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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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WISH BONE

AFTER YOU HAVE TURKEY OR CHICKEN, TAKE OUT THE WISH BONE. LET IT
DRY. THEN HAVE TWO PEOPLE TAKE HOLD OF EACH END. THE PERSON WHO
GETS THE SIDE WITH THE HUMO, GETS HIS WISH.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Bird
BELIEF -- Prayer
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 03-16-1971

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TEA BELIEF

IF YOU PICK UP THE BUBBLES IN A CUP OF TEA BEFORE YOU
DRINK IT, YOU WILL GET RICH.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; BIRMINGHAM

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Brew of leaf, bark, root
BELIEF -- Home
BELIEF -- Measure of time Eating For menu, see N222.
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 01-30-1968

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Ethnic:Hawaiian

WHEN TRAVELERS LEAVE HAWAII, THEY THROW THEIR LEIS
OVER THE SIDE OF THE SHIP. IF IT FLOATS TO SHORE THEY WILL
RETURN, IF IT FLOATS TO SEA, THEY WILL NEVER
RETURN.

Data entry tech comment:

Motifs added by TRD

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): CUSTOM ; ETHNIC ; Float ; FLOWERS ; Garland ; Hawaii ; Hawaiian ; Lei ; Lore ; Ocean ; SEA ; Ship

James Callow Keyword(s): FLOWERS ; Garland ; Lei ; NECK

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 03-19-1968

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BIRTH BELIEF

TAKE A PENCIL WITH AN ERASER ON IT AND STICK THE POINT ON A
THREADED NEEDLE. NOW HOLD THE THREAD, SUSPENDING THE PENCIL OVER THE
PULSE POINT OF A GIRL. THE PENCIL SHOULD START MOVING IN A CIRCULAR
OR LINEAR MOTION. IF CIRCULAR, HER FIRST CHILD WILL BE A GIRL.
IN A LINEAR PATH, A BOY.
CONTINUE PERFORMING UNTIL MOTION STOPS, THIS WILL TELL YOU HOW

Submitter comment:

ANOTHER ONE ALIKE IN THE ARCHIVE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): SYMBOL

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Birth
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 04-00-1968

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SPIRIT TABLE

AN INDIAN BELIEF- WE HAVE A TABLE THAT ATTRACTS DEAD SOULS, THERE ARE
MARKINGS ON IT WHICH SPIRITS USE TO COMMUNICATE WITH A MEDIUM.
HANDS ARE PLACED ON THE TABLE. A MEDIUM ISN'T NECESSARY, BUT
INFORMANT WAS AFRAID HIMSELF. SPIRITS ARE LIKE THE 5 ELEMENTS, FIRE
EARTH WATER WIND AND LIGHT-- LIKE VARIOUS GASES ALL WANDERING
AROUND ETERNALLY, LIKE THE ELEMENTS, IT IS POSSIBLE TO BRING
SOULS TO CAPTURE SOULS.

Submitter comment: SKETCH ON CARD IN ARCHIVE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; ANN ARBOR

James Callow Keyword(s): NUMBEES

Subject headings: 686 Fifths
BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
BELIEF -- Custom
BELIEF -- Word Letter
BELIEF -- Sign Geometric figure
BELIEF -- Use of Object
SPEECH -- Extra Corporal Means of Communication

