Tag Archives: sleeping

Aunt’s Ghost Story about Sleeping Boy

Details

  • collected on 03/23/2024
  • Genre: Memorate
  • Language: English
  • Nationality: Mexican-American
  • Relationship to Informant: Friend
  1. Text 
    1. Summary: 
      1. The Informant’s aunt grew up in rural Mexico with a big family. One night, she woke up because she felt someone in her bed. When she opened her eyes, she saw a little boy sleeping next to her and assumed it was her little brother. In the morning, she noticed her little brother sleeping in his own room and wearing different clothing. When she asked her brother why he slept in her bed, he told her that he hadn’t done that. 
    2. Direct transcription of folklore:
      1. “So, my aunt Liz (pretty sure this was Liz) was 15 and they were living in this old house in the middle of the country. One morning – actually the middle of the night – she woke up because she felt someone in her bed. So she woke up and turned around, and it was a little boy. At first, she was like ‘what the h***’ because my dad’s family has three boys and two girls. So, at first she was like, ‘Oh, George, what are you doing here?’ Then she really looked at him, and she was like ‘oh my God, that’s not George.’ I can’t remember if she like went back to sleep …. no, no, no … Okay, so what happened was she saw the boy and she was like ‘oh, it’s George’ because the little boy had his back turned to her. So then she fell asleep and woke up. Then she went and saw that George was sleeping in his own bed. He was also wearing something completely different than the boy she saw that night. So she was like ‘what happened last night? Why did you come sleep in my bed?’ and he was like ‘I didn’t, I was here the whole night.’”
  2. Context 
    1. Informant is a USC student in her early 20s who was born and raised in the Sacramento Valley. This ghost story was told to her by her aunt, and it has become an oral tradition in her family. 
  3. Analysis 
    1. The ghost in this story is a little boy who sleeps in a young girl’s bed. Since the boy is very peaceful and doesn’t intend to scare her, it can be seen as an innocent soul looking for a family connection. This suggests cultural values of family and community acceptance. It also suggests the perspective that ghosts can be non-harmful, which indicates an open mind to the spiritual world. 

Eggs, shoes, and nightmares.

A is a 59-year-old Hispanic American female originally from La Junta, a small town in Southeastern Colorado. A currently works as a background detective in Phoenix Arizona.

A informed me of this folklore over a dinner discussion. We were on the topic of family superstitions, and I asked A if she had any superstitions that she remembered her family believing in.

A: I was told by my parents that you’re not allowed to have eggs at night because you will have nightmares after eating them. They are only meant for the morning. I also remember you were not allowed to put your shoes underneath your head under your bed because that too would cause you nightmares.

Reflection: At first I had a hard time finding a correlation between these seemingly unrelated practices and nightmares. However, as A implies, the nightmares are induced by breaking the natural order of things. Like eating an egg (breakfast food) at night. Applying these same parameters, it can be assumed that keeping shoes underneath your head is harmful given that it breaks the natural order of shoes being on your feet. Based on my personal experiences being raised in a Hispanic family, there is often a strong emphasis on orderliness in the household and not breaking tradition. Perhaps these same values account for the superstitions present in A’s family.

Haunted House in Indiana- The Funny Man and the Woman with the Red Eyes: Sleep Paralysis and Two Traveling Ghosts, Cured by a Witchdoctor

I first heard this story when I asked the speaker if she had ever seen a ghost, but when she began telling her story I remembered that I had heard parts of this tale before. The speaker told her story in a very matter-of-fact tone and spoke first about her experiences with friendly and unfriendly ghosts. For another example of a ghost legend by this same speaker, search “Haunted Theaters and Ghost Lights” in the USC folklore archive.

*

When the speaker and her twin brother were three years old, they shared a room in Gary, Indiana in a house completely made of brick. “My mom came in [to the children’s bedroom], she had just put us to bed. And then she heard me and my brother laughing. And so she like came back into the room and she’s like, What’s going on here? She’s like, what’s happening? And we’re like, ‘The man, the man. He’s making a funny face.’ And there was nobody there.”

“Was I scared? No, because he was one of the friendly ones of the house,” the speaker said. “He was kind of just there for jokes and like to make children laugh, because apparently, um, his grandchildren died in the house. And he like, died out of grief. And he loved kids. So he would just play with my brother and I [sic] occasionally.”

The speaker said that there were also unfriendly ghosts, and that she had recently gotten rid of one of these malicious specters. ” “They moved with us to Florida. And at first, I didn’t notice because they didn’t approach me. At first, they would just stay in the corner. And I didn’t realize it would always be a really scary woman with two red eyes. And I didn’t know what she was. I thought she was just like, a spirit… But no, she turned out to be worse than I thought.”

The speaker said that she began to experience sleep paralysis and that “I would be screaming, and she’d be attacking me. And I couldn’t move. And I’d wake up with bruises on my arms and my legs because she was sitting on top of me.” She slept with her mother at age 17 because of these nightly attacks. When she returned to her bedroom, she said, ” “I was screaming to save my mom and my brother. But they couldn’t hear me. And then just the woman was just taking my family away from me. And I didn’t like I couldn’t do anything. I was just sitting there. And then again, my mom woke me up screaming, crying in real life. “

The speaker’s Puerto Rican grandfather, Julio, was a witch doctor. “We had to pin a square piece of black cloth underneath my pillow. I don’t know what it was to catch her something like that.” Soon after that she moved to Southern California to attend school, and she hasn’t seen either ghost since.

