Tag Archives: ghost stories

Bunshinsaba

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: China
Date of Performance/Collection: October 28, 2020
Primary Language: Chinese
Other Language(s): English

Main Piece: Interviewer: In my middle school, the movie Bunshinsaba was quite popular at that time. One day after the final exam, my roommates and I decided to summon Bunshinsaba and ask her how did our exam go. We sat around the table in the dormitory and held a pen together. As soon as we read the incantation silently, the pen started to move on the paper automatically and a number gradually appeared. Everyone was shocked by what we have just seen. Then, according to the tradition, after the rite, we should properly bury the pen so that the Bunshinsaba can be peacefully sent away, but we were too lazy to do that so we just left the pen in our dormitory. Soon, we heard a loud sound from next door: the chandelier in that dorm fell from the roof! More horribly, after checking the chandelier, the maintenance guys affirmed that there was nothing wrong with the chandelier and they could not explain why this situation happened. We were scared by it, and we thought it must be a warning from Bunshinsaba. Therefore, the next day, we bury the pen in the school’s garden, and then everything returned to normal.  

Background: Bunshinsaba was from one of the oldest witchcrafts in ancient China. Bunshinsaba is the ghost of a dead person who can come back to humans’ world and answer people’s doubts through a certain rite. It originated in the worship of a legendary spiritual goddess. Normally, we think it started from Tang Dynasty but some experts believe it is much longer than we thought. Initially, some Taoist priest used it for divination, and then, it became more popular among ordinary people.   

Context: I sent a message to my interviewer, who is one of my best friends, and asked her to tell me some unusual or supernatural things that have happened to her. Then she sent me a long message to illustrate this story and I asked for several details afterward. It was a relaxing and fun chat as she thought it was a memorable and interesting part of her school life. 

Thoughts: People do not like uncertain and unknown future, and they try to figure it out through summoning Bunshinsaba. I felt very unbelievable and frightened when I first heard this story, so I looked up some relevant information online. Some scientists explained that this is simply because people had some psychological hints during the process that make them inadvertently move their pens. More importantly, I think the story tells us not to do these ghost rituals casually, no matter how curious you are, because you do not know if something terrible will happen if you annoy the ghost.

Woman in White– A Ghost Story

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Lebanese American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Long Beach
Date of Performance/Collection: April 27 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Collector: Please, madam, pray tell us your ghost story.

Informant: Alright. I will tell you now this story of my ghost encounter, encounter with the paranormal. Ok, so, um, it took place in the Netherlands, um, we were going– me and four other girls that were studying abroad in Germany, we were gonna take a trip to Amsterdam, and, um, we took the overnight train, the cheapest option from Germany, which was like, seven different trains and all these transfers throughout the middle of the night, so, we get to, um, the Netherlands, um, to this little town about an hour outside of Amsterdam, where our AirBnb was, it was called [name]

So we get there around like, 11 AM, um, we, um, have a snack and we go check into our Airbnb, it’s like 11:30, 12, and what we didn’t know, but we didn’t mind at all, is that you have to walk through about a mile of forest to get to the airBnB, which it doesn’t say on the website.. [Laughs] Y’know, we’re not thinking anything of it. um, the forest is beautiful, there’s a nice path, the trees are nice and tall, so, we walk through this mile of forest, we don’t think anything of it, and we get to the AirBnB, check in, and we go straight to sleep, since we didn’t sleep all night. And we sleep, all of us, for maybe like 6 or 7 hours, um, and we wake up, and we’re all in great spirits and we all wanna go hit the town in Amsterdam and go party, and we’re all getting ready, listening to music, and by the time we’re ready to leave the airbnb and take the train to Amsterdam, um, it’s about 9pm, i think it was exactly 9 pm. So we have to walk back through that mile of forest to get to the train station to get to Amsterdam.

