Tag Archives: nature

Angel Signs (Folk belief)

“My mom does this really sweet thing where when she goes on walks she’ll pick up things that catch her eye and puts them on this shelf in her room and she calls them her angel signs. She’s picked up feathers, rocks, pinecones, stuff like that – but not just regular ones, ones that are special looking, like if they have an interesting color to them or shape or something. They make her feel like angels are watching over her. She thinks this about a lot of things, like signs from nature mean someone or something that’s passed is looking out for us – like when our pet rabbit died, she starting saying every rabbit that came into our yard was an angel sign that the rabbit was still with us. She likes to take the objects with her to bring us more protection by those angels I guess.”

My informant spoke very affectionately about her mother as she recalled this folk belief/ritual that she often partakes in. While I find complete validity in her assumption that her mother brings home these objects as a way to bring protection to the household, I wonder if she does this knowingly. My informant was quite specific about how her mother felt about these items, that they were signs from angels, but she wasn’t certain about her mother’s intentions upon bringing them home. I wonder if it is partially due to a fascination with the objects in general, mementos so that she will never forget a moment when she felt seen, protected, and closer to something spiritual.


This informant talked about one of the most famous cryptids to roam the Earth, Bigfoot. This legendary figure fascinates people to this day with its mysterious presence in the American Pacific Northwest. According to my informant, the legend of Bigfoot dates back centuries to accounts from Native American tribes who told stories about a giant ape-like creature who lived in the wilderness. There have been “sightings” in more recent times however many of them are dismissed as hoaxes and misidentifications. In our world today Bigfoot has become a pop culture icon, appearing in a variety of media from documentaries to horror movies. The draw to Bigfoot is the mystery surrounding the creature. Bigfoot stands as a challenge to understand our natural world, sparking the curiosity of millions. 

My informant’s connection to the legendary figure comes from a deep rooted fascination with cryptids of all sorts. From a young age, they were drawn to the mystery which shrouds the creature. First learning of the creature from tales their father told them, my informant spent countless hours scouring all kinds of databases searching for answers which still remain unknown. 

I believe that the legend of Bigfoot provides a rich tapestry of North American folklore and expresses a firm message of cultural symbolism. As my informant stated, the legend of Bigfoot comes from oral traditions within Native American tribes. Over time these stories evolved to reflect common cultural beliefs. Something which makes Bigfoot such a notable figure in the world of cryptids is the sheer number of reported sightings and encounters. Many sightings are dismissed as hoaxes and fakes however some remain purely unexplainable, fueling speculation. Within the ever growing expansion of civilized America, Bigfoot symbolized the untamed wilderness capturing the imagination of many.



The chupacabra was, in the words of the subject, a goat-looking humanoid creature that would suck the blood out of its victims.  If the subject ever went on a hike or into someplace more rural and nature-like with his family, then they would tell him and any other children with them that the chupacabra was always somewhere, and was waiting for kids who didn’t pay attention or didn’t heed their parent’s warnings so that it could snatch them up and carry them away to devour them.  They would especially remind the subject of this story if they and their peers weren’t staying close to the parents, and were going too far into the wilderness without supervision.

The subject reported that descriptions of this creature varied every time they were told about it, with the subject sometimes being told it was a monster, to sometimes being told it was a demon, to sometimes being told it was simply a scary animal.  However, some things that always stayed consistent with the retellings was that it was very small, very fast, very strong, and extremely grotesque.


The subject, N.S., grew up in the urban areas of Los Angeles, but was very close to rural hiking trails and other natural, outdoorsy environments, where they and their family would make regular weekend trips towards hiking trails and parks.  It was in these hiking trails and parks that the subject was warned by his parents of the dangers of the chupacabra, and of the dangers of going too far from their parents in the rural area.  The subject also stated that the stories about the Chupacabra slowly began to be phased out of their life as time moved on, until eventually, their parents never mentioned it again.


