Welcome to The Hidden Gem, a production of I Heart Radio in Greyman Mild from Aaron Manque.
Before we begin this week, a gentle word of warning, there are references to sexual assault in this episode, so please proceed with care.
Decades ago, I knew a family that lived in my mother's town that had three young daughters.
The lady of the house was a close friend of my mother's. And so, in other words, she was kind of an auntie to us. And every so often auntie would drop by for a visit bringing boxes of homemade sweets or a platter of rice or some little treat to share over a cup of hot joy. And oftentimes one of our daughters would come with her. The eldest was maybe around 20 and the youngest was an early teen. For years, though, I never met the third daughter, the middle one.
Once in a while, Auntie would mention her name.
She would ask my mother for prayers, say something in passing about her doing better or worse. One day after she left, my mother sat shaking her head, looking deeply sad about whatever auntie had shared with her.
And I asked, What's wrong? My mother took a deep sigh and responded. She thinks her daughter has a gin. That's what I finally learned, that the third daughter, the one I never saw, had an entire host of what her parents understood to be symptoms of either the evil eye or gin possession or a combination of the two. But my mother explained to me it was just as possible that the daughter had mental health or medical issues. If she did, though, Auntie wasn't prepared to accept it and seek professional advice.
Instead, she sought help elsewhere, so eliciting prayers and charms from spiritual healers, hoping something would drive away the demons that caused the young girl to lash out, that kept her tongue tied and frustrated, that kept her afflicted, suffering and isolated from the rest of the world. But nothing worked. My mother tried to counsel her to take the girl to see a doctor or a psychologist or even a psychiatrist. But the advice didn't land. Auntie was convinced that someone had put a curse on her daughter, a curse for a jinn to torment her.
At some point, maybe a few years after I first got to know Auntie, I finally met that third daughter. She was sweet and kind, shy and mostly quiet. But the one she did speak, her words were halting and repetitive. I didn't get a sense that she was haunted or tormented by anything. One thing was painfully clear to me and to anyone else who might be familiar with the condition the young woman was autistic. So what happens when developmental or mental health issues, physical disabilities, disease, chronic illness, emotional dysregulation or any one of hundreds of physiological and psychological conditions that human beings experience is understood through the lens of the supernatural?
How do you know whether you're suffering from a treatable condition or you've been struck by a jinn? Is the affliction in the psyche or in the soul? While the lines have been blurred throughout history and today we'll explore what it looks like over the centuries when medicine, psychology and the supernatural cross paths. I'm Robert Chaudhary and I'll be your guide into the ancient world of the hidden gem. Welcome. Stars are the celestial doubles of human beings, Jen familiars are their underground doubles, and the leaves of the trees of paradise are their doubles in paradise.
When human beings are sick, the jinn double is sick with the same sickness, his star pals and the leaf of the Tree of Paradise, yellows and curls. At the hour of death, the jinn dies first. The star falls from the sky as a shooting star and the leaf detaches from the tree of paradise. That is from a 1926 collection of cosmology collected in Marrakesh, Morocco. The documented, among other things, the belief that the human condition exists in several planes at once and whatever it goes through, whatever it experiences, is experienced by corresponding entities linked intimately to each of us.
For every person, a leaf on the Tree of Paradise, a star in the heavens and a jinn in the underworld, the jinn will live, get sick and die with us. What about the djinn who actually make us sick? According to a book titled The Gin and Human Sickness, an entire host of conditions can and are attributed to gin, including depression, anxiety, epilepsy, personality disorders, psychiatric breaks with reality. Now, the movements of the gin in and upon the human body can't really be tracked because the dinner created a smokeless fire and energy that cannot be contained.
They're able to move with our bloodstream itself. They say there are two ways in which can physically afflict human beings, they can either strike a person or possess a person. Striking a person could mean sudden paralysis or blindness or any other physical condition that just appears out of nowhere or even a more literal strike. Like suddenly you lost all your hearing in one ear. Maybe it was because Gene slapped you on that side of the head, but you must be asking yourself, why would any gene be bothered enough to strike a person?