 So, um, this mile is just one straight shot path, through the trees, the eact one we had come on the way there, just one straight shot path. We set off on the path, and we quickly realize that it is pitch black– and i can’t stress enough that its pitch black, its like your eyes are closed because trees are so tall, they’re covering the moon and the stars, um, so the four of us, we’ve all got our little iphone flashlights, which are only so good, and we’re all spooked, but y’know, we’re big girls, its fine. Um, so, y’know, we’re walking through this very creepy, um, pitch black, literally– and i can’t stress enough how it was pitch black, as though your eyes were closed. It is– i never– Before, I had never seen such darkness in my life.

So, um, we get about halfway through, about a half-mile out, and we come to a crossroads. And, at the same time, all of our flashlights come upon the same thing– a woman, about 15 feet ahead of us, standing completely still, completely straight, she’s wearing a wedding dress, and she’s standing completely still, right in the middle of our path. And we all stop– and, it was about two seconds, all together, or less, that we’re standing there, um, and one of us goes “what’s that?” and we realize we’re all seeing the same time, we take off and run for our lives the way we came back to the airbnb, we are running absolutely for our lives, and we all were looking back, and, um, she didn’t chase us or anything, but when we got back to the airbnb, we were all freaking out, all in tears, crying, it was so scary. And, um, we confirmed that all four of us had seen the same thing, a tall woman in a wedding dress, um, like 15 feet ahead of us, standing completely still. 

Collector: Was she looking at you?

Informant: So the thing is, is that none of us could see a face. So, it’s not like– when I remember, i don’t remember, like, noticing a certain faceless-ness that, like jumped out at you, but looking back, none of us can recall seeing a face. But, my three other friends, they recall seeing, like, a sort of blueish greenish tint to her skin, which i don’t personally remember, but all three of them remember it. Um [laughs], so yeah.

Context: The informant is a good friend of mine, and is a Lebanese-American young woman studying music. In 2019, she studied abroad in Germany, and so had the opportunity to travel around Europe. This is her personal experience.

Analysis: I must admit that I am a little biased when it comes to this story, both because the informant is my friend, and because it is a frankly terrifying story. There were several things that I thought of first after hearing this experience. One was the location, taking place not only in a pitch black forest, but on a crossroads as well, which are considered to be liminal spaces, or places of transition. Traditionally, this is believed to be where many spirits can be found, in areas where ownership is uncertain, and so other entities are free to “cross over”.

Another element of the story is the woman dressed in a white wedding dress. Many cultures have a version of a woman dressed in white, lingering in forests, rivers, or other more rural areas where a scene of disaster supposedly happened. In many stories, these women in white have been scorned, or hurt in some way, and now wander the mortal plane in despair, or for revenge. The story is almost always connected to traditional cultural roles for women; For example, the woman kills herself after losing her husband to another woman, thus “failing” in her duties as a wife, or drowns her children in a river, therefore failing as a mother. I wonder if this story works as a sort of precautionary tale aimed at younger woman– to warn them of the monster they could become if they do not adhere to their roles. Another popular version of this story is La Llorona, an entity in Mexican folklore. For more information of the White Woman, please look at :

La Llorona (2020). Retrieved April 28 2020, 

from  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Llorona.

White Lady (ghost) (2020). Retrieved April 28 2020,

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Lady_(ghost)


Abandoned Nunnery in Oklahoma

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese-American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 2nd February 2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Text:

KM: “Apparently there’s this like abandoned nunnery out somewhere in Tulsa, and I had a couple of my friends who got there, obviously trespassing to this place. But it was like, I don’t know, but there were rumors that there were like tapes that were still there even though the place was like abandoned that like showed like really bad things I think that happened there. So they go out there at like night, and they say – there were like 6 of them I think, 4 or 6 or them, and they were like okay we’re going to split up and we’re going to search for these tapes. And so, the person who told me this, he and this other guy, they went up like upstairs, and they were like searching for stuff. But um, my other friend, he went in the basement and they actually found the tape. And when they like picked it up, the like lights flickered in the building. And so, they had to like get out of there and apparently the tape is supposed to be like super creepy and stuff and my friend was just like keeping it in his car for the longest time.”

MS: “Did you ever play the tape, to see what was on it?”

