The Boo Hag

The Boo Hag is an American regional variation off of the Old hag myth-one that seems to run to the fairly grotesque. Situated in South Carolina (especially the Gullah culture surrounding Charleston), the Boo Hag is one in a line of ‘hag’ stories to explain in part experiences such as sleep paralysis.

The Boo Hag steals the breath from its victims. The act is referred to as ‘being ridin’. However, oddly, allowing this to happen seems to have no lasting side effects over than being particularly tired the next day. It’s when the victim decides to fit that the Boo Hag will harm them.

The Boo Hag actually has to eventually harm some of its victims-according to legend, the Hag has no skin of its own. The Hag in its natural form is bright red and muscular, with a feeling like raw meat. In order to blend in with its surroundings while looking for the next person to ride it’ll ‘borrow’ an individual’s skin, wearing it like a suit until the skin wears out and the Hag needs to find another.
The hag stories have differing answers to what the hag ‘is’ and in the case of the Boo Hag, the entity may be the spirit of a person who has already passed on. In Gullah culture, the spirit of a person can either function in a good or beneficial manner, or it can function in a malicious manner-and can occasionally become a Boo Hag. The hag enters your house through any small crack it can find. There are ways of guarding against the hag-including traditional Southern ghost or spirit charms like brooms, a color not unlike Haint blue, and salt. These are long standing protective charms that have been adapted into American folkways.


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