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Welcome to The Hidden Gem, a production of I Heart Radio and Greyman Mild from Aaron Manque. Listener discretion is advised.
Many, many years ago, in what seems like a whole nother lifetime, I had been a single parent for quite a while, but I got remarried and I moved from the D.C. area to Connecticut where my new husband was studying at a seminary. I'd moved to Connecticut without ever having first visited it. I just picked up my belongings and my young daughter bundled up in a U-Haul and drove north. And while we lived in Hartford, the capital of the state, it was a pretty sleepy place.
And I soon found myself desperate to fill my time and make friends. So I sought out volunteer opportunities with organizations that I figured would attract like minded people. And I was right. It turned out to be a great way to make friends. One of those friends was a young woman in her late 20s, a researcher at Yale who was volunteering at a relatively new advocacy organization for the purpose of the story. I will call her Sarah. She and I were the only women in the group and having spent a lot of time together helping a new organization get off the ground, we ended up becoming friends.
Sarah was petite but full of energy, incredibly dependable, thoughtful and warm. I took a liking to her immediately. She would come over to my place, hang out with my family and other friends, and we'd meet up for coffee. But I never went over to her place ever. I knew that Sarah lived alone in an apartment in New Haven, an apartment that she had moved into fairly recently. Now we have been friends for about a year when inevitably one day our conversation turned to marriage because the matchmaker in me can't help but ask why single friends if they're looking to meet someone.
So I asked Sarah if she was open to being introduced to a couple of eligible bachelors that I already had in mind. Sarah took a deep sigh and said, I'd love to, but I just can't now, I wasn't exactly sure what she meant by that. Was she too busy? Was she interested in someone else already? Well, she just painfully shy. Sarah went on.
She said, Rabiya, you're going to think I'm crazy, but I have a problem. I've wanted to meet the right guy and settle down for years. But there is this this thing.
It won't let me at that point, I thought, oh, maybe there's a health issue she thinks is preventing her from being in a relationship.
But it wasn't that at all.
Sarah went on to explain that for years, ever since she was a teenager, Ajin had been following her. She tried everything to get rid of it.
Prayers and amulets seeking help from spiritual healers, consulting exorcists, moving from one city to another, moving from one apartment to another. But everywhere she went, it followed her. While mostly it didn't bother her, there had been times it scared the heck out of her, showing her that it was there with her at all times and that it was powerful once, said Sarah. She woke up in the middle of the night, disoriented. The ceiling looked much lower than it had before, and she thought for a second that she was dreaming.
But she wasn't. She was hovering, floating a good foot or two above her bed, suspended and frozen in fright. She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. She said every prayer she could remember in her heart, and suddenly she fell, flopping back into her bed. Another time she woke up warm and cozy on her blanket, still in bed, but her bed had been dragged to the other side of the room. And then there are countless times that objects move from one place to another.
Things have disappeared and reappeared. Voices whispered from empty corners of her apartment. Cabinets creaked open and closed by themselves. There was always an increase in activity, she realized, when she began getting romantically involved with somebody else. Eventually, one of the religious leaders she consulted, who knew about her entire history, told her that the gin was really possessive and it was jealous of any man who got too close to her that for her, getting into a relationship might be an impossibility.
The gin wouldn't let it happen because, you see, the gin was in love with Sarah. Now, of course, as she's telling me these things, I went through a range of emotions. This is ridiculous. I thought she's lying. She has to be lying. Why would she lie? She's not a liar. She's levelheaded, smart, educated, honest. OK, well, maybe she's hallucinating, imagining things. But over and over again, for years and years, I remembered I wasn't sure what to do with my face.
She was dead serious and I was confused. I returned home that day and told my husband the story as he munched on some cookies. Yeah, he said, completely unfazed. That happens. He happened to a lot more about gin than I did. So that's when I first began digging deeper into the world of gin, tracking down everything I could find to read and learn about them. Sure, I'd heard spooky stories growing up and was familiar with some of the scripture that mentioned these beings.
