GHOST STORIES: The Story of Lougarous and Soukouyants

In the 1950s, 1960s and into the late 1970s tales of Lougarous and Soukouyants were everywhere. For those of us growing up in the far flung villages of Dominica such tales provided useful and sometimes terrifying entertainment to wile away the dark silent nights.

This was before the advent of electricity in the villages and in household after household young and old would gather to relate tales of those dark, evil creatures. Years later, although I have grown up and supposedly moved on, such tales are as vivid as when I heard them as a kid growing up in the village.

According to the storytellers, Lougarous and Soukouyants were all amongst us. These were men (Lougarous) and women (Soukouyants) living in the villages who had given their lives to the devil and in exchange had super human powers to do such things as vanish into thin air or be transformed into fireflies at night, or cast spells.

The tales were tall and terrifying. To my young mind, fear of the dark was the inevitable consequence. I dreaded the dark. Every movement or the whistling of the wind could be one of them coming after me. And those dreaded fireflies? We called them la loo and la belle. The smaller ones the la belle were the Soukouyants and the bigger, brighter ones, the la loo were the Lougarous.

I recall one time, through no fault of mine having to brave the night all alone after being left stranded at a neighbor’s house. Today, many years later, I remember that night as though it was yesterday. Those darting fireflies were everywhere, tugging at my shirt, blowing against me, threatening to carry me away into the night. I screamed my way home that night. The 500 yards felt like 500 miles.

So powerful were the Soukouyants that they were ascribed god-like powers. Consider this story. This particular Soukouyant from La Plaine was said to routinely fly to England in one night and return before day break. On one such journey, she entered the Queens palace and stole the Queen’s dress.

Villagers swear by this account. Several of them recall seeing the woman wearing the dress at church on Sunday morning. Much later, I learnt that this particular woman was undone when on returning from one of her nightly sojourn flying the night skies, she made the mistake of passing directly over the church where some villagers were waiting for her with a special concoction. She was blown from the sky and the next morning found dead in the church yard.

In another story, a carpenter was given a single piece of wood to build a cabinet for one of the villagers who was rumored to be a Soukouyant. In the middle of the night he arose to strange noises coming from under his house where he had placed the plank.

Suddenly it hit him. This plank was meant to kill his entire family. Getting up from bed, he crawled under the house and retrieved the plank. Then he started to walk the half mile to deliver the plank back to the lady’s house. As he got closer to her house, he realized that the plank was becoming heavier and heavier threatening to crush him. He offered up a prayer: “ Papa Bon Dieu par muen courage pour faire ca” (Dear God give me the courage to do that). Apparently it worked. He successfully returned the plank to the lady’s house. The next day she was dead.

Today, as I write these stories they seem ridiculous, but like most children of my generation at the time they were true. The truth was everywhere. Soukouyants were named. As such during the day, you saw them, knew where they lived and so you avoided them. Even a casual look in your direction would send you fleeing in fear.

We were warned not to let them approach us or touch our heads since they would prevent us from learning. Parents kept supplies of red lavender that were religiously applied in the form of a cross on their children’s head, ostensibly to ward off the dark powers. Children attending secondary schools in the town would receive a special bath of herbs and wild weeds during the summer break to keep the spells away. How could we not believe?

Two years ago, I think I was finally able to put the ghosts to rest. On my return to the village, I saw one of the ladies who were supposedly the most powerful Soukouyant in her day. She must be well into her nineties, yet she looked strong and alert and was taking a casual stroll down the street. As I looked at her I paused; a thousand stories rushed through my mind.

I was about to pass her without saying a word. Just then, I looked up at her. She was looking directly at me. “C’est ou qui savant Thoma qui autres payee?” ( So it’s you the child of Thomas that is overseas?) she asked. I was stunned. How did she know me? Surely growing up as a kid I had never looked closely at her. I was simply too fearful. How did she know? Could all these stories be true?

