Mythical Monday: Island Spirits by Mae Clair

bigstock-Sea-Sunset-Beach-13760705Have you ever encountered a chickcarnie? How about a duppy or a Rolling Calf? If you’ve vacationed in the Caribbean Islands, you’ve already visited the habitat of these and other restless spirits.

Recently, my friend Loni Flowers took a Caribbean cruise and came across a print periodical that included an article about island folklore. Given she was enjoying crystal clear water, sparkling beaches, recreation and fun, I was thrilled she thought of me and my Mythical Monday posts (thanks, Loni!). When she sent me the magazine, I was hooked by the tidbits of native folklore, and knew I had to take a closer look at island spirits. Let me introduce a few:

The Chickcarnie
As might be suggested by its name, the chickcarnie is a birdlike creature but resembles an owl more than a chicken. Like an owl, they have the ability to swivel their head completely around for a glimpse of anything lurking nearby. Chickcarnies have three fingers, three toes, red eyes and a prehensile tail which they employ as a handy hook when hanging from the tops of tall trees (a favored chickcarnie pastime). If you see two pine trees joined together, there’s a good chance you’ll find a chickarnie nest at the top. Treat this island dweller well and you’ll be blessed with good fortune, but laugh at the chickcarnie or malign it in anyway, and misery will follow you for a lifetime. These guys wrote the book on holding a grudge.

bigstock-Spooky-Beach-1093037The Duppy
In the folk religion Obeah, considered a harmless form of voodoo, it’s believed each person has two souls – a good soul and earthly soul. When someone dies the good soul ascends to heaven but the earthly soul hangs around in the burial coffin for three days. If the coffin isn’t sealed tightly, the earthly soul can escape and become a “duppy.” This is a malevolent spirit that usually appears at night to wreak mischief.

You can tell when a duppy is nearby because you’ll likely become extremely warm and your head will feel as though it’s growing larger. Chase the duppy off by eating salt or wearing your clothes inside out. Apparently neither salt nor clothing worn in reverse rate favorably in the duppy’s eyes. It makes you wonder if they had an aversion to salt while living. Hmm.

The Rolling Calf
Finally we come to the Rolling Calf. Yes, it literally rolls around on the ground in chains. Rolling Calves are always male and are believed to be spirits of men who led a wicked life. For some reason many Rolling Calves were butchers during their lifetime. Perhaps being a Rolling Calf in the afterlife is an ironic sentence for having slaughtered cattle as an occupation. Whatever the case, this troublesome spirit also favors the night for roaming.

It searches for souls, wicked like itself, and molds them into its image. To escape a Rolling Calf, drop any number of objects in its path forcing it to stop and count them, or run to a crossroads and insert a pen knife in the ground.

So what do you think? Could you see yourself encountering one of these creatures while on an island vacation? If you had to choose between the three, which would you pick as the island spirit you’d risk encountering on a dark night?

As always, I love hearing from you, so please share your thoughts!

16 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: Island Spirits by Mae Clair

  1. I’m going to go with the chickcarnie. At least, it’s slightly less likely to terrorize me. These three would certainly give new vigor to an island vacation. It’d be hard to relax on the beach with them hanging around.


    • Could you imagine going for sun and fun and then bumping into one of these guys? I’m with you, Laura. The chickcarnie sounds the least intimidating, although I wouldn’t want to test that theory!


  2. I kind of like the rolling calf. He sounds easy to thwart. Kind of like the obsessive compulsive vampires in that super campy episode of X files. All you had to do to stop them was scatter coins or matches or marbles all over the ground. They’d have to stop and pick them all up.


    • That is so weird! When I was reading about the Rolling Calf, one of the passages said most supernatural creatures can be thwarted by strewing something in their path they would be forced to stop and count. I never saw the X-Files episode you mentioned, but it sounds like it played off that theory.


  3. As a writer of the paranormal I always love new fodder, so thanks! As an owner of chickens however – let me tell you, those guys can be scary enough as they are!


  4. Sorry… I’m late to the party… again! I read this last night, even to my husband and neither one of us had heard of these. I’m with Jessi, I think I could handle the Rolling Calf pretty well. They other seem a bit freaky.
    My question is… who names these?? The Rolling Calf? Did this person get a cramp in their leg? LOL…


    • HI, Loni! So fun to hear you shared with your husband. 🙂 So I guess I’m safe in assuming you didn’t encounter any chickcarnies, duppies, or rolling calves while on vacation?

      Aren’t those names bizarre? And I can’t help but giggling every time I imagine a scary Rolling Calf suddenly stopping while on a rampage to count. “Oh look. Someone dropped stones in my path. Must stop terrorizing that poor villager and figure out how many there are.” LOL!

      Thank you again for the mag. I devoured that article, exactly as you knew I would! 🙂


  5. Now why have I never run into any of these things when visiting the islands? Dang it. Loni gets all the good stuff. Having said that, growing up in the Philippines had their own share of superstitions and for whatever reason they never really phased me. Made me curious? Sure!


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