KM: “No I don’t think so – it was a VHS tape so I don’t know. I never really followed up. I’m pretty sure the tape is just in my friend’s car still.”

KM: “But for the longest time, I felt like I was haunted by the nuns after hearing this story because like weird stuff would happen with like my phone and I was like “the nuns are haunting me” so I was convinced… My Twitter AV, this is like stupid, but my Twitter AV, which is like your profile picture on Twitter, I would upload it and it would always just turn to black, just like a black picture and I could never like change it back, and I was like I’m really being haunted by these nuns for listening to this story. Because I think part of the legend was that once you hear the story, or once you know about the tapes, they would target you too so I just remember feeling distinctly uncomfortable knowing this.”

 

Context:

The informant is a Chinese-American college student from Tulsa, Oklahoma. This conversation was part of a discussion among a group of similarly aged people about their high school experiences growing up in various parts of America. The content has been lightly edited, and the removed content is indicated by ellipses.

 

Interpretation:

Even though this is not a first-person account of visiting this apparently haunted nunnery, it still provides us with information because this is how legends typically spread – the informant believes she was haunted by the nuns even though she never took a part in directing interacting with the legend herself. She may have experienced the same “haunting” things even if she hadn’t heard the legend but having heard it, she automatically used its mysterious nature as a way to justify inexplicable things in her life. Also interesting is how the mysterious nature of the tapes gives them their value and so even though they were taken from the original site, they were never actually played to verify the legend one way or the other. This may be an instance of the fear of the “other”. For the modern generation, VHS tapes are not something familiar and have this spooky quality because of that.

 

 

Deceased Shaker Babies

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language:
Other Language(s):

Background

Location: New Lebanon, NY

Informant: J.R. – 23 year old male, originally from New York State, attended the same high school as the collector

Context

This legend has been told to me many times from many different sources, specific to a boarding school in the remote mountains of the New York Berkshires.

The boarding school mentioned was founded on land that once functioned as a Shaker settlement. The Shakers were a religious minority that sought out to create a utopian, self-sufficient society centered on God. Many of their principles required the separation of man and woman, absolute abstinence was expected. As a result, should a woman become pregnant while she was a member of the settlement, she would be cast out of the community. I have paraphrased the core legend as told by J.R. below.

Main Piece

It was told to me that, though the old Shakers that inhabited our dormitory buildings were required to be abstinent, there were times where a woman would become pregnant and attempt to hide her symptoms until the child was born. If she carried to term, she would deliver the baby and either leave the community or, much more nefariously, kill the child and hide the remains. This story over time was transformed into the legend that the remains of the dead babies would be placed in the walls of the buildings they were constructing as a way to give them a “burial.”

Thoughts

While the the folklore is based in historical accuracy , the belief in the dead babies represents a superstition specific to the school that added mystique and served to entertain (or frighten) the students, The urban legend would be shared or performed to freshman as somewhat of an initiation in to the culture of the school. Variations or abbreviations of the story would reappear in conversation, for example, “be careful, don’t get captured by the Shaker babies!” Due to the age of the settlement the school was established on, and the previous history of the land, ghost stories were commonplace in the conversation and folklore of the school and provided a link between the past and the present of a place that remained for the most part, physically unchanged.

 

For more information on the Shaker community and its ties to folklore, see:

Wolford, John B. “Shaker Studies and Folklore: An Overview.” Folklore Forum, 1989, pp. 78–107., doi:10.1.1.491.9188.

GamGam: A Ghost Story

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 56
Occupation: Director of Administration
Residence: Tiburon, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/21/18
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

It’s not exactly a ghost story. I mean, I didn’t really see a ghost exactly. When we moved into GamGam and PopPop’s house after they passed, I remember just feeling GamGam’s presence.  I can’t explain it exactly. I’d just feel like she was there keeping me company. 

One day, I was in the kitchen and no windows were open. There was a stillness in the house. Then I noticed that a note that was magnetted to the refrigerator was moving – and for quite a while. It never happened again, but I always felt like GamGam was there and wanted me to know.  It was very nice.

