"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Friday, October 3, 2008

Soucouyants, Ezili Freda & other Caribbean Tales

Caribbean folklore is intriguing as I know little of this culture or of the supernatural figures that abound in it.

European, African, and many North American stories (excluding Caribbean) are commonly found in the repertoire of most of the storytellers I know, to include myself.

I absorbed what several professors shared at the "Metamorphoses: An International Colloquium on Narrative and Folklore"on the University of Utah campus held from October 2-5, 2008.

However, my hand and wrist seemed unable to capture all the notes desired from the paper "Caribbean Animal-Human Metamorphosis and (Post) Colonial Agency" presented by Aliyah Khan, Professor of Caribbean Literature and Postcolonial Theory from University of California--Santa Cruz. My unfamiliarity with the culture crippled my speed.

I approached Khan and asked if she had recommendations of Caribbean folklore to research that related to the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" narrative production. She was kind to share a couple ideas. She was also willing to confirm authenticity of Caribbean culture in relation to any story I decided to tell.

Two supernatural figures require more research:
  • Soucouyant--Old woman, mainly from Trinidad/Tobago areas, who transforms into a ball of fire by night to suck the blood of animals and humans, especially babies.
The Soucouyant often targets babies who are born a few nights previous. If the mother does not watch, then the baby may die. Some ways to protect are to wrap the baby in blue (references to water) or to scatter rice as the Soucouyant cannot leave until all the grains are counted. If she still is in her ball of fire form after sunrise, then she is destroyed. This could be a mother/child relationship piece for "Family Famine: Hunger for Love".

  • Ezili Freda--A light-skinned Creole woman, from Haiti area, that is the Vodou goddess of love and luxury. She is doomed to unrequited love and she is often pictured with her heart pierced with a knife.
As the embodiment of femininity, there is the potential of finding stories that talk of fertility and barrenness and from there leads to motherhood.

To explore more about Caribbean tales, here are some sites:

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller

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