Monday, May 12, 2014

Goddesses in the Dust: Haints, Boo Hags and Other Low Country Ghosts

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...
Curious Expeditions
Walk down any street in coastal South Carolina and Georgia and you might notice an abundance of doorways and shutters painted blue.
Viewshound
This particular color of blue is thought to keep the ghosts away....to the uninitiated, that's known as haint blue.
North Carolina Estates
What's a haint?

Some believe the word came from haunt, but in the Gullah culture of the southeastern coastal United States, it means a restless spirit or ghost......and usually it means a crabby female one.

The low country, otherwise known as the coastal region of Georgia and South Carolina around Savannah and Charleston, is a haunted place, full of ghosts, spirits and history. 


Wars, natural disasters and diseases have afflicted this region and restless souls are said to still trod the picturesque squares that define Savannah's beautiful central core. 



Savannah and Charleston are known for their wonderfully spooky ghosts tours.


One of the squares we visited one night is also unfortunately a mass burial of soldiers from the Civil War...and our tour guide proceeded to warn us that the house across the street was the abode of a hag.


And what is a hag?

In Gullah culture a hag - often referred to as a boo hag - is a zombie like creature similar to a vampire. Several unfortunate deaths occurred in the house facing the square and our tour guide warned against approaching it any closer... and there are accounts of locals who will not pass by the house, even in broad daylight. Why? Because local legend says the boo hag  may follow you home, bringing on nightmares and even night paralysis.

Numerous other female ghosts haunt the low country area. A woman named Anna Powers is said to haunt a house in Savannah, which is now used as an inn. After learning her husband was having an affair, she threw herself out the window. To this day, guests believe one of the rooms, in which a bed lamp continuously flickers and turns on and off by itself,  is haunted by the ghost of Anna.

I've taken these tours in both cities, and whether or not you believe in the supernatural, you can learn a lot about the history of this fascinating region. And if the boo hag doesn't follow you home, the very least you can take with you is a wonderful yarn to tell your friends — and perhaps a tale about a color that is thought to repel ghosts!

28 comments:

  1. Have you ridden The Haunted Mansion in the French Quarter of Disneyland? You always 'take a ghost home with you' after that ride.

    I would love to do a ghost tour in Savannah or Charleston. I thought, for sure, too, that 'haint' came from haunt but, as always, I learn something new having read a post of yours. :)

    (Kinda feel sorry for Anna, if that is her. I'd love to encourage her to seek other adventures in the afterlife!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved that ride and now that I think of it you're right - a holographic ghost does 'go home with you' after the ride!

      I was just thinking about Anna and how it would be good for a medium to come in and help her move on...

      Delete
    2. p.s. love the new gravatar photo!

      Delete
    3. Thank you! I do, too. It feels like it captures me.

      Just rigged up all your deets for the post on Thursday. I'm so happy about it for some reason! And I love the pic you chose. You look so fresh and lovely. I can almost smell the bright, salted air around you!

      Delete
    4. You have a lot to be happy about my dear :)) Looking forward to the post!

      Delete
  2. Wowness..such breathtaking photos Amanda! Love that magical blue color too..stunning!
    Thanks for sharing your deeply beautiful adventures..such a visual treat!
    Victoria

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is something ethereal and deeply mysterious about that shade of blue.....maybe it will turn up in one of your amazing photos sometime? :))

      Delete
  3. "From ghoulies, and ghosties, and long-leggety beasties, and things that go bump in the night. . . ."

    Blessings and Bear hugs, Amanda!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to see you Rob - thanks for stopping by♡

      Delete
  4. ugh. I detest night paralysis. I must have run across a few boo hags in my time. Also, I always thought (down south) they painted their porch ceilings blue because the flying insects don't like it... something about being under open sky is a danger from birds and bats...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Insect repellant vs. ghost repellant — now that is one I'll have to look up........

      (Wow - now I know someone who's encountered night paralysis.. and boo hags! :))

      Delete
  5. we're a funny lot, aren't we? we turn from the truly terrifying (usually ourselves) and turn toward the eerie. huh. we feel safer there i guess.

    i wonder how much weather plays to this kind of culture. surely the deep lush fecundity of trees that you show, the slow night breezes, and all that humidity has an impact on culture. i went to savannah once many years ago. (do you remember my first profile photo of woman in a window? that woman was in a cafe there and never knew i stole her picture.) immediately i felt an altering inside me, the vegetation and the heat imposing itself on me.

    interesting, amanda.

    xo
    erin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are the truly terrifying ones. And you're right, we don't scare ourselves enough so we put it on the 'other'. And so the game continues....

      There is something about this region that makes you believe spirits inhabit the swamps and the Spanish moss filtering the breeze is actually a voice~

      (I remember that photo of the woman in the window very well - and I thought she was you!!)

      Delete
  6. I'd love to go, but never have. Went on a Boston ghost tour that was interesting. I have noticed on the east coast, the color blue is called haint blue. I have several pieces of tramp art and all use a silver paint for haint blue. Wonder if it is a regional difference? So very interesting to go to Charleston and Savannah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never heard of tramp art! And silver paint goes into haint blue? Now that I think about it, that makes sense...

      I bet a ghost tour of Boston would be fascinating~

      Delete
  7. Interesting! For me it's fascinating hat in 2014 people still belive in such old traditions and beliefs:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As long as they continue to hold meaning for them, I think each culture will preserve their own beliefs and traditions, no matter what century. But it's interesting to see how those beliefs can morph and transform over time...

      Delete
  8. What a wonderful post and pictures too!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to see you Philip - thanks for dropping by :))

      Delete
  9. I would love to tour those southern cities - such stunning architecture and gardens. Nice photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The architecture and gardens are wonderful and there is a great food culture in both Savannah and particularly Charleston.

      Delete
  10. How interesting and eerie. I can't wait to visit the cities of the American south. Somehow I think they will haunt me (in a good way) forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They have that effect on people!

      Delete
  11. That last photo of the three women is so cute! You just know they're whispering about what might be within the gates. I have never ever heard of haint blue and don't believe I've seen it either, but I love it and will have to use it someday somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved that shot - we weren't allowed in the cemetery so folks were gathering around and trying to see if they could catch a glimpse of a ghost through the gate!

      Delete
  12. Following Suze's advice and checking out your blog :) Such lovely photos. And, I must say, I agree with Erin's comment about how climate effects culture. I'm from dry, arid Utah --- we don't got haint blue here :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting, Kim, and I look forward to visiting your blog as well!

      Delete
  13. I have always been drawn to Savannah! I'm even willing to brave the haints and boo hags to see it ;)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting♡