While the Informant’s story may not directly involve a ghost, it definitely involves paranormal activity. When I asked if she believed in ghosts, she replied an instant “absolutely!” She then equated ghosts and souls. She believes in old souls and new souls, relating natural wisdom to the age of a person’s soul. A ghost is an unsettled soul, with unfinished business, waiting for a new body. Essentially, ghosts are souls in transit.

This story means a lot to the Informant. She told me that one of the first things that GamGam, slang for grandmother, said to the Informant was that she was an “old soul.” A physical object being manipulated is a common motif in ghost stories, with the Informant’s involving the magnet.

I enjoyed the story. It’s a strange form of a ghost/spirit story. Instead of the intent to frighten, like in typical ghost story fashion, this one seemingly had a happy ending. GamGam just wanted to show the Informant that she was there, have her presence recognized.

Garden Grove Ghost

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Garden Grove, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/22/18
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Vietnamese

In March 1933 there was a huge earthquake and Garden Grove High School collapsed. There was a little girl, a Freshman, named Elizabeth and she was the killed when the wall caved in. She was trapped under the rubble in the Hall of Fame in Heritage Hall for hours begging for help, but no one came to save her.

 Nowadays, students say they can still hear her ghost pleading for help.

The Informant was born in the US and grew up in Garden Grove, a city in Orange County. Her parents are both from Vietnam. She is an Economics and Mathematics major at UCLA. The Informant, my girlfriend, told me this story as I distracted her from her own schoolwork on 4/22 at around 2am.

It seems like whenever there is a disaster or tragic event, up pops a ghost story. Ghost stories also appear to be a youthful storytelling technique. So, it’s not surprising that a ghost story exists about the tragic death of one of the areas high schoolers.

The informant grew up in the area, with many friends and family attending the school in question. Unsurprisingly, this ghost story spread via word of mouth from classmates. The story spread from across schools and across classes. The informant says she would never step foot into Heritage Hall because, even though she’s skeptical about the existence of ghosts, in the off chance that they do exist, she doesn’t imagine them as being friendly. Whereas the typical viewpoint sees ghosts as the wandering spirits doing the scaring, she views ghosts as the scared ones. They’re stuck, scared, and angry.

I don’t believe in ghosts, but my belief system on souls is more complex. I don’t question the tragedy that occurred, but if I take a step back and think about it, I question the idea of the “haunting.” For the sake of argument, if I were to accept there are ghosts, why would they haunt their place of deaths? If I were a spirit in the afterlife, I would want to stray far from my tragic place of death and be in the surroundings of my happiest moments.

Little Boy at Little Rock

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican-American
Age: 20
Occupation: Program Coordinator
Residence: Arkansas
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/21/17
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

In Little Rock, Arkansas, there is a ghost story about a young boy who wanders very early in the morning through the streets and enters any home that he finds open. They say that the little boy is lost and looking for family members to be with. This story comes as a result of “ghost” encounters and “poltergeist” events happening at homes.You can get rid of the little boy “ghost” by placing small toys outside of your BACK door so the “ghost” is tricked into leaving the home.

Eloisa is a Michoacan born lady who has lived in Arkansas since she has been a little girl. She used to be really religious, but after being opened up to human rights, and mostly women rights, she has taken a step back and tried to analyze everything to decide on what she can really identify as part of her.

Ghost Viewing

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Thai, Filipino
Age: 48
Occupation: Hospital Lab
Residence: Glendale, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 24, 2016
Primary Language: Thai (laotian)
Other Language(s): English

I’ve never thought I had seen spirits but here was one occasion that had me thinking maybe I actually have seen spirits. The story is of our security guard of many years, even your mom knows him. Very friendly, always greets you at the door of the hospital. One morning he was not in his usual spot. He was sitting at a different, unusual spot facing the wall this morning, which to me was very odd. I didn’t say hello because it seemed as if he was very deep in thought and not alert or communicative with anybody. I got up to the department and that is when I realized he had passed that very evening before. He had been struck by a car and was killed. Did you freak out? Yes, because I didn’t know anything, and did not know this had happened. I spoke to another person who said they had seen him the very same spot that I had seen him. He was unaware of the surroundings which is very unusual for him because he usually greets everyone. Learning that he had passed hours before this … I realized that he was no longer living and this was his spirit probably coming to say good bye to his last place, and maybe his spirit was not aware it was time to leave or event hat he died.