But the more I learned, the more I realized I didn't know every rabbit hole led to another. And in one of those rabbit holes, I found centuries of stories, love stories between humans and gin. Like in Sarah's case, it wasn't always a two way street, but in many cases the love was mutual. Today, we'll explore what happens when lovers aren't just StarCrossed.
They're supernaturally crossed. My name is Robert Chaudhury, and I'll be your guide into the world of the Hidden Jin. Welcome. If you aren't familiar with 1001 nights, you might think the only time Ajin appears in the whole volume is in the tale of Aladdin and a genie from the magic lamp. If so, you might be surprised to learn that not only wasn't this story a part of the original collection in 1001 Nights, but also that there are many other stories that are.
Some stories, however, are less palatable for the subject of Disney film that others and certainly if there was one subject that American audiences weren't ready for, it's the repeated theme in 1001 Nights of Love, Marriage and sexual relationships between Jinn and humans. While these stories may seem wondrous and fantastic, they were delivered to an audience that not only widely believed in the existence of Jinn, but in a coexistence between Jinn and mankind in which the jinn occupied both supernatural and earthly planes, interacting with humans, living alongside them, communicating with them, and naturally, given the right circumstances, it was understood and accepted that both humans and Jinn could and would develop romantic feelings for one another.
Which takes us back to the many tales, the 1001 of them that Sheherazade, they told her king to keep him entertained and to keep herself alive. Where we repeatedly come across this theme in one story we learn about a faraway place called a mountain of the bereaved mother, given this name by passing fisherman who heard whales and moans whenever they pass by the island or the mountain stood according to the tale. A beautiful female jinn, a junior from China, had once fallen in love with a mortal man which didn't fare well with her Jin family.
She was desperate to have him, though, and she came up with an idea. She searched the entire world for a place that no man or Jin could access and found an island in the middle of the sea of troubles. And so she whisked her love away to that island, with or without his consent. It's unclear, but she kept him there for the rest of his life. She would secretly visit him, sneaking away from her Jin family, and over the years they ended up having many children together.
Now, how she hid that from her family is unclear. However, every time she had a child, she would leave it behind on the mountain with the other children and their father, and the moans and the cries heard by fishermen were in fact, the wails of lonely children crying for their mother. A complicated love story, if you will, and whether or not it had a happy ending is debatable nonetheless, that Ginia got her man. 1001 Nights has dozens and dozens of such tales of human ginne love, sometimes ending in socially accepted marriage, other times ending up in elopement, abduction and even death.
Now, you might be thinking, well, these are tales told within a tale and are about as real as the vampire human love stories in Twilight or True Blood. Maybe, but then you have the real life stories like Sarah's and many others. And at one point in time, it was actually pretty commonly accepted that these relationships took place as one example of how ubiquitous and, well, normal the very idea of human romance was. We turn to a 10th century volume titled Welfarist, which means the catalogue, and it was indeed a catalogue.
In fact, Allfirst is considered to be the very first such catalog in history, indexing over 10000 books and sighting to over 2000 authors. It was written and compiled by the brilliant Bagdadi polymath Ishaq Ibn Al Nadhim, who himself described the book as such. This is a catalogue of books of all peoples, Arab and non Arab, existing in Arabic language and Arabic script, dealing with various sciences together with the accounts of those who compose them and the categories of their authors, their genealogies, dates of birth, length of life, times of death, locations of the cities and their virtues and faults from the beginning of science to this our own time.
That time, by the way, was the year 1987 B.C., the catalog basically indexes every book ever written in Arabic up to that point in time over a hugely vast array of subjects politics, religion, history, science, literature, poetry and, yes, the supernatural. And all of them had two sections directly relevant to our subject at hand. One section titled Names of Those of Mankind Who Love the Jan and Vice Versa, and the second section titled Lovers of the Jinn.
