Haints and Boo-Hags: What Ghosts Haunt You?

Since the land itself is covered in swamps, marshes, and many isolated places it's no wonder the Lowcountry possesses such a long tradition of ghost stories. Here are a few traditional creatures described in stories of the Gullah-Geechee culture of the Lowcountry.

Haint Blue porch ceiling. Pic by Lake Lou on Flickr

Haints

In Gullah tradition ‘Haints’ are restless ghosts. They’re said to be spirits who have not left this world and haunt a certain place usually performing harmless tasks. However, some of them are more sinister.

One of the unique things about haints and spirits in Gullah lore is that they can be stopped by the color blue. So you’re likely to see houses that have doors, windows, eaves, or porch ceilings painted blue. The practice even inspired an upcoming video game where you use blue paint to keep out the baddies.

Boo Hags

Some of the most sinister tales are stories of the Boo Hags.

Much like European vampires, the Boo Hag is a skinless undead creature who sucks the life out of the living. Unlike vampires, however, it’s your breath they are after. Stories say the Boo Hag will sit on your chest while you’re sleeping and steal the air right out of your mouth.

Charleston tour guide Randy Johnson gave us a very spooky description of the creatures.

"Don't let de hag ride ya!"

Plat-Eye

The Plat-Eye is a malevolent ghost said to lurk in swampy areas, especially old rice fields.

Plat-eyes are shape-shifting ghosts often rising like a mist and then taking the form of a dog that keeps growing larger. But it can appear as anything, even something as large as a bull. But when they appear as a man you can tell because they have just one big eye.

Some say Plat-eye is the spirit of the improperly buried dead. Or worse, the ghost of someone killed and buried so their ghost would protect a hidden Confederate treasure.

They're often seen by people on the road

Malevolent Spirits

Some of the scariest stories tell of more direct and dangerous ghosts than normal haints.

Some of the most devious are said to be sent by unfriendly magic. Tradition says that it is within the power of some ‘Root Doctors’ to conjure an angry spirit to haunt someone else. If one comes after you then you’ll need to employ you own ‘Root Doctor’ to send the ghost away.

Raw Head and Bloody Bones

Stories of a talking skull and walking skeleton come from all over the world.

Some of the tales tell of a pile of dancing bones and one man’s try to cut a deal with the devil. But those same tales also give the name ‘Raw Head’ to a powerful Conjure Doctor with two heads who like to bet with the Devil.

Still, more sinister tales tell of a witch and her pet boar. When the boar is killed and skinned, he comes back for revenge.