Welcome to The Hidden Gem, a production of I Heart Radio and Greyman Mild from Aaron Manque. Listener discretion is advised. I have five maternal uncles, each one of them a little bit crazier than the last one of these uncles, one of my favorites of the entire group, in fact, had been engaged to be married half a dozen times. He had been trying to get married for nearly 15 years.
But every single time the engagement would get broken off for some reason or another year after year went by and he could never go from being engaged to actually getting married. He was in his late 30s, a point by which he should have been well settled down with a few kids of his own. And he was a really nice guy, decent looking. He had his own place, had a great job, traveled the world. No one could figure out why.
He just couldn't seal the deal until finally when he was advised to go see a local woman known for her supernatural abilities, maybe he was told she could figure out what was wrong. And so he went to her.
He dragged a friend along with him to her tiny, crumbling home on the outskirts of the city, a little bit nervous about whether what he was doing was even kosher. He had heard that this medium heel or whatever, she was dealt in black magic and that made her dangerous. But he said his prayers and sucked up his fear because at this point he was desperate. She was younger than he had imagined. Railfan sunken eyes swaddled up in numerous shawls despite the blazing heat.
And she sat in a small, dusty courtyard on a low woven seat and motion for my uncle to sit on a sheet spread out on the floor in front of her.
She asked him his name, his parents names and his date of birth.
Then she closed her eyes and mumbled some prayers. After a very long five minutes or so, her eyes flew open and she told my uncle, I know what's wrong. Someone has done black magic on you. They've conjured a gin to block your marriage. So every time you get close to getting married, this gin interferes and whispers dark things into your heart or your fiance's heart and turns you against each other.
The person who did this magic on you is a woman who wants to ruin your life, and her name starts with an end.
Now, many of the women closest to him, including cousins and sister in law's and even his own mother, had names that started with a letter N, but he had a feeling he knew exactly who it was, a sister in law that he didn't trust and he wasn't about to let her get away with it.
The healer told him exactly what he needed to do to break the curse and handed him a list of items he'd have to retrieve and return to her with, along with her fee, the equivalent of about 200 U.S. dollars.
She also handed him a small plastic container, which she told him was a vial of holy water from the spring of Zamzam in Mecca.
He was to take this vial and place it under his bed and return with it. And the other thing she needed after a week, seven days later, he returned to her with all she had asked for, hair stolen from the brush of the person he suspected to have done the black magic, a black rubber slipper, a basket of dried red chilies and a bundle of cash.
He watched as she placed the hair on the dirt floor of the courtyard and poured the holy water over it.
Then she took the black rubber sandal and began slapping the now what patch on the floor, screaming the sister in law's name. And to hell with you. To hell with you.
Over and over. My uncle had never seen anything like it. He was mortified as she grew more frenzied, bouncing up and down, slapping the muddy strands of hair with all her might until suddenly she collapsed in silence. After a few minutes, she collected herself and emptied the bag of dried chilies on top of the rubber sandal, which was still laying in the watery mess she had made. Then she set the little pile of dried chilies on fire. Now, if you have never burned dried chilies, the smoke is thick and peppery and choking.
And as the smoke rose, she blew it towards my uncle, who sat there, eyes watering, holding back, coughs.
He tried to get up as she signaled him to sit back down where he suffered until the fire went out and there was no more smoke left. The healer then gathered up some of the ashes into a cotton pouch and handed him to my uncle, telling him to bury them where no one would find them, and that once they were buried, the curse would be broken. Now, my uncle told me the story about a year after all of this had taken place, and he laughed as he told it, and I laughed with him, tears streaming down our faces as he reenacted how that woman had slapped the black slipper on the ground over and over, howling for his sister in law to go to hell.
