Tag Archives: Spirit

A Spirit Still At Home

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 46
Occupation: construction worker
Residence: Syracuse, NY
Date of Performance/Collection: October 22, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

I am interviewing my uncle, who had a son (my cousin) that died last year to an overdose of pills. The informant believes that after his son’s untimely death, strange sightings occurred that made him believe he was seeing signs of his son’s spirit from the dead.

Me: How exactly did your son die?

Uncle: He passed away from an overdose of sleeping pills. He was having trouble sleeping for many weeks and one morning, he didn’t come down for breakfast. I went up to his room and he was in his bed unconscious. The ambulance came right away but it was too late.

Me: Do you think it was suicide, or rather a mistake?

Uncle: my wife and I believe it was a mistake. DJ was having a hard time in his freshman year of college and came home in a state of depression, but we don’t think he was trying to take his life.

Me: And what is it that seemed strange after his untimely death?

Uncle: After DJ passed, I had multiple situations where I saw signs of him. We put an electric candle that turns on at night in his bedroom window. One morning on my way to work a few weeks after his death, I peered up at his window and saw the candle flickering on and off, which is not supposed to happen during the day.

Me: What else has been strange since he has passed?

Uncle: The other thing that happened which made me believe DJ was still here in some way was with my cameras I have in the backyard to watch birds. There was one beautiful, rare bird that I had never seen in my camera after decades of watching. A few days after DJ’s death, the bird not only came across on my camera, but perched up on the branch next to it and sat there staring for minutes at it.

Me: What do you think the message or sign of this was?

Uncle: If you ask me, I think it was a final way for DJ to say “fuck you” for being bad parents. My wife just thinks it was a sign from him to get our attention.

Me: Has any other sightings happened?

Uncle: Every once in a while, as I’m walking up to my room for bed, I pass by DJ’s room and look in quickly. There have been a few times where I hear his voice or get a flash at him in his room, but every time I run in quickly the room is empty. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve had too many drinks, or if I really do hear and see him still in his room.

This story has a place in my heart because it was my own cousin, who I never imagined would try to commit suicide. Looking at some of these strange occurrences that my uncle has dealt with, he seems to think that DJ wants to be seen or heard from his parents still. He claims that part of this may be because of his untimely death, or perhaps because they don’t believe they treated him right. He says in the interview that he believes it’s a final “fuck you” to him and his wife, and I can verify that DJ was the type to show hatred, but I don’t believe that this was the reasoning for these signs. His father also acknowledges that he may just be forcing these signs on himself to try and remember DJ, or to deny the fact that he is gone. Sometimes when he sees a glimpse of DJ or hears him from upstairs, he convinces himself that he’s too drunk or crazy, but it is not unlikely that DJ’s spirit is still within the house. After all, he did die in that bedroom in a way that is untimely. My uncle is not a religious person, but he agrees with my take that DJ’s life may be gone, but his spirit could still be with them in their home. The description by my uncle of the bird sighting he had was especially intriguing to me. The one bird my uncle could never capture on camera for decades gives him minutes of video staring directly into the camera, almost trying to be seen. This makes me wonder how much of a connection this has to how DJ wanted to be seen, heard, or felt by his parents. I’m not saying he reincarnated into that bird in his afterlife, but I would like to think that DJ’s spirit would have the power to create a situation that would make his father happier in such a hard time. Seeing someone that myself and many others loved for his strong will, maturity and sense of humor leave so suddenly (potentially through self harm) was very hard on our family, especially my uncle. Whether my uncle truly did have connections with DJ’s spirit through these sightings is a mystery to us all, but I still have reasonable belief that these were no coincidence. The untimely death, the way he passed, and where he passed all cause me to think that maybe DJ’s spirit is still in the comforts of his home, watching over his parents and enjoying the peace he always wanted.

The Spirit of Chipeta

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation: Director of Ute Indian Museum
Residence: Montrose, CO
Date of Performance/Collection: 10/29/20
Primary Language:
Other Language(s):

Background

The Ute Native Americans are in three reservations in Colorado and Utah: Unitah-Ouray, Southern Ute, and Ute Mountain. They have their own sovereign nations that have their own tribal leadership. Within reservations there are different bands of Ute Natives. The story told takes place in the Ute Indian Museum Montrose, Colorado. There Chipeta and her brother John McCook are buried. Chief Ouray, Chipeta’s husband, is said to be buried in Utah.

