Published on January 20, 2008
Beliefs and Tales of the Supernatural: Beliefs and Tales of the Supernatural Dr. Patrick A Polk UNEX Fall Quarter 2007 Hypotheses/Methodological Orientations Concerning Supernatural Occurrences: Experience Conditioned by “Frame of Reference” Holistic view of belief and narrative “Frame of Reference”: possibility that various cultural, social, psychological, physiological, and environmental factors converged at the moment of experience Setting, social expectations, tradition and heritage, emotional state, etc. Hypotheses/Methodological Orientations Concerning Supernatural Occurrences Key Questions for Research: Key Questions for Research What are common themes, actions, occurrences, and settings for supernatural experiences? To what extent are supernatural experiences innate or learned? Are supernatural experiences generated by the violation or adherence to behavioral norms? How do various groups/individuals determine, describe and explain supernatural experiences? What are the functions/uses of the supernatural? Traditional Belief Systems; Otherworldy Taxonomies: Traditional Belief Systems; Otherworldy Taxonomies Beliefs and Tales of the Supernatural Viewed as: Systems of Cultural Knowledge and Action Explanatory Models Historical Discourses/Processes The West Indian Supernatural World: The West Indian Supernatural World The Research Setting: The Research Setting The Research Topic: The West Indian Supernatural Belief Context British West Indies: Barbados, Grenada, etc. Concentrates Primarily on Data Provided by 1 Informant: George Graves Though Race Matters in Grenada, No Real Difference Between “White” and “Black” Belief The Supernatural Realm: The Supernatural Realm At Sea/In Water The Mermaid: Classic Long-haired Beauty with Comb and Music; Possible Treasure Mamadjo/Mama d’eau/Yemoja: Water-goddesses of the African Diaspora The Sea Devil: Owner of the Ocean’s Bounty; Counteracted or Bargained With The Supernatural Realm: On Land Ligaroo (loup garou): Evil Man, Shapeshifter, Flies at Night, Sucks Blood, Doing Evil Things for Money Sucoyan (succubus): Female Counterpart of the Ligaroo, Called “Hags” in the Old Days, La Jablesse: (la diablesse): Female Temptress Who Leads People Astray, Wears a Long Dress that Hides a Cloven Left Hoof Jumbies: Spirits or Ghosts, Inhabit Trees and Other Notable Landmarks, Sometimes Follow People; Sometimes Appear in Dreams Obeah Men and Women: Workers of Magic and Witchcraft The Supernatural Realm Zombies and Haiti: A Lesson in History, Migration, and Interpretation: Zombies and Haiti: A Lesson in History, Migration, and Interpretation Haitian Folk Belief and the Human Soul: Haitian Folk Belief and the Human Soul Haiti = 90% Catholic, 10% Protestant and 100% Vodou God = Bon Dieu/Bondye Saints = St. James/Sen Jak, etc. Lwa = Ogou, Ezili, etc. Each Person has Two Souls/Spiritual Essences: Gran Bon Ange = Immortal Soul Ti Bon Ange = Life Force From Nzambi to Zonbi: From Nzambi to Zonbi Central African Spirituality: Nzambi Mpungo = God Nzambi = Human Spirit/Soul African Diaspora: Brazil = Zambi/Zumbi British West Indies = Jumbie French West Indies, Louisiana = Zonbi, Zombi From Zonbi to Zombie: From Zonbi to Zombie U.S. Occupation of Haiti (1915-1934) American Officials and Public Audiences Enchanted by Tales of Voodoo and Black Magic Haitian Folk Beliefs/Legends about Souls and Sorcery Morph into North American Beliefs about Haiti William Seabrook, The Magic Island (1929) Zombie Entrenched in North American Popular Culture Russian Peasant Beliefs and Practices: Russian Peasant Beliefs and Practices The Research Setting: The Research