Tag Archives: Earth

Spanish Earth Riddle

“¿Qué cosa es redonda como una pelota, pero pesa más que un elefante?” “El Planeta Tierra!” (“What is round like a ball, but weights more than an elephant?” “Planet Earth!”)


MD is my roommate’s friend here at USC. She is originally from Miami Beach, Florida and has lived there her whole life. She was raised by Argentinian parents who immigrated to Florida when they were in their teenage years. She describes her parents as both free spirited and herself in the same fashion. 


MD: My dad would always tell me riddles growing up while he drove me to school in the morning. Sometimes if we were taking my friends to school with us after a sleepover he would tell them to both of us. I remember trying to figure them out and getting upset if my friend got it first. 

DO (Interviewer): Can you remember one that was hard for you to get?

MD: Yeah. He would turn around in his seat at the red light and make hand motions with it. So like he would start off asking “Qué cosa es redonda como una pelota?” Which translates to “What is round like a ball?” And he would make a circle with his hands. And then he’d follow it up with “pero pesa más que un elefante?” And would make this funny elephant sound. Then we would guess. After a few times he finally would tell us. The answer to this one is “El planeta Tierra” which means planet Earth. I remember I was so upset after and thinking how stupid it was. But now I laugh at it. 

DO: What did these riddles mean to you growing up?

MD: Well they were pretty fun to do every morning. Looking back, I don’t know how my dad didn’t run out of ones to say. Riddles were part of our little routine that we had going on. I also loved when I got them right, it made me feel like the smartest kid ever. But it was also just a way for me to chill with my dad and bond with him so I guess there’s a little bit of nostalgia in them now.  


This riddle was part of children’s lore for this family. It was a way for her dad to bond with the kids and continues to be an important part of their childhood memories. This was one of the earliest and most impactful introductions to folklore for her. After this specific riddle, I was told a few more that stood out from this time. The riddles being simple and silly allow the kids to have enough knowledge about the topic to understand it but were still challenging enough to have them think hard about the answers. It also served as a confidence booster for the children if they solved the riddle and allowed them to think about things differently since the answer is not obvious. 

Hollow Earth

Description: The concept that there is another world underneath our own at the center of the earth. The main concept being that the earth is hollow and there is a second sun in the center and people living upside down from us.

Background: The informant received this information during High School and heard about it during a creative writing world building workshop.


KS: I don’t know a whole ton about it other than it’s a concept that underneath the ground, the earth is actually just filled with water all the way through like a giant round underground ocean. There’s a whole sci-fi community around it, I don’t know if it’s a conspiracy theory in the strict sense like I don’t know if anyone actually believes in it, but it’s a concept people like to explore in sci-fi writing and art and stuff. Most things about it view it as having huge sea creatures the closer you go to the center, possibly like water dinosaurs and stuff, kind of like “journey to the center of the earth” except you have to take a submarine. There’s also a different version of it that I think is still called hollow earth that is like, it’s filled with air inside and possibly like a mini-sun in the middle and people live on the inside of the crust directly upside down from us .Almost always there are huge fantastical creatures though, no matter what you think fills the middle.

My thoughts:

While I do not think anyone actually believes this as a reality, it is a very interesting concept to think about. This a concept that makes for very interesting fiction so I think this is why it has garnered so much of a following in the sci-fi community. Sci-fi has always been a genre that centered around outlandish and impossible concepts so the idea of a hollow earth sounds like something that fits in a sci-fi setting. The many different variations are also especially fun to think about. The feeling of there being another world so near our own is something that is very exciting to think about.

We Are A Circle- A Pagan Chant

Background: My informant (M) shared with me her experience with a song we learned growing up. We attended a daycare, which was run by our grandmother, from infancy to 5 years old, and would frequently stay there during summer breaks. She shared with me her perspective on a ritual we performed daily. Neither of us had ever thought too much about this ritual until we got older, but talking about it now we could tell there was probably more to this chant than we realized as kids. Our grandmother always talked about the importance of being kind to the Earth and thanking it whenever we took something from it, like food. As kids, this was just part of growing up, and the chant was part of our daily routine, we agreed that we never thought about the words or meaning until we got older.

M’s Perspective on The Ritual: 

M: “I guess it was a way for all of the daycare kids to come together and bond and be calm. We would sit in a circle with a candle in the middle and we would sing childhood songs and tell nursery rhymes. At the end of the “circle time,” as our grandmother called it, we would have a closing ceremony of sorts where we would stand up and join hands and we would sing this one song. She played it on a CD, but we all knew all the words and we would look at each other and sing. There were a couple of verses to the song that I don’t remember very well, but during the chorus, we would all sing loud and join hands and walk in a circle. Then it would be another verse and we would stop walking. The verses all had to do with the elements, you know fire and wind and stuff. And with each new chorus, we would walk faster and faster until it got a little crazy and we were screaming this song (laughs). I don’t think she does it anymore because it started getting a little aggressive. But anyway the closing line had something to do with coming “FACE TO FACE” and we would all get really close to each other- you know face to face- and we would throw our hands up and someone would blow out the candle and that was it (laughs and pauses).

