Jumbee: Demons of the Caribbean

The Caribbean is a beautiful place with beautiful people but if you find yourself out after dark watch out for Jumbees!

Jumbees (sometimes spelt Jumbie or Jumby) are demons or evil spirits originating in the Caribbean. The name Jumby is the generic name given to a whole cluster of malevolent entities, some believed to be spirits of the deceased and some believed to be demons.

A Jumbie is much more sinister than a run-of-the-mill ghost. Jumbees are believed to be the spirits of terrible, evil people who were destined to become agents of destruction upon their deaths.

The idea of Jumbees is influenced by the cultural melting pot that is the Caribbean. Jumbees have similarities to mythological creatures from African, Dutch, East Indian, English and even Chinese cultures.

We have gathered a collection of different Jumbees to tell you about but there are thousands more in different cultures around the Caribbean.

Bacoo

The Bacoo is said to reside in Guyana where many stories are told about these cheeky little creature.

The Bacoo is a dwarf-like entity that closely resembles the Irish leprechaun. Bacoos are mischievous and like to create havoc wherever they go. They are known to move items around, pelt houses with stones and any other activities that will illicit an annoyed response from a victim.

Bacoos don’t like the daylight and prefer to get up to their mischief under the cover of darkness.

Bacoos are said to be devious and are able to shapeshift into any form they like or even become invisible.

It is believed that if you provide a this jumbee with a constant source of milk and bananas it will provide you with untold wealth and grant any wishes you have.

One Guyanese legend tells of a rich man that kept his pet Bacoo high up on a shelf and used a ladder to reach him at night to feed him his tribute of milk and bananas.

One day he had to go out of town on a business trip and left his servant to feed the Bacoo. He instructed the servant to leave the milk and bananas at the top of the ladder and not to look at the creature. The owner knew the Bacoo would try to frighten the poor servant if he looked at the creature.

The servant couldn’t contain his curiosity and sneaked a peak at the creature at the top of the ladder. To his horror he was greeted with a giant black snake. He was so frightened he fell off of the ladder and broke his neck.

Choorile

Choorlies are similar to vampires or banshees and come from East Indian culture. This jumbee is said to look like a young human woman except their feet are turned backwards and facing the wrong way. Sometimes other body parts are upside down or out of place.

The most famous Choorlie is said the be the spirit of an evil woman who died during childbirth. Her child survived and she was stricken with grief and being separated from them.

The choorlie scours the land for pregnant women and babies who she cries out at in her grief.

This jumbee is said to have the ability to shapeshift into a beautiful woman in order to lure young men to their deaths. Choorlies often lurk in fields or hover around crossroads.

The Massacooramaan

Massacooramaan is a a large bigfoot-like, hairy man creature that lives in rivers and waterways. This jumbee is said to appear from under the water to destroy boats and eat the people within them. People who work in the interior of Guyana often speak of the Massacooramaan and are afraid of running into one.

This jumby is much larger than a normal man, and has big, sharp teeth. It is not known whether the massacooraman lives underwater or dwells on land but they appear to be fantastic swimmers either way. They have great strength and are able to pull entire boats under the water.

Moongazer

The Moongazer is a jumbie who is only seen during a full moon. He is described as very tall man with startlingly long legs. He is said to be very muscular and will either have a very light or very dark complexion. In some encounters only his shadow is seen by the light of the full moon.

In other stories the Moongazer terrorizes rural villages by standing with one leg on either side of a roadway, staring at the full moon. If anyone tries to pass under the Moongazer he snaps his legs together, cutting them in half.

The Dutchman Jumbee

The Dutchman Jumbee is one of the most violent and evil Jumbees of them all. According to local legends Dutch settlers and visitors to the Caribbean would kill slaves and bury them with their treasures and valuables to act as guardians for the items.

As a punishment for these disgraceful acts when the Dutchmen died their spirits were brought back to the Caribbean where they haunt the landscape.

There are trees dubbed Dutchman trees throughout the Caribbean. It is said that if someone climbs or cuts down one of these trees the Dutchman Jumbee will come and cause the person to fall and break their neck or cause them to have other forms of bad luck.

For many people in Guyana most unfortunate events are attributed to bad luck bestowed upon people by a Dutchman Jumbee.

Ole Higue

Ole Higue is a vampire-like jumbee known to be an old woman who sucks the blood of unsuspecting victims as they sleep. This jumbee is said to prefer children and babies as her victims.

This jumbee blends in with the village around her by disguising herself as an introverted old lady. At night she is said to shed her skin and hide it then head to the home of her unsuspecting victims. She turns herself into a ball of flame in order to enter the home through the keyhole.

If an Ole Higue is discovered within a village the whole community will come together to get rid of her. This can be done by turning the key in the keyhole when she is trying to enter as this will crush her. You can also find her skin while she is away attacking a victim and place hot peppers in it so she is burned when she tries to get back in.

How to prevent a Jumbee Encounter

Leave a pile of rice outside your front door. Jumbees are a bit neurotic and must stop to count the individual grains before the sun rises.

Cross water. Jumbees are not fond of water and may give up chasing you if you cross a river or stream.

If you are being chased by a jumby late at night walk backwards. If you are walking backwards the jumbie is less likely to follow you inside your home.

Leave a rope with many knots in it outside your home. The Jumbee will stop and try to untie all of the knots and be occupied until the sun rises when it must hide again.

Leave a pair of shoes outside the house. Jumbies don’t have feet and will try all night to put the shoes on.

If you enjoyed this article you may also like to learn about some less well known cryptids or the banshee of Ireland.

Further Reading

Tales of the Jumbee. Book by Henry S. Whitehead
(Affliate links. We may earn commission.)

Looking for a Jumbie by Tracey Baptiste

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