Tag Archives: Protection

Picking and Burning Sage


My informant, from Rosebud, South Dakota, describes the use of sage in Lakota culture: “So sage is a thing that we use in Lakota culture, it’s kind of a thing, to put it in more modern terms, it’s kind of like clorox wipes for Lakota people, because it’s very much a cleansing feeling. Has a lot of different uses. It can be used as a gift between people. And picking it is a thing in of itself. Because you can’t pull it, you have to cut it at the stem, say a prayer, sometimes you leave some tobacco as a “thank you” for getting the sage. A lot of people burn sage in their house to kind of cleanse it almost? Like if they’re feeling a little like, down, depressed or anything, sage helps kinda cleanse that area of the house. And a lot of ceremonies will center around a bowl of burning sage and you’ll kind of like waft yourself with it. It’s used a lot in like, Sundance, Sweat, and everything.”


“I’ve never picked sage myself, I’ve seen it be picked. And burning it, I think just, I don’t know if it’s because of some factor or if it’s just familiar, but every time I smell sage, or like burning sage, it just gives me this sense of like calmness? And serenity. Which nothing else really does. So I guess in a sense it works. I think the sage has always been a part of my life and I haven’t really known anything different. And I think knowing that it’s not as wide of a thing just makes it all the more special to me. I mean, we were hunter-gatherers, back in our day, we used the land to survive, and sage. And I think it’s just a tradition that’s carried on since that.”


The rituals of picking and burning sage seem to represent a connection between the group and their past. The informant emphasizes how important it is to him that this is something that feels unique to his group, and is representative of where they came from and who they used to be, and who they still are now. The sage represents a connection to the earth, picking it carefully and leaving tobacco behind in return suggests values of gratitude and respect for nature. Sage seems to be a versatile object, used in multiple ceremonies and rituals, of various scales. The smell of sage seems to represent to the informant the familiarity of home.

Egg Limpia

SD is my close friend here at USC. Her parents are both from Columbia and immigrated to the US. Her mother is from Cartagena, Colombia, and immigrated to Newark, New Jersey, when she was sixteen. Her father is from Salento, Colombia, and immigrated to Clifton, New Jersey, when he was twenty. They all now reside in Orlando, Florida.

Here you see an example of an egg cleanse that the informant preformed on me while we were together.


DO (interviewer): As a Colombian-American, are there are religious traditions or rituals that your family has?

SD: Egg limpiezas I think are considered a ritual that we have. It’s like a spiritual thing, so I’d say yeah that. 

DO: Can you explain more about what that means and what exactly the ritual entails?

SD: So you’ll need an egg, sometimes multiple but I’ll explain that later, a cup with water, salt, a toilet, and rubbing alcohol. So first off, you need the egg to be warm so some people leave their eggs out but I think that’s mad gross so, I just hold mine in my hand until it feels room temperature or at least until it isn’t cold. Then you pour rubbing alcohol over it. I think this is to clean it, but honestly I don’t know why we do this, I just know it’s important. Then, you rub the egg all over your body, even under your feet. I think this part depends from person to person because I’ve heard some people do different things. You either say like “I remove all negative energy from my body” or you say positive affirmations. I think either works. Then once you do this around your whole body. You fill the cup with water and break the egg open in the water. Then you read the results. 

DO: What do you mean by results? 

SD: Whatever you see in the water/egg mixture thing means something. If you see spikes that means that you gossip a lot or others gossip about you a lot and this is blocking your blessings. If the egg looks cloudy or dull this means that you have certain physical blocks. So this can mean lots of headaches, hard time focusing,always tired, body pain, stuff like that. If there’s strings going from the yolk to the surface then this means that there’s certain people in your life that you need to cut ties with and these strings represent these ties. And bubbles are “the bad energy” (did air quotes) leaving your body and spirit. So you want lots of bubbles. Bubbles means it’s working. I think there’s more but I don’t really know them off the top of my head. 

DO: You mentioned that there is sometimes a need for multiple eggs, when would these other eggs come in?

SD: So if your results are bad, meaning there’s a lot of anything other than bubbles, then there could still be bad energy trapped in you. So my dad usually says that you should do egg cleanses until there’s only bubbles in your cup. 

DO: And do you put these in the same cup? Or another way to ask that I guess is are there multiple eggs in one cup?

SD: Oh, no! Once you do one reading you dispose of the egg and stuff and then do another one. 