*

This story was told at night in the kitchen, and three college-age females were present. The speaker said that she was relieved to be rid of the ghosts, and that after her parents’ divorce, she rarely visited the Gary House. She also said that the house was torn apart after the divorce, and that her father would start projects that he wouldn’t complete (for example, fixing the bathroom tub). I think these ghosts may have something to do with the divorce, but I believe that this experience was very frightening for the speaker.

This speaker later scoffed at my mentioning that a friend received therapy when recovering from his parent’s divorce. Her response suggested that children do not need therapy for this life change.

For another example of ghosts stories indicating changes in property ownership or status quo, see the scholarly article “Ghostly Possession of Real Estate: The Dead in Contemporary Estonian Folklore” by Ulo Valk (2006).

The concept of traveling ghosts is certainly frightening, and this story was welcome after a long day’s work.

Tug of War with a Ghost

Informant: It was in North Carolina. I just got done playing with a fake Oujia board (like the ones you would find online). I went to bed. I woke up and it was freezing. I had a habit of kicking my blanket off in my sleep. I go to grab it and something was tugging against me. I thought nothing of it because I was half-asleep. I eventually won this tug-of-war and went back to sleep. I woke up the next morning freaked out because I realized I was fighting for a blanket with something in my half-asleep state. I did not think it was sleep paralysis or anything because I got up to get my blanket back. I just really want to know what wanted my blanket and why.

Background/Informant Thoughts: Informant was 15 going on 16 in North Carolina during the summer of 2016. (This is the same informant with the two Virginia apartment ghost stories.) The informant was in disbelief that she fought with something over a blanket. She was not scared or anything, but she was confused as to why it happened. She also stated that after this experience, it never happened again.

My Thoughts: While this story is seemingly more tame compared to the apartment ones, this still freaks me out a lot! In a groggy, sleepy state, I would be scared out of my mind if I was fighting with a ghost over my blanket. I also think this ghost story shows that the person is prone to being haunted in general. With having multiple accounts of being haunted at a Virginia apartment as a kid, I believe the ghosts have simply followed her around just to maybe mess with her.

Bedroom Arrangement Superstitions

Main Text:

HS: “The foot of your bed can’t face the door because that brings bad luck.”

Context:

HS and I were in my apartment by ourselves rearranging by bedroom so that it allows for more space and when I tried to put the bed on the wall opposite the door she told me this belief that her grandma had always told her. I responded in a sense of disbelief because I thought she was joking because I have ever heard anything like that but she reassured me that she was being serious and that her grandma really used to tell her that. She believes it was just a weird preference that her grandma had and that there is not really anything else to it but she likes to pass it along just in case something were to happen to the person that she did not tell it to. After we finished rearranging the room ( I refrained from putting the foot of the bed facing the door just in case) I had to run and get a piece of paper so that I made sure to collect this belief exactly as I had heard it.

Analysis:

Although the informants grandma moved here from England in her mid-life years, many cultures actually share this same belief. The thing that make the most sense to analyze from this piece is the why the bed cannot be placed a certain way which begs the question that a different arrangement must be better. Because this folk belief focuses mainly on the arrangement of material object I feel that it is appropriate to start my analysis relating this piece to Feng shui. Feng Shui originated in China but many different people of different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs still believe in practicing Feng Shui. Feng shui claims to use energy forces in order to make people more in harmony with the surrounding object and surrounding environment and I think this folk belief has appeared because putting the foot of your bed facing the door is against the Feng Shui because that specific arrangement does not place your bed on a spot of good qi or energy. People and cultures who believe in Feng Shui I believe continue to pass along this folk belief as a way to get people in good energy with their surroundings and as a way to spread the belief of Feng Shui as well.

Another reason I believe that people have passed along the idea that putting the foot of the bed facing the door as being bad luck is a historical one. I have heard that when someone dies in a room, they are taken and passed room to room feet first. So in a way, by putting one’s bed oriented towards the way a corpses would be removed from a room instills bad luck upon that person and symbolized that they are going to die soon.

The last way to analyze this folk belief is that people who believe in spirits are those that pass along this belief. This is because it is also said that if you orient your feet towards the door while you are sleeping, then spirits will be able to drag you out of the room in this way. Although this is another folk belief explaining a folk belief, I think it is important to understand that this explanatory folk belief ties together a group of people who will be ready and willing to pass down the folk belief being studied. This group of individuals all share a common belief in ghosts and this common belief in ghosts and evil spirits is not what only ties them together as a specific group of people but also affects the lore that they tell to other people and their reasons for telling it. If they believe in bad spirits pulling people out of a room if given the right opportunity, then it is logical that they would tell others not to orient their bad in an opportunistic manner towards spirits as a way to protect them from the bad luck of being taken by one.