These sections contain long lists of human jinn couples, including head scratching entries like, quote, Al Dergham, The Lion, Jud the Liberal and walks the worthless and another one titled Adelfa, Her Brothers and Vaginae. Now, whether these were love triangles or threesomes, either way they were pretty scandalous. But of course, who doesn't like a good scandal? And what juicier drama than a love affair between a gin and a human an affair. The society had no power to stop in which one lover could appear and disappear right out of their beloveds bed.
Never mind the romance of a powerful supernatural entity choosing a mere mortal as a partner. What about the actual physical experience itself? Well, you can understand the kinds of things people imagined and whispered, incredibly seductive gossip fodder, if you ask me, and ever more so, given that it was believed that when a jinn, male or female, fell in love with a human, they would follow that human forever. And once that human accepted the love, the jinn would impart some of their secret Djenne knowledge to them, like how to heal disease, having a lover who could teach you powers others didn't have.
Well, that's quite a fringe benefit. These cross species, Tristes, or apparently such a fairly common occurrence. At the time, the region, the religious and legal scholars had debates over the rules governing such relationships about, for example, whether the marriages to the djinn were actually legitimate. And most scholars, by the way, said absolutely not. But there were some exceptions and whether the children produced from such marriages were legitimate. 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.
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Now, I can't help but wonder if maybe sometimes single women had to claim marriage to a jinn when they ended up inexplicably pregnant in a society that would shun children outside of marriage and charges of fornication and adultery could lead to some very serious consequences. I can see how it's very much a possibility that Djenne marriage was, well, a cover.
And some scholars have even posited that maybe Unions' was supernatural entities were a vehicle for female liberation and protection, the sexual liberation of not having to explain a pregnancy protection from social or religious consequences of such a pregnancy and from the charges of adultery and liberation, from the societal pressures of marriage to a human man.
A 13 year old story shows how this arrangement could protect a woman. The story takes place in the time of the Caliph Ali, one of the men given the mantle of leadership of the entire Muslim community after the prophet of Islam, Muhammad had passed away. One day, the Caliph Ali noticed a child in the area acting strange, and he asked who the child was. Someone pointed out the child's mother. So Ali asked her who is the father? And she responded, I don't know.
One day I was pasturing sheep for my parents when something in the form of a cloud made it with me. I became pregnant and gave birth to this child and that pretty much settled the matter. Whatever purpose human jinn romances may serve, there's no doubt that there's just a general fascination with them. And for the record, the lure of love between the supernatural and mortals is not just confined to the Arabian Peninsula and the tales that come to us from 1001 nights, you find it across different cultures and religions throughout history.
Those of you who know your Bible will remember that in Genesis, the Beny Elohim, known as the Sons of God, were commonly understood to be angels that descended to Earth and took up human wives and Celtic and Irish folklore. It's not only believed that fairies have long hooked up with humans, it's not uncommon even today for families from the region to claim some fairy ancestry. And South Asia abounds with stories of love and marriage between humans and the mythical half human half snake creature called the noggin.
If male or Nagourney, a female there, said to be irresistibly beautiful and incredibly wise. And they often seek to mate with human royalty, resulting in attractive, brilliant, noble offspring. There does seem to be a rather universal inclination towards accepting and even honoring supernatural romances. And why not? Human curiosity has no limit, and our attraction for the unknown, the forbidden, the powerful, her love and desire and to be desired sometimes at any cost, is very much a part of being human, which is maybe why honor them so matter of factly, compile those lists of human and gin lovers in his book, the catalogue, like it's any other fact of life.
One last note about the book. Interestingly, Welfarist may be the first documented reference ever in history to the book 1001 Nights. Unfortunately, however, Alabam wasn't very impressed with it. He notes in his catalogue that it is, quote, a truly coarse book without warmth in the telling. I'm sure Sheherazade would disagree. In the world of Jinn, there are some who fall in love with a person and pursue that one love for years, even decades, a lifetime.