Chief Ouray was designated chief by the U.S. since he spoke English. He was Apache and Ute, he belonged to the Uncompahgre Band. He had one child with his first wife Black Mare, however she passed away unexpectedly. Since Ouray spoke English, Spanish, and Ute, the U.S. government decided to make him the proxy for treaties, regardless of how the Ute governed themselves. Nevertheless, Chief Ouray always strived for peace.

When gold was found in the San Juan Mountains, settlers began to encroach. The lands of all natives got smaller and smaller. The Utes were moved to what is now known as Montrose County. A settler was ploughing land near the reservation assigned to the Utes. The young Utes, as accustomed, raced their horses. However, they had raced on some of the ploughed land. This dispute eventually exploded, but no one knows who shot first. The incident did lead to the involvement of Nathan Meeker, the Indian agent at the White River Indian Agency that managed the Utes. Meeker did not care about the culture and customs of the natives, he was predisposed against Utes. The small dispute led to more conflict and eventually Meeker called on federal troops. The Utes viewing it as a threat rebelled, and took Meeker’s wife and daughter. After, finding out what had occurred, Chipeta wept for Josephine Meeker and her daughter. She showed kindness. The U.S. successfully negotiated to have them released and they went to Ouray and Chipeta’s ranch.

However, the Utes were forced to relocate, after a final battle, to Utah and further away from their lands. Chipeta didn’t have children, but she loved them and adopted many. Chief Ouray was blamed for the relocation of the Utes, and labeled a traitor, but given U.S. history, Ouray also saved his people from genocide, he saved the children of the tribe and their future.

It is extremely important to recognize that the entities and spirits in the Ute Indian Museum are not malicious

The museum has been here since 1956. It closed down in 2015 to remodel, and expand the museum. The original structure is still present. The staff has reported viewing orbs of light and shadow-people. When they watch the cameras, they move around quickly. They move around real fast, and trigger sensors, so they do get a police officer. He was scared of coming out to the museum.

The Story

We sat in CJ’s office at the Ute Indian Museum. Flute music played in the background. Photographs of the museum and her children lined the walls, along with Ute artifacts. Two words describe CJ, spiritual and calm.
My name is CJ Brafford. I am the director at the Ute Indian museum, I am Ogologo Lakota. I was born on the Pine-Ridge Indian Reservation and have been the caretaker of the Ute Indian Museum for 24 years. When I came here for the job, the doors to the museum were locked, and no one gave me a key. I wandered the grounds and met Chipeta. I didn’t know yet, who she was.

Being Native I have been around many things, and seen many too. I have been here for 20 years and I have traveled and researched the Utes. So, I think I about gathered as much information as I can. I have seen many archival records, but one day a community member of Montrose called. She wanted to see me and share something with me. When she arrived at the museum she came in and she showed me a picture. I had not seen this picture, and I got so excited, like oh my gosh, I’ve never seen this picture. Chapita is buried here, she died in Utah in 1924 but she was brought back to Montrose in 1925. The Ute were removed in 1881, but nonetheless Chipeta is here today. On the museum grounds next to her brother John McCook. So, when she came in, I thought she was showing me a picture that she found at the archives or found somewhere else. It’s a picture she took just the night before on the museum grounds. She wanted me to identify the person in the picture. She knew it was an Indian woman, but I knew it was Chipeta.

Another time, I was at the front desk when somebody in the gift store said, “I don’t want you to think I’m kind of strange, but Chipeta’s standing right behind you”.

Questions

After the story I had two questions, why is Chipeta still on the grounds and why is Chief Ouray not buried beside her, CJ provided answers.
Chief Ouray went to go sign another treaty, but he got sick and passed away in Utah in 1880 away from his home. The Southern Ute did not allow his body to be taken back with the agent from the White River Indian Agency. A year later, two Ute bands in Colorado were forced to relocate to Utah. The Ute at that time placed their deceased in caves. Chief Ouray was placed among other chiefs. Chipeta was with Ouray when he passed, and she knew where he was buried.

A federal troop account said that they saw Utes and a horse with a body over it. It is believed that Chipeta brought him back and buried him in a disclosed place. Utes have come by and said he is in the Black Canyon. There was an attempt to bring Ouray to Chipeta’s burial ground, and Chipeta to Ouray’s.