The entire thing had been ridiculous, he admitted, but he had gone ahead and buried the ashes, even though he was pretty sure that the healer was a fraud. But I wasn't so sure though, because at the time he told me this. Seventeen years ago, I was visiting Pakistan and. We were sitting in our family home preparing for his wedding. I'm Robert Chaudhury, and I'll be your guide into the world of the hidden Ginne. Welcome.
While most gin, you could argue, are busy in their own lives going about their gin business, we do know that business isn't always confined to their own realm. There are places here on Earth where the gin are known to live and linger, ruins and graveyards. But then sometimes a general decide to take up residence in your residence. Hollywood has produced dozens of films on haunted houses, and ghost hunters on TV have long entertained us with shaky visuals of darkened locations.
So we are all familiar with what a potential haunting looks like. The most benign of them are just the entity making its presence known, like moving things around, playing little tricks on the residents, or staking a claim in a corner of the house as their own. Believe it or not, I've had such experiences and while I do admit being freaked out, it was mostly just a nuisance. But there are much more extreme circumstances, of course, where the jinn are committed to driving out people from their homes, and they do so by terrifying them in all sorts of ways.
Over the years, I've heard dozens and dozens of stories about household objects being smashed, doors being slammed at all hours of the night, chairs with people seated in them being dragged across the room, toilets and tubs overflowing on their own and so on and so forth. And you can witness similar things yourself online. That is, there are endless YouTube videos of purported house hauntings and human Ginne possessions, entire accounts dedicated to just these sorts of things.
Though I am rather skeptical of the jinn hunters who seem to find them in every dark house they go into. Forget finding, though it's getting rid of them. That's a much tougher task. Whether you're exercising them from a place or from a human body. It's not for the faint of heart and certainly not for the layperson, because when the possession is serious, most of us are hardly equipped to get into a fistfight with a jinn.
And to the world of Jin Exorcism, a room full of quacks and frauds, but also powerful spiritual healers that risk their lives to drive out dark from human bodies and abodes that before they can exercise a again, the gin has to first take possession. It's believed that there are certain parts of a house or dwelling that you're most likely to find the GenOn, usually the darkest, dirtiest or most abandoned parts of a residence, which is understandable, like the bathroom or a dank basement, maybe a dusty attic with a jinn are also drawn to in between places.
That's why they're most active in the sliver of time between day and night, between dusk and dawn. And it's also why they lurk under threshold's neither inside or out, but just on the boundary, but also right at the opening openings to a home or to a room.
And similarly, the gin also need openings into human beings, a crack or vulnerability that will let them in. And they have a number of tricks up their sleeves to get on the inside, as it were. According to Moroccan law, a Jane can be invited to possess someone if the victim can be tricked into eating something called the.
In the early part of the 20th century, the French artist Alain are Dillons, one of the first woman ever to be admitted to the art school of Paris, moved to Morocco with her husband, which was at the time colonized by France, once settled in her new country line, dedicated herself to the revival of what she deemed native art, and herself went on to create over 100 paintings and write dozens of short stories and numerous volumes about the lives of the people that she lived among.
She was particularly fascinated with the lives of Moroccan women and their cultural norms and practices, which are central to many of her writings. Dillons died young at the age of 44 in 1925 and shortly after her death, her final book was published Practices of Moroccan Hiram's Witchcraft Medicine Beauty. The book was a collection of magical rituals and recipes used by Moroccan women and healers for almost every issue you could imagine, including recipes to and I quote, give a deflowered bride the appearance of virginity, assure a husband's fidelity, bring misfortune upon a CO wife, augment the size of breasts.
And for irritated mothers in law, detaching a newly married son from the two beloved new wife if a wife wanted to dominate a marriage, according to this book, all she had to do was after being intimate with her husband, urinate into her cupped hand and then pour the contents into her unsuspecting husband's tea while reciting this chant.
I made you drink my water so that you do not see, but by my eyes you do not hear, but by my ears you do not speak, but by my words. If a woman wanted her husband to desire her more, she had to preserve a fresh, plump date inside her while private regions and then mix it into her husband's food to stop an abusive husband from beating his wife, he had to be fed soup made with hyenas, brains and so on and so forth.
