Tag Archives: #protection

Mami Wata

Nationality: Nigerian/British

Primary Language: English

Age: 20

Occupation: Student

Residence: Los Angeles

Date: 2/19/2024


S.I.- “I heard about the spirit Mami Wata when I was younger, I don’t remember by who, but they were trying to give examples of Nigerian culture-specifically in some villages.” 

Me: “What were the spirits qualities? And why did people call for her?”

S.I.- “They believe that she attracts money and good fortune. If I remember correctly people from villages usually call for her in order to protect their sick.”

Me: “Have you ever seen an experience where someone has called for her help or used her as a household name?”

Sarien: “No, I haven’t. But it definitely is common for people in rural areas of the country to believe in it and many other spirits and deities.”


The participant doesn’t remember directly who told her about this spirit, but assumes it was one of her family members that opened the discussion of other’s cultures within the country. She is also from a city and not a rural part of Nigeria, geographically within the country there are many different beliefs and traditions. 


SZThis interview provided valuable information about the cultural fabric of Nigeria, especially within rural areas. Although the participant’s memory was vague on who told her about the spirit it makes a strong case how cultural transmission of Mami Wata is oral, and how her spirit lives through knowledge passed down within families/communities. This method of cultural transmission helps preserve traditions/beliefs across generations, even if the details become blurred over time. It was also made clear that there is a huge difference between urban and rural perspectives and beliefs within the country. However, the belief in spirits like Mami Wata in rural areas highlights the resilience of traditional practices and their efforts to save or help their loved ones.

To not see the soul

Nationality: Ethiopian/Italian

Primary Language: English

Age: 21

Occupation: Student

Residence: Los Angeles

Date: 2/20/2024

Text: “In Ethiopian culture, people are generally wary of foreigners and the lower class, believing many of them invoking the power of buda or demons to curse others. As such it is rude for these people to sustain eye contact, and they generally take effort to sustain eye contact with them as an attempt to curse them. They also believe these demon-invoking people to be capable of changing into hyenas and thus also avoid making eye contact with wild hyenas”

Context: This was told to him at a young age by his family and is a cultural aspect with spiritual components. He clarifies though that it is not something he participates in and personally believes in. Especially with the fact that he was mainly raised in the United States and it is not a social norm that is practiced.

 Analysis: This was an example of how heavily they believe in signs of misfortune and curses, even on a smaller scale not involving magic. I was able to draw parallels between the “tabooistic” belief of the evil eye, that by holding eye contact they can be inflicted with misfortune. Both stem from glaring and believe that one who is jealous, or in this case lower in stationary, they can evoke a curse to lessen your fortune.

Protection from Garlic Clove

The informant speaks on a superstition they practiced whenever they left their house. His parents always said that whenever they went to a party or event or if there were a lot of people, they must carry a garlic clove in their pocket. The informant stated that his mom told him it was meant to prevent mal ojo, the evil eye, or bad juju. His mom would state that by the time they came back home, the garlic would be dry and shriveled. The dryer it was, the more it had protected you from evil and bad that was wished upon you.  He also stated that el mal ojo was explained to him as someone envying you and wishing bad upon you. Garlic keeps vampires away so it is probably something similar to that notion like religion or just good at keeping bad energy. 

The informant comes from Veracruz, Mexico and believes that it is practiced a lot there. Veracruz is believed to be the place where there are the most witches, so lots of superstitions and white magic, black magic come from there. The informant  mentioned a similar thing is putting a whole lime in your bag, letting it absorb all the negative energy, then at the end of the week you throw it away. 

This seems to be similar to other rituals and folk beliefs that people use for protection. They are rooted in protection from stuff that hasn’t happened or doesn’t necessarily exist. The protect people from stuff they can’t explain other than something they attribute to as the “evil eye”. For example, the informant stated that they would use the garlic whenever there were a lot of people so their family was expecting that they would receive the evil eye despite not knowing any of the people. This reflects a view of others in a negative light, most likely due to unexplained illnesses and mishaps in life and blaming others for these unexplained things.