But then there are those who are never quite satisfied with just one partner. Two female gin in North African traditions are particularly flirtatious and amorous, collecting lovers as often as they like both of these gin with the honorific title Lulla Meaning Lady. Their names are Lola Mollica and Lola Meyera. As her name, which means queen suggests, Laila Mollica is Chinh royalty. She is the daughter of a jinking. Maluka is not just regal and beautiful.
She's chic as well. She likes to be well dressed. She only wears garments embroidered with gold thread and she expects her followers, those who seek her to likewise be dressed beautifully and smelling nice. She loves clothing so much, in fact, that it said that she lives inside of wardrobes where no doubt she's planning her outfits. As you may have guessed, Mollica isn't exactly a fearsome gine.
She's sweet nature and fun loving, often tickling people and leaving them with uncontrollable giggles. Lola Málaga is a lover, not a fighter, you might say, and she's a lover, particularly of married men. When a man gets her attention, she unsign to him, passes her hands in front of his eyes, clouding them over, putting him in sort of a trance, a trance in which he forgets everything he knows and loves, even where he lives, and suddenly is taken over for a deep longing for Mollica, who he hasn't even seen or heard, but his heart already knows.
Mollica will then whisper to him, I want to marry. I want you to sleep with me because these men are usually already married, well, they have to negotiate a bit with Mollica. They have to get Lulla Malakas permission to continue to have relations with their earthly wives before they'll enter into the sacred supernatural marriage with Mollica. And that's not exactly a deal breaker for her, after all, she has only one use for the man. She's not exactly trying to settle down and have a family here as long as her husband's agree to her terms being clean shaven and well groomed, perfumed and well dressed and of course, fulfilling her needs in their marital bed.
She doesn't much care for what they do in their own time. But even more popular and more powerful than Lulla Mollica is a la la mirror, a Genea that's both feared and loved by those who believe in her. You could say Murai is complicated, she's both giving and foreboding, she can be playful and charming, but quickly loses her temper.
And unlike Málaga, she's jealous and possessive of her lovers. Mirror, too, has a fancy for married men, but when she wants a man, she will not share him. She will come to him in his dreams. And I don't mean just as a vision. She will actually visit a man as he sleeps and enter his dreams, making those dreams, well, not exactly suitable for children. The dreams will get more frequent and intense, even to the point of becoming debilitating for the object of her affection, rendering him unable to sleep and unable to function when he's awake, because when he's awake, she expects him to basically spend his time worshipping her.
But if she gets bored with her lover, he'll know because the dreams will get less frequent and eventually they will end altogether. Now, as far as Mira is concerned, her lovers should be honored that she is even interested in them and they should be completely and utterly fulfilled by her and her alone.
That's not to say that she will never share a lover. She has been known to negotiate terms, set up a schedule, if you will, but she doesn't like it. And if you cross her or betray her, you will pay the price. Mirror attack suddenly and viciously, leaving her victims paralyzed or possessing them and leading them into hysterics and madness. It's rather interesting that both Lulla Mollica and Lulla Mirah prefer married men over single men, and you can't help but wonder about that, especially because it's said that these Ginne sometimes appear to their lovers disguised as women they already know.
Seems pretty convenient if you ask me a ready excuse for infidelity. After all, how can you blame the poor married men for being forced into an affair with a jinn? It's easier and less dangerous to just give the general what she wants instead of denying her right, even if she happens to look just like the lady from down the street. If you've loved listening to the Hidden Gem podcast, you will love welcoming Halloween this year with the very first The Hidden in Live show, a virtual event hosted by me, Rabia Chaudry, on Friday, October 30th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
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Not all flings with the djinn are long term brief sexual encounters are reported commonly even going back centuries.
The 6th century pre Islamic Arab poet Thabit Ibn Jabr lived a very colorful life while he was known for his poetry about desert life. He lived with a band of bandits that raided local tribes, and then they hid in the hills and mountains, evading capture out there.
