Soucouyant

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The soucouyant or soucriant in Dominica, Trinidadian and Guadeloupean folklore (also known as Ole-Higue or Loogaroo elsewhere in the Caribbean), is a kind of blood-sucking hag.[1][2]

Legend[edit]

The soucouyant lives by day as an old woman at the end of a village. By night, she strips off her wrinkled skin, which she puts in a mortar, following which she flies in the shape of a fireball through the darkness, looking for a victim. Still a fireball, the soucouyant enters the home of her victim through cracks and crevices, like keyholes.

Soucouyants suck people's blood from their arms, legs and soft parts while they sleep.[3] If the soucouyant draws too much blood, it is believed that the victim will either die and become a soucouyant or perish entirely, leaving her killer to assume her skin. The soucouyant practices witchcraft, voodoo, and black magic. Soucouyants trade their victims' blood for evil powers with Bazil, the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree.[3]

To expose a soucouyant, one should heap rice around the house or at the village cross roads as the creature will be obligated to gather every grain, grain by grain (a herculean task to do before dawn) so that she can be caught in the act.[3] To destroy her, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar containing her skin so she perishes, unable to put the skin back on. Belief in soucouyants is still preserved to an extent in some Caribbean islands, including Dominica, St. Lucia, Haiti, and Trinidad.[4]

The skin of the soucouyant is considered valuable, and is used when practicing black magic.

Origin[edit]

Soucouyants belong to a class of spirits called jumbees. Some believe that soucouyants were brought to the Caribbean from European countries in the form of French vampire-myths. These beliefs intermingled with those of enslaved Africans.

In the French West Indies, specifically the island of Guadeloupe, the Soukougnan or Soukounian is a person able to shed his or her skin to turn into a vampiric fireball. In general these figures can be anyone, not only old women, although some affirm that only women could become Soukounian, because only female breasts could disguise the creature's wings.

The term "Loogaroo" also used to describe the soucouyant, possibly comes from the French mythological creature called the Loup-garou, a type of werewolf, and is common in the Culture of Mauritius.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Welland, Michael (January 2009). Sand: The Never-Ending Story. University of California Press. pp. 66–67. ISBN 0-520-25437-6. 
  2. ^ http://www.dominicanewsonline.com/all_news/general/6173.html?print
  3. ^ a b c Courtesy The Heritage Library via the Trinidad Guardian
  4. ^ Maberry, Jonathan (September 1, 2006). Vampire Universe: The Dark World of Supernatural Beings That Haunt Us, Hunt .... Citadel. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-8065-2813-7. 
  5. ^ The Night Piece

External links[edit]