Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Tobago's Folklore

The legend of Gang Gang Sara, the African witch of Golden Lane, has its origins in the latter half of the 18th century. On a stormy night she was blown from her home in Africa across the sea to Tobago and landed quite safely at the village of Les Coteaux. From there she journeyed to Golden Lane in search of her family who had long ago been transported there. She lived to a great age and is remembered for her wisdom and kindness. She became the loving wife of Tom, whom legend says she had known as a child in her native Africa. She lived to a great age and is remembered for her wisdom. After her Tom had died, wishing to return to her native land, she climbed a great silk cotton tree and tried to fly, not knowing that she had lost the art of flight as a result of having eaten salt. To this day the names of Tom and Sara can be seen inscribed upon the head stones of their graves where they have lain side by side for close upon two hundred years.

Mermaids and Fairymaids:

There be mermaids here and Leviathan, great denizens of the deep. Amongst the swirling currents and white capped blue-green waters, just where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, close by St. Giles and near to Misty Marble Island, past Ance Gouleme and Ance Brisant, towards the Bird of Paradise Island and down the coast past Speyside to Fat Hog Bay, it is remembered from long ago that this was where the mermaids came to play.

Tobago mermaids are male and live in the deep, deep sea. They mate with the fairy maids of the rivers and the secret mountain pools. Riding upon the crest of waves, they are handsome men like kings of old or warriors of long ago, beplumed and richly garbed. They may grant a wish, transform mediocrity into genius and confer wealth and power.

Sometimes the water people seek relationships with mortals. Some men are particularly attractive to the fairy maids, especially men with smooth skin.

Fairymaids are said to be beautiful with long lush hair and one tiny foot in the shape of a deer's hoof, she may use her power to "turn" a man's head. She may steal his shadow and leave him quite demented. In which case, accompanied by friends and family and with the help of a "workman", he must go to the river and address the water pleading for the restoration of his lost shadow. This done, he must leave the water's edge and not look back.

Fairy maids may be found in caves behind waterfalls or beneath certain bridges where the river runs deep and swift. In days gone by, they were seen near certain water wheels.

To discontinue a relationship with a fairy queen, offerings of two pairs of shoes must be made. The first must be burnt on the beach, the fairymaid will then rise out of the water and ask if she is to be paid for past services. The answer must be "nothing but this pair of shoes". The second must then be thrown into the waves.

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