Jamaican superstitions can serve as both trick and treat this Halloween. These stories have been with us since slavery and are rich threads in our historical tapestry.
So if you plan to do your Halloween thing, why not add a Jamaican twist by gifting your children with these short tales.
Duppy superstition is rampant among Jamaicans. While not confined to one tale, it is most often said that these are spirits who are the lingering ghosts of the dead. The belief is that when proper precautions aren’t taken at burial to send the dead peacefully to heaven they turn into duppies.
A duppy can manifest in human or animal form and can do just about anything a human can. Many swear on their life that duppies are real. Even non believers are a tiny bit suspicious. That’s why many Jamaicans will never purposely wash their face with rice water!
Legend says that at night, a pale skinned woman with blood red eyes sheds her skin and shifts to an owl (who wouldn’t be afraid of a moulting witch?). She then preys on sleeping babies, sucking the life from their bodies.
Mothers can protect their children by placing an open bible in or beside their crib. But the best way to defeat the Ol’ Higue is to kill her.
There are different versions of how she can be killed. But all say that one must throw salt and pepper in the skin she sheds. Once she redresses, she’ll burn. Some say the salt and pepper is enough to cause an agonizing death. Others say that it is without her skin that she becomes vulnerable and primed for the kill. We just shudder thinking about this!
The Jamaican countryside at nightfall is very scary because no one wants an encounter with the rolling calf. Imagine a huge cow with eyes blazing red like an inferno, angrily spitting fire from its nostrils. Before you see the wretched thing, you’d hear its chains clanking against its carriage as it makes its way toward you. The bull is said to be the host of an evil or malicious sprit who torments night time travelers!
So if you’re walking along a lonely country road, beware! Old people say sprinkle some salt or rice as you walk and it will calm the beast. Others believe you should try to out run it to the nearest junction or cross roads. We say stay off lonely country roads at night.
If you like these ghost stories, you may want to visit an old blog we did on the four popular myths about flat bridge. When we ran it in 2015, more than 33,000 readers shared the blog.
As children, many of us accept these superstitions without question and as we become older our innate sense of logic filters doubts. But isn’t there some truth to all legends? Halloween is a good time to consider this.
Comment and tell us what you think!