Tag Archives: possessed

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. 

Haunted Babies

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/21/19
Primary Language: Chinese
Other Language(s): English

The informant was telling me of a belief that there are different kinds of babies. She explains how some babies are possessed by spirits when they are born below:

There is one kind of baby that only cries at night and it cries really loud. We have a specific phrase for them yia cu long which means those babies are haunted by some kind of ghosts, because like when a baby is first born they seem very vulnerable to ghosts, so they can easily see ghosts since they’re just born. If a baby is always crying at night it means yi cu long, meaning they are kind of haunted by ghosts, and so that’s why the baby is terrified and he always cry during the night. So in some of the culture what they will do is they will actually have like a person to do some ceremony in order to get the ghost out of their body or stop them from haunting the baby, so it’s like a witch but not really, and then after that the babies are not supposed to cry anymore during the night.

 

So like one of my mom’s friends, his grandson actually all of a sudden started crying at night everyday and he finds someone to produce the ceremony or whatever, and the baby actually stopped crying.

 

Context:

One day when we were talking she told me she had some interesting pieces of her culture that she could share with me, so a few weeks later we met a little café on campus at USC. We sat outdoors while she shared this tradition with me.

Background:

My informant was raised in China until middle school. When she was sixteen years old she moved to the US where she attended a boarding school in Maryland for high school. My informant transferred to USC for her sophomore year of college.  She was telling me about a superstition in Chinese culture that is practiced when babies are crying. A family friend of her mother had a grandson who was crying and ‘haunted’ by a spirit, and when this ritual was performed, the baby stopped crying at night, meaning the spirit was gone.

Analysis:

I found it intriguing that babies can be ‘possessed’ by spirits because they are weaker and new to the world. Even more so, I think it’s incredibly that my informants family friend’s grandson stopped crying after the ritual was performed, which gives the ritual more credibility.