More often than not, it's because the gene was offended or disrespected, knowingly or unknowingly urinating the wrong spot. Let's say in a shadowy corner, a gene called home could encourage wrath or wearing the wrong color in the wrong place at the wrong time might anger a gene.
And you might really have one off if you disrespect it by rejecting the existence of gene altogether.
Sometimes, though, the affliction is actually a way to connect again to a person, a means of establishing first contact, you could say, and shaking that contact isn't always easy. But for thousands of years, there have been healers and magicians to help take care of such a bothersome attachments. It seems that the idea that Ilma stems from and therefore requires spiritual or supernatural interventions is as old as history itself. Unto the side of the wanderer have drawn nigh, casting a Woelfel fever upon his body, a bane of evil, had settled on his body, an evil disease on his body.
They have cast an evil plague, had settled on his body, evil venom on his body. They have cast an evil curse, had settled on his body, evil and sin on his body. They have cast venom and wickedness have settled upon him. This priestly Assyrian chant is thousands of years old, a litany of the many ways evil spirits attacked some poor soul. And the doctors of ancient times were, in fact the healers and the magicians and the priest sometimes indistinguishable between any of them.
They were the ones who were called upon to help heal the sick with little space between medicine, religion and magic. These hilar magicians were regarded by society as honored warriors waging war against unseen forces on the battlefield of the human body.
They wielded an array of tools, each instrument specialized to deal with whatever demon was causing the sickness and also use chant spells and rituals to drive away the forces of illness. But how did they know which demon it was and what tools to use? Well, it's pretty simple, it all depended on which part of the body was ailing. The symptoms of whatever ailment a person were struck with themselves gave rise to the diagnosis. For example, a painful throat pointed to a tulku, the demon jinn, who, well, live to attack human throats fever as you're dealing with a skin disease, the demon reviser was the culprit.
The ancient Greeks likewise believed both that evil spirits could cause every matter of sickness, but also that there were gods you could turn to for healing. So it kind of balanced it out. And sometimes the evil spirits themselves began to be worshipped as gods, as a way to appease them through rituals of praise and even blood sacrifice. For example, there's the demigod al-Mubarak, he was a fierce, angry and ancient pre Islamic God that was worshipped in parts of the Middle East.
His name means the one who burns and he lords over a crimson thrown red as flames. al-Mubarak was known to be a god of the underworld. And much like his Babylonian counterpart, the God Nergal, he was a deity of disease. But al-Mubarak didn't just attack one person. His wrath was more efficient, you could say. Omaha accent plague's to second an entire regions, and later his legend morphed into him being the djinn of plagues and pestilence. According to Ottoman mystics, the jinn afflicted humans with the plague and other epidemics by piercing them with a tip of a disease ridden spear or arrow.
Treatises written in the 15th and 16th century also share that sometimes these plagues are spread by the direct command of Satan himself, who directs his legions of gend to go rampaging against hapless humans. But according to the same treatises, there is a way to protect yourself if the plague is a war on man said by Satan, a man can fight back by invoking a powerful name of God against the disease. A famous Turkish historian, scholar by the name of Tasco Prosody prescribed the following for protection against the plague carrying gin.
Repeat Albuquerque, a name of God that means the everlasting one hundred thirty six times a day and no such action could touch you. Pascal Prasad wrote about a story in which a group of students living in Kashgar, a city on the Silk Road bordering Afghanistan, saw frightening shadows on a wall. The shadows were of figures carrying arrows, but it was more frightening was that there was nothing in the room to actually cast the shadows, which could only mean one thing.
The figures were gine. And the tips of the arrows they carried were poisoned with plague, the students were told to write down the powerful names of God on pieces of paper as a talisman to protect themselves. According to the story, those who followed instructions were saved and those who didn't perished, hundreds of similar prayerful invocations are prescribed throughout Islamic plague traces from that time. And likewise, Christian and Jewish writings reflect the same ideas and even language. Take, for example, Psalm 91, a prayer that reads.
You who live in the shelter of the most high, who abide in the shadow of the almighty, will say to the Lord my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust, for he will deliver you from the snare of the fouler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions. And under his wings you will find refuge, his faithfulness as a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of knight or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks and darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noon day.
