Archive for February, 2018

I thought I would pick some folklore/stories from the Caribbean for this blog. To be fair I believe most of the good stuff would be local legend and I’ve not ben lucky enough to get to that side of the world so armchair investigations will be my guide for this… feel free to correct anything I get wrong as always.

The first one is Papa Bois who is pretty much thought of as the keeper of the forest, a protector of them and the enclosed flora and fauna. She is said to be married to the Mama Dlo, a water entity. His appearance is thought to be a short, old man of African descent and he has cloven hooves, or possibly in some notations his left leg ends in a large hoof. He has a beard of leaves and despite his age is very strong and can run faster than a deer.

Papa Bois’ body is completely covered with hair like that of a donkey, he has small horns that sprout from his forehead and is know to carry out a hollowed-out bulls’ horn so he can use that to warn animals when hunters approach. He is said to have the power of metamorphoses and most often uses this to transform into a deer, he then lures hunters deeper into the forest to get them lost. This is much like his wife, Mama Dlo, who does the same to sailors.

Should you meet Papa Bois you must be polite and refrain from staring at his hooves. Say something nice like “good day old father” an ensure that you don’t do anything to upset him. He is also found in Grenadian folklore and represented as a huge Opossum. Hunters of the forest are afraid of him because of the tricks he uses.

My second choice is La Diablesse, a female devil, who was born as a human but her malicious shape-shifting spirit was born of her dealings with the devil. She can appear very beautiful but her hideous face is hidden by a large brimmed hat, and she wears long dresses to hide the fact that one leg ends with a hoof, she often walks with her human foot on the road and her hooved road in the grass at the roadside. She can cast spells on unsuspecting male victims, then leads them into the forest with promises of sexual acts but then she will disappear leaving him lost and confused. In a panic the victim runs around the forest until he meets his death by falling down a ravine or drowning in a river.

My third choice was Lagahoo, this folklore comes from Trinidad and Tobago (usually considered part of the Caribbean) and is the equivalent in cousin to the French loup-garou and or German werewolf, though not restricted to the form of a wolf. It is a normal human during the day with no head and at night roams around with a wooden coffin on its neck. On the coffin there are three lighted candles, the long loose end of a heavy iron chain is noosed around the waist and trails behind. Often it can be seen with chains around its neck which change in side and at times with one of the appendages turned backwards.

Legahoo can change into various animals too, like horses, pigs or goats and on occasion is even a centaur. It is thought to be a blood sucker, which is less particular than vampires about its food source as it will feed from animals like cows and goats. To kill a Legahoo you need to beat it with a stick that has been anointed with holy water and holy oil for nine days. When you beat the creature it will change into others, then waves of water until finally it disappears in a mist.

My final choice is that of the Soucouyant, it is also known as the Ole-Higue or Loogaroo and is a blood sucking hag. She appears as a reclusive old woman in the day and then at night she strips off her wrinkled skin and puts it in a mortar. In her true form, a fireball, she flies across the dark skies in search of a victim. She can enter the home of a victim through small holes like cracks, crevices and keyholes.

The Soucouyant takes the blood from arms, legs and soft parts whilst the victim is sleeping and leaves blue-black marks that are seen in the morning. If they draw too much blood then the victim will either die or become one themselves. The creature also practices witchcraft, voodoo and black magic. They trade their victim’s souls for evil powers with the Bazil, the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree.

If you want to expose one you need to heap rice around the house or at the village crossroads, as the creature will be obliged to gather every grain and can be caught in the act as she tries to do so. To destroy her, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar that has her skin so she perishes because she cannot put it back on. The skin of the Soucouyant is very valuable as it us used in the practice of black magic.

She is part of a class of spirits called jumbies, and some say that they may well have been brought over by the European countries and so the French vampire-myths intermingled with those of enslaved Africans.

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The earliest guess for the beginnings of the catacombs in the Ukraine is about the 1600’s. It could be earlier than that but it’s hard to date back as they were also widened later on. They became the giant labyrinth of today when in the early 1800’s the limestone was used from them to build much of the city.

The myriad of tunnels led to it being popular for hideouts, rebels and criminals could use them and during WWII they Soviets were forced out, but were able to leave Soviet-organised Ukranian’s hidden down there. They were able to listen in to the Nazi forces above and set up a situation where they managed to blow up German facilities. It wasn’t all good news as malaria and malnutrition affected those men and women.

The Facist German and Romanians chose random exits, sealing them off and and dropping poisonous gasses down them. When the war was over the criminals claimed the tunnels and created new ones of their own. In 1961 a group was formed, they wanted to map and document the geography and history of the place.

It is common for groups of explorers to go into the area, occasionally people do go missing and if they are in the area the explorers will rally to help. A number of children have been rescued this way but sadly it hasn’t always turned out positive. Old weapon caches and grenades are sometimes found, every five years or so a body is found and on rare occasions they have been naturally mummified there too. Many are old bodies but sometimes more recent accidents have turned up a corpse as well.

A sad example of this occurred 15th January 2005, the local teens were partying in the tunnels. A girl called Masha was separated and lost during the drunken celebrations. For 3 days she walked around in the pitch black and freezing conditions, where she then expired due to dehydration. It was two years later the police located her body and could retrieve it.

There is an official area that can be visited and perhaps given the warnings of lost people and random body finds, I’d recommend going there before being too bold.

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By Полищук Денис Анатольевич – Own work, CC BY 2.5, Link