Then I smiled, told her that yes it was me. Then I complemented her on the way she looked. “It’s really nice seeing you”. She too smiled, then turned and continued to walk down the road. I looked back at her. Could it really be true? No way, I told myself. Then I started thinking of the pain and suffering this poor woman must have gone through having to bear that burden of being labeled a Soukouyant for all those years.

Rather than being revered as she should be, she had become a social outcast. I wondered what she was thinking when she saw me. Then I began thinking again of all those stories. The names of the famous ones in the village. Most of them long dead.

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33 Comments

  1. citizen
    April 11, 2012

    i fed up of da same old stories i read all already. we need new stories

    ADMIN: Why don’t you write and send us instead of complaining.

  2. sunshine
    January 20, 2011

    I too relished Mr. Fontaine’s stories at nights when it was pitch black outside, no electricity, no radios, no tv, vcr ,no internet. Those stories really made your hair ” stand straight on your head” We also had a more pleasant one called ‘TIM TIM !!’ “BOIS CHECH!!” and so the stories began.
    Mr.Fontaine’s comments” THEN I STARTED THINKING OF THE PAIN AND SUFFERING THIS POOR WOMAN MUST HAVE ENDURED HAVING TO BEAR THAT BURDEN OF BEING LABLED A
    SOUKOUYANT FOR ALL THOSE YEARS”
    I visited Dominica in 2010 , and one of my neighbors whom I knew when she was younger was very angry complaining how some young kids are labeling her “Soukouyant”, just because she is old now and limping with a bad leg. I just took her in my arms and gave her a warm hug and told her how sorry I was that in this modern age, a lot of Dominicans still believe in such nonsense. I was stunned as to so many young people who just label people ” Soukouyant” and continue to cause so much pain on their neighbors. You know what I tell these people ? If any human can possess so much power how is it that they are not able to get into the bank and take all the money that they want? No one seems to be able to answer this question..

    • looking in from the outside
      January 20, 2011

      The reason for that is simple….one cannot use evil to better him/her self. Nothing good comes from evil. Nothing.

      This story brought back a lot of memories. As a child we would sit in the kitchen, which was seperate from the house, and as the fire die down on the fire side we listened to stories after stories from our grand parents. And boy oh boy…no man move after stories finish. All of us afraid to go outside.

      Also we would put a certain type of grass across the road where we know these alleged soucouyans would pass…and oh ya,,,they would cuss every bad word they could think of, and guess what,,,some of them would turn and go back where they came from,,,,and not cross the grass. The do exist. Be aware,,,close your doors early tonight because you never know,,,,,somebody might be watching you.

      • My babyboy says i'm too nice
        January 22, 2011

        true true and never been truer….what ppl fail to realize is that they are everywhere…all the patches ov hair tht suddenly disappear..tell me how

  3. adshamed
    January 19, 2011

    yes they exist i think but many innocent people have been labeled and made into outcast just because villagers think they are soucoyants. please people move into modern times. leave these ignorant ideas behind. teach our children about god. his power, his love. thank god my children did not grow up in d/ca with all these superstitions.they are all the better for it. the power evil have is what we ascribe to it. no more no less

  4. lady s
    January 19, 2011

    i remembered last year one sunday morning about 2am there were some thing walkin on our roof from one end to the other making so much noise, we saw the shadow and thought that thing would fall off from the slanting galvanize. I waited to hear that thing fall off but it never did. So my sons decided to go out to see wat was really on the roof, they were still scared to go out. Suddenly they just made up their mind and the teo of them went, when they looked on the roof they saw that it was a dog on the roof. We thought well if it really a dog it should fall from the roof and would be dead below. But my sons should have lashed the dog with a stick and d person would fall right in the yard dead. it did not take by 8am the same sunday we heard that a lady was dead, she was not dat so very sick for her passing away……………… what do u think?

  5. we running lougawoo tonight
    January 19, 2011

    they dere ti savanne is a prime example much evil a go on in them secluded villages. what burns me the most is that these evil bastards don’t better theirselves but try and hold back and spoil your being. their own children do not amount to anything better.

