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14. Aisha Qandisha (Moroccan Folklore)

In our fourteenth episode, we discuss Aisha Qandisha; a female djinn from Moroccan folklore. We discuss the powerful, possibly historical background of the legend as well as the healing power of reclaiming terrifying female figures.

Sources:

,,Deux mythes féminins du Maghreb : la Kahina et Aïcha Kandicha by Samira Douider

,,Aicha Kandicha, la légende et le démon — Steemit

,,Fear of the Powerful, Fear of the Provocative – Muslim Popular Culture

Literatura oral de Marruecos. En torno al personaje de Aisha Qandisha: ¿una lejana hermana gemela de la Llorona? By Aziz Ahmahjour (notes by Margot)

She Who Seeks the Unknown - ,,Aisha Qandisha

Research assisted by Margot and Zaïn

Transcript below!


(Musical intro)

Zoe: Hello, and welcome to Mytholadies, the podcast where we talk about women from mythology and folklore all over the world. We're your hosts--

Lizzie: I'm Lizzie:

Zoe: And I'm Zoe. And Lizzie, who are we talking about today?

Lizzie: Today we're talking about Aisha Qandicha--

Zoe: Oh!!

Lizzie: --who is a figure from Moroccan folklore.

Zoe: Awesome!

Lizzie: Aisha Qandisha is a very well-known figure in Morocco, and also the west of Algeria. She's a yennia, or a female jinn, which is a supernatural creature from Islamic mythology and theology who is said to possess and kill men.

Zoe: Awesome!

Lizzie: She's recognized by her feet, which are that of a camel or a goat--

Zoe: Ooh.

Lizzie: Sometimes, um, she's called by a nickname, such as Lalla Aïcha, which means "Lady Aisha," Aïcha Soudaniyya, which means--"Soudaniyya" is like a Sudanese woman, and Aïcha l'gnaouia, which, the Gnaouas are a Moroccan ethnic group.

Zoe: Mm.

Lizzie: or Aïcha la contessa, and these are said in order to avoid directly naming her.

Zoe: Oh, yeah, that makes a ton of sense.

Lizzie: Mm hmm. Yeah, so, there's many different stories about her, as they have been told orally--

Zoe: Mm.

Lizzie: Um, and she has many different names and different origins. Some think she's Portuguese, some Amazigh, and some Sudanese.

Zoe: Okay.

Lizzie: There are also many variations in all the different sources that I found.

Zoe: Oh, awesome.

Lizzie: (laughs) Yeah, so, the first, and I think, one of the more popular accounts. So, it says that Aisha was a beautiful woman who lived near Al-Jadida, which was a city occupied by the Portuguese. One day, the Portuguese came to her village on a day where she wasn’t home and killed her whole family.

Zoe: Oh no!

Lizzie: One account says that this young woman helps to defeat the portuguese invaders with a technique that consisted of using charms to attract soldiers, who would then be killed by her accomplices. She was then punished by the colonizers who killed her entire family and her fiance.

Zoe: Oh, wow.

Lizzie: Yes. So when she got back and found everyone dead, she cried all day and all night until she turned into a “yennía."

Zoe: Oh, okay! So again, the crying thing.

Lizzie: Exactly! We see--we see that so many times!

Zoe: The transformative power of women crying.

Lizzie: Exactly. So, when Aisha realized that crying wouldn’t get her anywhere, she decided to get revenge upon the Portuguese who killed her family.

Zoe: Awesome.

Lizzie: Every night, she would appear in front of one of the Portugese generals as a beautiful woman to seduce them, and as they would approach her she would kill them.

Zoe: Ahh.

Lizzie: Mm hmm. This continued as she killed a man every night, until she took revenge on all the people who killed her family. After she killed all the men, they started to call her Aisha Qandisha, but we'll talk about the name a little bit later.

Zoe: Okay.

Lizzie: So, other villages, once they saw what Aisha did, motivated themselves as well to fight against the Portugese, and this fight spread throughout all of Morocco.

Zoe: Awesome.

Lizzie: Once Aisha turned into a yennía, she had multiple names, such as Aisha Al-Bahría which means Aisha of the sea, and Aisha al-Jbel, which means Aisha of the mountains.

Zoe: Uh huh.

Lizzie: People come to see her to this day to bring her gifts, as some people feared her, as they said she would possess men and women, but mostly men, some even saying they would get sick because of her.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Oh, that's interesting.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Cause she's both, like, a positive spirit and a negative spirit?

Lizzie: Yeah, in a way.

Zoe: (overlapping) But it seems like she's mainly a positive spirit for the people actually--the actual Moroccans, and just negative for the Portuguese? But it's--

Lizzie: Well...we'll--it's a bit debatable.

Zoe: Okay.

Lizzie: I would say she's much more negative to the people of Morocco--

Zoe: Okay. Okay.

Lizzie: --at least, like, in the modern day way, because--well, we'll get into--we'll see.

Zoe: Okay. Mm hmm.

Lizzie: So. It's said that if Aisha liked a man, she would appear as a gorgeous woman to seduce him.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: She would seduce especially drivers in the night, and would appear as a hitch-hiker and most people would not realize it was her. And she would kill the drivers during the night or cause an accident.

