‘What do you believe in?”
Do you ever get that question? I get it all the time. It usually pops up during late night sleepovers, long car rides where half my friends are asleep, or sometimes even during a meal. I am not a religious person, but when it comes to believing in something, I definitely have my beliefs. People call me crazy and delusional, but that’s probably because they know I’m totally right (just kidding). You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? The creatures that lurk under your bed? The weird footstep sounds you hear when you get up to use the bathroom at night? The faint whisper of your name that comes from an unknown source as you trudge through the woods?! That’s right…the ghosts, the spirits…the supernatural.
I can’t really say when I started to believe in the supernatural. My family has never been particularly religious (as long as you disregard the Buddhist shrine that takes up half the space in my living room). Although I participated in the traditional Chinese practices of leaving food out for ancestors on holidays and bowing to the statues of fat Chinese men with incredibly long mustaches, I was never pressured to have a specific belief. When I hit the age of five, however, I started to pick up on some of my mother’s behavior that made me more aware of the spirits that surround us. I will share my favorite tale, a real first person account from my mother when she was a kid.
When my mom was about fifteen (give or take five years, she doesn’t even remember), she was my grandmother’s right hand woman. My grandmother was a teacher in one of the southern villages of China. During parent-teacher conference week, teachers in the village would actually go to parents’ houses to have these meetings, rather than having the parents go to the school. It meant that she was always out of the house and would arrive home after the whole village was asleep. My mother was responsible for looking after her little sister, who at the time was just a baby, as well as maintaining the whole house. One of these nights, my mom was home alone with her sister while my grandmother was out meeting with families. After taking care of all her duties, she tucked her sister into bed and passed out in the adjacent bed. A few hours later, the loud cries of her baby sister woke her, so she got up to rock her back to sleep. Half awake, she walked towards the cradle, only to see that her mother was already shushing her sister back to sleep, and told her “Ying, I’ll take care of this, you go back to sleep.” So she did. A few hours later, she hears her mother screaming while running up the stairs, yelling something along the lines of “Ying! You had one job, and that was to take care of your sister! She has been crying for hours, I could hear it all the way from across the river! You are going to wake the whole village up!” My mother was so confused and she tried explaining but she only mumbled out “But you said to go back to sleep…” Her mom then yelled even louder, “You crazy girl! I was out all night meeting with families! I just got home!”
My mom thought she was crazy. She didn’t sleep the rest of the night. Thinking back, the woman who was rocking her baby sister to sleep looked nothing like her mother. She thought to herself “Was it an intruder?” “What if it was a just a friendly neighbor?” She practically drove herself insane thinking about it until she finally decided to confront her mom. She got out of bed and woke her mother up.
“What did she look like?” my grandmother asked.
My mother described the lady as old and fragile, yet she was gentle and sweet. She had a long white and gray braid that went down to her butt, and she wore a green floral printed gown.
The moment she said this, my grandmother turned pale. She quickly ran downstairs and returned with a stash of pictures. She held one up and said to my mom, “Is this her?” Sure enough, it was.
The woman was my mother’s great aunt…who passed away years ago. She was buried in the same clothes my mother described, with her hair styled in a braid.
Well at least they knew, it was a benign spirit. One that came to check in on loved ones and watch over the family.
Now that I’ve told that super long story, I can finally get to my point. There’s something so haunting about the supernatural and spirits, and I think that is exactly what makes it so exciting and enticing. I wanted to do this photo series that touches upon how beautiful I think the supernatural is, while at the same time exploring the mystery and thrilling aspect of it.
This photo to me represents what happens in the spiritual world that we are unaware of. My cousin’s brother-in-law can supposedly see and hear spirits. He says that they live in the same universe that we do, a peaceful coexistence is what I like to think, and we do not experience their presence, but they are definitely here. I wanted to depict that idea of being unaware of the spirits around us by showing something out of the ordinary, but keeping the mood quite peaceful and light.
This photo explores the fears that I have with the supernatural. These irrational fears come mostly from more stories from relatives, except not as sweet as my mother’s, they definitely hit the violent side of things. For example, my aunt was once in a hotel room with her granddaughter, just unpacking and watching television. Next thing you know, something she cannot see flings her against her hotel door and she passes out. She wakes to find herself bruised, with a sprained arm. I wanted this picture to portray the invisible and dangerous side to the supernatural. The spirits that can hit you when you least expect it, or rather when you disturb the peace.
“The Devil Inside”
We all have our own ghosts and demons that we battle every day. In a way, that’s why some spirits are still here with us or why they show themselves to certain people. I like to believe that they have unfinished business, or are still attached to something, and that strength keeps them here with us. It’s also why I’m such a big fan of the show “Supernatural”. I wanted this photo to show how we are all haunted by spirits of the past, sometimes it can be an ex, or it could be something we have done that we regret. Just like the spirits who may cling on here in the world, we need to learn how to come to terms with reality and let go.
Just in case any spirits are reading this; you are awesome and I totally mean no harm and I only have the greatest respect for the supernatural.
UNTIL NEXT TIME Y’ALL!