While Muslims, Christians and Jews have always had much in common to discuss an interfaith gatherings, having a shared belief in dark evil forces that shoot arrows of disease probably comes as a surprise to many of us. Some of you may not know that the hidden engine isn't my first foray into podcasting for the past five years, I've cohosted and co-produced the biggest wrongful conviction podcast in the world, undisclosed, along with two brilliant colleagues, attorneys Susan Simpson and Colin Miller.
Together, we reinvestigate cases in which an innocent person is paying the price in prison for a murder they didn't commit while a killer runs free. We began with the infamous Adnan Syed case from Serial.
But today, not only does undisclosed have over 355 million downloads, we've covered 22 cases, found new evidence in nearly every case we investigated and have helped exonerate over half a dozen innocent people. If you love true crime, unsolved mysteries and Criminal Justice, Undisclosed is the podcast for you. You can find Undisclosed on all your favorite podcast apps. And check out the cases we've covered on our website. Undisclosed Dasch podcast Dotcom. Be sure to check it out and subscribe today.
On the subject of physical ailments, if there's ever a convenient time to blame again, it's when the issue is, well, a deeply personal one. In twenty eighteen, a medical journal published a piece by a doctor from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Health Care Medical Center in Dubai entitled, quote, Infertility caused by Djenne. The same doctor, Dr. Mirabai Jarawa, had previously written an article for the Archives of Sexual Reproductive Health titled, quote, Infertility Caused by Decreased Oxygen Utilization and Gine.
Now, I was as surprised as you to find such pieces in recent medical journals, but such is the power of spiritual belief. Now, the thesis of these pieces is that evil jinn take no greater pleasure than they do in wrecking marriages through all kinds of means, like causing enmity between spouses, over finances, disputes over family issues, lessening their attraction for each other or just making them irritable and hateful to each other. But if none of that works, they could take more direct action, too, like causing sexual disorders, miscarriages, impotence, premature ejaculation, early menopause and yes, infertility, sometimes the gene might do it on their own.
But more often than not, it causes problems because someone, a rival or enemy, has summoned them with black magic to destroy the happy life of a couple that they want to harm. The articles come complete with very official looking charts and lists dozens of sexual and reproductive disorders that might be inflicted by the gene or could be actual symptoms of being possessed by one. And there are a number of very interesting cases presented in these pieces, like the one in which a patient suffering from polycystic ovaries failed to follow the doctor's instructions and then disappeared for a couple of years.
She then returned to the doctor after a frightening experience. She was standing in front of a mirror one night applying lipstick when suddenly a bright red patch appeared in her clothing below her pelvis. She was bleeding heavily and it wasn't clear whether it was menstrual blood or not, whatever it was, as she talked her into returning for medical treatment. A case summary in the article concludes, and I quote, Mirah attracts the gin, the gin is circulating in the body, settles in the womb and opens the urine vessels, causing abnormal bleeding.
The doctor also had a theory behind male impotence and other sexual dysfunction. This happens apparently when a female. Well, the doctor conceded that maybe a male agent who was sexually attracted to a human male and messed with his system so he could neither find satisfaction or give satisfaction to another human partner. Talk about being possessive. Anyhow, if that call your ear, don't worry, we'll be getting into the phenomena of human relationships in a later episode, but spoiler alert, the relationships aren't always voluntary.
Getting back to the connection between evil forces and sexual and reproductive issues, we have to keep this in mind. One effective way to lessen the stigma of these conditions and lessen the personal blame some might ascribe themselves, may be to find an external cause when it's black magic, the evil eye or a wicked jinn, it offers a bit of protection to those who might otherwise be mistreated by their partners or families or society for failing to fulfill their obligation to go forth and multiply.
It's ironic, actually, that such prescriptions might just be a compassionate way of letting people off the hook, including medical and health professionals. All faults and deficiencies get attributed to the djinn, freeing people of accountability, blame and shame. At the same time, though, it also keeps alive a thriving source of income for the people and institutions who claim to be able to heal the things that science cannot. And it opens the doors for criminals and predators who prey on the vulnerable.