And we did this for probably ten years or more. It was a little strange now that I’m thinking about it, like what was that even about? We never really anything else that I can look back on as being out of the ordinary.         

Main Text:

We are a circle within a circle

With no beginning and never ending

You hear us sing, you hear us cry

Now hear us all you, spirits of air and sky

We are a circle within a circle

With no beginning and never ending

Inside our hearts there grows a spark

Love and desire, a burning fire

We are a circle within a circle

With no beginning and never ending

Within our blood, within our tears

There lies the altar of living waiter

We are a circle within a circle

With no beginning and never ending

Take our fear, take our pain

Take the darkness into the Earth again

We are a circle within a circle

With no beginning and never ending

The circle closes between two worlds

To mark this sacred space where we come face to face

We are a circle within a circle

With no beginning and never ending

Analysis: I looked up this song to find the lyrics we remember from our grandmother’s. I also wanted to see if I could find an explanation for it. What I found was the song has strong ties to paganism and Wicca, relating to a spiritual bond with the Earth and magic. The song is written by Rick Hamouris in the 80s so I’m not sure when or where our grandmother learned it. It seems like it’s been adopted by Wicca and other pagan religions and some say it is a song for festivals or a full moon chant. The book Casting Circles and Ceremonies by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart explains how circle chants like this one are effective for “casting circles” and “calling quarters.” These terms refer to creating the circle, which is the safe and sacred space and utilizing the Earth’s quarters-the four elements and the four directions. 

You can read more about this here: http://www.egreenway.com/wands8/envoke1.htm

Folk Medicine- Mud for Ant Bites

Context: My informant spent most of her childhood playing outside at her grandmother’s house in the early 2000s. She tells me she remembers there being a lot of ant piles at the house, and it wasn’t unusual for her or another kid to stand in one without realizing. Whenever someone got an ant bite, her grandmother would collect dirt and water from the yard and rub the mud on the bites. She says it would always stop the pain, and they wouldn’t itch after you took the mud off.

Remedy: For ant bites, spread wet mud over the affected area. Let the mud dry for about 30 minutes, then wash off. This soothes pain, itching, and swelling

Thoughts: Soil tends to have a lot of nutrients in it like magnesium, potassium, and other minerals that are good for your skin. Even now, clay face masks are becoming very popular for treating skin ailments. I’m sure it has a lot of healing properties for bug bites. It could very well have been a placebo remedy; putting mud on the bites would distract a child who just stood in an ant pile. Either way, the impact of the remedy seems to be strong, as she says her grandmother still uses this treatment for the children she takes care of.

Kalo: A Staple Plant of Hawaii

Abstract: Kalo is a plant that is named after the stillborn of Sky Father (Wakea) and Mother Earth (Papa), two Hawaiian entities. Kalo is a main staple for Hawaiians culturally, but is mostly used for food. When born, Kalo was a stillborn, and his parents buried him in the ground. His mother was so sad that she began to cry and, from her tears hitting the soil, the plant, Kalo, began to grow where her son was buried. Kalo is used in many traditional Hawaiian dishes and serves as a symbol for respecting the earth.


Background: DM is a 20 year-old Hawaiian American going to college in California. She grew up her entire life in Hawaii and is very accustomed to the folklore there. She can not trace back the origin of the folklore or when she learned it because it has surrounded her for her entire life. After one piece of Hawaiian folklore came up on a work retreat, I asked her to share the most important ones to her on a later date.


DM: Kalo is the origin of so many Hawaiian things, but mostly for food. There’s lau lau, which is the pig roast that is wrapped in Kalo, and poi which is this purple paste made out of Kalo. Both are like traditionally Hawaiian. So anyways, there are these two entity things, Sky Father and Mother Earth. Wakea and Papa. They have human children somehow I don’t know (laughs), but Kalo was the name of one of their children who died when he was born. Then Papa buried the stillborn and she was so sad about it that she cried, and her tears went into the soil. Then, out came Kalo.

S: Does anything happen if you disrespect the Kalo?

DM: The earth is everything to us. I don’t know. Bad harvest maybe.


Interpretation: The connection between Kalo being a product of nature (the sky and the earth) and also a main food staple showcases the connection that the Hawaiian people have with nature. Not only do they rely on nature for their mythological origin stories, but they directly connect it to their survival. The story of Kalo can be used to demonstrate that Mother Earth went through a lot of pain in order to provide food in kalo. Since she went through so much pain to feed the people, Hawaiians should be respectful to her and thank her by taking care of the land. This thought process is demonstrated when DM states “the earth is everything to us.” The origin stories reflect this close relationship to the planet that Hawaiians share. Since the foundations of being Hawaiian are to respect the planet, the main stories on which people grow up on encapsulate this mindset and ingrain it in the minds of the youth.