Tag Archives: warning

Don’t be Born on Eclipses

Background: The informant is a 50 year old man. He was born in Tecate, Mexico, moving to California when he was young. He grew up with his four siblings and two parents, moving from location to location across California. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California. 

Context: The context was when watching an astronomy show together on a streaming platform. They made a mention of an eclipse.

Text:

UI: Now, one superstition that I grew up with, that I was very well aware of and it’s going to sound completely strange, is that pregnant women should not go outside when there’s an eclipse. If a pregnant woman is outside during the time of an eclipse like that somehow or other, because of the eclipse, that the baby will be born deformed. Now, the thing with the eclipse is that, in actual fact, I don’t really know how it works. I don’t know if it’s because, you know, maybe the rays of the sun get distorted or, you know, I mean look in aztec culture they would look at it [eclipses] when they occurred. During the times of the Aztecs it was sort of like,  the moon is fighting with the sun and and the sun is overcoming the moon, It’s just something I’ve always remembered as a kid.

Me: Who did you hear it from?

UI: I had heard it from my mom. I had heard it from friends.

Me: What about when your wife was pregnant?

UI: There was an eclipse, and after explaining it to her, she understood and stayed inside.

Analysis:

Informant: The informant understands that the superstition may be considered strange by many people, self-aware that the superstition may not be well spread throughout his family. However, it is clear that the informant still believes in superstition to a strong degree.

Mine: The superstition was something new to me. It reveals a few things about Mexican culture. The first is the protective nature over pregnant women and the baby they are carrying. Since women are treated very delicately by this superstition, it would be interesting to see how it compares with other Mexican folkloric ideas. Second, not wanting the women to be exposed during an eclipse so that the baby will not be deformed shows a societal, not just Mexican, belief against children who are not born healthy. It has some negative connotations that a baby with defects is not wanted. However, that is a more modern interpretation of the superstition, and placing it into a past time period, many women used to die during childhood or their children would die when extremely young. Anything would want to be done to protect the child and the mother. If a baby does have deformities, it could ned up hurting the mother or the child might not live for long, which was extremely concerning.

Howling Dogs

Main Content:

M: Me, I: Informant

I: When I was younger, growing up my mother would say if you heard a dog howling at night, it was the soul of someone who was about to pass away or die or crossing to the next world. So, howling dogs at night used to scare me

M: Oh it used to scare you. Ok

I: Yes because it meant that someone was going to died and you didn’t know who

M: Oh gotcha, gotcha, gotcha. So you believed it to be true?

I: Well yeah I was little, like 7 or 8.

M: Do you believe it to be true today?

I: No, but there things in our family from Peru because we’re from you know that more of the rural areas, that there’s the belief in signs

Context: This was taught to my informant and the rest of her siblings when she was a small child. They all believed in this and even believe their mother had a ‘sense’ about these things. Her mother heard a basketball bouncing in the middle of the night (a symbol connected to the neighbors) and a dog howling and she claimed that someone in that household would die. Soon after the mother of the neighbors died of a surprise brain aneurysm. Seeing the folklore working in real time help to solidify in their belief of the howling dog as a premonition for a soon approaching death.

Analysis: In Peruvian culture especially in the more rural areas, there is a large focus and trust in omens. The belief is that the dogs have a sense about death and illness that humans don’t and thus they know when death is coming sooner than humans do. I think that allowing animals, dogs in this case, to have the power to sense what is coming allows for humans to conceptualize these deaths as a part of nature, a part of the life cycle, and that this was what was in the plans. It makes it easier to attribute to nature’s timing when ‘nature,’ aka dogs, is involved and know what is coming in advance- there is nothing to do but allow for life to take its course. Additionally, ‘seeing’ this work in real life with their neighbors, help to cement this belief in my informant when she was growing up, even if she doesn’t believe it as much now, possibly because she is in a much more science-valued country(the US).

Mexican proverb

Main piece: 

“Más vale que la lleves y no la ocupes a que no la lleves y la necesites” 

Transliteration:

More better that the takes and no the uses to that no the takes and the needs

Full translation:

It’s better to have it and not use it than having to use it and not having it 

Background: My informant here was my grandma who’s staying with us during COVID-19. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but lives in the U.S. with us for the most part. This recorded proverb wasn’t really an interview. I heard her say it to my mom during mid sentence and I was able to catch on to it. After I asked my grandma to repeat it for me so I can jot it down. She added that she learned it “a long time ago” and that because of it she’s always prepared for everything. 

Context: My mom was going shopping and paying bills. It was mid to late afternoon and the sun was still. She was saying bye to us when my grandma asked “do you have a sweater” to which my mom replied “no, it’s still kind of warm” and my grandma countered with the transcribed proverb and my mom ended up taking it (although I think she did just to please my grandma). 

Thoughts: I’ve heard the proverb many times, usually because my mom tells it to me when I go out. And after analyzing it a little more, I guess it’s true. It’s better to be prepared, even over prepared,  than to need something and not have it (unprepared). For example, in the case of taking a sweater when you go out. Sometimes you don’t use the sweater and you just carry it along with you. But other times, maybe it gets cold or it rains and you happen to take the sweater, so you put it on. It is in these scenarios where you benefit a lot.

“Never Let the Blood of Your Unborn Children Cry to God for Vengeance.”