    • Anonymous
      January 19, 2011

      DAMN TRU

    • midnight groovers
      January 20, 2011

      some of them do try there weekedness on there child or there first grand child first to see how things going before going after other people.

  6. GamePro
    January 19, 2011

    Outstanding Post Mr Fontain to remember this. This was part of our culture and village history these stories. I was a warm reflection of memories readings this article.

    How outstanding that this came to mine and more so that your shared it. It is as vivid in my mind the stories as you have mentioned.

    I smiled deeply reflecting on them. I remember being given “quick silver” to drink for such reasons. It really does sound silly now but how real they were back then. So much so that even after so many years and having conquered these fairs and out grown those faded memories, I still don’t all together discard some of them as having been true.

    Remember the culture was different then. Times have changed and so to some of the things that were have changed with it. Some of the most memories of how things were done in the past when our parents were kids would indeed seem all silly, strange and unable to be identified with all because times have changed.

    If we ever deny the existence of evil then so to we are denying good. Society has changed and of course so to will the expression of GOOD and EVIL.

    PS

    Hi babes. Missing You!

    • GamePro
      January 19, 2011

      corrections”

      Fontain = “Fontaine”

      Fairs = “Fears”

      I = “It”

      Most memories = Memories

      Plus all the missing punctuations

      lol

      Guess I must learn to proof read huh.

      lol

    • bad evils
      January 20, 2011

      its true the 50’s they use to do no,2 in my mother’s yard,they still there ,2006 i went home in D/ca around 9.30 am i lay on the bed & is so i saw a light shineing on me then i told my mom see that up there when she put up her head seeing that light she just asked me wether i pray already my answer wasyes she said let her fly her kite & then i did not see it again.

  7. midnight groovers
    January 19, 2011

    those soukouyants & lougarous what u they are working for a little 10.c and before they collect from the devil he has to cworril with them first & kick them they dont get that 10.c easy so thy have to neel before the devil, thats true.

    • doggy
      January 19, 2011

      fond st jean had plenty, but now the younger ones are learning the trade.

      • cracker
        January 19, 2011

        fond st.jean and bagatelle have so much mal fecterre and lame` sal! now their child especially a young girl in bagatelle whose mother is out of state, now hold the book of witch craft her mother used and is threatening ppl saying that ppl know her already and wat she can do and how she will send ppl and die!

        she even threatened her own child father because he is with another woman! dem girls dangerous, and they walk in the streets as innocent lambs and talk with small voices …until that very day ..
        stay away from bagatelle women! is so dey nasty is so dey evil!

        • Domnitjen
          March 17, 2011

          WTF?!!!! There’s evil everywhere. Don’t target one part of the island. I’m from Bagatelle, and I grew up there with no fear and no worry…

  8. Ahtb
    January 18, 2011

    If u believe in God u must know that there is the Devil. His biggest trick is convincing ppl he goes not exsist. I don’t get it. How can you believe in God as in the Holy Spirit but say there isn’t such a thing as spirits? God is good and he sees all.

    I have seen things with my own eyes. Maybe some of u here need to see the wind to believe.

  9. sweet pum pum
    January 18, 2011

    yes they do exist I remember some true true stories I lived in Loubierre

    • wada mi ta bini, wait i am coming
      January 19, 2011

      yes thats true in Fond St Jean had both soukouyants & lougarous at that time the school children couldnt learn,& once my mother was in the kitchen & my mother said look a big lalo in buafabb as soon she said that her hair just stand up on her head .

  10. HMMMMM(1)PSYCHIC
    January 18, 2011

    To all who say that these beasts don’t exist, you all need to check yourselves again. They are full of hate and jealousy and will go as far as destroying families even committing murder. I know what I’m talking about but as I have already told them GOD is stronger than the devil. Let them sell their souls to the devil and become disfigured like the beast they are

  11. Smelling the Coffee
    January 18, 2011

    I saw a Soukoyant once. He told me he was a lawyer.

