Myths and Legends of Andros
The island of Andros has some spectacular blue holes - underwater cave systems linking freshwater lakes with the ocean. Lusca, a mythical monster that is half dragon and half octopus, is said to live in these blue holes. If you take a boat out on a blue hole to go diving or fishing, be on the lookout for Lusca. He likes to drown unwary visitors. Since exploring underwater caves is inherently risky, and since these blue holes are teeming with fish, it is not surprising that ancient people believed that water accidents - like drowning - were caused by a mean-spirited creature named Lusca.
Shell Carving by Joyce McMaster
Andros is said to be the home of chickcharnies. These elfin, birdlike creatures have piercing red eyes, three fingers, three toes and a tail, which they use to hang from trees. Chickcharnies live in the forest and build nests by joining two pine trees together at the top.
When sightseeing on Andros, carry flowers or bright bits of cloth with you to charm these mischievous creatures. The Chickcharnie is said to be generally peaceful when left unmolested. Legend says if you see a chickcharnie and show it respect, you'll be blessed with good luck for the rest of your life. Be careful not to sneer at it, however, or your head will turn completely around!
Billy Bowleg, the great Seminole medicine man is said to have been adopted and trained by the Chickcharnies. They took him at the age of 14 and kept him for five years. When he returned to this people his reputation as a healer spread throughout the Bahamas.
Now, there truly once was a Chickcharnie of sorts on Andros. It was a 2-foot-tall owl called Tyto pollens, a remote cousin of the smaller Common Barn-owl ( Tyto alba). Tyto pollens was a large, flightless owl known to have lived on Andros. It is believed that it was territorially aggressive and coexisted with humans. The ability of owls to swivel their heads, and a territorial aggression, may have been the basis for this particular legend, . . . . but . . . . just maybe . . . . well, who knows?
Bosee Anansee (Anansi)
The trickster Anansi, originally a West African spider-god, lives on in the tales of Bosee Anasee. Why do so many Island folk tales recount his exploits, under one name or another? Anansi is the spirit of rebellion; he is able to overturn the social order; he can marry the Kings' daughter, create wealth out of thin air; baffle the Devil and cheat Death. Even if Anansi loses in one story, you know that he will overcome in the next. For an oppressed people Anansi conveyed a simple message from one generation to the next:--that freedom and dignity are worth fighting for, at any odds.