Among these recipes was the preparation of the the food that, if eaten, would cause a person to be controlled in a variety of ways, the magicians and healers who prepared the farm claimed that it was, in fact prepared at the guidance and direction of the djinn themselves. The preparation was described in de Lenz's book like this. The couscous is rolled by the hand of the dead, mixed with the crushed bones of the dead as a Fatmata fallen hare reduced to cinders, powder of dried Toronto would a fig finally pulverized.
This is at the base of all magic drugs administered unknown to the victim.
That hand of the dead thing, by the way, wasn't taken lightly. Local doctors once reported to Dillons that two women were caught digging up a grave so that they could steal the hands from a cadaver and use them to prepare food for one of their husbands. They weren't trying to get him possessed, though. The ritual was supposed to have the effect of a love potion and filled the spouse with endless desire for his wife instead.
Once the women were caught, the husband actually divorced the wife. Now, if you want to cause an actual gin possession, more foul things have to be added to the base of this concoction to take things further.
Dung and feces choice foods of the gin are added to that, the resulting in a filthy mix that no person in their right mind would voluntarily eat, which is why the victim has to be tricked into eating it.
And that trick involves the person's own personal gin, the green. You'll remember earlier in the season we talked about this gin, the one that every person is born with and dies with the frienemy for life that you just can't shake.
According to Dillon's book, The Way to Get the Evil Gin on the Inside, as it were, was for it to team up with the victim's Karrine and influence it to make their person eat the filth it was the evil gin was attached to.
And once that the arm is inside your belly and running through your bloodstream, so is the possessing gin itself. You might be relieved thinking that you're safe from Ginne possession, because while no one you know would or could go to such lengths to saddle you with one, I mean, no one dislikes you that much. Right? But not all gene possessions are orchestrated by a human enemy. Sometimes the jinn go about possessing people completely of their own volition. They might do it for revenge if a human hurt them or another jinn usually without knowing it.
But they can also be driven by lust, desire, jealousy of a person wanting that person to themselves, not unlike a real life stalker. In such cases, these jinn can't rely on their victim eating the arm to enter the body. So they have to find other openings. And according to tradition, every opening in the physical body is fair game for the gin. And not just the obvious ones, like the nose, mouth and ears, even the fused Fontanella in the skull, like that soft spot on the top of the head.
The temples, the eye sockets are considered gateways into the inner space of a human being. Then, of course, there are the openings of the nether regions, which, according to tradition, are just as vulnerable to invasion as any other opening in the body and should be guarded accordingly. But these openings also don't have to be physical. Overwhelming emotions such as fear or despair are exactly those cracks that render a person less able to fend off a gin attack.
Fright is an especially powerful break in a person's psychic defense mechanism, which is one reason evil gin will do all they can to scare the heebie jeebies out of you.
It's not just for kicks, it's to create breaks in your armor that lets them right on into your body.
The idea that demons are even Satan could take possession of a person is as old as the belief in these beings themselves. An ancient scrolls were found in the caves of Camron on the shores of the West Bank in Palestine that attest to that belief. You may have heard of them, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 1946 but date back a few centuries before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. A prayer found in the scroll reads, Do not let Satan or an unclean spirit rule over me.
Do not let pain or an evil inclination take possession of my bones, demonstrating that the Jews of this period acknowledge that this was a real possibility.
Now, given that we've all seen The Exorcist, you might believe that we all know the signs of demonic possession when we see it. I mean, what else could explain speaking in tongues while your head spins 360 degrees? But the signs aren't always so obvious. An online blog aptly named Gen Exorcist tells the story of an average housewife who suddenly began acting really strange. The blog has only two entries, both written by the son of the suspected victim of possession.
