Welcome to Episode 1 of Black Folklore In Video: Haints of Hoodoo. Host Grant Yanney delves into the origins of the color Haint Blue, a pale blue-green that can be seen painted on the exterior of old homes in the South. Today, you will find Haint Blue paint on hardware store shelves, but the story behind it has roots in the supernatural.
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The tradition of painting porch ceilings and window shutters with this specific shade traces back to the Gullah Geechee, the enslaved descendants of Western Central Africans who labored on the coastal rice, Sea Island cotton and indigo plantations across the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. The Gullah Geechee held strong spiritual beliefs and used Haint Blue to ward off evil spirits known as haints and boo hags.
According to the Gullah Geechee, haints are unsettled spirits trapped between the living world and the afterlife. Boo hags are spirits that steal and wear a person’s skin during the day. After draining the human of their energy, they will then shed their skin to hunt for their next victim at night.
One of the spiritual practices that the Gullah Geechee used to ward off haints and boo hags was to develop a mixture of natural pigments to produce the color Haint Blue, similar to a Robin’s Egg Blue. By painting a porch, window or door with this color, they were emulating the appearance of water and the skies, which haints and boo hags could not cross, thereby preventing them from entering the home.
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Applying Haint Blue paint around the exterior of the home was considered the most powerful defense against these evil spirits, according to Roger Pinckney, author of Got My Mojo Workin: A Voodoo Memoir. But the Gullah Geechee had other methods as well, including hanging a broom across a doorway and scattering rice or seeds on the floor. This would force the boo hag to obsessively count each straw of the broom or each kernel of rice, providing a distraction from haunting those in its path. Salt on the floor would dehydrate the stolen skin and make it impossible for the boo hag to put it back on.
Another type of spirit, platihunts, would lure people into their grasp by shape-shifting into other forms. Pouring a little whiskey on the ground was thought to slow down a platihunt from coming after you, as they were believed to stop and lap up the whiskey from the ground.
To read the entire story about the Haints of Hodoo, CLICK HERE.
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