Charleston City, South Carolina, is where it started. You might hear the saying “don’t let the boo hag ride ya” as goodnight. It is an old Gullah woman phrase that they use to warn loved ones. Boo hags are witch-like creatures that sit astride your chest while you sleep and steal away your breath.
Boo hags are not witches. They are not human. They disguise themselves in human skin, which they will steal from victims who awake during their feeding. They are more closely related vampires.
They won’t steal enough of their victims energy to cause death – just enough to sustain them. The consequence of being a boo hag’s victim is exhaustion, both mental and physical.
Boo hags are also like specters once they drop their skin disguises. They can fit through the tiniest crack. But, also like vampires, sunlight will kill them if they are not back in their stolen hides before sunrise.
The people of Charleston City knew they had a boo hag when the skinless body of Tyrell Jackson was found. Tyrell was on iron supplements for anemia, but in truth it was a boo hag. She stole his skin and is still using it to get around.
There are defenses against these unholy creatures, according to Gullah legend. Like vampires, they cannot cross running water. Unlike their blood-sucking cousins, they don’t have the best eyesight. The color blue painted across thresholds may fool a boo hag into thinking there is an aquatic barrier.
Another tactic to delay a boo hag. They have an obsessive compulsive nature. A boo hag cannot pass by something without knowing how much of it there is. So, if you have a broom they must count the strands in it. Salt also works to occupy them. It can also dry out their skinless bodies, as well.
If you have been waking up tired even after a full night’s sleep, it could be a boo hag has been riding your chest and stealing your breath. Best way to tell is to keep her from getting in or keep her busy counting after she has. Just don’t catch her in the act or it could literally be your skin.
©2016, Brian James Lane