Cities Journal

The Haunted Caribbean


Terrifying sorcerers and demons live in the Caribbean, making stories about voodoo, Catholicism, and folklore come alive.

1. Port-au-Prince, Haiti

In the home of voodoo, the god of death, Gede, is said to stand at the crossroads to the afterworld. Represented as an undertaker, his clothes are black and he wears dark glasses, while his followers are disguised as corpses. Some sorcerers own a magic stick called acoco macaque that walks by itself and is sent out to perform revenge.

2. Vieux Fort, St. Lucia

Practitioners of obeah, a form of voodoo from St. Lucia, can bestow authority and riches as well as pain and death. One legend tells of a sorcerer who, in the guise of a spirit, used magic dust to drug a husband and make love to his wife. One night the dust failed to work, and the husband plunged a knife into the spirit, thus killing the sorcerer.

3. Bridgetown, Barbados

A person has two souls, a good soul and an earthly one. In death, the good soul goes to heaven, while the other one stays in the coffin for three days. If the earthly one escapes, it becomes a harmful entity called a duppy. Duppies are repelled by walking backward, or by hanging herbs or funeral clothes in a window.

4. Havana, Cuba

When a man is seriously sick in Cuba, the god Icú appears to take his body and soul. To fool the god, the obeah witch makes a puppet of the dying man, which the man’s wife dresses in her husband’s clothes and takes to the cemetery at midnight. Seeing the woman crying over the grave, Icú thinks that the man is dead and already in the ground.

5. Laudat, Dominica

A devil woman named La Diablesse lives alone here, plotting revenge on cheating husbands. She hides behind trees, waiting to catch them.


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