    • wada mi ta bini, wait i am coming
      January 19, 2011

      but u all forget in 1974 it had a soukoujant from delesses at the hospital she went to hurt some one aman was wstching her & when she go back she coulden put back her skin why ,the man salted the skin she coulden put it back on her thats why she end up in hospital it was realy true. :-D

    • Anonymous
      January 19, 2011

      If it’s a ‘he’ then it’s called a Lougaroo not Soucouyant

  12. YEP
    January 18, 2011

    They exist self, I wish it wasn’t true but those evil bastards all over the place and yes young people with nothing better to do is falling into that cult now. One had fallen or landed on our roof …I really dont know which 1 because the whole damn house shook so I checking is fall it fall. My dad went out naked to see what happened he can back shocked as hell. he couldn’t explain what the hell the thing was, it was almost day break so it was probably ba-zoo-di day light catching it. it was just turning back to human it seems cause my dad said it was like half animal half man kind of thing. You know 10pm not catching me outside and I will not stay home by myself. I have not heard or seen anything from that one time and I pray it remains that way cause I really can’t be facing them shit. But why is it that you must face them things tootooni nah…why naked?

    • Hmm
      January 19, 2011

      I had a good laugh after reading your comment, but I do agree with you. Had the experience a couple years ago of something walking on our roof in the middle of the night. I must say that this was one of the most frightening, disturbing and evil noises.

    • Anonymous
      January 19, 2011

      NAKED CUZ THEY TAKE OFF THEIR NATURAL HUMAN SKIN N THEIR FLESH IS EXPOSED N SURROUNDED BY SUM LIGHT….. WEN U SCRAPE URSELF N U TOUCH THE AREA WIT UR FINGER IT BURNS RIGHT? THEY CAN’T FACE THE BARE NATURAL BODY IN THEIR UNATURAL STATE

    • one man army
      January 19, 2011

      :cry: i believe u self. dem pple to wicked.dey don’t kno GOD coming soon dey doing dat.i praying for evil to stay away from me wii. i well fraid of d dark me aself.he should have dash it with alkaline or something

  13. Anonymous
    January 18, 2011

    Mr. Fontaine,

    These two statments stand out to me and is very encouraging. I sure hope that you meant it.

    “Then I started thinking of the pain and suffering this poor woman must have gone through having to bear that burden of being labeled a Soukouyant for all those years.”

    “Rather than being revered as she should be, she had become a social outcast.”

  14. Jay
    January 18, 2011

    seriously i dont believe soucouyants lougarous or whatever u call them exist. the mind is a very powerful thing and asl long as you convince yourself of something you will believe it. these stories are an enjoyment for me…. i like them. i remember when i used to listen to my folks telling them when the lights were out.
    its sad though that some of us even if we know better still grow up with the superstitious beliefs. i hope we dont pass it on to our children as i speak none of this foolishness to my son. he needs not to know about this as these things are not too common in his culture. we just have to believe that there is a God and yes although we may know that evil exists, but with God whom shall we fear?

    • thats true
      January 19, 2011

      they still there the young onse take over thos who dont have nothing to do u just put a new rosery over your door or a new knife opened it & they will just make there noise on the rooth,stow was very bad,i was pregnant in may 1969 i went with a lady at stow to company her when coming back at 7pm we hear a horse coming time we look behind we was on the ground already ,is ga good thing i was pregnant he couldnt do me nothing.

  15. Disclaimer
    January 18, 2011

    Hmmm…But I think it’s said that a few still around and young ones coming up. But who knows better than you Lord? The lady smiled but in her mind she saying ” I’ll be seeing you tonight.”Lol

  16. d lahjahbless
    January 18, 2011

    hhhhhhmmmm so just because she was complimentary to u,,,u believe she wasn’t a soukouyant all along,,, well just be glad she did not prevent u from going away,,,,soukouyant not interested in people that make it or made it,,,,most times it is the poor malaway child that trying to make it through high school and college the attacking,,,,,jealousy n envy,,,,, if u all want to know if soukouyant existed just ask around grand bay,,,,pointe michel and scotts head,,,,the axis of soukouyant high chiefs in dominica

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