The superstition of the Chupacabra was likely meant as a way to prevent the subject from running off from their parents when in heavily wooded and rural areas, especially since the subject could navigate the sometimes-thick brush more easily than their parents could.  By giving the subject a dangerous boogeyman in the form of the chupacabra, the subject’s parents were able to ensure that the subject would stay close to them, as well as avoid taking any unnecessary risks whilst they’re out in such an unfamiliar and dangerous environment.  The Chupacabra also likely had some history buried in actual sightings, with people over time spotting creatures that matched the chupacabra’s descriptions, and created a superstition hidden behind the Chupacabra’s nature and danger.

Sleepy Shrimp Proverb

Text: “Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente” or “The shrimp that falls asleep is swept away by the current”.

Context: My friend’s heritage and family stems from Mexico but he was raised in Arizona. He told me his great-great grandma, affectionately referred to as Nana Nana, said this to him when he was younger and it’s used as an admonishment or word of warning.

Interpretation: This seems exactly like a proverb parents repeat to children to remind them to be productive and to continuously work towards their goals. I love this proverb because it’s similar to the American phrase “you snooze, you lose” but it’s more metaphorical and has nature motifs (ex. shrimp, current/water). In my opinion, it’s a more eloquent sort of oikotype than the phrase that I’m familiar with. On the surface it simply means that if you slack off or “fall asleep” in your life then you will get lost or “swept away” but it can also be used to describe the potential shift in political or personal opinion. If you’re less informed about certain candidates on a ballot then you might – consciously or unconsciously – choose the people you’ve seen more ads for or whoever your family/community prefers. If you’re not aware or informed of your environment then you’ll end up following the flow around you, for better or for worse.

The “Phantom Gator” of Fort Myers Florida

Text: “According to this legend, The Phantom Gator was once a real alligator that roamed the swamps many years ago. One day, it was caught in a poacher’s trap and killed. However, the spirit of the alligator refused to leave its home in the swamp and instead stayed behind as a vengeful ghost. It is said that The Phantom Gator can be seen on quiet nights, swimming through the dark waters of the swamp, its ghostly form visible just beneath the surface. Those who have seen it describe it as an eerie sight, with glowing eyes and a shimmering, translucent body. There was also a related story about a neighbor boy being attacked by the ghost of this alligator and I was told as a child to not go near the reserve where this attack occurred. I obviously didn’t really believe in the ghost alligator necessarily but I was absolutely terrified of the reserve and the whole swamp area and did not go near it.”

Context: It sounded as though this legend was more of a friend group thing but interestingly enough JD claimed it was first told to him by one of his cousins when he was very young (8 or 9). JD, being superstitious was adamant in telling me he “never went near the swamp” that the phantom gator reportedly resided in, even though he was not too quick to believe a ghost alligator was the true danger. But, out of his friend group he seemed to believe the story the most and feared the swamp it related to the most. He said some of his friends had went over near the swamp to explore but he didn’t come along just because he didn’t want to risk anything. He thinks he was so afraid because he got told the story when he was young and only told his friends about it later in life when they were already more mature and grown up.

Analysis: When being told this legend I thought it was very possible that it may have been created as a cautionary tale to warn people about the dangers of the swamps and the alligators that inhabit them. Alligators are common in Florida and can be dangerous if approached or provoked, especially for children who may not be aware of the risks. In this context, the story of the Phantom Gator may have been a way for parents and elders to scare children into staying away from the swamps and avoiding dangerous situations. By instilling a healthy respect and fear of the alligators, parents may have hoped to protect their children from harm. It was likely that the story would have been passed down orally through generations, with each teller adding their own embellishments and twists to the tale. It may have also been shared among different communities and social groups, becoming a popular topic of discussion and a way to bond over shared folklore and mythology in a more general sense. This definitely seemed like a more small scale legend, but because the group that spreads it believes in it and it has yet to be proven untrue, it should be considered a legend. I also think it is likely that similar legends pop up all around Florida by parents hoping to deter their kids from wandering into potentially dangerous areas like swamps.