The Loogaroo (or Soucouyant or orsoucriant) is a monster found in Caribbean mythology. Oddly enough, its name is pronounced the same as “loup-garou”, French for “werewolf”, despite having nothing in common with werecreatures.
According to the myth, the Loogaroo is an old woman who is said to be in league with The Devil. She will have magical abilities only if she gives the Devil blood every night. She tries to give him blood of other creatures, or else he will take her own blood, causing her to die.
The soucouyant or soucriant in Dominica, St. Lucian, Trinidadian, Guadeloupean folklore (also known as Loogaroo (also Lougarou) in Haiti, Louisiana, Grenada and elsewhere in the Caribbean or Ole-Higue (also Ole Haig) in Guyana and Jamaica or Asema in Suriname), is a kind of blood-sucking hag.
The Loogaroo can leave its own skin (usually under a “Devil Tree,” a silk cotton tree) and turn into a flame or blue ball of bright light that haunts the night searching for blood to meet the terms of her deal. After she has collected enough blood she can return to her skin and retake human form.
This creature is apparently compulsive and must stop to count grains of sand spread upon the ground. So, a defence against her was to leave a pile of rice or sand near your front door. Hopefully, the creature would take so long to count it all that the sun would eventually return with the coming of morning. By that time the Loogaroo would have to return to her skin without making an attack. In some tales of the Loogaroo, her skin can be taken away from the Devil Tree so that she cannot find it when she returns.
The soucouyant is a shapeshifting Caribbean folklore character who appears as a reclusive old woman by day. By night, she strips off her wrinkled skin and puts it in a mortar. In her true form, as a fireball she flies across the dark sky in search of a victim. The soucouyant can enter the home of her victim through any sized hole like cracks, crevices and keyholes.
Soucouyants suck people’s blood from their arms, legs and soft parts while they sleep leaving blue-black marks on the body in the morning. If the soucouyant draws too much blood, it is believed that the victim will either die and become a soucouyant or perish entirely, leaving her killer to assume her skin. The soucouyant practices black magic. Soucouyants trade their victims’ blood for evil powers with Bazil, the demon who resides in the silk cotton tree.
To expose a soucouyant, one should heap rice around the house or at the village cross roads as the creature will be obligated to gather every grain, grain by grain (a herculean task to do before dawn) so that she can be caught in the act. To destroy her, coarse salt must be placed in the mortar containing her skin so she perishes, unable to put the skin back on. Belief in soucouyants is still preserved to an extent in Guyana and some Caribbean islands, including Dominica, Haiti, Suriname and Trinidad.
The skin of the soucouyant is considered valuable, and is used when practicing black magic.
Soucouyants belong to a class of spirits called jumbies. Some believe that soucouyants were brought to the Caribbean from European countries in the form of French vampire-myths. These beliefs intermingled with those of enslaved Africans.
In the French West Indies, specifically the island of Guadeloupe, and also in Suriname, the Soukougnan or Soukounian is a person able to shed his or her skin to turn into a vampiric fireball. In general these figures can be anyone, not only old women, although some affirm that only women could become Soukounian, because only female breasts could disguise the creature’s wings.
The term “Loogaroo” also used to describe the soucouyant, possibly comes from the French mythological creature called the Loup-garou, a type of werewolf; often confused with each other since they are pronounced the same. In Haiti, what would be considered a werewolf, is called jé-rouges (“red eyes”). As in Haiti, the Loogaroo is also common in Mauritian culture. In Suriname this creature is called “Asema”.
As the legend of the Soucouyant has been verbally passed down over the centuries, the story has changed with the passage of time, so that the Soucouyant is no longer exclusively described as an elderly woman.