Welcome to The Hidden Gem, a production of I Heart Radio and Greyman Mild from Aaron Manque.
A brief warning before we get into this episode, this episode includes language and refers to sexuality and sexual practices that may be triggering or too mature for young audiences. I'll be honest, I often get a bit uneasy with stories about female gin and other kinds of malevolent female entities because there's no escaping the reality that historically women have often borne the blame for things that go wrong in a family or a community. If a couple can't have children, it's because the wife is barren.
If a husband goes astray, it's because the wife couldn't keep him happy, even if a region is experiencing drought. Somehow women managed to get blamed. And if you don't believe me, just a few years ago, a Texas assemblywoman tweeted that Texas was in a long period of drought until the governor signed an anti-abortion law. Yes, that was only one person, but she was just reflecting the kinds of sentiments that have existed for centuries. And that's why when I read about the kinds of terrible things that female monsters are said to do, I can't help but wonder maybe these stories just to mirror deeply misogynistic attitudes about women in general.
But then there's also this possibility that maybe stories of powerful supernatural female entities are actually projections of the power and ability. Women wish they had the power to control their lives and bodies, the power to exact revenge on those who hurt them, the power to strike terror into societies that really held no fear of them or respect for them. Maybe these stories are a warning of what could be unleashed if and when there's finally a reckoning. My name is Robert Chaudhury and I'll be your guide into the world of the Hidden.
Welcome. You could say that vampires have come a long way today, there are dozens of books, films and TV shows that have sort of endeared them to us. Vampire comedies like What We Do in the Shadows are a big hit. And thanks to the Twilight series, an entire generation of young people are open to vampire love affairs. And I swear there's an entire section of vampire Y.A. lit in every bookstore I've ever been to. Vampires are kind of cool right now.
They didn't, of course, start out that way.
The myth of creatures that crave and survive on blood goes back thousands of years is found in nearly every culture, but seems to hell not from Europe but from further east. The earliest evidence we have of any belief in bloodsuckers are shards of Persian pottery dating back about 4000 years, depicting demons, trying to drink the blood of men we find from the same region the tales of Lummus to a word that means, quote, she who erases in the language spoken in ancient Assyria and Babilonia, the most who was a demoness, a monster that killed babies in the womb and that attacked healthy young men sucking their blood and rendering them infertile.
Her image was as terrifying as her reputation. She had the head of a woman, the body of a beast, serpents in each hand and suckled a dog and a pig at her bosom. And there's not that much distance between the legends about must do and a horrifying she'd even found in Jewish law. Now, you may be wondering what any of these demoness has to do with Djenne, but remember the ginner older than human history and they take on any and every form.
What one culture now calls a jinn has been called by many other names.
In other cultures and in Jewish tradition, we have evidence of belief in a creature that lines up neatly with Ajin the shed them which North African Jews also referred to with euphemisms such as that, the Elna our counterparts underground or Jarrin DNA, our neighbors, according to the Talmud, the shut them have attributes of both angels and humans in three ways. They are as angels. They have wings like angels, fly from one end of the world to the other like angels, and they know what will be in the future, like angels.
And in three ways they are as humans. They eat and drink like humans. They multiply like humans and they die like humans. You won't be surprised to learn that the shed them live in dank, dirty and desolate places with a particular fondness for bathrooms and that they can shape shift, changing their appearance in any way they want. With one exception, they can't change their feet. Now, these descriptions should ring a bell.
If you've heard our previous episodes, including the first one in which we talked about Dei, the mighty demon gin that King Solomon brought under his control, according to the Talmud, Ashmead, I was a qadim. And that takes us back to one of many Asian origin stories in this story, the shed them were created from the Union of a demoness and the first man, Adam, and that demoness is Lillith. Lilith has a rich sematic history, you might even call her the original vampire of Jewish law, and she is well documented in rabbinic literature as having been the intended bride of Adam.
Some stories say that Adam rejected her because she refused to be a subservient sexual partner. Lilith believed that she and Adam were created equal, and for that he rejected her full of despair and indignation.
Lilith abandoned Adam and heaven and dove to earth, fleeing deep into the ocean in a complete rage. She didn't stay in the ocean, though. Three angels were sent after her to coax her back, and they found her by the Red Sea, where she was meeting with other fallen jinn and bearing baby demons. In Isaiah, the Bible speaks of a dark wilderness and their. Wildcats shall meet with hyenas, goat demons shall call to each other there to Lilith shall repose and find a place to rest.
