The Mysterious Color of Haint Blue

In my last post I told you about the legend of the Southern Bottle Tree and why there are so many of them in the yards of Southern homes.

Photo by Jocelyne Deneau

With the South as haunted as it is, a bottle tree is one of the best ways to catch and destroy the evil spirits that wander the Southern countryside. But often a bottle tree is not enough and as a result many Southerners have learned to employ additional methods to keep these wandering “haints” from taking up residence in their homes.

One of those methods is the use of the color known as “haint blue”.

haint blue2Travel to any of the old Southern cities in the Deep South and you will see a curious shade of light blue painted on the porches of many of the older homes. Charleston and Savannah, both of which are brimming with haints, are two cities that come to mind. In order to ward off evil spirits, residents of these two cities often paint the floors and ceilings of their front porches with a light shade of blue that has become known over the years as haint blue.

Photo By Shelly Rowell

The idea behind haint blue is that it mimics the color of water. According to Gullah tradition, haints cannot move across water and therein lies the protective power of the color. If the front porch of a home is painted with haint blue it is believed that no spirit will cross over and enter the house.

Southerners are not the first to use color to ward off evil spirits. There are many traditions throughout the world that deal with color and its effects on the souls of the dearly departed. haint blue1But down south we have to deal with an inordinate amount of wandering haints due to the history of our land. Bottle trees and porches and doors painted with haint blue can often offer protection, but as any Southerner knows there are times when an overly persistent haint will still get through and make its way into the home.

And once inside it will often decide to stay awhile.

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