His mother was generally a sweet woman, sensitive and kind hearted. And when family problems arose, she took them to heart pretty deeply. One day, having been unable to sleep the night before because of family issues, his mother fell with a thud in the kitchen. When they found her, she was on the floor, having passed out maybe from exhaustion, but she seemed OK afterwards and fell into a deep sleep for the rest of the evening. But around one a.m., the family woke suddenly to the sound of crashing glass.
They found the mother standing in front of her dresser mirror, which she had smashed with a perfume bottle as she screamed repeatedly. You're a bad mother, I'm going to kill you. She then turned to her husband and demanded to know who he was. And then she passed out again. And when she came to, she didn't recognize anyone in the family, not even her children.
At this point, of course, the family started freaking out and called 911, thinking she was having a psychiatric break.
But when she was taken to the hospital, all the tests checked out just fine. They weren't able to find any medical reason for the fainting and memory loss. And so she was released to go home the next day.
She seemed fine, but the family had started wondering whether they were dealing with something supernatural. So the son reached out to a cleric to ask how they would know if this was related. The cleric told him to look out for some common but relatively unrecognized symptoms of gin possession, joint pains, abnormal headaches, extreme temperature, changes in the body, excessive yawning laziness and nightmares. He also advised that they recite a number of prayers and blow into a glass of water to give the mother to drink.
If she complained that the water tasted weird or like ash, that meant a gin had taken over her.
They never did get a chance to do the water test because it turned out they didn't need it. That same night, the mother began speaking in someone else's voice, the voice of the jinn that was possessing her. He spoke through the mother in a deep voice as she either stared ahead, unblinking or closed her eyes with. A smirk, his name, he said, was a masrani, he was a jin from India, he told the family, and he liked living with them and liked living in her body where he had dwelled for the past 12 years.
We are never told whether the family was able to exercise masrani the gene from the mother because the blog stopped short of the next entry, but they were on the right path because according to the customs, the first thing you need to try to do when exercising again is to determine the jin's name. If that is the gene will give it the general ordinarily resist giving too much information about themselves because the more they give up, the less power they have, knowing the name of a gene, where it's from, what its lineages gives you leverage over it in kind of a similar way to knowing all that information about someone you're interrogating, it can take repeated intense questioning coupled with irritating the gene, for example, by tugging on their victim's ears or pulling their hair.
Establishing the name of the gene is most important in cultures where exercising a possessed person is less about driving out an evil gene and more about establishing what you could call a working relationship with it. The 1973 book, The Hamajima, a study in Moroccan ethno psychiatry, details how the latter approach is much more likely to be taken on in that region.
That's because in Morocco, certain powerful genes like Laila Aisha, the camel footed demon, or her consort, said the Homel are not just believed to exist.
They're also venerated and feared.
If these jinn are responsible for a possession, the victim's best bet is to just join the very Sufi order connected to the djinn in order to appease it.
In one particular case, a man who was a member of the Sufi order called the Muliaina, dreamt on three consecutive nights that Ajin Laila Aisha had grabbed him by the neck and slammed him onto the ground. She said to him in the dream. Either you work for me or I'll have your neck. Over the course of those days, the man grew so sick and weak he could no longer walk. Finally, his wife bought him a black tunic and red turban, the color as beloved to Laila Aisha.
And after performing a ritual to join the gin's order, he recovered. He told the author, quote, Aisha asked me to perform her rituals for the rest of my life. I will always work for Laila Aisha. Now, women hold a special place among these orders when it comes to dealing with Djinn, acting as what are called vola or exorcism, syas they're brought in, especially when a jinn can't be identified and they use their powers of divination to cast and read cowrie shells.
That's right. That's pretty speckled shells that are often made into jewelry in our part of the world are in fact central to one of the oldest divination rituals in the world, used to connect with ancestors, spirits and, yes, gin, most commonly in West Africa.
