was in frequent mortal danger as she did invite two friends to stay the night.

Sleep Paralysis Demon

Folklore/ Text: Sleep Paralysis

SM: “Do you know what sleep paralysis is? It’s basically when your mind is awake in bed, but your body is still asleep. I used to get sleep paralysis a lot, and I would open my eyes and see a figure. Sometimes it would scream at me, and it was so scary because I thought it was real… Like someone was trying to attack me. To remedy this, my mom used to tell me “if you sleep in these certain positions, the sleep paralysis demon is going to get you!” But she would say this to combat the way I would sleep in positions that are bad for my body. I would always get sleep paralysis when I was sleeping pin-straight on my back or stomach. Legend has it that if you see a demon when you’re having sleep paralysis, the demon is coming back from hell to check on you… And now I still avoid these sleeping positions to this day, because I don’t want a visit from the sleep paralysis demon.”      

Explanation/ Context: Sleep paralysis is not incredibly common, but it’s something that is widely feared because of those who have experienced it. But the element that is folkloric about it is the alleged sighting of the ‘sleep paralysis demon.’ People who have endured this kind of paralysis almost always report seeing some kind of hideous, frightening, threatening figure. And its sightings date back to Why don’t people experience nice things during sleep paralysis?

Lilith

Background: Informant is a 19 year old, Jewish American college student from New Hampshire. They shared this story about their family and how it relates to their Jewish tradition and culture. The informant has been through Jewish education and experiences the holidays every year.

Informant: So, one really bizarre story is the story of Lillith. So, Lilith is rumored to be the first wife of Adam, and so it’s very controversial in Judiasm because Orthodox Jews follow what I’m about to share. So, Lillith escaped the Garden of Eden to gain independence so in some ways it’s been adopted by feminist Jews who see Lillith as regaining her independence. But, largely she’s seen as a sort of she-demon. So basically Lillith left the Garden of Eden and was not allowed back in because she was replaced with Eve. So we commonly know Adam’s partner to be Eve. So, she returns and is furious with men. So for this reason Orthodox Jews do not cut boys’ hair for an extended period of time because the idea is that in the night, if Lillith passes over and sees a child with short hair they see it as a man, so then Lillith will kill the baby boy. So, it’s this really intresting thing where she steals the children of Adam and Eve because she’s jealous and also a feminist twist. 

Reflection: This story was so intresting to me. As the informant told it and inserted some of their own opinions on it using a modern lens, I saw how folklore changes over time. This piece of folklore reflects people’s changing opinions on women, as Lillith is a woman who was demonized. Today, however, Jewish feminists have adopted the story as a story of a woman who they can look up to. It’s really compelling to see how folklore can change over time in it’s meaning while the content of the story is actually very much the same.