 

Our neighbor, she was an elderly lady very friendly keeps to herself. Jo. She was a cordial, friendly lady and when we would see each other, we would wave and say hello but that’s all. This one time I saw her as I was driving up to my driveway, and I saw her going from her front door to her garage. Which is unusual because it was a reversal, she usually always walked from her garage to her front door, and it was a bit strange, but it’s not…but I waved and honked and she did not acknowledge me. I didn’t think much of it. But a day later we learned that she had passed in the house. She had died in her sleep and the other neighbors were questioning her whereabouts because they hadn’t seen her in many days. The coroner came and estimated she had died three days before, before I saw her. Were you freaked out again? Yes, I was freaked out. Those were the two incidents that I recall seeing “spirits” because I did not know of their passing until afterwards.

 

Background: These two stories really freak me out. I think my aunt will always remember these pieces for the rest of her life because it happened to her. She thought everything was normal in seeing this man and then the woman until later on she was informed they were both not alive and had already passed. I think these are two particularly important stories to my aunt as well because she really enjoyed this man’s persona and and his aura as a very friendly person, and she had also appreciated the woman who had lived next door. To know he and she both had passed, perhaps my aunt was one of the last people with whom they both wanted to communicate or perhaps my aunt was one of the only people who was open enough to be able to see them. She believes, as stated above, that perhaps the security guard’s soul was lost and unsure of where to go or maybe he was saying goodbye to the last place he found himself, which is sad. I believe these stories, because I know my aunt is not a crazy person, and I really get creeped out by such things. It is very interesting for me to hear.

 

Grandma’s Ghost

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Colombian-America
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: April 23 2016
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Informant (A.G.) is an 18 year old student from Los Angeles.

A.G.: “My mom is really religious and my grandma is really religious. I was raised Catholic and I used to go to church and stuff”

While his “dad is Italian” and his “mom is Colombian,” they “both grew up in Columbia” to come here when they were “18 or 19.” Alex’s mom is a “stay at home mom,” and his dad does “construction” and owns some local “properties.” We grew up in the same area of Los Angeles, and started to hang out in high school. He was telling some ghost stories at a party one weekend, so I set up an interview for the following Saturday afternoon. I picked him up and brought him to our mutual friend’s house to conduct the collection.

A.G.: “In my apartment building, we used to live in one of the back apartment units.”

While the family still owns the apartment building, A.G. has since upgraded to a nearby house.

A.G.: “At the dinner table… my brother and sister used to talk about stuff that would happen to them because our house was super creepy.”

Here “our house” refers to the family’s apartment building.

A.G.’s family connects over the supernatural. For instance, while the non-religious A.G. is less concerned with Christianity than his pious mother, she is less concerned with the supernatural. However, they all contribute supernatural experiences to the dinner table discussion.

A.G.: “This happened to my mom. It was weird hearing it from her because she’s always like ‘oh that stuff’s bullshit.’ This happened in Florida when she was visiting my grandma in her last days. After a few days after she passed away, my mom said she was sleeping in the living room or something and then she said that she woke up at night and the TV was on and she saw a figure that reminded her of her mom.”

A.G’s mother’s experience of seeing a recently deceased family member is a regular part of the grieving process. Such memorates, referred to as crisis apparitions, make up a large part of the ghost story genre. While A.G.’s mother’s experience was attached to the deceased grandmother, A.G.’s siblings had their own supernatural experiences attached to the old apartment building. Whether it’s remembering the loss of a loved one, or a displeasurable living situation, I interpret the exchange of scary stories to be the family’s way of bonding over personal tribulations.

For more ghost stories about deceased loved ones, visit http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/23/living/crisis-apparitions/