A 2012 article in the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported the arrest of a faith healer promising to free a young girl of. But instead, the girl's mother caught the man in the act of raping her daughter. Thankfully, he was arrested. But catching such culprits isn't always so cut and dry in South Asia. And maybe it happens in other parts of the world. But at least I can personally vouch for this region while there are doctors and clinics, of course, that can treat infertility.
What happens when a wife unable to produce any children gets repeatedly checked out and the medical professionals say she's just fine? Well, thanks to misogyny and the patriarchy getting in the way of good judgment, oftentimes no one thinks to check the husband's reproductive health because, well, that would be unthinkable. So the only remaining explanation then is supernatural, a curse that woman is suffering from, or maybe Ajin. And so there have been countless stories of women once humiliated for being barren and unable to conceive, miraculously becoming pregnant after being left alone for treatment with some fraudulent holy man who claimed that he could drive out the djinn preventing conception.
Imagine, then, the situation these women face finally pregnant to the great joy of their families, but not through some mysterious spiritual healing, instead, because they're the victims of sexual assault by these fake religious healers. These women are left to hold this terrible secret, a secret they undoubtedly share with dozens of other victims. The secret that more often than not, you don't have to fear the supernatural because the worst monsters are usually human.
A 2005 article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine presented the case of a 25 year old Iraqi woman living in the UK with no history of any psychological or psychiatric disorders who began to slowly but surely withdraw from life. Over time, she stopped being in the company of other people, stop communicating and eventually even stopped eating. Doctors diagnosed with severe depression and subjected her to electroshock therapy, which did nothing for the patient, but further confirmed her family's suspicion that they were dealing with something else here.
They secretly believe that their daughter was under the influence or possessed by a jinn. Without telling the medical professionals involved, they ferried the young woman off to see a faith healer who assured them that he could cure her with prayer and ritual. After all, faith is often the last resort of the desperate. The healer put his patient through a few sessions of spiritual therapy and miraculously her appetite returned, as did her previous emotional health. She reported that she wasn't sure what had happened to her, but she was fully aware of her condition.
But she just couldn't bring herself to do anything to come out of it, even though of her own admission, she wasn't particularly feeling sad or depressed about anything at all, according to the article. Even five years later, she was still doing fine without any medications or any other treatment since the spiritual healing. But of course, not all such stories have happy endings. For some, the spiritual healing itself becomes a private hell. People have long both feared madness and been in all of it.
The ancient Greeks thought some madness to be sacred, opening divine portals and the power of prophecy. And then there's the dark side of madness, the one that's not caused by gods or saints, but by demons or sometimes by something in between, like lesser known to the Greeks as both the goddess and demon of rage and frenzy in the Greek tragedy. The Madness of Hercules Hercules, the son of Zeus, stands before his father's altar, ready to purify himself when suddenly laser strikes him with madness, heroically spun around his eyes, rolling in his head, mouth foaming and mounted an imaginary chariot.
He bellowed maniacal laughter as he drew his bow and took aim at his own children. He didn't know they were his children, though in his madness, he believed they were the children of an enemy. Hercules terrified children tried to save themselves. One child hid behind his mother, another behind a temple pillar and the third one under an altar. But it didn't deter Heracles. He killed all three of his children and his own wife before finally being struck by a rock that put him in a deep slumber.
Greek mythology is full of madness, caused by demons or curses leading to murder, suicide, infanticide and other unthinkable acts. Such evil, you see. Can madness be on the line between madness and evil forces is just as great in the Arabian tradition, both predating and after the seventh century, when Islam emerged as a religion in the region. A mad person is called Majnu and madness itself is called Junoon. Both of these word had the same three letter origin as Jinn.
Those letters in the English alphabet being J and and Majnoon genuine gin. They're not only related, Majnu literally means possessed by a jinn whether or not that person is actually possessed. So how do the jinn drive a person mad. Well, they have a few tricks up their sleeves. First is the insidious. Wasswa saw the whisperings. Am I good enough?
Am I pretty enough? Is my husband cheating on me? Are my friends talking about me? Did my brother steal from me? Is that woman following me?