One surgeon has identified elaborate communal rituals are often undertaken to appease the gin, and one of the most well-known such rituals in North Africa is the czar exorcism ceremony. Bizarre exorcism is meant to appease no other than the czar itself, malevolent demons that most frequently attach themselves to women.
It's believed that there are 88 demon genes called Sorrowed who all serve at the pleasure of the jinking wearable mama. And any of these eighty-eight could be behind a possession.
Bizarre ritual itself is not only done mostly by women, it's also often led by women. In the 2003 book Women and Demons Cult Healing in Islamic Egypt, the author witnessed a ritual for herself in Cairo when she accompanied a well-known exorcist named Sheikh Zahra to a ceremony meant to cleanse the jinn from a victim known as the Tsar Bride.
The ceremony took place in the dead of the night at the home of a woman who lived in a house made out of a grave right in the center of the Cairo necropolis. The necropolis is a massive 1000 year old cemetery called the City of the Dead. But it houses not only the dead, but also thousands of living Egyptians who make their homes right next to the deceased. A group of women were already gathered in this grave house and the author, also a woman, was immediately doused with incense and seated on the floor so the ceremony could begin.
The tsar bride, a woman in her 50s, was dressed in white with a headdress and ornaments, and the rest of the women formed a circle around her amid drums and chanting by Sheik Hazare.
The women let out a high pitched ululation, a joyous sound signifying celebration. Suddenly, the drumming and chanting stopped, and the bride was led into the center of the room where two turkeys were brought to her. Sheikh Azara apologized to the birds and then slaughtered them and smeared some of the blood on the bride's forehead, cheeks and hands, and then something truly unusual happened. A bottle of whiskey was broken out and poured for everyone in the room. Everyone in that room was Muslim and would ordinarily shun alcohol as completely forbidden in the faith.
But as was explained by the author, they were dealing with some very special circumstances. Jinn, who had possessed the Tsar bride, was a Christian and he had ordered that everyone must drink the whiskey to appease him.
And of course, they couldn't say no.
The women lit up cigarettes, drank the whiskey and began intense, dramatic, exhausting dancing, shaking and shuddering, swiveling hips and swirling scarves and sticks for hours, each one channeling a different gin through their particular movements. At the end of the exorcism, the gin hadn't exactly been driven anywhere.
Rather, the gin had become the master of the possessed, and the ceremony itself was a means for the possessed to submit to the jinn a submission that they will be bound to for the rest of their lives. They will live as their master servant, dancing the dances the master enjoys wearing the colours he or she prefers, and participating in the rituals the master expects. The czar exorcism, it seems then, is not at all about exercising the gene from a person, it's more about exercising a person's resistance to the gene.
It seems like a heavy price to pay, but for most it's worth it to no longer be tormented by Jinn, whose power can never be matched.
It's also, I suppose, worth the large sums of money that have to be paid to the woman in charge Chikara for the czar ritual itself. Of course, not everyone is on board with pretty much just giving in and submitting to Ajin, and frankly, not all genes are on that same train either. Which brings us to the kind of exorcism that we think about when we think about exorcism.
You know what I mean? The priestly figure chanting scripture, shaking, holy water, sweating, hollering, exhausted by the effort to drive out a demon from its victims. And yes, those kinds of exorcisms happen all around the world with experts claiming to be able to expel the jinn from human hosts. Enter abusive intrepid gin hunter and healer from Detroit, Michigan, who was profiled on the Religion News blog 15 years ago. Abuse of claims, clients all across the globe and was tracked down for his profile in Beirut on his way to the Gulf to perform some exorcisms.
Yusuf wasn't born with any special powers in the field, but he spent hours studying scripture. And one day, two decades later, as he was deep in study, he suddenly felt something. What he wouldn't say it was a secret. And that secret opened up the secret world of jinta him, a world he was able to see clearly. Ever since. Not every day exercise has the power to see gin ordinarily making use of special in a I see dead people kind of way, he could vouch, for example, that 60 percent of the dwellings in the UK were haunted by gin and could also tell when a person is possessed by a gin, even if that person is showing no apparent signs of it.
