The Soucouyant

--Informant Info--
Nationality: United States
Age: 20
Occupation: Student/Digital Artist
Residence: Queens, NY
Date of Performance/Collection: 04/11/2021
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

BACKGROUND: My informant, OR, was born in the US. Her parents are both immigrants from Grenada. OR is always joking about Carribeans being a very superstitious people and this piece is just one story out of the many that OR told me about her family’s beliefs. This story in particular stood out to OR because her parents always jokingly warn her brother to watch out for seductive soucouyants. 

CONTEXT: This piece is from a conversation with my friend to discuss the role of superstition in Caribbean culture. 

OR: Okay. So basically, um, the soucouyant is kind of like half vampire, half fireball. 

Me: Fireball?

OR: She’s like a blood-sucking hag, essentially. I think other islands literally just call her the hag. She sucks your blood and… okay, she usually appears like, um, either a woman or like a reeeally sexy woman during the day. And then at night, she peels off her skin and puts it in a mortar and pestle and grinds it up. (laughs) And then she turns into a literal fireball and like runs around the sky at night and she can enter your home through like a keyhole or like any crevices, or if you like leave the windows cracked. So you gotta close the windows. And um, they say, if you want her to not come in your house, you have to drop, um, like rice outside your house and you have to drop a lot because basically, she will be counting the rice until morning. I think the Haitians actually call it the Lougarou, but in Grenada, Lugar is actually a totally different thing.

THOUGHTS: I really like this story for its specificity. The concept of a half-vampire half-hag half-skinless witch creature really says a lot about the specific fears and taboos of this community. The fact that this story was aimed at OR’s brother and not OR points to the fact that the Caribbean community may fear the control that women can possess over men. OR mentioned that the story is a variation of the European version of a vampire so I think the gender swap is notable in examing the significance of this story in Caribbean culture.

For another version of this legend, see: Simpson, George Eaton. “Loup Garou and Loa Tales from Northern Haiti.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 55, no. 218, 1942, pp. 219–227. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/535864.