Date learned: 02-04-1968

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CEMETERY STATUE

THERE IS A CEMETERY IN WILMENDING, PENNSYLVANIA WITH A SIX
FOOT STATUE OF A GIRL DRESSED IN A LONG FLOWING ROBE.
SHE IS CARRYING AN ARMFUL OF BOOKS FOR SCHOOL. THE HISTORY OF
THIS FIGURE IS A STORY THAT GOES LIKE THIS: THE GIRL WAS
COMING HOME FROM SCHOOL WHEN SHE WAS ATTACKED AND RAPED
AND KILLED BY TWO HOODLUMS, ON THE DAY OF HER BIRTHDAY.
HER PARENTS HAD A STATUE MADE OF HER AT THE TIME SHE WAS
KILLED AND PLACED ON HER GRAVE. BECAUSE SHE WAS A VIRGIN AT
THE TIME OF DEATH, IT IS BELIEVED THAT ANYONE GOING TO THE
CEMETERY IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT, WHO DARES TO WALK THE LONELY
WALK UP TO THE STATUE, AND TOUCH IT, WILL DISCOVER IF THEY ARE
A VIRGIN. A VIRGIN WILL RECEIVE NO HARM FROM THE STATUE, BUT
A NON-VIRGIN WILL RECEIVE A CUT AND CONSEQUENTLY BLEED FROM
TOUCHING THE GARMENT OF
THE STATUE. IN ADDITION ON THE EVE OF HER BIRTHDAY, THE
STATUE IS BELIEVED TO COME ALIVE AND WALK THE CEMETERY LOOKING
FOR HER MURDERERS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MELVINDALE

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
BELIEF -- Birth
BELIEF -- Use of Object
SPEECH -- Extra Corporal Means of Communication

Date learned: 10-15-1965

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SUPERSTITION

WHEN ONE HEARS NOISES THREE DAYS AFTER BURYING A LOVED ONE
IT MEANS HIS SPIRIT CAME BACK TO THANK THE FAMILY FOR ALL
THAT IT HAD DONE.

Where learned: OHIO ; CLEVELAND

James Callow Keyword(s): NUMBER

Subject headings: 686 Thirds / Thrice / Three / Triple
BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
BELIEF -- Use of Object
SPEECH -- Extra Corporal Means of Communication

Date learned: 10-22-1968

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FIRE PREVENTION- ALLGAU, BAVARIA, GERMANY

IN ORDER TO PREVENT HOUSE FIRES, ALWAYS KEEP A PICTURE
OF ST. FLORIAN IN THE HOME.

Where learned: WARREN ; MICHIGAN, ASSUMED ; PENNSYLVANIA, ASSUMED

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Religious hero
BELIEF -- Use of Object
SPEECH -- Proper Name

Date learned: 11-17-1968

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MOTHER AND CHILD

THE CHURCH OF ST. LUKE IN BOLOGNA, ITALY, HOUSES THE FAMOUS
JEWEL STUDDED PICTURE OF THE MADONNA AND CHILD WHICH IS
BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN PAINTED BY ST. LUKE. A GREAT MANY MIRACLES
ARE ATTRIBUTED TO IT.

Where learned: TRENTON ; NEW JERSEY, ASSUMED

Subject headings: ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Holy placeChurchTemple
BELIEF -- Religious hero
BELIEF -- Use of Object
SPEECH -- Proper Name

Date learned: 10-00-1968

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MAGIC BELIEF

IF COWS WOULD NOT GIVE MILK IT WAS BECAUSE A WITCH HAD CAST A
SPELL. THE ONLY WAY TO RELEASE THE SPELL OR BREAK IT WOULD
BE TO PUT PINS IN THE MILK STRAINER, AND THIS WOULD HURT THE
WITCH. THUS SHE WOULD HAVE TO RETURN AND RELEASE THE SPELL.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT SAID USUALLY TOLD BY FORTUNE TELLERS IN POLAND.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Drink from animal product
BELIEF -- Witch Shaman
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 02-07-1971

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MAGIC BELIEF

IF A COW DOES NOT PRODUCE LOTS OF MILK, IT IS BECAUSE THE WITCH
HAS CAST A SPELL. THEREFORE DURING ALL HOLY DAYS, POLISH
VILLAGERS WOULD BURN BLESSED HERBS IN AN INCENSE BURNER IN THE
BARN, BELIEVING THE SMOKE WOULD CHASE AWAY THE WITCH.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Drink from animal product
BELIEF -- Witch Shaman
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 02-07-1971

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WITCH BELIEF

TO BECOME A WITCH, TAKE ONE GOLD RING, ONE CANDLE STICK HOLDER
AND ONE SCARF; BURY THESE IN THE EARTH TILL THE NEXT FULL MOON;
AT THE NEXT FULL MOON, AT MIDNIGHT, DIG UP THE RING, CANDLE-STICK
HOLDER AND SCARF AND BOIL THEM TOGETHER IN A LARGE POT THE
CANDIDATE WITCH THEN RECITES CERTAIN MAGICAL PHRASES AND
BECOMES A FULL-FLEDGED WITCH.