Main piece:

(The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and interviewer.)

Interviewer: Can you tell me some of the old stories or wives tales your mother told you?

Informant: The most gross one is about her – her mother, my grandmother, your great great grandmother told my mother about this rich lady that she took care of in Germany – she had a big ole mansion she took care of her, and I guess the lady – uhh, my grandma took care of her when she was dying. And, uhh, she kept telling her – I think her name was Marie – to go over to the closet! Because she kept hearing children crying. And uhh, so, my grandmother told my mother… to never let the blood of your unborn children to cry to god for vengeance. And she always told me. And I thought “what in the heck does THAT mean?!

Interviewer: (laughs)

Informant: I kn- I never – I mea- (laughs). What does that mean?! And then when I – I got older, and they talked about abortion, It finally, I finally put two and two together. The lady must’ve had a lot of abortions – because you know, they were wealthy, and they didn’t want kids to mess up their lifestyle, so she probably had an abortion, and then she – as she laid on her death bed, those little spirits haunted her – or she just had a guilty conscience, and she imagined that. So that’s a kind of weird icky thing.

Interviewer: Do you think that story is true? Or-

Informant: No, It’s true! It’s true. Because it was told to me by my mother, who never lied.

Interviewer: But either way it’s a story warning against abortions.

Informant: Yes.

Background: My informant was born and raised in southern Illinois to very strict Catholic parents. She has strong Irish and Italian heritage. Her mother was a devout and strict Catholic, and she has always been very religious herself, though she has never been overly strict with her children or grandchildren.

Context: The informant is my grandmother, and has always had a proclivity for telling stories, jokes, and wives tales. This piece was selected out of many from a recording of a long night of telling stories in a comfortable environment.

Thoughts: This story is not surprising coming from an “original” teller who was devoutly religious, especially nearly a century ago. The two ways in which the informant’s mother’s religion impact this story are funnily connected, though. I mean to say, I personally find it doubtful that this story was truthfully told by my great-great-grandmother, or that it happened to her. To me, it seems almost obvious that this was simply a tale to frighten young girls out of abortions because the teller was deeply religious, and that anybody could have made it up or spread it around. That is why I believe it to be folklore in the first place. But, my grandmother is nonetheless convinced that the story was true and happened to her grandmother also because of her mother’s religious nature – and feeling sure that she was not lying.

Old Stage Road Ghost

Here is a transcription of my (CB) interview with my informant (CH).

CH: “And so it is a very long old sort of dark road. And it’s kinda windy. And it is super quiet out there, it is creepy quiet. But I sorta always thought that it was peaceful, so I don’t know why they always get freaked out by it. And a lot of kids actually used to go out on this road and drink and party because you just couldn’t hear it and there’s nobody around to call the cops. So there’s tons and tons and tons of stories of this thing that actually seems to occur and happen there. So there’s this woman who walks along the road there, and its supposed to be if you’re out there between 1am and 3am in the morning. And you will see her in a nightgown or just a billowing white dress and her hair is sort of hanging down and flowing, but yeah it was basically the classic tale. But almost everyone says that she’s looking down. And uh… uh.. She will literally appear out of nowhere, and if you pull up next to her she will either disappear, or she will turn and look at you with these sort of sunken eyes. And others have said that if you’re driving she will just all of the sudden appear next to the car, like going as fast as the car. And then she turns and looks at you and disappears. Other people say that their radio gets staticy, and they hear someone just screaming, this blood curdling screaming. Sometimes even over the music, it was just so loud in the car and outside the car at the same time. And they’d see this woman in the middle of the road, you know just right in front of the car, and they’d literally just drive right through her, and she’d disappear. And so the story goes that its a woman who had accepted a ride from a stranger, and he had raped and murdered her brutally and just left her in the field. So, um, yeah.”

CB: “Why do you think people tell the story?”

CH: “I think they tell it to keep young women from walking the streets at night or sneaking out of the house. Because that very well could happen, it has happened, and, uh, it will probably happen again. I think it’s just to keep kids inside their houses at night, instead of going out and walking the roads, you know. It keeps them from partying” 

Background:

My informant grew up in Salinas, and was raised by her mother and grandmother who grew up in the area as well. As a kid and teenager she spent a large amount of her time at or around Old Stage Road. The ghost stories surrounding the road are so notorious that I’ve heard many of them without having lived in Salinas, or ever even been to the road. Old Stage Road was a very popular teenage hangout spot, particularly in the 80’s for cruising. 

Context:

I interviewed my informant over the phone, and we had a light and casual conversation. I had heard of the road and that it was haunted many times before, but this was the first time I heard the details of some of the stories associated with the road.

Thoughts:
I think that it’s most interesting that the stories surrounding Old Stage Road are often associated with a car. I think this association reflects the importance of teenage car culture as my informant was growing up. This ghost story in particular places a heavy emphasis on proper ways to behave within car culture. It acts as a warning for young women against getting into the car with strangers. My informant cites the story as acting as a warning for all kids against going out. However, I think that ghost stories often encourage young people to go exploring. I think it’s more likely that this story was spread as a warning to women about accepting rides from strangers, and gained popularity through its appeal and connection to the younger generation.

For another variation of Old Stage Road haunting see Reddit post “Old Stage Road” posted by u/moonriver7811. https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/2op9ed/old_stage_road/