CJ heard was that after the Ute bands were removed, Chipeta would travel from Montrose to Dragon, Utah through train. Chipeta befriended a wealthy man, who had the first car. His employers would pack Chipeta a picnic lunch and he would drop her off here. She would sit here to do her choosing, and she would cry. I think part of her spirit is still left here, even when she journeyed over. This was her home, and up there it was foreign. The place given to them was barren, we had mountains. There was greenery here, they were given a desert.

Chipeta is a guardian, consoling all who are tied to the land where her history is in the landscape. When it was taken from the Utes, she came back to Montrose, rueful that many of the Utes would not return.
Chipeta and her brother John McCook remain buried in Montrose, Colorado.

Sources
CJ Brafford Ute Indian Museum Director
Platts, Henry. “Ouray.” Colorado Encyclopedia, https://coloradoencyclopedia.org/article/ouray. Accessed 29 October 2020.

Korean Sink Ghost

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean-American
Age: 20
Occupation: student
Residence: Fullerton, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/29/2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Korean, Mandarin

Text:

Informant: There’s this nice ghost who lives under the sink and if you leave leftover food in your bowl it will go down the drain and it will choke the ghost. The ghost will be miserable. It’s a happy ghost that brings joy and luck to the household, but if you leave food on your plate and it goes down in the sink then the ghost, it’s a very tiny spirit, will be choked. The spirit will die and it won’t bring any happiness to the home. I think it’s told to keep kids tidy because it’s very clean in Korea. Like we don’t even put food in the sink. That’s not something we do. We dispose of food separately, and I think parents tell their kids this to help them to learn to throw things away right. 

Context: I asked a group of friends to share any superstitions they were raised with. This was one of their replies. The informant is of Korean descent and was raised in both Korea and China.

Thoughts:

This is clearly a very modern superstition, but it feels old. It seems cleat to me that it was made by a parent to keep their child from clogging the drain.

The Ghosts of Cheesman Park: Haunting in Colorado

--Informant Info--
Nationality: French
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/17/19
Primary Language: French
Other Language(s): English

Background: CW Originally heard the story from their father and once from their grandmother, positioning the story as fairly old within the history of Cheesman. CW Then looked it up on google to confirm it. CW Finds the story interesting and “Kind of messed up, to be honest” it matters to them because they lived in a haunted place and had a friend who was extremely interested in ghost hunting.
——————————————————————————————————————–
Context CW, with a mug of hot tea sits, on my couch after an afternoon of doing homework and recounts stories from their childhood. The atmosphere is calm, the air is calm and the room is mostly quiet in between stories. CW has known the collector for some time and thus is excited to share their stories.

Performance:
CW:The park that I used to live by is supposedly super haunted because it used to be a cemetery
MW: Aw Hell yeah!
CW: CHEESMAN PARK
MW: Cheesman Park?
CW Cheesman Park.
CW: OK Cheesman park used to be a cemetery I don’t remember when but the …..the city was like “Hey why don’t we not make this a cemetery”
CW: Cause ok it was a cemetery for un unn, like you know like people who weren’t paying for a burial
MW: A potters field?
CW Yeah, and also Asian Americans in Little Cheesman which is a part of Cheesman but it’s like a strip on the other side of the road. That’s where the Asian Americans people were. I think, if I’m remembering correctly Idunno.
CW:And so the city was like “Yeah we don’t want this to be a graveyard anymore so lets like”….I’m starting to doubt what I remember
MW: Just tell me what you remember
CW: So they hired someone to, like basically dig up all the graves. Buuut he was super sketchy and he would like mix the remains and pack them into child coffins to make more money off of it….[CW trails off, and laughs at my bewildered expression inn response to the exhuming ]
CW: But now supposedly Cheesman park is like super haunted because of all the graves that were disrupted.
CW: My friends told me if you lay down in Cheesman park you’ll feel like you can’t get back up because the spirits are trying to keep you there with them and definitely like a lot of weird noises
CW: Because I lived right on the park, I was pretty convinced they were some whack noises for the middle of ….Denver….the Gay Neighborhood of Denver, but yeah…spoooky.
——————————————————————————————————————–
Analysis:
The story plays on two key fears that might represent the anxieties in the Cheesman community, notably two different local marginalized groups at the time of the story’s conception, the poor and Asian Americans. These groups likely felt uncomfortable in the city anyway and made some of the majority uncomfortable with their presence thus the city’s desire to remove the cemetery can be seen as a drive to remove these people from the environment. The desecration of their graves, the stuffing of bones into childrens’ coffins serves to mimic the disrespect these communities received in life and why they’d be angry enough to trap someone in the park and force their victims to join their community. Likewise that Cheesmann is now “the gay neighborhood of Denver” the feeling of unrest and danger felt by the LGBT community there might to be an impetus for the survival of the story.