Are my children safe when my parents die? Those doubts and negative thoughts that you can't get rid of that continuous, persistent stream of anxious questions and insecurities that circulates in your mind constantly. It may well be a gin whispering to you in your very own voice. Maybe it's even your Koreen, that constant companion gin that's born with you and for you and dies with you to let you know that if they're at it long enough, it can leave people, if not to sheer madness, then to depression, panic attacks, resentment and anger and even suicidal ideation.
And if that doesn't work, they'll try to drive you mad with their music. It's not really music, though. It's more of a sound, not unlike a siren song, but a bit more creative. It can sound like a constant buzzing of flies or bees or the incessant chirp of a bird. It could be the sound of wind or a far off wail or never ending murmurs or maybe the faint beating of drums for hours and days, both when you wake and sleep.
It could just be a sound repeated over and over, like it was reported by an ancient poet who described it as Zezima, Zezima, Zema. Before the advent of modern psychiatry and psychology, this was all understood to be symptoms of external malevolent forces. But even in the modern era, it can be hard for many to draw lines between the natural and the supernatural to know when to take a loved one to a psychiatrist and when to take them to a spiritual healer.
And in some places there are almost no options but to choose the latter. In the small town of Wilmer, in the heart of Morocco, this stands a mausoleum dedicated to a 16th century saint. The town itself was named after this particular saint was known to cure those suffering from what we today understand to be psychiatric disorders.
But before modern medicine was generally considered madness caused by Jinn and this mausoleum, a shrine for that saint, became a place of hope for the loved ones of those who were thought to be touched by madness, but a place of despair for the afflicted themselves. Families came from near and far to leave their sick children, siblings, elders at the shrine in the hopes that the healers working there and the power of the shrine itself would cure their loved ones. Whether the families were driven by love or fear, guilt or faith, their patronage brought a steady stream of revenue to the shrine, which charged a monthly housing fee for their patients and made nearly a million dollars a year from the services.
The healers there claimed they could heal to their own power derived from the deceased saint himself, that they had power over the jinn that were either afflicting the patients or by employing the that were already in their control to battle the ones that were not in their control. People passing by would hear howling and screams, sobs and cries for mercy, all which was chalked up to the torment of the jinn who are being exercised from their victims. Except that's probably not what it was.
Not too many years ago, reports began emerging of the torture these patients treated more like animals faced. Human rights activists raised allegations that patients at the shrine were often shackled and beaten, even starved, and that place must be shut down.
So serious and systematic was the situation that a report was even presented to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
One story detailed the horror faced by a young man from Tangiers who had a drug addiction and had been left Abuja Omar in 2006 by his brother. He was robbed and beaten, deprived of food and water, but was finally saved by the same brother who came to see him a year later for a year. He said he lived in hell. As these tales emerge, medical professionals and human rights groups demanded the government shut the shrine down, bring the authorities between a rock and a hard place.
After all, the shrine was part and parcel of their cultural heritage, as were the beliefs around Jinn and spiritual healing. Others counterprotest, insisting the shrine remain open not only because of its historic importance, but also because they simply didn't know what to do with their loved ones, where to take them, how to help heal them. But the government conducted a review of the shrine operations and in 2015 shut it down, much to the relief of activists and health professionals.
It didn't just shut down the shrine, though. The government allocated millions of dollars for the patients that would be escaping the shrine, recruited mental health professionals and bought dozens of ambulances to transport the ill. And the story itself prompted both national and international conversations about mental health, abuse of power, human rights, tradition and faith, but also about Jen. After all, the government could shut down the shrine, but they couldn't shut down the healers who claimed powers derived from the saint and they couldn't shut down the djinn themselves because as long as they're again, there will always be people who promise they can save you from them.
They say there's sometimes a fine line between a gift and a curse, and such is the case with madness to. Because while it has often been thought to be a result of evil or dark forces, there is a place on the spectrum that has long been considered a portal to enlightenment.
