Tag Archives: Ghost Possession

Possessed by a Spirit of a Dead Person?

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Swedish
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Stockholm
Date of Performance/Collection: 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Swedish

Background 

The interviewer and the informant, LT, are the same age and have been best friends for the past ten years. 

Context

Several years ago, when she was on holiday with a couple friends, one of them started acting as if she was possessed by something out of this world. 

Transcript 

“Me and my friends were in Finland for a week in September 2013. It was about 10 o’clock at night, we had just come back to our hotel room from eating out and we were sitting on the floor chatting.”

“How many of you were there?” 

“It was me and six friends. We were arguing about where everyone was sleeping and who was sharing rooms. We wanted to go outside to the hotel’s roof but there was a storm. The rain was pouring down and we heard thunder. Um, and then this one girl, she’s generally very bubbly and talkative, she completely zoned out. Her grandmother had died a couple months later and we got worried her mood changed because she was thinking about that. My friends and I tried to talk to her but, um, she wouldn’t listen at all. The room we were sitting in was pretty small. Two twin beds and a desk, you know. We were on the 9th floor and one of the windows was open. I remember asking if someone could close it because it was raining so much outside and the thunder and lightning scared me. Everyone was focused on the girl that was zoned out and no one seemed to have heard me. Suddenly, the girl stood up and slowly walked to the window. We were all trying to ask her what she is doing but she wouldn’t answer us. I assumed she was just going to close the window, until she climbed up and placed herself right in front of the open window. I… I have never been so scared in my life, I think. I thought she would jump. She had this empty look in her eyes and all of a sudden she screamed, ‘I am going to jump’. Some other girls started crying and begged her to stop, but the girl in the window wouldn’t move.” 

“What happened next?”

“She reached for the handle on the window and closed it. The noise from the storm outside almost disappeared and the room was so so quiet. I remember being so scared because somehow, the girl looked very different. Almost demonic. She looked numb. We were all quiet and didn’t know what to do or say, until we heard this beeping sound. I have no idea how, but someone’s curling iron had turned on and signaled that it was ready to be used. Scary thing is, um, no one had remembered plugging it in… One girl turned it off and suddenly it was like everything was back to normal. The girl that had stood in the window started looking more like herself and acted as if nothing had happened. She started making jokes and chatted like her normal self.” 

Thoughts

This was a very captivating story and it was not my first time hearing about this. This story has been told many times since it happened, provided that this personal experience is sort of translated into a traditional structure, I would classify this as a memorate. 

I agree with LT that it does sound like the girl was almost possessed by some sort of spirit and or ghost, especially given that her personality and behavior changed so much within such a short amount of time. However, I do believe that this incident can be explained in a logical way. First of all, the thunder and lightning would explain why the curling iron got turned on. Secondly, the fact that the girl’s grandmother had passed away could potentially explain why she started acting weird. As discussed in class, death is, in most traditions, one crucial part of one’s identity (among birth and marriage). Sometimes deaths affect you in ways that do not make sense. 

Ghosts Affecting Crying Babies

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese American
Age: 21
Occupation: Student at the University of Southern California
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/20/19
Primary Language: Chinese
Other Language(s): English

Context:

The informant and I are sitting in the USC Gould Law Cafe around 3:00 pm. She is a Chinese American student at the University of Southern California who was born and raised in Shanghai until she came to America for high school in Maryland. She is describing Chinese beliefs about crying children and how there is a belief held that babies cry the most loudly when they have a ghost that is connected to them. 

Body:

J: “So ya know when babies cry really loud during the night? This is blamed to ghosts. Because what they say is that babies are really vulnerable since they are just born and this is kinda like a life stem. When a baby is born, it’s like a small stem then they grow into a tree later. So it refers to their life as a stem and when they are first born, they are really vulnerable so little things like the wind can hurt them so that’s why babies sometimes can see ghosts because they’ve just been born and are more likely to see ghosts than adults.

So when they see a ghost, they can’t say it because they don’t know how to talk. So sometimes when a ghost haunts them in the night, they start crying and crying and crying and some kinds of ghosts will stick to the baby so that they baby will cry for a long time. Like every night they will cry. So what they do is some ritual ceremonies to get it out. Because a lot of babies tend to cry, but only a certain amount of babies cry really loud at night…every night. They have a certain name for them. **See image below for Chinese characters** So that’s the name.”IMG_1342

A: “So that’s for children that cry a lot at night?”

J: “Yep, like during the night some people will hear a baby cry at night and they will call them this.

A: “So to calm the babies at night then, they perform rituals to calm them down?”

J: “Yep”

A: “Have you ever heard of this happening in your family or friends lives?”

J: “One of my mom’s friends actually. But he is kinda old and my grandpa’s age. His grandson would always cry during the night. It didn’t happen after the day he was born but it actually would happen when he was two years old then he would always cry at night. So our friend actually found someone to perform the ritual and he stopped crying at night! It’s weird!”

Takeaways/Thoughts/Analysis:

This contribution that babies cry loudly during the night due to a ghost “sticking” to them can be seen as rational especially since babies don’t know how to communicate what they are seeing or experiencing except for them to cry. This can also be seen as more credible due to “FOAF” (Friend Of A Friend) where the informer had a family friend where the ritual was a success to calm the crying child! The ways of ridding the ghost seem to be rooted in ancient teachings and practices that were passed through from generations. The child’s crying can also be associated with a ghost because a child’s cry can be very aggravating as I am sure it would be to have a ghost possessing your body. To stop the crying and thus, “rid the ghost,” performing such rituals to make it go away would help the child sleep better and thus the care takers as well.