During the interview itself, Yusuf told one of the two journalists that she was possessed by a gin, but her male colleague, NOP. Which tracks would the use of theory that most gin possessions happen to women by Gin, who, out of lustful obsession sexually violate their victim, though such cases he said he saw frequently the reporter who was hoping to witness an exorcism decided she may as well just get exercised herself.
And so she revisited Yusef, who began by seeing her in chair feet firmly planted, hands on her thighs relaxed as Yusuf bent close to her ear, chanting prayers. At first she tried to focus on the words, but then they all started to blur together. Then she writes. The shadows and lights reflected on the stone floor start to dance. My vision blurs, my hands start to sweat. I can feel my hands start to lift up just a little bit, but strongly enough to make it hard to keep them down.
When I try, I have no idea how long this is all taken. It has been some 20 minutes until my hands and legs started shaking slowly. My hands are still up. And that was it, she was then given a drink of water and told that the gin would never bother her again, that it had left her body through her hands and feet.
The journalist was rather shocked that the entire thing was so painless. That explained Gustav was because he knew what he was doing, which is why he said there were people around the world willing to pay him thousands of dollars to help free them of the demons that conventional medicine failed at. Now, if that seems like a stretch, it isn't at all a 2019 piece on the Matador network travel blog written by Middle East culture writer Baxter Jackson tells the story of a woman who traveled all the way from the U.S. to the country of Oman in order to take care of her own problem.
Jackson had years earlier written about a famous giant exorcist named Mahlum Saleem, who was from and lived in Bhala, an Oasis town in Oman. But Bala isn't just any old town, though. It's made it into the National Geographic's list of the top 10 most haunted places in the world, and was also featured in an NPR segment for the unusual and unexplainable, supernatural things that took place there. It's called For Good Reason Madina, the al-Sahhaf, The City of Magic Black Magic, that is.
The stories out of Bhala are endless pillars of fire that erupt out of the desert sands, spontaneously crumbling walls that refuse to be rebuilt, mosques that fly, which is the take off with little girls and accounts of people who look out of a window only to see their own self. Looking back in and encountering jinn that have taken on the appearance of a dead loved one. It's not a surprise to find men like Mowlam Saleem in a place run amok with gin.
And so when a young woman from Boston read Baxter Jackson's piece, she reached out to him saying, I'm an American, I live in Boston and I have a gin problem and I'm not crazy. She wanted to see if more Lancelin could help her and she was willing to fly halfway across the world to see him. And so Jackson found himself picking her up at the airport and escorting her along with another friend to the exorcists home. And Bhala driving through a dust storm and then right into a fearsome thunderstorm as they reached the town.
Mowlam Saleem was a large imposing figure, but welcoming, they settled in with cups of cardamom, coffee in the middle of a room scattered with amulets. The Exorcist carefully opened a massive book filled with rice paper pages, each one covered in Arabic scribbles, symbols and diagrams. Now, the room was brightly lit with neon tube lights, but suddenly a shadow darkened, defined, raced across the walls of the room and incomprehensible whispers filled the air. Everyone gasped.
No one had moved. There was nothing that could have created that shadow that clearly flew across the room. And certainly the whispers had erupted out of nowhere.
Suddenly, Moallem Saleem declared al-Maliki Aswad, the black prince of the jinn that was the jinn that the young woman was afflicted with. The exorcist lit some frankincense, had the woman lay in the center of the floor and began reciting scripture and chanting prayers over her, his hand resting on her forehead. The woman exhaled a deep sigh and a rush of cold air fill the room, and as Mowlam Saleem continued to pray, she suddenly sat upright and screamed ferociously as the thunder outside roared.
She had to be wrestled back into laying down again by the two men witnessing the exorcism and Mowlam Saleem shook a vial of holy water over her body. She groaned, twisting and turning, trying to get free from the men, and her fingers and toes curled tightly. Another shadow flew across the wall as more.