Lilith was not about to return with the angels, though she told them I was created only to cause sickness to infants and I am the sworn enemy of pregnant women. The angels responded, We won't let you go until you accept upon yourself that each day 100 of your children will die. Lilith accepted the condition, and for that reason, 100 demons die every day, but Lilith, who is immortal, can easily replace them and is thus considered by some to be the mother of all.
Jin Lilith is also known to have a sexual appetite that is never satisfied, which certainly helps with the baby demon making pursuits. She took on many demonic lovers, and some say she mated with Satan himself. But along with her demon lovers, she sometimes chooses mortal lovers. And yet another legend says she came across a mortal wandering in the wilderness, someone who had just murdered his brother. It was Caine, the son of Adam, who killed his brother Abel.
Lillith showed Cain the life power of blood and they became lovers together, birthing hundreds of dark souls, which is pretty sinister but ingenious revenge by Lillith against Adam, the man who rejected her.
Other tales say that Lillith became the wife of the Demon King, Azuma Di. Lilith was, you see, among the legions of jinn that King Solomon took command over with his magical ring, which he used to force the djinn to present themselves before him, she appeared before him as a female figure with no limbs, just a head and a torso, her hair ratty and ragged.
He commanded her to tell him who she was and what she did, and she responded. By night, I sleep not but going my rounds over all the world and visit women in childbirth and diving the hour, I take my stand and if I am lucky, I strangle the child. But if not, I retire to another place, for I cannot a single night retire unsuccessful. And now Heather, now teather I roam and to western part I go my rounds.
But as it is though, thou hast sealed me round with a ring of God. Thou hast done nothing. I am not standing before the and thou will not be able to command me, for I have no work other than the destruction of children and making of their ears to be deaf and the working of evil to their eyes and the binding of their mouths with a bond and the ruin of their minds and the painting of their bodies.
So while King Solomon was able to bind her for a time, she eventually, like all the king's other enslaved gin's, found her freedom when he died and she went right back to hunting children, you might say Lillith really holds a grudge. Like a demon Llamosa, who is a sworn baby killer, Lilith doesn't even wait for a baby's birth to begin attacking it, her attempts to harm human children began when the child is in the mother's womb, causing miscarriages and stillbirths.
And if they survive that, she pursues their deaths four weeks after they're born, sometimes causing them to fall sick and die and other times strangling them in a jealous rage. And in one final act of revenge against mankind, Lilith also visits unwitting men at night as they sleep sexually violating them to steal their seed and bear more demon children. You may have heard of this creature, the succubus. Turns out that's just Lilith. Unfortunately, we can't escape Lilith, while women have worn amulets and tied talisman and prayers around their babies for protection against this.
These are flimsy guardians against this vengeful spirit.
And so this dance of revenge will go on for eternity because unlike other jinn, Lilly is immortal.
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Lilith doesn't stand alone, though, in the Jewish cosmology of female demon Genn, she's accompanied by three sisters, Na'ama, aggressive and mahlab, who is said to be the queen of the Demons and married to the Demon King Di. There is, to be honest, a confusing intersection of all these female and male Ginne, a lot of hooking up between them.
Imagine, if you will, a reality show where everyone has been sexually involved with everyone else, kind of like a terrifying Jersey Shore, just with lots of death and destruction. And in all of these stories, the female jinn often seem to have one mission making lots of demon babies, and that requires a lot of getting it on with other demons. But these ladies don't just stick to one man, they hook up with really anyone, they please. So it's not surprising that Lilith has and more recent times become a symbol of women's sexual freedom and independence, although that's a bit of a hard sell given her baby killing tendencies.
But if Lilith and her sisters inspired real life women to claim power over their bodies, the opposite might be true in the story of a Real-Life Moroccan noblewoman that has inspired the tales of a powerful female jinn by the name of Aisha Conditio. According to one 15th century legend, Aisha was a beautiful Moroccan woman from the Al Jadida region, which was at the time occupied by the Portuguese, her husband, part of the resistance, was killed at the hands of Portuguese soldiers and she vowed to spend the rest of her life getting vengeance in other versions of the tale.
