Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What's a Jumby? Bish Denham Guest Post

Today, I'd like to welcome Bish Denham to The Warrior Muse!


Thanks for letting me haunt your blog Shannon! Today I’m going to tell you a little bit about jumbies.

A Jumbie, jumby or jumbee, is a spirit or demon in Caribbean folklore which has its roots in Africa. In Jamaica they’re called duppies. Jumbies can be threatening, mischievous, or even malevolent. In some places they are thought to cause blight on plants or make the dogs bark at night.

Traditional sayings
When leaving someone’s house at night it was polite to say, “Don’t let the jumbies get you.”

Ways to avoid a Jumbie
Leave a pair of shoes outside the door. The jumbie, which has no feet, will spend the entire night trying to wear the shoes and thus forget about going into the house.

Upon arriving home late at night, walk backwards into the house to prevent a jumbie from following you inside.

Jumbies are mentioned in my book, The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands. In it, Sam and her best friend Nick, are being haunted but they don’t know if it’s a mischievous jumbie or tormented ghost. In this excerpt they encounter the *ghost* for the first time.

The air is different. There’s a strange moistness to it. It smells of damp earth after a light rain. And there’s another odor, faint, as though someone has walked past who hasn’t bathed in a while. A weight settles on my chest, making it hard to breathe.

“Do you get the feeling we’re being watched?” Nick asks.

I wrap my arms tightly around myself and hunch my shoulders. I want it to be a game, but it isn’t. This is real.

“Yes.” My throat starts to close, and the word comes out in a hoarse whisper.

We turn at the same moment, staring down the porch which is shrouded in the deepening gloom of dusk. A huge black man is there in the blocked doorway. His body fills the space. In the darkness I can barely make out the tattered pants that are tied at his waist with a rope. His face is in shadow. As one, without a word, Nick and I slowly walk towards him. As we approach, he backs up into the thorny tangle of lime trees and disappears. We race to the blocked entrance, but we can’t get through the trees, so how could a person of his size manage it?

“Did you see that?” Nick runs back to the main entrance and the front steps, red cape flapping.

I follow, almost stepping on his heels. “None of the branches were moving!”

We race outside and around the front of the house to the lime trees, searching for whoever disappeared into them, but no one’s there.

We go back to the front steps and sit.

“How weird….” My heart is pounding. “But we both saw it, didn’t we? So it has to be real, right? This isn’t a game, is it?”

“No, it’s not a game. Maybe it was a jumbie. OOoooooOOooooo.”

I slap Nick’s arm. “Stop it, that’s not funny.”

Pirates. Explorers. And spooky ghost hunters.

It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole island of St. John, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike.

But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams.

They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them? 

As carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.

Available for purchase at:

About the Author: Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly.

She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic.”

The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, is her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at

To learn more about Bish, you can visit her blog, Random Thoughts, at www.http:/
She can also be found on Facebook:
Twitter @BishDenham

Have you heard of jumbies before? Do you have a similar creature in your neck of the woods? What is it? Would you walk inside backward to keep the jumbies away?

May you find your Muse.


  1. I have not heard of jumbies and I would like not to ever meet one! Congrats to Bish, this looks like a really fun read :)

    1. Well, if you should, at least you have some methods for avoiding one! Thanks for stopping by, mshatch.

  2. Thanks for letting me share my book on your blog, Shannon!

  3. Leave shoes for them - that's a funny trick.

  4. You bet I would walk into the house backwards. Congrats, Bish!

  5. Are you sure people don't just walk backwards because it's great exercise? ;) Shoes outside the door. Got it!

  6. Too bad there's no picture of a Jumbie. ;) I love the shoes outside the door bit. Funny.

    Congrats, Bish!

    1. I suppose trying to get a picture of a jumbie would be like trying to get a picture of wind in a jar. :)

  7. Ooo, those jumbies are tricky fellows.

  8. I've never heard of jumbies, but I love the mental image of a footless being trying so hard to put on shoes that it forgets what it was doing!

  9. Hi Bish and Shannon - jumbies ... bet there's lots of fun with them though, albeit sometimes frights too ... really interesting lore ... cheers Hilary

  10. Jumbies? Not a word I have ever heard! My husband's shoes are around here somewhere...

  11. I only recently heard of Jumbies thanks to Bish's blog tour! I really enjoyed learning about them and I can imagine walking backwards from time to time to keep them away. :)

  12. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to support Bish!