Saleem thundered he who returns over and over again, he who whispers evil into the hearts of men, whether he be from among the general men, be gone. The storm outside seemed to parallel the climax of the exorcism. Suddenly dying down and back, Sir Jackson watched as the young woman's body relaxed and her eyes would have been rolled back in.
Their sockets returned to normal. They helped her up a bit weak, said their goodbyes to The Exorcist and returned to the car there, the woman said she felt better, lighter, like a weight has been lifted from her.
But that didn't mean she thought she was cured because before coming to Amman to meet Mahlum Saleem, she had gone to the UAE and had an exorcism there with another sheik. But according to her, after the ritual, the jinn had returned with a vengeance and unfortunately her story didn't end there. The respite she got from the black prince of the Jinn was only temporary, and eventually she decided to travel to Indonesia to give yet one more exorcist a try. While the young woman in this story unfortunately wasn't able to rid herself of the region that haunted her, she's lucky that the exercise she saw didn't resort to more extreme measures because in the world of an exorcism is perfectly acceptable to be a jinn out of you, according to the 13th century theologian Ibn Thamir.
It's permissible to strike a possessed person as many strikes as it took to get rid of the jinn because it was the jinn who felt the pain of the strikes, not the human who invent the Maya said wouldn't feel a thing.
And the screams coming from the person being beaten, well, no need to be concerned about those either, because that was the jinn screaming, not the human, which means something must have gone very wrong.
In the case of Abdulsalam, a 48 year old Bangladeshi man who died in February of twenty twenty after an exorcism, Abdulsalam had been acting kind of strange lately, so the family thought he might be suffering from a gin possession.
They took him to a local exorcist who, along with his assistants, held Abdul Kalam underwater until he nearly drowned and then beat him badly to drive the gin out. The next day, Galam was found dead.
Having succumbed to his injuries, The Exorcist may have driven the gin out, but also took Gollum's life in the process.
Charges were filed against The Exorcist, but he's not alone in having used possession as an excuse to physically abuse a person. In fact, a social worker in one British community told a reporter that she had seen numerous times women who, when seeking help to get out of abusive situations, be silenced by others as being possessed. And she had also seen cases in which family members or a spouse claiming a woman was possessed by a jinn beat her mercilessly.
In other words, a gin possession was used both as an excuse to dismiss allegations of abuse, but also as an excuse to actually abuse these victims. Unfortunately, the world of dispossession, possession and exorcism is ripe for abuse, and a field like this is also an open invitation to some who take advantage of the desperate, especially because it can pay pretty well.
Like most things in life, Ginne exorcism is commodified.
In 2012, the BBC reported a profile of an east London exorcist named Abu Mohammed with a video showing him performing an actual exorcism. His waiting list is many months long, and he charged back then around a hundred dollars for a one hour session. Not too steep, but not a bad source of income if you're booked back to back four months.
It's fair to say, though, that his prices are on the low end of the spectrum when you consider that Mohammed Yoffie, a famed Jordanian exorcist, charges an average of three thousand dollars for an exorcism. Once, however, he charged an Arab millionaire 30000 dollars to cleanse his palatial residence of a jinn king and the king's entire Djenne army, which had apparently taken up residence there. The millionaire was so happy with the results that he gifted Yoffie an expensive watch as an extra bonus.
You'll find general movers and exorcists all over the Internet selling their services, though traditionally the good ones don't need to advertise. They're known by word of mouth. And if anything, they prefer to work as privately as possible. And while some may take advantage of people seeking answers, there are plenty of them who are actually pretty committed and sincere in wanting to help.
They really believe that there are dark forces that attack people and they believe they can make a difference.
And sometimes they're able to serve an even greater purpose in bringing people together in unexpected ways.