Aisha herself was part of the resistance, a warrior who one by one killed enemy soldiers. Isha used her beauty to seduce unsuspecting soldiers and officers into dark corners where she could get them into compromising and vulnerable positions once she had them where she wanted them, she would pull out a long knife kept hidden in her robes, slit their throats and savagely mutilate their bodies. She killed so many soldiers and was so elusive that the occupiers started fearing her. Some even said she wasn't human.
She couldn't be given the things she was able to do. They couldn't capture her, so in order to punish Aisha, the Portuguese executed her entire family, which caused her to flee into the jungle, overtaken by madness.
But she didn't stay in the jungle.
Instead, they say she began to attack locals, young men in particular, and devour them, the Aisha that was once a hero against the Portuguese had now turned into a monster against her own people.
And it was this depravity that over the centuries gave rise to Aisha conditio the gin known to every little boy and girl in the region. Even today, she's so feared that the mere mention of her name is forbidden because it might invite her into your world. Some say that Iesha and each other Jin is much more ancient than the 15th century figure, that her very lineage is from one of the seven great kings of the Jin Shem Haroche himself.
Other scholars and historians believe the legend of Aisha Conditio hails to Canaanite Colts', whose temples included women called the Kadisha, known as sacred prostitutes. Now, the practice of sacred prostitution, unfortunately much more common in history and across different societies, going back as far as 6000 B.C. was framed as an act of worship and even female sexual empowerment.
But here is a description of the practice, as relayed by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. It compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger at least once in her life, once a woman has taken her place there. She does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap and had intercourse with her outside the temple. It does not matter what some of the money is, the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin.
The money being by this act made sacred.
So she follows the first man who cast that and rejects no one after their intercourse, having discharged her sacred duty to the goddess, she goes away to her home.
Now, the question of empowerment of these women is a bit questionable given their inability to refuse any man who approaches them and pardon me for thinking this feels a little more like exploitation than empowerment nonetheless, that there's no question between the connection of female sexuality and divinity that these and other societies made. And the figure of Kadisha pops up repeatedly. She goes from being a sacred prostitute to worshipped in ancient Egypt as a God named Codesa. Kadesh was not only a fertility goddess, she was also a goddess of sexual pleasure and sacred ecstasy.
The likeliest scenario then and how the legend of the jinn, Aisha Khadija, emerged is that multiple threads of beliefs came together to forge the mythology that exists today in the region most closely associated with her Morocco.
In some areas, she's believed to be a siren like figure, and another is more of an Earth mother type. But in all cases, she's known to be a sexually ravenous jinn, not unlike her mythical predecessors Aisha and Jerome, the wilderness near bodies of water in northern Morocco, often the Sebu River, but also in some of her other favorite haunts grottos, springs, fountains, where she searches for her next victim, usually a young man.
They say she's tall with large, alluring eyes, full lips, though she never smiles. Aisha Conditio has a voluptuous figure that can't be hidden in the black garments that she's draped in. Some say those drapes are her own hair, jet black that has grown so long it wraps around her body. And at times when she's spotted, it's as she's emerging from the water source, she hands combing her long, wet black hair back from her bare body while she's feared for causing harm to pregnant women.
What Aisha Conditio is really known for is her fearsome and violent lust, a lust so strong that her only real mission is to seduce men into her bed. And once her victim has been intimate with her, she reveals her true, terrifying form. She's gargantuan, with teeth like knives, and hidden under the black folds are the legs and feet of a camel. Not all of the men who fall for her discover the truth of who she is until it's too late, until they've already entered into a sexual tryst with her, at which point he can no longer reject her.
He will either have to become her sexual slave for life or risk being murdered by her. Talk about a rock and a hard place becoming her slave comes with dozens of conditions. Her new man can only wear dirty, ragged clothing that's green or red or black. He can never cut his hair or his fingernails, and he definitely can't cheat on her. And if he rejects these conditions, tough conditions and refuses them, then he has to pay for it with his life.
And that's because Aisha Conditio doesn't just satisfy her sexual urges with her victims, she also satisfies her other carnal drives. She drinks their blood and eats their flesh. She is quite literally a man eater. Not all of her victims end up dead, though some end up driven mad, possessed by her, possessed with love and lust for her, but unable to obtain her. They say that those who seek her become married to her and her alone, unable or unwilling to take interest in a human bride.