One night in the wilderness, he found himself face to face with a female jinn. Now, it's unclear exactly what happened next between the two. But Jabar ended up writing a poem about the meeting called How I Met the Ghoul. I lay upon her through the night, that in the morning I might see what had come to me behold two eyes and a hideous head like the head of a cat, split toned legs like a deformed fetus, the back of a dog, clothes of hair, clock or worn out skin's.
Now, some have interpreted the poem to mean that he killed the gin and then he just kind of laid on top of her all night so he could take the Ginns body back to his camp and show the others. But others interpret the poem to mean that Jabar made love to the girl who then revealed her true hideous form, and so he killed her. I'm going to go with the second interpretation because, well, it just makes more sense. And that's because there are an entire class of jinn, both male and female, who draw their energy from sexual relations with humans.
You've probably heard of them to the succubus, a female entity and an incubus, a male entity didn't realize these creatures are jinn. Oh, but they are very low legion on the very bottom of the totem pole of gin, but gin nonetheless. And both the succubus and incubus are after only one thing, sexual gratification. And both of them tend to sexually assault their victims as they sleep without warning and certainly without consent. A terrifying and you could say paralyzing experience.
The phenomena of being sexually attacked during sleep is so common in 2017, the University of Leiden in the Netherlands conducted a meta study titled Prevalence Rates of the Incubus Phenomena, A Systematic Review and Meta Analysis. The team of researchers reviewed 13 existing studies that took a look at the sleep experiences of eighteen hundred people from across the globe, including Canada, the United States, China, Japan, Italy and Mexico. And they found that nearly 11 percent of the general global population has, at one point in their life, experienced something that could be described as an incubus or succubus encounter.
And of course, this is not just a contemporary phenomena, the researchers noted that the experience of being sexually assaulted while asleep has been documented all the way back to antiquity.
And it seems to occur in every single population group, in every culture, in every nation, in every time in history.
Each culture, however, interpreted the phenomena in their own cultural context. In Newfoundland, they called it the old hag. In Japan, it's the shibari in Brazil. These creatures are called the peace of Dira. But no matter what people call it or how the creature is viewed literally and otherwise, the actual experience, regardless of the culture or historical context, was almost exactly the same.
And here is how the study describes it. The Incubus phenomena as a proximal sleep related disorder characterized by feeling of pressure on the chest while the sleeping individual has the sensation of being awake. Attacks are typically accompanied by sleep paralysis and compound hallucinations involving a creature sitting or lying on the thorax, exerting pressure and carrying out aggressive and or sexual acts. The creature may appear in the shape of a human animal or metaphysical being or be of an indeterminate nature. Attacks may occasionally come onto the screen, whereas for the remainder of the time, persons experiencing an attack tend to be mute, although they may be able to move their eyes.
Antonia of the straight muscles prevent them from making any other movements. Attacks are usually accompanied by the feeling of a sensed presence and by vegetative symptoms such as a cold sweat, hypertension, a feeling of suffocation and sometimes also sexual arousal. The duration tends to be in the order of seconds to minutes, culminating in a feeling of severe dread and the conviction that one is about to die. Around that time, the sleep paralysis tends to come to an abrupt ending and the hallucinated creature appears to fall or glide from the bed, leaving its victim behind in a state of anxiety and hyper arousal, being unable to go back to sleep out of fear for repetition.
The researchers found that many participants dismissed the experience as a nightmare, but for some, repeated encounters led to some very other real problems when awake like off the charts anxiety. Anxiety from an increasing fear of going to sleep and the terror of feeling like you might actually die. They also found that while there wasn't data connecting repeated attacks to sudden, unexpected death syndrome in which people who are otherwise healthy and fine die in their sleep, well, it was possible.
It's important to understand that the framework of this study and indeed most studies on the Incubus are succubus experience is within the field of sleep paralysis itself, which doctors describe as a perfectly explainable and common sleep disorder.