Where learned: UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT

Subject headings: Charm / Enchantment / Conjuration
BELIEF -- Witch Shaman
BELIEF -- Moon
BELIEF -- P628 P628.2
BELIEF -- Use of Object
BELIEF -- Sign or prediction through Observation of galactic or celestial bodies
SPEECH -- Formula

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MARIE LAVEAU

AMONG SOME OF THE MORE SUPERSTITIOUS NEGROES OF SOUTHERN LOUISIANA
AND NEW ORLEANS IN PARTICULAR, THERE IS A PERSISTENT BELIEF
IN MARIE LAVEAU, THE VOODOO QUEEN OF NEW ORLEANS. BELIEVERS
MARK WITH CHALK ON HER TOMB WALL AND ASK FOR SUPERNATURAL
ASSISTANCE. ALSO, IT'S BELIEVED THAT SOIL FROM HER GRAVE HAS
MAGICAL PROPERTIES SO IT IS USED IN DIFFERENT VOODOO RITES.
MARIE LAVEAU'S GRAVE IN NEW ORLEANS DATES BACK TO THE LATE 18TH
CENTURY AND IS A WELL KNOWN PLACE FOR VOODOO FOLLOWERS. NEW
ORLEANS ABOUNDS WITH LEGENDS AND STORIES OF HER FANTASTIC LIFE.

Data entry tech comment:

Informant and collector are the same person.

Where learned: LOUISIANA ; New Orleans

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Witch Shaman
BELIEF -- Explanation of a name
BELIEF -- Emblem
BELIEF -- Use of Object

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BUILDING A FIRE

WITCHES BUILD A FIRE IN THE OPEN AND DRAW A MAGIC
CIRCLE ABOUT IT WITH A SWORD. MEN AND WOMEN ALTERNATELY JOIN
HANDS AND QUICKEN THEIR PACE, FROM A WALK
TO A RUN, CHANTING ANCIENT RITES.

Submitter comment:

Taken from 1967 "Life" magazine.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MOUNT PLEASANT

Subject headings: 646
BELIEF -- Witch Shaman
BELIEF -- Curse
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 10-28-1971

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SPELL

IF SOMEONE CASTS A SPELL ON YOU THAT YOU WISH TO BREAK
URINATE IN A GUN BARREL AND CORK IT SAYING,
"I'VE GOT YOU."
THE PERSON WHO CAST THE SPELL WILL COME TO YOU BECAUSE HE
CANNOT URINATE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): LOCKING THE KIDNEYS

James Callow Keyword(s): CONTAGION

Subject headings: 646
BELIEF -- Witch Shaman
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 09-00-1971

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BELIEF (LEGEND)

TO KILL A WITCH- CLOSE THE BOOK, RING THE BELL, AND BLOW
OUT THE CANDLE.

Where learned: DETROIT ; collector's home

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Witch Shaman
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 10-23-1968

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HOW TO DETERMINE SEX OF UNBORN CHILD