And in that way, Aisha Conditio has at any given time thousands of lovers and husbands. But beyond her human husbands, she's also married to royalty, to an invincible Gene King by the name of Bashar Hamoud Hamos weakness as blood. And so you'll find him at slaughterhouses. But he also possesses people who then sliced their own limbs to satisfy the Genz desire.
Aisha Conditio and Mom quite a power couple, you could say.
If we lean in, though, what we see in stories about Aisha Conditio are layers of lessons and warnings, a lesson on the power of a woman's sexuality, but also what happens when the sexuality of a woman isn't in check. It spirals out of control, lust turning into violence and even death. And it's also a warning to men to stay away from tempting, beautiful women that you aren't married to, because for all you know, she could be a cannibalistic Jen.
Engaging and forbidden sexual trysts could literally be the death of you. And even if she doesn't kill you, you could find yourself gone mad with desire for her wandering the earth the rest of your days, seeking her useless to the rest of the world. So in that sense, it's almost a warning against falling in love itself. It might seem that all the female Djenne have a bad rap, sexually insatiable baby killers and man eaters, but that's not exactly true.
Just as there are good and evil humans, there are good and evil, Jen. And the good ones are often as powerful as the not so good ones.
And Morocco, where we met Aisha and we also meet Laila Rakia Hummer, which translates to Lady Recchia, daughter of the Rudwan people seeking her blessings, travel to the foot of the Atlas Mountains, to the enchanting town of Sapphira, located hours from the Moroccan capital, a robot.
Centuries ago, Safra was an important trading city, as well as an ancient Jewish Berber settlement. And nestled in the western part of the town is the fountain of Lady Recchia, a miraculous fountain set to bring healing for both physical and mental ailments. Those who believe in the powers of Lady Recchia fill up their jugs at her fountain, but most Moroccans don't have to go that far to find her. That's because the abode of Lady Recchia is the bathhouse, and I don't mean the room where you go to shower in your house.
I'm talking about the public bathhouse, the hamam, which is ubiquitous in North African and Middle Eastern cultures. Humans are culturally, socially and religiously significant, segregated by gender. The hamam is much more than a shared pool of water, steam rooms, heated marble slabs, rigourous exfoliation, cold showers. It's an entire series of pampering and cleansing rituals. But beyond beautification and cleanliness, the humans are kind of like a local pub where folks get together to linger and trade gossip, albeit naked, relax with friends and neighbors.
And the hamam often even has a role in marriages, births, even birthdays. Apparently, there's nothing like water and naked people to attract the wrong kind of gin, which is where Lady Recchia steps in. She's a queen in the gin world, deeply respected for her wisdom and diplomatic skills, and she lords over all the gin and every hammam in the world. She makes it her job to protect the Hamman bathers, but only if people request her permission to enter the hamam, ask for her protection and greet her as they enter.
Once in the hammam, Lady Recchia guards both men and women from malevolent beings who might otherwise get too attached to a bather and follow them home or whisper sinful thoughts into a baby's heart, leading them into forbidden acts and for the price of keeping peace. The Hammam lady Recchia also demands to be thanked and bid adieu while leaving. She loves offerings of oil lamps, incense and perfumes, too, especially on special occasions. You could say she's a bit needy, but really, who among us doesn't like to be valued and recognised for their work?
Now, in the world of good versus bad jin, there is one that kind of tows the line. If you remember back to earlier in the season, we mentioned one gen that, well, we aren't able to shake, that's our gen double, the one we're born with and die with the Koreen. And if you're a woman, well, your female counterpart is the Garena. There was, however, an original Garena, the one that birthed all the others that were stuck with today.
It's believed that at the dawn of human creation that Korina was Adam's first wife but was rejected by him and later mated with Satan to produce legions of Baby Jane ad infinitum.
She not only hated men, but women, too. And to punish both, she made children the target of her fury, causing stillbirths and fatal illnesses and babies. If she sounds like Lilith, you're exactly right, the original Karina and Lilith are one in the same. So for the ladies out there, the Kaarina that you carry with you everywhere turns out that she's the daughter of the mother of all the gin. Our personal marina is also sometimes called our old or SHARQIYA, both words that mean sister.
But this gin takes sibling rivalry to another level. She carries a particular interest in the spouse of her human, fueled maybe by jealousy of all the human beings she's missing out on. She does her best to break up the couple, whispering hateful thoughts in her human's ears, poisoning her heart against her husband and urging her to leave the marriage. Which begs the question, though, what if he's just a truly terrible spouse? What if it's a toxic or abusive marriage?