And the terrifying creature that so many have described being assaulted by during sleep paralysis, it's merely a hallucination, said the experts. The sleep demon, they say, is what some people see when they're suddenly jolted awake in the middle of the REM sleep cycle.
Their brain still stuck in dreams or nightmares in this case that are now being projected into the dark room around you. Your brain, as it does when you sleep, has shut off the signals to your body that would ordinarily cause it to move, walk, run, turn over. So you're paralyzed. And as you're still in REM sleep, that segment of our sleep patterns in which we dream, you're seeing remnants of a dream projected onto the reality around you that says science is what's really happening.
And look, I believe in science, I believe in climate change and evolution in mitigating pandemics through social distancing and wearing masks, but there is a part of me that wonders why are all these experiences so exactly similar and why are they always menacing? I mean, we all also have highly pleasant dreams. Why don't we wake up paralyzed, but in a sunny valley of mountains made of chocolate and Jem's flying through the air surrounded by unicorns, or why don't we wake up in the middle of a dream with a sexual encounter with someone that you might actually want to have one with?
Why is it always a dark, ominous, horrifying creature pressing down in your chest, cutting off your breath, trying to kill you?
I don't know, and the scientific explanation only works to a certain extent for me. You might be thinking, well, look, what about the fact that people in different parts of the world see the creature differently? Doesn't that mean that what they're seeing is indeed a project of their own imagination? Well, maybe or maybe the jinn who can transform into anything, transform themselves into something that can be understood by the victim that resonates within their cultural context. For those who have lived through these attacks, however, science may choose to understand them.
They are all too real. In 2006, Canadian journalist Peter Duffie wrote about his first such encounter. I went to bed, it was midnight late for me, and that's when it happened, I became aware of a strange presence in the bedroom, something emitting waves of malevolence. And then I saw it. Something was rearing over me. I don't know how or why, but instinctively I knew it was a demon of some kind. I recoiled in horror, trying to make myself small, unable to tear my eyes away.
There was no face this thing had a human form, but it was swallowed in a black hole, like covering like some kind of monk, and then it was on top of me, soundless and unstoppable, smothering me, assaulting me. There's no delicate way to put this. I was vividly aware of this creature violating my. I yelled, but nothing came from my lips, my struggles were in slow motion. I was helpless and then as suddenly as it appeared, the creature was gone.
Duffy was so distraught by the attack that he reached out to various people to try and understand it, a psychic, a philosophy professor, a priest, and mostly the response he got was that it was a stress induced phenomena. Dig deeper into your life. He was told to figure out what's really bothering you. But Duffy wasn't so sure he wrote the incident was so terrifying, it haunts me still even now, three weeks later, the memory of that dream makes me go cold if it actually was a dream.
I shake my head. Still not convinced what happened to me was actually a dream. While the succubus and incubus experiences are terrifying for a number of reasons, the fact that they are violations or feel like violations are probably the most distressing aspect. There's no asking for or giving consent in these scenarios. But that doesn't mean there aren't people who actively seek out sexual relationships with the Gen. In the 14th century, a Moroccan magician by the name of Muhammad Altium and wrote a volume with the intriguing title Suns of Lights and Treasures of Secrets.
In it, he gave readers the secret spell to cast if you wanted to have sex with the daughter of the white king of the jinn.
Pretty straightforward, actually. First, you have to isolate yourself alone in the desert where you must fast for 12 days while continuously chanting incantations.
After 12 days, a dragon will appear. But you have to be fastidious, not get frightened and maintain your composure.
If you're successful in ignoring the beast, the jinn princess will appear. She's pale, decked out in gems and jewels and walks with an enticing sway. She can be yours, but of course it comes with a price. If you sleep with the gin princess, you might experience things that you can never imagine. But the price that you pay is this you'll become impotent to all the real women in the real world. And that's quite the devil's bargain, you might say.
Thanks for joining us this week. Next week, we'll be back to take you another step into the world of the 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.
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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 Robert Choudhry 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, visit the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.