Author Archives: Corinne Gaston


It’s a witch. A witch that sucks blood, almost like a vampiric witch that flies. They kill cattle, they suck the blood from the cattle. People will wake up and find their sheep, or cattle, or goats or whatever dead. And the soucouyas are typically associated with women, typically not men. And they supposedly remove their skin…and when they turn into the soucouya, then they have the power to fly. But they have certain weird traits, almost like their kryptonite. (laughs). Their krypotonite is stuff like salt. You can stop them in their tracks by putting a pile of salt and they have to stop and count the salt. You know, you hear stories, as my mom said she’s seen people flying, some people who got it by practicing some kind of witchcraft. Or obeah. We call in obeah. But people do believe there are people like this. Also, and there was a person, apparently, and I heard this from my cousin, because her sister was actually a nurse, a major nurse at the general hospital in Dominica. And there was a woman who came in, and they said she was a soucouya. She had removed her skin, right? But what happened was somebody hid her skin – you can hide it or you could put something on it so they can’t get back in it. So after they finish flying around and they try to go back in their skin, either it’s hidden or it’s made unsuitable for them to put on. It’s what they put on it. I’m not sure if it’s salt or pepper or what. And she couldn’t get back in her skin. And they die if they can’t get back in their skin. So she ended up in the hospital, just dying and I think she died in the hospital. So that was a documented case. Now again, I’m taking this from my cousin, and she wouldn’t have a reason to lie, and neither would her sister, but who knows, maybe the women was a burn victim or something, but they said all of her skin was gone, which is a very unusual burn type case, you know? Not like a burn case which is typically where part of your body has some skin off, but your entire body had the skin removed? How is that possible? So it seems like that is a credible documentation on someone who had their skin completely removed which does support the soucouya concept. So sometimes I’m like, well I don’t know, I’ve never seen one, but I can’t say they don’t exist, partly because of people who say that they do exist.


My mother has told me about this legend several times. The soucouya, as my mother calls it, is also known as a soucouyant, soucriant, soukonian, a true Loogaroo, and Ole-Higue in different parts of the Caribbean and in some cases, the south of the United States. I’ve heard variations on the tale where the soucouya is always an old woman who lives on the edge of a village and exchanges blood she collects from people and animals for magic powers with a demon, sometimes the devil. In some tales she specifically sucks blood from babies, an example of the monstrous mother archetype that Warner discussed in Six Myths of Our Time. Clearly, not only is the soucouya an explanation for livestock dying from unknown sickness or perhaps starvation, but it also reflects misogyny in Dominican and other West Indian cultures. An autonomous woman who lives on her own is viewed as stepping outside the gender norms; thus she is a labeled a witch, unnatural, a threat, and in this case, a soucouya.


Why the Plants are Gods

From what I can remember, there was a race of living beings, some species before us, way before our time, that knew that we were coming out of the muck and they were much farther evolved than we are or were at the time. I suppose you could say at the time we were either very weird fishy organisms in what we called the muck or something even more devolved than that. And they recognized that something intelligent was going to come out, something that had the capacity to change its environment, grow in strength and power and number. And so that species decided to leave behind some of its intelligence in the form of other living things on the planet, in particular, plants. And those plants ended up helping us in our evolution as we progressed and they spoke to us, so to speak. And they continue to speak to us through different mediums and to the people that choose to listen.


My informant learned this myth from a South American shaman who uses plants for medicinal, psychotherapeutic, psycho-spiritual, and healing purposes and ceremonies. It’s a myth about human intelligence and plant intelligence and how we didn’t get to this point on our own, but were given help. What I take from this myth is a particular respect for nature as well as an explanation for the profound powers plants have on their own and the powers they have in our bodies, concerning food, medicine, and even drugs when we find the appropriate ways to extract those powers. Working with plants, humans have developed agriculture and advanced kinds of medicine through practice and study, or as the shaman would say, by listening to what the plants had to tell us and still have to tell us.


Body of Christ

My mother was told – and believed- that if she bit the uh Eucharist wafer or whatever, it would bleed forever and that you would drown in the blood. Like it would just fill your stomach. I guess you wouldn’t drown, I don’t know what would happen if your stomach was just forever filled with blood, you’d probably get sick.


My informant was told this by his mother who heard it at church as a girl. What’s interesting is that this could have multiple purposes. Maybe another kid told it to her just to scare her within a religious setting as a form of children folklore backlash against an establishment and ritual associated with parents. Perhaps she was told this by an adult who believed that biting the communion wafer was disrespectful, because it represents the body of Christ and biting it might represent mutilating it, thus s/he scared my informants mother into not biting it.


Chris Travaglini Rhyme

Chris Travaglini has a forty-foot weenie
And he stuck it out the bedroom door
His mom thought it was snake and hit it with a rake
And now it’s only four-foot four

This is a rhyme my informant and a group of his friends made up about a classmate when they were in middle school. They made it up at an age when most people are going through puberty and finding ways to deal with it, which would explain why the rhyme is penis-joke based. Also middle school is a time when group-forming, teasing, and bullying are heightened.

The Legend of the One-Eyed Gangster

So this kid lived in my neighborhood – I don’t even think this is worth telling because it’s so ludicrous – he was like, “Yeah, I’m like wanted by this gang member who lives across the train tracks from us.” And he only has one eye and he wears an eye-patch. (laughs) And when he kills people he takes their eyes and makes a stew and eats this eyeball stew. (laughs) So he’s like, “yeah, I started dating his girlfriend and then 15 of his thugs jumped me in an alley and I killed all of them, but then he like, killed my girlfriend and so I had to bring her body back and I left it on the doorstep of her parents house. But they saw me put it there so they thought I did it…so I had to watch her funeral from afar.”


This story is indeed ludicrous, and was probably told to my informant just to be an entertaining story that would impress listeners with the tale teller’s character: he tangled with dangerous people, was skilled in battle, and ended up dating the girlfriend of the gang leader – a bold move. They both also lived in the same town that had cultures divided by train tracks, which I’ve only heard of in films and books until this point. So, the gangster coming from the other side of the tracks evokes a sense of otherness.