Coptic Christians and Muslims have lived side by side for centuries in Egypt, and while at times political circumstances have led to not just tension between the communities, but even unfortunately actual violence, there is one certain space that has managed to evade such crises, and that is the church of Father Salman Ibrahim, one of the very few priests in all of Egypt who was allowed to perform exorcisms.
And every week he performs mass exorcisms that draw people from every walk of life and every faith to him.
The story of how Father Ibrahim came to this work is a legend unto itself. Decades ago, he saw a vision that inspired him to build a church for the people who lived by the MacArthur Mountain, a place itself connected with miracles.
That congregation in the 1970s and today consists of the poorest Christian community in the city called the Zabbaleen, which literally means garbage people. The Zabbaleen, nearly all Christian have for nearly 100 years now been the city's primary garbage collectors and slaughters entire families, making their living by hauling away sorting and recycling mountains of trash and their largest community. Around 30000 of them live in what is nicknamed Garbage City at the foot of the muck up the mountain where Father Ibrahim established his church.
It's no ordinary church, though. The discovery in 1990 of an incredible cave under the mountain, a cave with pillars already made out of rock, was an answer to the priest's prayers.
He had been looking for an expansive area for worshippers to gather, but finding no such space in the city crowded with people in garbage. This cave was a sign from God to gather under the earth itself. And so in that case was built what is now known as the cave cathedral, and every Thursday night live streaming online, thousands gather in the cave cathedral, many of whom are Muslim, to get Father Ibrahim's help in exercising their demons. Numerous news stories have been written about these exorcisms.
And in 2014, a vice journalist decided to go witness one for himself. He sat through a two hour, rather ordinary church service after watersports of howling rows from different parts of the cathedral. Men and women apparently afflicted with Jinn began clawing at the priest, begging for his attention and for a few drops of the holy water that he was throwing around.
Muslim women with their heads covered in hijab, lined up with bottles of water for the priest to bless them with his own saliva, others grunted and groaned in the pews, thrashing around until the priest laid his hands on them. The entire affair lasted about 20 minutes, and the journalist who witnessed it didn't seem all much impressed. But he asked one woman how she felt after it seemed her demon had been banished.
She told him, I feel great thanks to God. The conclusion reached by the journalist was this, that we just view the problems in our heads differently, some see them as mental or emotional health issues and others as external forces of good or evil. And so, again, exorcism, whether or not an actual gene is a problem or whether or not the exorcism itself is real is just one way to bring some comfort to those who seek spiritual catharsis. And as for the phenomena of possession itself, well, some theorize it's a form of resistance to helplessness, cultural and social restrictions and bad personal situations.
It can be a pathway of empowerment to women who find spaces to dance and smoke and drink and wield spiritual power during exorcism rituals when they aren't able to do so anywhere else.
Or it could be an expression of powerless men unable to overcome social expectations. Maybe for some, possession is an instrument of expressing despair and anguish, of heartache and pain.
Remember the mother who was possessed for 12 years by the Indian jinn named Masrani when the jinn was questioned about why, having lived inside of her for 12 years, did he finally decide to manifest now?
The Jinn told the family it wasn't a torment. The mother, far from it. He emerged as a lesson to them because they didn't treat their mother right.
A pretty convenient position for the mom, you could say. But if you're like me, it's still hard to dismiss gin possession outright, and that's because you can't really pick and choose how far you want to go in your supernatural beliefs. Like I said before, it's kind of like being a little pregnant. Once you're in, you're in.
Once you believe there's something out there, something we can't understand or ever fully know.
Where do you draw the line? If you believe ghosts, for example, are possible, then why aren't fairies and UFOs and angels and demons and God and Satan and yes, Ginne possible. And if they're possible, how do you know what they can and can't do what they will and won't do? You don't. And neither do I, because no matter how hard we try and believe me, people have been trying for thousands of years. We'll never fully know the world of the hidden jinn.
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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 Djenne 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.
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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.