DO: And how do you do this? 

SD: You throw it in the toilet. Well first, you sprinkle salt into the cup and the salt traps the bad energy into the cup and ensures that it won’t come back for a while. And never EVER look into the cup from the top down view. When doing the readings make sure that you’re only looking through the side of the cup. If you look at the cup from top down then you’re inviting back in the negative energy that you just took out, so it would defeat the purpose. Then just flush it down the toilet and you’re good. 

DO: Do you feel as if these cleansings work for you? Have you had success with them? What about your family?

SD: It’s actually pretty funny I guess, because my family is super religious and that’s an important part of our culture. But I think that egg cleansing are technically witchcraft. But I love doing them when I feel something is off and my family does too. I genuinely do feel better after I do it. 


This ritual can be looked at from numerous different perspectives. Technically it can be seen as a medical type of folklore, but not for your physical body but instead for your spirit. It also ties into a discussion about religion and religious lore. The informant’s family practices Catholicism, but this ritual is considered to be black magic by many. This ritual shows just how personal folklore can be since this family holds some practices from Catholicism and some from witchcraft. Although they may deny the validity of other witchcraft rituals, they fully believe in the one they perform. 

CTR Ring


CTR Ring

The informant had been raised in a Morman family and society for most of their life and has many experiences with the cultural aspect of Mormonism and the type of folklore that had been embedded in them throughout their childhood. They describe the visual aspect of the ring when stating “It has a little green shield which stands for ‘Choose the Right’, which is supposed to remind you to do the right thing and make the moral choice whilst remembering to be a good person. The informant described the ring as being “mostly for kids and the younger group of the church.” They are to be given at any young age and “whoever is teaching the lesson that day will give them out after the service” as it is given by the church to wear. It is also dictated that the saying is used for multiple scenarios as “choose the right is a common saying in games like in mazes and how you would always get out by going right” The age that the rings are most commonly worn is between “late toddler years and stop around the age of twelve” therefore being worn for a large part of their childhoods.


The aspect of having a shield on the ring provides children with the chance to view the church and the society in that they are being raised in a protected environment where they can learn to grow and continue to learn the values of Mormonism. Engraving the acronym “CTR” on the ring and embedding the phrase ‘Choose the Right’ into their thought process allows the children to develop whilst remembering that they will always be protected as long as they do what is right by their culture and the church. The idea of incorporating the acronym into a ring is symbolic as rings are typically worn in a traditional manner when referring to marriage, therefore, using a ring to produce this message and phrase conveys the attachment that is built between the child and the religious group. This is similar to marriage as it possibly foreshadows the same Christian ideology of ‘til death do us part’ conveying that they are forever connected to the community, culture and religious upbringing and that the church will perpetually be linked to their being when ‘Choos[ing] the Right’.

Black Tourmaline Crystals

Main Piece:

SP: My black tourmaline piece… It actually is my first, like, large and most expensive crystal I bought in my collection— Black tourmaline is known to be, like, a protective stone. And I have like lots of little pieces that I kinda just carry around with me all the time. A lot of people use it with clear quartz cause clear quartz acts as like an amplifier, so it’s like amplified protection. I think of it as like cleaning my energy and my space. I have little pieces sometimes in my pocket, when I’m just going out, and I have one that I like tie to my bag, my everyday bag.


Performed over a FaceTime call. One of my roommates friends, a high school senior. She is in her bedroom in Alameda, California. She obtains crystals from the shop she works at and various crystal stores in the Bay Area and from online shopping.


Crystals have long since been used for cosmetic as well as medicinal practices. I know that one of the first few societies to use crystals as spiritual charms was Ancient Egypt. This practice has carried itself over to the West, and is also used in witchcraft and Paganism. I have often wondered if the younger generation has incorporated them into their beauty routines and self-healing just because they are aesthetically pleasing to look at. The informant houses a massive crystal collection in her home, and she says that this protection charm is one of the most common and is what got her into crystals. The fact that she carries around multiple of them in her everyday life really reflects how people and religions can attribute so much meaning to material objects. It’s quite beautiful.

Burmese Protective Women

Background: The informant is a student studying in the United States but originally from Myanmar. He did not personally experience the encounter but heard about it from his mother who he trusts greatly. 

Me: Where did you hear the story you’re about to tell? 

KZ: This is from my mom‘s perspective;I heard it from her first. 