In a Sufi tradition, you were lucky to be known as much toub, meaning an unruly friend of God, a person touch with madness that connected them to the divine, opened them up to secrets, gave them the ability to see and understand and know things the rest of us aren't capable of. These people would be forgiven in an otherwise orthodox society for exhibiting bizarre behavior and speech, like running around naked, babbling in tongues, dancing and frenetic ecstasy, and breaking all kinds of religious and social norms.
And yes, the sacred madness was attributed to Gin Goorjian that is pious Ch'en who possess the bodies of pious men and women and opened up the reality of God to them, connecting them through the madness to an unseen holy realm.
The or that these unruly friends inspired and Sufi's may seem odd, but then behold the Western regard for genius. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said, genius lives only one story above madness, and well before that, Aristotle told us no great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.
Indeed, many of the celebrated geniuses of Western art, literature, science and philosophy suffer from some psychiatric or psychological disorder. Many, many studies have been done correlating the two phenomena and making a strong case for the relationship between madness and art.
One study found that 87 percent of famous poets experienced psychopathology and another study found, quote, a very high percentage of the writers and artists, 38 percent had been treated for a mood disorder.
Of those treated, three fourths have been given antidepressants, lithium or had been hospitalized. There are researchers who dismissed the idea that madness and genius are correlated, citing poorly designed studies and conflation and an entire host of undermining factors.
But then the famous Lord Byron once said about himself, We of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched. Byron spoke from personal experience, both he and his contemporary Percy Shelley reflected with wide ranging mood swings from deep sadness and apathy to fits of uncontrollable rage, common signs of manic depressive disorder. Van Gogh suffered mental illness for many years of his life, leading him to both slice off his ear and shoot himself in the chest.
Nikola Tesla, Nichi, Isaac Newton, Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Woolf, Wolfgang Amadeus, the list of mad geniuses goes on and on. And just like the Sufi's gave a pass to their unruly friends of God, so has the West not just tolerated, but celebrated its own unruly creative's understanding on some level that these two forces go hand in hand. What, however, does any of this have to do with Jen? Well, you'd be surprised to know the etymology of the word genius in case you didn't make the connection from how the word sounds.
Some scholars say it may have its roots in the Aramaic word Ginia and the Arabic word Ginne, which makes perfect sense when you learn that the entire concept of genius dates back to ancient Rome because the Romans believed that we are all born with genius. Actually, to be more precise, they believe that we are all born with a genius, a genius that was originally thought to be a guiding spirit, that each one of us was born with a supernatural entity that's separate from us, but lives with us inside of us, inspiring us.
I don't know. Sounds kind of like a Jim to me. Thanks for joining us this week, next week. We'll be back to take you another step into the world of a hidden gem. Until then, remember, we are not alone. If you loved today's episode, I'm going to ask you a big favor, please stop by iTunes and leave me a rating and a review, even if it's just one short sentence.
Not only is that how other listeners discover the podcast, but it's also what keeps the podcast going. And for every thousand reviews that I get on iTunes, I'll release another Patrón episode. Absolutely free. That's right. We're on Patreon.
So if you're a gin enthusiast, check out the Companion Patreon series at Patreon Dotcom Slash Hidden Ginne again, that's Patrón Dotcom Slash Hidden Gine.
And remember, Gin is spelled DJI and that's where you go to find an amazing series of interviews between me, scholars, experts, ATA's historians and everyday laypeople who have had extraordinary experiences with. And everybody can check out the first episode absolutely free. It's me and my husband sharing our GEND stories and it was a lot of fun. And if you have any Djenne stories, well, I'd love to hear from you. Email me at the hidden Djenne at Gmail dot com.
Once again, it's the Hidden Jin Jin with Adi at Gmail dot com. And you might just hear back from me or you might hear your story on the show.
And finally, don't forget to follow us on social media or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the handle the hidden Djenne.
There you can tweet post instr Dmae. I love to hear from all of you. And believe me, I read every single message.
The Hidden Gem is a production of I Heart Radio and Greyman mile from Aaron Manque. The podcast is written and hosted by Rabia Chaudry and produced by Miranda Hawkins and Trevor Young with executive producers Aaron Manque, Alex Williams and Matt Frederich. Music for the show was provided by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Our theme song was created by Patrick Cortez. For more podcast from My Heart Radio, the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.