No Mirror Facing You When You Sleep

--Informant Info--
Nationality: US
Age: 19
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: Apr 21, 2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Context: The collector interviewed the informant (as XZ) for superstitions. The informant is a USC student from Los Angeles. Her parents are from China. The conversation was in the collector’s dorm room When the informant saw a mirror on the collector’s bookshelf, she came up with the following folk belief.

 

 

Main Piece:

Never put the mirror where you can see your own reflection when you sleep.

 

XZ: My parents told me never put the mirror where you can see your own reflection when you sleep. Because when you are sleeping, your soul, this is so funny, I don’t really believe it, is above your body and moves around. So if you have a mirror facing you when you are sleeping, your soul will look into the mirror and get confused. So it will, like, not go back to your body.

XZ: My parents just told me the story. They think it’s funny. But some people really believe in this. They never put mirrors where mirrors reflect their bed.

 

The informant doesn’t think it is an Asian folk belief but rather an American one. She said that she didn’t believe the saying, but when asked about whether she would put a mirror against her bed, she answered no.

 

 

Collector’s thoughts:

Reflection of the real world in the mirror is a common topic of folk belief. There seem to be an underlying fear of the other self in the reflection, which threatens the exclusivity of self in the real world.

This folk belief also involves the topic of body and soul separation, and the process of sleeping. In this folklore, the connection between the soul and the body is unstable. The soul can get lost easily.

Blue Ghosts in Okinawa, Japan

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: college age freshman
Occupation: student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

AM: So, it was- like the first month or two when i moved to Japan and I was hanging outside at like…2am like at night in a park. Um, the military base we was staying on was built like near like Japanese Shrines and whatnot and they said that you know the shrines are haunted and there’s a lotta “superstitions” with those. So while we’re out hanging, there was like oh look- you can see a bluf- blue figure on a hill like on top of the shrine and when I looked over you- I saw like a bluish like glow from the hills where the shrine was and they said that this island is one of the most haunted places and that there’s a lot of spirits around.

VG: Woah. What island was it?

AM: Okinawa.

VG: Woah-

AM: And that is- it is very common to see those there… so we was like “yeah, let’s get the hell out of here.”

 

Background:

Location of Story – Okinawa, Japan

Location of Performance – Dormitory room, Los Angeles, CA, night

 

Context: This performance took place in a group setting – about 2-3 people – in a college dormitory room. This performance was prompted by the call for stories about beliefs, ghosts, or superstitions as examples of folklore. This story came after a few others. The one prior was specifically about a high school grade being cursed.

 

Analysis: One point of interest in this performance is the effectiveness of the subtlety of the description of the “spirits.” The only physical description the audience receives about these supernatural beings is that they humanoid in figure and blue. The color is particularly notable because, at least in my experience, I have always viewed the ghosts in ghost stories as being neutral toned or white. Therefore, this description was able to create a whole new image for me and draw me deeper into this performance. It also reinforces the foreignness AM might feel since he had just moved to Japan: not only is the location different but also all of the local lore. One might even go so far as to say that this story was presented with a negative conation despite having no description of graphic hauntings or threats. 

La Siguanaba

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Salvadorean
Age: 56
Occupation:
Residence: california
Date of Performance/Collection: 2019
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

“La Siguanaba was the mother of El Cipitio. She wandered around the river banks at night and would lure men to her. At first, she would appear to be the most beautiful woman on earth to make sure men would follow her into the woods. She would flirt with them too. After playing with the men, the Siguanaba would turn into a hideous woman and would torture the men until they went completely crazy. She would do this over and over.”

Context:

The informant is a middle-aged woman, born in El Salvador. She learned this story from her grandmother. The informant believes that the story is told to stop people from wandering around at night, especially young men and women. This was a form to instill fear into them.