Me: Tell me about the encounter. 

KZ: When my mom was in high school, well, I need to tell you more context of everything for it to make sense. So my grandma was a high school teacher and she lived with my mom, my aunt and four siblings. They lived in the city but my grandfather is a cop, or he’s a detective, so he gets assigned random cases around the country so he would do six months in random places. My grandfather was in this town out in the middle of nowhere and then my mom had summer break so he was told well you’re a girl and you’re free so you shouldn’t be here. You should be a volunteer tutoring for summer school so my mom went to his village and it was just my grandfather in this metal Lakehouse. My mom was often alone there and he would be away most of the time. So one day she came home and its traditional houses so with really long legs elevated so it doesn’t get flooded and then there’s like a staircase at the back, right, so my mom was minding her own business, it was like 4pm, and she was cycling back home and she saw a woman with traditional clothes walk up the stairs in the back. So my mom was like oh shit there’s a thief, because my mom is like no bullshit, and she’s like I’m gonna catch this thief. She ran inside and went into all the rooms but she was gone. She didn’t see her come out so she thought the thief had just left.

Me: And I am assuming it wasn’t just a thief? 

KZ: Yeah this was her first encounter she remembers with the ghost thing or whatever. 

Me: When was the next time she remembers encountering the woman? 

KZ: Well, she often had to spend some nights alone because my grandfather had to do shit for his job. Often at night she would be in bed and she would always hear someone walking outside her balcony but thought it was something like water dripping on it. Whatever, my mom was like wow this is annoying and always got up to make sure there’s like no one outside. My moms like OK whatever I don’t have time for this but then it would keep happening so my mom got really pissed. She’s like well if you’re a spirit than fuck you cause I need to work tomorrow and like I don’t have time for this bitch. So she’s like whatever but then her siblings come for a vacation or for like three days and then they also experience the same shit. Like someone was just trying to bother them for no reason. Then my uncle, he gets super annoyed easily right, he would take a nap and someone would poke him. He asked my mother, why are you bothering me but it wasn’t her. So then one time he just pretended to be asleep and when someone poked him, like this, he grabbed it and then he just saw a hairy hand. He was like WHAT THE FUCK. At this point they realized that something was going on. So there’s a storage room and my uncle went in there and then he pulled out his dick and he pissed. He was like fuck you, if you’re a spirit living here then I you can only get my dick! He’s like fuck you don’t fuck with me again. 

Me: Haha I don’t know if that was a smart move. Do you know what this thing was? 

KZ: Yeah, there were other times at night when my grandfather was away and my grandma got haunted. She was in bed with my mom and my aunt and there was someone that kept walking on the roof. My grandma started cussing and then someone dropped something huge, so the whole house just shook. She was then like oh shit what the fuck, are we being attacked by some random people. Also my grandfather found a pink heart, and they are kind of freaked out by now. My grandfather was like “yeah I didn’t tell you guys but there are these different types of spirits in our culture. There are these female spirits whose job is basically to protect certain people and certain places.” They’re just the maintenance workers. He was like yeah there’s two of them who have been very protective of this house and protective of me. So, it turns out they really like my grandfather, they’re possessive of him, so they were really annoyed when my mom came because she’s another girl and when my grandmother came because she’s, you know, another woman that’s in my grandfather’s life. My grandfather was pretty attractive I guess. 

Me: Did they ever go away or anything? Or did the encounters just continue? 

KZ: Well he had promised them that he would bring them back to the main city one day because there is a pagoda in my city, it’s like one of the biggest monuments in the world. He basically promised them that when he goes into the city he would bring them to the pagoda so that they can do some good deeds and they can escape because they wanna move on. He then went to the pagoda and was like do whatever you want now, you’re free to go. After that all of that stuff ended, because all they wanted was to protect my grandfather. They wanted to escape this so when he finally just left them alone like nothing really happened after that. 

Me: What do you think it was?

KZ: I don’t really know. Like I believe that my mother experienced it, but I don’t know how to explain it or like what it actually is. 

The story was told to me in person while sitting next to the informant. 

My Thoughts: It is an interesting situation where the information himself did not experience it, but his mother did, and because he trusts his mother so much he believes this story as much as if he had experienced it.  Personally I think that this story is very interesting and I find myself believing that the experiences were real, although, like the informant, I am sceptical of the explanation for the events.