Setting Research Topic: Customs and Beliefs Concerning Death Among Russian Peasantry Impoverished Rural Agricultural Area Religious Background: Old Believers and Russian Orthodox Historically, Village Life Framed by 2 Complex Ritual Events: Weddings and Funerals Conceptualizing Natural/Supernatural Space: Village/Forest Ethnographic Data Collected During 2 Week Period Concentrates on Data Provided by 4 Informants Conceptualizing The Dead: Generally Believed that the Dead Travel to the “Other World” (tot svet) Liminal Period Between Death, the Burial, and the Fortieth Day following Death During Liminal Period, the Soul Stays Near its Earthly Home Dead Frequently Appear in Dreams, Sometimes Prophetic Clean Dead: Died from Natural Causes, Lived Christian Life, Died After Confession, Received Church Burial Conceptualizing The Dead Conceptualizing The Dead: The Unclean: Living Dead/Revenants (mertvyak) “Set Aside” Dead (zalozhny pokoiniki) Type of Death: Murdered, Accidental (drowning, lost in woods, etc.) Struck by Lightning, Plague Victim, and Suicide Suicides: Cut off from Heaven and Family; Viewed as Having Been Tempted by Devil; “the Devil’s Steed” and “the Devil’s Ram”; Conceptualizing The Dead: The Unclean Witches, Wizards and Great Sinners: Witches, Wizards and Great Sinners Special Types of zalozhnye Who Die/Lie Uneasily and May Return The Koldun (wizard) and Baba (witch) Have Supernatural Powers that May be Used of Good or Ill Village Wise Folk, May or May Not Have Committed Soul to the Devil The Wizard Anton “Wizards have a hard time dying” “All the wizards have gone off to Leningrad.” Demons of the Forest: Demons of the Forest Water Spirits (vodyanoi, rusalka) House Spirits (domovoi) Forest Spirits (leshii) Leshii: Spirit of the Location Master of Lost Souls Leads People Astray Steals Children Trolls, Hillfolk, Finns, and Picts: Trolls, Hillfolk, Finns, and Picts Fairy Folk: Types and Terminologies: Fairy Folk: Types and Terminologies Research Setting: Archipelagoes that have been settled and re-settled numerous times over the centuries: Celts/Picts, Danes, Norsemen, etc. “The Good Neighbors”: Ever-present and Possibly Dangerous Inhabitants of the Otherworld Land: Trow (troll), Fairy, Fairag, Hillfolk Hillyans, Hillitrows, Elf, Hogboon, Hugboy, Brownie, etc. Sea: Sea Trows, Selkies, Finns, Draugs, Mermaid, Water Kelpie/Horse (Nyuggle, Tangie, Shoopiltie), etc. Descriptions and Nature of the Good Neighbors: Descriptions and Nature of the Good Neighbors Similar to and Live Near Humans Eat Staple Human Foods, Keep their own Cattle, Steal Cattle and Milk, Borrow Boats, etc. Size Varies, but Usually Smaller than Humans Live Underground/Under the Sea Lack Basic Items which They Have to Steal Have Miniature Belongings Seam to Guard or Control Entry to the Otherworld Theories on the Nature and Function of Fairies: Theories on the Nature and Function of Fairies Symbolize Wild Nature Scapegoats for Unexplained Troubles: Prevents Accusation of Witchcraft, Theft, etc. Bogeymen to Keep Children from Straying, Keep Spouses Performing Chores, etc. Provide Explanations for Serendipity and Innovation: Inspired Fiddlers, Discovered Treasure Remembrances of Pagan Gods Represent the Spirits of the Dead Provide a Means of Expressing Folk Spirituality as Opposed to Official Religion Derive from Archetypal Dreams Remembrances of Earlier Human Inhabitants U.S. Supernatural Taxonomy/Bestiary: U.S. Supernatural Taxonomy/Bestiary God Angels Saints Ghosts Witches Santa Claus Tooth Fairy Easter Bunny Closet Monsters Aliens Vampires Devil/Satan Demons Boogeyman Gremlins The Hag Tommyknockers Sock Stealers ??? ???