IF AN EXPECTING MOTHER WANTS TO KNOW WHAT SEX HER CHILD WELL BE SHE
SHOULD HAVE HER FUTURE MID-WIFE AID HER IN THE FOLLOWING TEST. IF
THE WOMAN IS FIVE TO NINE MONTHS EXPECTANT SHE SHOULD REST ON THE
FLOOR ON HER BACK WITH BOTH ARMS STRAIGHT AT THEIR SIDES, HER LEGS
AND FEET TOGETHER AND RELAX ALL THOUGHTS OF DOUBT ABOUT THE TEST
WORKING OR NOT. THE MID-WIFE IS TO WASH HER HANDS IN A MIXTURE OF
VINEGAR AND SALT AND HOLD A LONG CHAIN BELONGING TO THE EXPECTANT
WOMAN'S MOTHER; THE CHAIN SHOULD HAVE A HEAVY OBJECT ON ITS END, SUCH
AS A CAMEO OR THE LIKING. THE MID-WIFE IS TO HOLD THE CHAIN AND
OBJECT OVER THE WOMAN'S STOMACH AND ASK, "WHAT'S IT GONNA BE LORD,
THE LIKINGS OF ME OR THEE, LORD?" AT THAT POINT THE HANGING OBJECT
SHOULD REST ON THE WOMAN'S STOMACH AND IT SHOULD BE SLOWLY RAISED AND
AGAIN RESTED, RAISED, RESTED AND SO ON. IF THE OBJECT ON THE CHAIN
SWINGS CLOCKWISE AS IT'S RAISED AND LOWERED ONTO THE UNBORN CHILD, IT
WILL BE A MALE. BUT IN THE EVENT THAT THE OBJECT SWINGS
COUNTER-CLOCKWISE, THE UNBORN CHILD WILL BE A FEMALE. THE OBJECT'S
MOVEMENT WILL BE ONLY SLIGHT. THIS TEST SHOULD BE DONE AT LEAST FIVE
TIMES AND IF THE TEST "PROVES" THE CHILD TO BE A MALE AT LEAST THREE
OUT OF THE FIVE TRYS, THE MOTHER SHOULD EXPECT A SON AND LIKEWISE, IF
THE OBJECT SWINGS TO THE LEFT OR COUNTER-CLOCKWISE AT LEAST THREE OF
THE FIVE TRIES, THE MOTHER
WILL HAVE A DAUGHTER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN

James Callow Keyword(s): NUMBERS ; SYMBOL

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Birth
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 00-00-1935

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UNWIND CLOCK

IF A PERSON LETS THEIR ALARM CLOCK COMPLETLY UNWIND AND STOP TICKING
THE OWNER OF THE CLOCK WILL DIE IN HIS SLEEP

Submitter comment: ONE MAY LOOK AT THE CLOCK'S MAIN-SPRING AS ONE'S OWN LIFE SPAN.

Where learned: ALABAMA

James Callow Keyword(s): SYMPATHETIC MAGIC

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 00-00-1932

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DIVINATION OF DESTINY

WHEN A BABY IS VERY YOUNG PLACE A COIN, BEER AND A ROSARY WITHIN THE
REACH OF THE BABY. IF THE BABY FIRST REACHES FOR THE COIN, IT WILL
ALWAYS HAVE MONEY. IF IT REACHES FOR THE BEER IT WILL FAVOR THE
DRINK. IF IT FIRST REACHES FOR THE ROSARY THE BABY IS DESTINED TO
BECOME RELIGIOUS.

Submitter comment: THIS ITEM WAS GIVEN TO MRS. CHESNEY BY MATILDA MELLON, HER MOTHER, WHO WAS AN IRISH IMMIGRANT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; HARPER WOODS

James Callow Keyword(s): ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ; SYMBOLS ; SYMPATHETIC MAGIC

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Use of Object

Date learned: 09-16-1975

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APPLE DIVINATION

BEFORE EATING AN APPLE, RECITE THE ALPHABET WHILE TWISTING THE
APPLE STEM, ONE TWIST PER LETTER. WHEN THE STEM BREAKS, THE LETTER
PRONOUNCED IS THE INITIAL OF THE FIRST NAME OF THE PERSON YOU
ARE GOING TO MARRY.

Submitter comment: I PERSONALLY FIND THIS RIDICULOUS. YET THE INFORMANT IS ENGAGED--

Where learned: MISSOURI ; BISHOP LEBLOND HIGH SCHOOL ; SAINT JOSEPH

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Plant food Fruit
BELIEF -- Plant
BELIEF -- Use of Object

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