Does blaming a Korina let crappy husbands off the hook as a redirect blame back to a woman to check herself to second guess the thoughts as she has of leaving? But then divorce has always carried a heavy social stigma, especially in times and places where women didn't have the agency to make such monumental decisions. Maybe, just maybe, the CORYNA gives a woman in an unhappy marriage who might find it impossible to live otherwise a way out. And so ladies, maybe just like their mother, Lillith, the Karinna, are simply asserting power that's long been kept from women.
Speaking of power, there's a fascinating female flipside to the world of Jen, and it's not about the din themselves, it's about the power of women in fighting the gen. North African regions are replete with female stories, but they're also replete with the stories of the power of women themselves, women who were able to trick the devil himself into giving them power. According to the French writer Alene Dillons, who lived in Morocco in the early part of the 20th century.
The oral tradition of how women of the region came to their power goes like this.
In antiquity, old women wanted to seize the devil. What can we do to attract him? They ask themselves. Well, the devil always arrives during a dispute, so the old woman sort of insulting each other and the devil arrived. Then the shouting turn to sobbing. What's wrong as the devil? The old woman responded, The devil is dead. The devil confused, said, That is a lie. I am the devil. And the old woman said, He is dead.
We tell you you we don't know you. And the devil responded. I speak the truth. If that's all the old woman telling him, enter into this glass vial and we will believe you. And so the devil entered and the women quickly put a stopper on the vial. Let me out, he shouted by fire. We won't let you free. And so the devil berated them bitches. Female camels, prostitutes, and the old women berated him back, you one eyed person, possessor of a single hair.
And that made the devil reconsider. Oh, my daughters deliver me and I will help you. But the women responded. How can you help anyone? You, the father of evil and the devil said, I will teach you how to prevail over men. And so the old women agreed, and he taught them sorcery as well as the art of curing illness.
It said that since then, Moroccan women have been feared by some as sorceress as having the knowledge and power to not to subjugate and control men, kill sickness and fight the jinn. But they also have the power to control nature itself. One account of this comes to us by way of Doctor Emile Muschamp. Dr. Moshav was assigned by the French to establish his medical practice in Marrakesh in 1985 as part of the French government's ploy to deepen its hold on Morocco through providing health care.
Yes, that seems crazy, but believe it or not, they weren't the only colonial power who has used such ploys. Muschamp was one of many colonial observers in the region who collected their own ethnographies, fascinated with local customs and traditions, especially relating to magic and sorcery. He explained one point how to Sorcerous concocted a magic paste to be able to control the moon itself. First, the Sorcerous would buy a new kneading dish during the day, and then she would visit the home of all the gin with it, the slaughterhouses, the toilets, cemeteries, the tombs of saints, as well as synagogues and mosques with a genius stand guard.
Then she takes the water of Seven Springs, are covered wells, and in the night of the full moon between midnight and 1:00 a.m., she darkens her right. I would call. Let's blush on the right cheek, a bracelet on the right arm, an anklet on the right foot and braids, a lock of her hair on the right.
Then she goes alone to the cemetery, puts the dish on the ground, strips naked and runs holding a reed with a little green flag attached, asking the spirits of darkness to make the moon descend for her. In the dish, she has put the water of the seven fountains, then one sees the moon mound to its zenith and descend into the dish immediately.
A storm is unleashed, the water foams and spills over, and the sorceress collects the foam. At the same time, benzoin and coriander cook in a neighboring pot and the sorcerous commands, I want you to serve me for good and for evil.
When the tub is full of foam, the saucers puts out the incense fire and spills the water on the ground and the liberated moon rises slowly into the sky.
Now, that is power. Unfortunately for Muschamp, he wasn't able to collect these stories for long. Less than two years after arriving in Morocco, he was murdered right outside his own clinic.
His crime, he raised a pole or antenna of some sort under his roof, which some locals feared meant he was a French spy connected wirelessly through the pole to a nefarious network.
But I can't help but wonder if he just got on the wrong side of a sorcerous. Thanks for joining us this week. Next week will be back to take you into another step into the world of the hidden. 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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So if you're a gin enthusiast, check out the Companion Patriot series at Patriot 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, art historians and everyday people who have had extraordinary experiences with. And everybody can check out the first episode absolutely free. It's me and my husband sharing our 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 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.