 

The Weeping Lady of the Woods

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age:
Occupation: Retired
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

“There was this story we were told as kids up in the mountains of Tennessee. I never heard her but apparently at night there was a spirit of a woman who would cry in front of a specific tree. She cried there because when running away from a predator, a cougar or something big, she and her two children tried to climb up that tree to get away, but her two kids fell off the tree and were killed by the cougar. The woman was devastated and committed suicide shortly thereafter. So, at night you can hear her weeping next to the tree where her children were killed. I never heard her but everyone knew about her.”

 

Context:

The informant is an elderly Caucasian woman born and raised in Tennessee. I asked the informant what she thought the story meant or was told, she responded that she feels the story is a way to warn people, specifically kids, of the dangers that exist within the woods.

 

Analysis:

This legend has similarities to another folklore legend found in Mexico known as  LA LLORONA. They both have weeping women who weep for their lost children. I agree with the informant on the meaning or relevance of the legend. It is a way to warn children of the dangers found in the woods, especially at night.

The Lady in White

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age:
Occupation:
Residence: california
Date of Performance/Collection: 2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

“A couple of weeks before my first husband was diagnosed with cancer, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a spirit of a woman floating in the middle of my room. She was staring toward me but was not looking at me. She looked sad. I decided to close my eyes and hide under the covers. After a while I fell asleep. The next night though, she appeared again, but this time she was much closer to my bed. She was at the end of my bed actually. I was so afraid and decided to slowly walk around her and out the door. My husband woke up after I left and he rushed out of the room as well. He was panting and his face was white. He said he had seen a woman in a white dress floating in the middle of the room and that she was staring right at him. I told him I had also seen her. It was so creepy. A few weeks later he was diagnosed with cancer and he died some months later.”

Context:

The informant is an elderly Caucasian woman born and raised in Tennessee. She had this spiritual experience while married to her first husband who died of cancer. She now believes that the spirit was trying to warn her about her husband having developed cancer. A couple of days after seeing this spirit, her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Analysis:

I believe that the informant now believes that the spirit she saw was trying to communicate to her the terrible news to come. Maybe back then she might have just felt fear but today the informant truly believes that that spirit was a good spirit.

Poltergeist

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 34
Occupation: Program Coordinator at the School of Interactive Media and Games and the University of southern California, and freelance comic book writer
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 6, 2018
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Collected in the informant’s office on his free time. I asked him to describe a time where he experienced something that he couldn’t explain.

The informant attended the University of Southern California many years ago. The apartment he discusses is not known to be haunted.
Informant: “Um… Well, uhh… When I was in school here at USC, uh, there was a series of very strange events in my building. And, uhh… one night there was a loud, uh, series of noises from my living room of my one-bedroom apartment. I could see that my, uh, cla- my roommate was asleep next to us, and but there was clearly someone in the other room. And when I went in to investigate, things had been knocked off the shelves and walls, but the room was not broken into. Uh, and I am convinced that it was a poltergeist.”

Interviewer: “What would you define a poltergeist as?”

Informant: “Uh, well poltergeists are, uh, unmoored spirits traditionally, uh, kept from the afterlife by their own unfinished business, uhh, frequently revolved, or revolving around, like, rage, hate, or anger – Negative emotions that have kept them tethered to the world. But, uh, poltergeists traditionally, uh, travel. Uh, they’re not tied to one singular location. Um, so I believe at the time, uh, there was a, it was simply a poltergeist was moving through our apartment complex.”

Interviewer: “Interesting… Were there any other details about the incident?”

Informant: “[Sighs and smacks lips, thinking] Um… Only that a apropo of nothing, a similar incident was reported by our downstairs neighbors the night before, and, uh, a very strange occurrence happened a few days later when everyone was watching a movie together, and in the same moment, everyone screamed, uh, because we all saw, in the same moment, a face in the screen. It was like a, just an image of like, the characters were standing in front of a bush, and the green bush, for a moment, shifted, and we all saw it.”

Interviewer: “You saw the face too?”

Informant: “I saw the face, yeah.”

Interviewer: “What did the face look like?”

Informant: “Uh, it was just a brief moment of, like, an, an angry man’s face. Like a screaming face.”

Interviewer: “What do you think that was? Same thing?”

Informant: “[Sighs deeply in thought] … Yes? It couldn’t have been a different poltergeist. Like probably the same spirit infesting the building, uh, for that period of time.”
The informant has an interesting claim of poltergeists being able to move from location to location, not tied to a person or place like other sources claim. He also has a reliable account due to other people also being witnesses to multiple accounts of this “poltergeist.”