About Morocco – superstition and magic

About Morocco – superstition and magic

Magic and superstition have been a constant theme in Moroccan history. Sorcerers and witchdoctors still crowd Marrakech’s Jma el Fna. Indeed, the country is renowned for it: in the pantomime Aladdin the wicked Abenazer who tricks Widow Twankey out of the magic lamp came from Morocco. Some of those witchdoctors might be prescribing the following remedies: To cure warts one should look at the moon at the moment it appears on the first day of the month, and at the same time apply apple flour on the wart. Unfortunates with syphilis should swallow the ashes of a crow burned in a new cooking pot. An irritable bladder placed , on the other hand is cured by urinating on wild mint placed on a brick. The irritation was supposed then pass to the brick.

Magic has also been a consistent theme. Moroccans used to believe, for example, that Christians possessed the evil eye. Tradesmen would hide their goods on the approach of a Christian as a precaution that their wares would be spoilt. Indeed, the hand of Fatima, appropriated by Islam as a sign of peace, is in fact an ancient Morocco symbol to ward off the eye – and its still seen today on many door posts, painted in red, to ward off evil-doers.

In many Northern African lands, belief in jinns – spirits – is still common. In Morocco Jinns are said to be especially fond of desert places, drains, lavatories, ruins and cemeteries. They appear at particular times of the day or night. One should not visit the toilet between half past eleven and half past two in the Morocconing, for example. Renowned for being capricious, jinns appear as horrible apparitions such as Maezt Dar L’Oudou, the Goat of the Lavatories, who bleats ferociously and terrorizes those who disturb her.

Or you might encounter the Baghlet El Qebour, the Mule of the Graves, who haunts Marrakech at the same hour. Appearing in the shape of a mule she was punished by god for remarrying before the prescribed time of her widowhood was over. She buries alive those who encounter her, braying to the moon in delight.

Not all jinns are evil. Lalla Malika, for example, is a simple seductress. It was said she can hypnotise a man just by passing her hands in front of his eyes, at which point he will see only clouds and do her bidding. She is not malicious, indeed, when a group of women start giggling it was said that Lalla Malika was responsible through tickling them.