Tag Archives: #magic

Mr. Magic

Informant AJ is a university freshman from San Jose, California. AJ attended a San Jose elementary school since he was five years old.


“Unfortunately, after some time, students noticed that one staff member who we called Mr. Magic wasn’t appearing in the classrooms anymore showing off his awesome magic, but we didn’t really think too much of it. I can’t remember if this was in elementary school or after I moved on. I just remember my family was telling me that he was caught stealing money from the PTA and keeping it for himself, so that was a very disappointing story, and it wasn’t really shared with the community. I can’t necessarily confirm this story but this is just what I’ve been hearing from a couple people.”


“Mr. Magic was a guy who did magic for his students at our elementary school. Some of his tricks were very nice but other tricks were definitely just because we were pretty gullible. Quite frankly, they weren’t the greatest tricks but overall it was pretty fun to see what he had for us students. He was very well-liked by most of the students, and was definitely a people person.”


The fact that Mr. Magic was affiliated with an elementary school contributes to the creation of the quasi-legendary figure of Mr. Magic. As is customary in the United States and in numerous other countries, there is a distinctly separate identity for children than there is for adults. This may constitute what stories, games, clothing, or behavior is appropriate, but especially dictates to what extent a child or adult is allowed access to information. Following the creation of the printing press in 1450 and the emergence of widespread schooling was the emergence of a complementary childhood identity that separated from adults, whereas beforehand, children were seen as small adults and expected to take on many of the same responsibilities. This would explain why students such as AJ were left in the dark at the time, paving the way for folk narratives to emerge both about his dazzling status as a well-liked magician, and of his mysterious disappearance.

Lover Spells

The informant begins by explaining this phenomenon called “agua de calson” which translates to water made of underwear. She heard it first from her Tia since her aunt used to have a lot of boyfriends. Her aunt would always be joking around stating that she would make them drink her agua de calson but as a little kid, she would just listen. She did not understand what that could mean and so one day she asked her what it meant but she was just told to not worry about it. Then on the TV channels, there was this Mexican show that that they always like come up with rituals or stuff that you can do so you may get more money, have better luck, a better chance at love, etc. This ritual would have the person take their used underwear and boil it in water. Then they would take the water that resulted from that, and make the person, who they are attracted to and want to seduce, drink that water.

The informant has also seen it on TikTok however she is not fully aware of how often it is actually done. She believes her aunt only ever joked about doing it but never truly did it. She also states that she believes this type of ritual or magic might be common with people in other countries in Latin America. Additionally, she provided an example of a similar form of ritual where the person will wrap a photograph of their lover in a red ribbon and pour honey and cinnamon on it. She stated that honey is viscous, sticky, and sweet and cinnamon has a strong smell. Then the person must bury the picture under the dirt and it is supposed to make the targeted person more likely to fall in love with them. Both examples are deemed to be “brujeria”, witchcraft, and are looked bad upon as they are means to make others fall in love with them.

These two examples are forms of magic in folklore. The first example seems to incorporate elements of both homeopathic magic and contact magic. For starters, the targeted victim is supposed to drink water that has the juices of the persons’s underwear without knowing almost as if it is a potion, that results in the desired outcome of them falling in love. It also shows some form of contact magic but uses an element that was in contact with the perpetrator, not the target. The second example utilizes homeopathic magic because it mimics the person with the photograph and potentially a tie being formed with the ribbon and honey. Then the burying of the item might resemble the person being trapped under their love. Overall these examples seem to represent a bad use of magic and thus can be seen as witchcraft.

Tale of Two Brothers – Tale


G is a Korean American freshman studying Computer Science at USC. She has heard this story from her mother, who was born and raised in Korea but moved to Hawaii. That’s where G lived before she came to USC. According to G, her mom has told her this story countless times, and it is a very popular and well-known story.


There were two brothers, Heungbu and Nolbu, and they were both from a rich family. Nolbu is the older brother, he’s very greedy. The younger brother is Heungbu and he’s very kind. When their father died and it was time to split the fortune he left behind, the older brother takes everything. But, Heungbu is nice, so he doesn’t fight back or anything. He just accepts it.

There was a baby bird, a swallow. There was a snake trying to eat the swallow. Heungbu chased the snake away, saving the swallow. The baby bird had a broken leg, and Heungbu treated it for him. Three days later, the swallow got better, left, and came back with pumpkin seeds. So, Heungbu plants it in his backyard and when it was time to harvest, the pumpkin was full of treasure and gold.

The rumor spread that Heungbu became wealthy. His brother, the greedy one, asks him how he got so wealthy. Heungbu tells his brother. When Nolbu sees a swallow, he purposefully breaks the swallow’s leg and then heals it. The swallow comes back with pumpkin see, and when it was time to harvest, goblins came out of the pumpkin beating up his children and taking his fortune away.


This tale outlines two very stark characters in close contrast to showcase a logical sequence of events that follow their lives. Tales travel along the supernatural and realistically impossible, operating on events and logic that do not apply in the real world. There is no pumpkin seed in the world that can summon treasure and gold, or goblins (goblins do not exist or been questioned to exist like a yeti would be in a legend). There is no animal (real world entity) that is magical enough to differentiate magical pumpkin seeds, like that swallow. The objects of the folktale on which the plot occurs and the characters are propelled are illogical and extraordinary, an irrefutable kind of “not real” that occurs in a world that is not our own. However, though the events and plot devices themselves are not real or rational, what is logical is the actions of the characters caused by the devices. According to Oring, a “tale’s climax is the logical result of an episodic sequence.” Heungbu’s kindness and benevolence is met with Nolbu’s greed and malevolence, earning both of them respective consequences based on the caliber of morality their distinctive personalities the real world’s principles hold them in. These characters are unchanging and idle to exaggerate those social noems. It is accepted that kindness earns respect and good fortune, and as Korean culture is mostly dictated by Confucian values, Heungbu’s loyalty to his family in spite of his brother’s mistakes makes him a template of good character for Korean culture. Nolbu is the opposite; insensitive to family, uncooperative, and endlessly greedy, hence a moral villain for his Korean audience. This tale engineers Korean culture values into a supernatural order of events that follow a logical reasoning, so that the resolution is not only predictable for the audience but inevitable and therefore applicable in metaphor in real life.