I must admit that I enjoy yo read about Islamic mythology and to follow the urban legends in many of those countries with Muslim background. It is always something mystical and enigmatic, far away from typical contemplation what we use to have in western civilization.

The recent fascination with mythological roots lead me to beautiful Morocco and it’s rich tradition. From the colorful markets, old streets, majestic oriental architecture to the thrilling culture of Islamic rise and fairy tale hidden in the local folklore. Somehow, blue Morocco, managed to make a perfect mixture of Islamic religion, old tradition, folk belief in supernatural forces and modern perspective on life. What would you like to have it more ? You do need nothing because you have the story about Aicha Kandisha, the remarkable water jinn lady that is keeping men under fear and respect.

How is that possible and what we do know about this beautiful figure from northern Moroccan folklore ? It is written and said that this alluring female jinn lives mostly in the river beds and appear in the men dreams, trying to seduce them and bring them problems. Sometimes, she looks like amazing woman with the legs of goat and sometimes like a fierce monster and chaos creator. Some people in Morocco think that this water jinn is actually the emanation of Moroccan contessa El Jadida that fought Portuguese during the conquering period, seducing soldiers and protecting the land. She was brutally killed but her brave spirit found a way back, to make a revenge and take the souls of men.

There are people who strongly believe that once when the soul is captured by this demon, it is late to get it back and save it. Usually, the men are suffering being seduced, possessed and brutally abused by this thrilling river jinn. Even there are many rituals created as counter measure and process for saving the soul from Aisha Qandisha, the hunter and healer at the same time. Those rituals are known as gnawa or lilas and they include trans culture, brining and intensive dance and fusion in thoughts. It is pretty much advanced practice that is somehow isolated from standard line of Islam and typical Islamic rules. First of all, Aisha Qandisha is one lucrative jinn and her passion and wild nature don’t match with the justice of Allah. Nevertheless, that is the right moment for the rise of feminists explanations and justification of this female jinn that is searching for a revenge and took the male victims. Finally, the female world has its own heroine, even if that is a good looking demon from Moroccan tradition.

She is not a demon but rather a jinn in the urban legends of North Africa. We all know that jinns are free spirits that could be good or bad, depending on person. What makes me a bit sad is the fact that people usually go into the direction of urban legends where they create and recreate the ideas, colouring them with fear. It seems that is easier to figure out some demon to scare all around than to do some research behind and to give the place in the history if that character deserves. Aisha was a real person, inspirational patriot and fighter but why she is portrayed like a jinn full of revenge ? Maybe it is good to know that people of Morocco have dual relation with the importance of Aisha Qandisha. One the other side, they are afraid of her and believe that she would come and get them but there are also those who cherish her name, worship her role in the history and showing the admiration through the different forms and rituals. It is believed that if you look long enough in the river, you will see her and she will come to speak to you. The Aisha Qandisha followers go to the riverbed, bring gifts and candles, celebrating her existence in the spiritual world. Those who are afraid of her, hesitate to even mention her name and they keep even children under control, treating to them with Aisha Qandisha.

Personally, I believe that historical role of this woman is much more important than collected folklore tales and accumulated local fear. Why ? Because some real Aisha saved her land and did her best to save fellow people. Then, suddenly, she was lost as a powerful woman knight and heroine and shaped into seductive demon that is lurking on men. What is the point anyway ? I agree that urban legends could be thrilling and touristic attractive but I am for giving the credits to those who deserve. Instead of imaging horror narration about this brave woman, the people should have try to worship real Aisha and her devoted battles for beloved Morocco.

The Islamic religion itself accepts the world of jinns and their fire but also put the Allah, main creator, above all. It is fascinating to watch how local traditions are merging spiritually with the clear rules of Islam and even survive in between, showing us that belief has many different dimensions and each of them is unique.

There are many authentic female figures in religion, history and urban myths but indeed Aisha Qandisha is something like Lilith of oriental world. Maybe it is too much demonised in public folklore or it might be that people added the tons of surrealism so she became the imaginary grotesque figure of the Moroccan nightmares. The feminism could praise her and provoke the masculine theories about fatal female demon but it could also use it as a role model for new generations of women who believe in their missions.

At the end of the day, only thing that really matters is that Aisha had a heart that burnt for her homeland, graving her name into the souls of many people. Sometimes with fear and sometimes with respect but always with timeless destiny, like it always happens with true and devoted warriors. Aisha Qandisha is one of those, unforgettable.


  1. Sarah’s informative and alluring article reminded me of the novel ‘The Sheltering Sky’ (1949), by US-author Paul Bowles (1910-1999).

    The novel concerns an estranged married couple (Anglo-Saxon) from New York City journeying through North Africa, after World War II (late-1940s). The couple believes the journey will help heal the wounds of their matrimony, but its awakens within them both the realisation that they are surrounded by unfamiliar dangers; natural and otherwise.

    A film of the same title was made in 1990, with the author making a cameo appearance. The cinematography is a character in the film and sets the background for psychological torments and physiological demands.

    Through the novel and film there is thread very similar to Aysa Qandisha, in that beauty and danger can be intrinsic and intoxicating; ever mesmerising the senses…

    The following is an excerpt from the novel:

    ‘Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it?’


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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !