Magic, Genies and Marrakesh

When I was growing up Magic was Paul Daniels on the TV pulling rabbits out of hats with Debbie McGee on his knee and Genies were the things that granted you 3 wishes and could be summoned by rubbing a lamp.

In Morocco these mean completely different things, its an ancient and magical land and Islam also is full of stories about the ‘jinn’ which are nothing like Genies although they sound the same. There is also the underlying threat of black magic or the ‘evil eye’ with most people knowing of someone who has fallen foul of another’s bad wishes. I’ll tell you the stories I’ve heard, but recently I’ve also had a bit of a close encounter which makes me more aware that there may be indeed some things that aren’t so easy to explain logically – but then again life itself is a bit bonkers if you really think about it.

The ‘Jinn’ are spirits the concept of which existed pre-Islam and come in three forms angels, jinn and demons. Jinn are a collective and the roots of the word are to hide or conceal as well as a type of ‘Jinn’. They are believed to inhabit dark, desolate and unclean places, deserts or drains, there are Jinn who inhabited the world before Adam (stronger and faster humans who have the same need to procreate and eat, have longer life-cycles but may be invisible to the human eye) and those who operate more like heavenly beings good or bad. All in all its not entirely clear, Ali tells me that they believe that God put a screen on our eyes which means that you can’t see these beings, in Quaranic verse they are referred to as ‘smokeless fire’ which could mean a kind of energy. Mohammed was said to have made revelations to the human type Jinn. According to scholars such as Ibn Tayymia the Jinn were believed to be generally “ignorant, untruthful, oppressive and treacherous”. He held that the Jinn account for much of the “magic” that is perceived by humans, cooperating with magicians to lift items in the air, delivering hidden truths to fortune tellers, and mimicking the voices of deceased humans during seances.

It all requires a bit of imagination, and to some extent historic understanding of the context from which these things arose when there was no science as such so people needed ways of understanding where disease and misfortune might come from. So on to the stories;

1. The girl who can’t get married because a ‘Jinn’ has blocked her.
This is a story about a girl I know of who believes that a Jinn saw her while cleaning the loo at her brothers house (inhabiting dark and smelly places is the favourite pass time of the Jinn remember) and decided she was beautiful and wanted to keep her for itself. She is still not married and she is attractive, so she goes to a Fquih (said Fkir) (someone who knows all the Black Magic stuff) for help with breaking the bond. Even more scarily I have heard that if you wake up with henna on your hands, that’s it you’ve been married to a Jinn. Eek!

2. Couples breaking up
I’ve heard a few stories about magic being used to break couples up from some quite reliable sources, one story was of a young French couple who came to live here and hired an old maid to help them with the house and cooking. The story goes the husband fell for the maid and was utterly infatuated, he left his pretty young wife and their baby to be with her even admitting he felt like he had no control over his emotions, he was literally singing outside the window of the maid in a kind of delirium. The person who told me the tale, told me to watch out where you eat food and who prepares it because they can add in spells to your food to create a break up (or to make you like them). Another way to create issues with a couple is to do some nasty black magic thing with a cat where the cats mouth is sewn up – I can’t remember the details but it makes the couple literally fight like cat and dog.

3. The Jinn in the cupboard
This is my story so we have been noticing some funny things in our house, toilets not working, light bulbs going, mice ..you could put that down to normal stuff, or bad luck. But then over the past 8 – 10 days we’ve had a friend in the wardrobe, every night between 2 and 4 the wardrobe doors start to move a bit to make the jewellery hanging off them swing and clatter against the wood. The first night or two I thought it must be a cat, or a mouse, or the wind – but I checked all options looking inside, closing all windows etc and with no other explanation, it happened again from once to 4 times in the night. Then one night I looked over from my bed and I saw a really brighter than Halogen white light shining through the crack in the cupboard doors, it was so bright it was shining through my red glass beads on the door to create a beam of red light. Clearly at this point I grabbed the dog and my bed cover to sleep downstairs. I thought everyone would think I was mad (or madder than usual) when I told them, but they have believed me in the main and offered advice. Ali also heard it so it helps (although he’s still keen to see the bright light!).

The advice I have had has ranged from making sure you close the loo at night, putting the Quoran and some salt under your pillow, playing Surat (Quoranic prayers) on You Tube and making sure you don’t have anything in the house that might connect you back to someone who might want to still keep hold of you. One friend who I was surprised was well up on Astrology told me that Mercury is in retrograde so lots of things can happen (especially if this happens in your sign) including technology going wrong, it apparently causes havoc with computers – she said wait until Dec 6 and things will have moved on. There is also the thought that we might be located on a burial site and that these sites are probably very old.

So – not sure I’m fascinated but I know that it doesn’t any of it make logical sense! But then a lot of straight up people have told me stories before. I checked some old maps on line and one from 1886 does seem to suggest that where we are, just outside the medina wall is in fact an old Cemetery site.

Well it will either pass on the 6th, or we’ll move – let me know your own stories!