Tag Archives: nighttime

The Ritual Game: The Midnight man

--Informant Info--
Nationality: British European
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Residence: Sherman Oaks, California
Date of Performance/Collection: March 19, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Informant: It’s some ritual that was apparently used to punish bad people somewhere in Europe. The ritual starts at 3 AM and you need a candle, a piece of paper, and your front door. You write your name on the piece of paper then put it outside the door under a lit candle. Knock on the door 12 times and make sure it is EXACT, and make sure to get the last knock to stop at 3AM. Then open the door, pick up the paper and the candle and the game has begun. It lasts until 6 AM, so it’s only three hours but you have to keep your candle lit for all that time. The Midnight Man will try to blow out the candle or scare you into dropping it. Your candle is your only source of light so it’s pretty easy to get super scared. If your candle goes out and you cannot relight it within 5 seconds then surround yourself in a circle of salt and sit there until morning. Do not under any circumstances turn on a light! Both of these things are ways of forfeiting the game but that doesn’t mean the Midnight Man leaves. He haunts you until you complete the game.

Interviewer: So what do you get for winning the game?

Informant: I think you get to make a wish and it will comes true.

Interviewer: So what happens if you lose?

Informant: He kills you, obviously. [laughs]

Background: My informant had done research into different dark ritualized games such as this for a film projection she was doing. She did not end up using this game as the final inspiration for her movie.

Context: My informant and I were staying up late on the night of the 19th, just finishing playing video games together. We were walking through the house in the dark and she tried to scare me with this scary ritual, saying that she was going to do it.

Thoughts: I imagine the combination of sleep deprivation, lack of light, and the general atmosphere of being in an empty house would make for a fun time. Apparently this can be played with multiple people at one time so you could probably mess around with each other a great deal. With that in mind, I suspect this actually could have been a punishment ritual, though I am unsure where it would be used. The game could be turned into a form of psychological torture to get people to confess to crimes by making them think a demon was coming to kill them anyway.

Whistling at Night

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Native American
Age: 42
Occupation: President of The Red Road
Residence: Franklin, Tennessee
Date of Performance/Collection: 04-27-2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Blackfoot, Lakota

Main Piece:

Informant: Throughout my childhood, I’ve been told you’re not supposed to whistle at night. So of course, I didn’t believe them and would whistle at night. One day I was at my grandparents house and my cousin and I were at the window and it was night time. We were bored because there’s not much to do out there. It’s a small community called Stand Off. (Laughs) My cousin and I, we heard someone whistling in the distance. So, they whistled at us (whistling sound), so we whistled right back. Then they did it back again, so we did it back again. Then we started making patterns with our whistling and the other person started making patterns with their whistling. And the person began coming closer and closer and the still kept laughing. And then we got busy, the person was so close, but we got bored and something happened in the kitchen, but we left the window open. As we were in the kitchen, all of a sudden we began hearing banging in the bedroom we were just in. And we went walking towards the bedroom. And the door began swinging BACK and FORTH, BACK and FORTH, BACK and FORTH (emphasis on her voice as she said these words). My cousins began to get freaked out and started screaming. So I grabbed a broom and was like “Wait, stop. NO.” And I went running into the bedroom and the door just stopped. Our window was still wide open, but our cat was standing on the window seal looking down. And that was it. So, to this day, I don’t whistle at night, because I’m told it calls the spirits.

Background:

The informant is a Native American woman in her early forties. She is part of the Blackfoot and Lakota Nations and grew up on the Blood Reserve up in Canada. She currently resides in Tennessee with her husband and children.

Context:

During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my mother. We were in the kitchen preparing supper when I asked her why she doesn’t whistle at night. She recalled an old incident that had happened.

Thoughts:

In many cultures it it thought that whistling or making whistle noises at night will attract bad luck, bad things, or bad spirits. In the UK there is the belief of the “Seven Whistlers” who are seven mysterious spirits or birds who can foretell tragedy or death. Some believe that if you whistle indoors it will bring poverty or bad luck. In any case, I have been warned many times of the danger of whistling at night. It is something I heard quite often growing up. It is interesting how this plays into the larger idea of being spirited away or being kidnapped by the little people; that whistling is a way of communicating with the supernatural.

Camp Basement

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 2nd, 2017
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): French

K is a freshman majoring in psychology who attended the same camp almost every summer before college. The campers were told this story in the basement where the events occurred at nighttime to explain why one wall is newer than the rest.

“The camp used to be a homestead, around 1812, and the family who lived there was part of the underground railroad. The escaped slaves were hidden in the basement of the house, and one night confederate soldiers showed up to confiscate the slaves and punish the family for helping. As soon as the father opened the door, he was shot in the face, and the soldiers continued to kill everyone else in the family. When they reached the basement, they decided not to kill the escaped slaves – a mother and child – but rather make them suffer. They barricaded the two in the basement behind a new wall. It’s said that at nighttime you can still hear the child scratching the wall.”

K’s story encompasses many ghost story motifs, such as the wrongful deaths of those involved and the liminal space of the basement. It is also a lesson to young campers, both not to go out at night and not to go in the basement, and helps them to feel more connected to camp through the knowledge of it’s history.

Gumiho

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: 51
Occupation: Engineer
Residence: Cupertino, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/18/2014
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English (minimal)

The Informant:

He is in his early 50s and works as an engineer. Born in Incheon, South Korea, he immigrated to the United States after he married my mother in 1991. He heard the story of the gumiho when he was in high school from his friends.

The Story:

구미호는 여우야. 꼬리가 아홉개있는 여우.

미 는 꼬리라는 의미고, 구 는 아홉이고, 호는 여우같다.

구미호는 어느날 자기를 사랑하는 총각을 만나면 여자로 변신을해. 그리고 여자로 그 남자한테가서 꼬시 는 거야. 납자가 사랑을헤서 반하고 구미호는 자기 집으로 대려가. 거기서 맛있는 음식을주고 따뜻한 이불을깔고 술 도줘. 그 총각이 잠을들면 그의 심장을 뜯어 먹어서 이젠 평생 사람으로 살수 있는거야. 

구미호는 사람은 아니고 귀신이지. 그리고 꼬리는 항상보여. 여우든 여자든 꼬리는 항상 나타나. 그래서 어떤 모습이든 숨기려고해 아니면 잡히니까.

The gumiho is a fox with nine-tails. Mi means tail, Gu means nine, and Ho to be sly like a fox.

It only approaches bachelors and tries to seduce them. When the gumiho meets a man who truly loves her, the gumiho transforms into the figure of a woman. The man falls for her beauty and she leads him to her lair, at which she prepares a warm bed, nice food, and serves alcohol. When the man falls asleep, she then rips out his heart and eats it. She does this to become permanently human.

The gumiho is a form of ghost. It can either be in fox or human form. Whichever form it appears in, the tails are always visible and so it tries to hide it.

The Analysis:

The gumiho tale is often told to young, unmarried men – bachelors – in Korea. From my insight, it is told as a warning to men to be wary of women in general. She may appear to be perfect and pretty, but inside they are all foxes, sly with unknown intentions. This is the first story in which I have heard the gumiho eating a man’s heart, not liver. This signifies that she takes over his life, as he dies but it lives on as a human woman.