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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Jumbie stories

From the British Virgin Islands, we have this peek at some traditional Carribean monster legends:

In the days when the Virgin Islands were lit by candles and oil lamps, supernatural beings such as the cowfoot woman and werewolf jumped to life in stories passed down through the generations. Many natives remember these characters and others that once roamed free after the sun went down and how they set about creating mischief in the community. "Our scare stories are generally called jumbie stories because that's our local word for ghosts or spirits. It's a surviving Africanism," folklorist Glenn Kwabena Davis, a former St. Thomas calypso king, said. Acknowledging the ancestral spirits is an important part of traditional African belief systems. But apart from these jumbies, which are considered good, there are other forces in the spirit world that were seen as bad, including those who had the ability to transform from human form into frightening creatures.
All too often, Caribbean folklore is reduced to cheap replays of voodoo stories; I found the article to be a tantalizing, too-brief look at some often overlooked elements of traditional horror in the Americas.


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