Zoe: Awesome. I love a good hitchhiking lady.

Lizzie: Right (laughs). Aisha would also possess the men she liked, and would stop them from getting married, et cetera.

Zoe: Okay!

Lizzie: So, another account says that an old man was driving his car on the high way. He saw a woman dressed in white, signaling him to let her into his car.

Zoe: Uh huh.

Lizzie: He stopped and let her in. She was a very beautiful woman, and the man could not resist the temptation of trying to flirt with her--

Zoe: Mmm.

Lizzie: --and he tried to kiss her.

Zoe: Mm mm.

Lizzie: As he leaned in to kiss her and as her lips opened, they cracked. I don't 100% know what this means, but that's what one source said.

Zoe: Ooh!

Lizzie: So, Aisha didn’t want to do anything with the old man because she was married, so the man stopped the car to let her out. As she got out of the car, he noticed that she had camel feet, so he pushed her out of the car.

Zoe: Hmm.

Lizzie: A week later, Aisha came with her daughters and family and burned down the house of the aggressor, and tortured him and his family.

Zoe: Wow.

Lizzie: Yup.

Zoe: That's...interesting (laughs).

Lizzie: Yeah!

Zoe: Um, it's--it's very interesting, cause she seems to be a seductress--

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: --but then also she's, like, I'm married, so I'm not gonna do anything with you. So it's just like, she doesn't actually do anything with the men that she's seducing, she just, like, lures them in, and then kills them, I guess.

Lizzie: Um, I guess for this particular one, cause this is more like a backstory, but I feel like Aisha the demon--she-she does sleep with the men, but.

Zoe: Okay.

Lizzie: Anyway. But, like, as we will see, there are a lot of conflicting accounts when it comes to Aisha--

Zoe: Mm hmm. Okay. Yeah. I gotcha.

Lizzie: Stories about Aisha circulate orally throughout Morocco, and they often present her as a beautiful woman, often dressed in white with her hair down, with either camel feet or goat feet, depending on the region.

Zoe: Okay! Yeah, so she does--she sounds a lot like La Xtabay.

Lizzie: She does! I was thinking about that a lot while I was doing the research.

Zoe: Mm hmm. That's very fun.

Lizzie: Very (laughs). Yeah, so--well, there are many different stories that sometimes contradict each other in the characterization of Aisha. Some believe that she is a woman of unbelievable beauty, while others imagine her as an ugly witch with tangled hair. And sometimes a single person will claim both appearances.

Zoe: Hm!

Lizzie: So, when people hear her name, they often react in fear, repeating the phrase, "Bismi Lláhi arrahmáni arrahím," which means, "In the name of merciful God."

Zoe: Okay.

Lizzie: It is believed that she is a yennía that lives in marshy areas and near rivers and ponds. She is said to be a beautiful woman with perfect proportions. However, with abnormally long fingers, and her feet, like I said, being goat's or camel's feet.

Zoe: Ooh. The fingers thing is creepy.

Lizzie: It is a bit (laughs). So, she appears to men, surprising them with her beauty. She then proceeds to seduce them and cause their death. The man, (laughs) if he doesn’t die immediately while having sex with her, dies later, often by losing his mind.

Zoe: Okay. So, metaphor for STIs, there (both laugh).

Lizzie: I guess so. So, denying Aisha's existence and mocking her, or saying her name frequently is said to be dangerous. But so many people call her by a nickname though, which.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: So, like I said before, it's also believed that Aisha was a real person, a woman who took the lead in fighting the Portuguese after they destroyed her village and killed all the people.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Her village was in the proximities of Al-Jadida, south of Casablanca. She took her revenge for the death of her relatives by seducing the Portugese men to later assassinate them. However, consumed by the success of her revenge, Aisha could not get over the tragedy and went mad.

Zoe: Aww.

Lizzie: She cried so much she was seized by a yennía, and later on even became a yennía herself.

Zoe: Mm.

Lizzie: So, she's called by the Portuguese "Aisha la contesa," which is where the term "Qandisha" comes from, according to interpretations of the time period.

Zoe: Ooh!

Lizzie: Mm hmm. So, Aisha possesses men often by creating a crack on their body, opening their body up to other jinns and demons.

Zoe: She, uh, possessed them herself? Or did she just allow for other spirits to possess them?

Lizzie: I believe that she possesses them herself, this is just one interpretation that I found that said she creates a crack, opening their body up, but for most sources, I think it's just said that she does possess them herself.

Zoe: Mm hmm. That makes sense.

Lizzie: Yeah. So after she possesses a man, he is then likely to become impotent or lose interest in human women--

Zoe: Hm.

Lizzie: --and he may suffer a variety of physical or psychological effects unless and until his possession is brought under control by the intervention of one of the popular Moroccan curing groups.

Zoe: Oh, cool!

Lizzie: There are many such groups, um, but one that is concerned specifically with possession by Aisha is Hamadsha. And then the source that I saw about this said, “The attitude of the Hamadsha toward Qandisha is ambivalent. On the one hand, she is seen as the source of the suffering they and their clients experience and which draws them to the Hamadsha music and trance. Yet many of the terms used to refer to her connote respect or deference, and this does not in every case seem to be a mere attempt to evade her wrath.”

Zoe: Okay! That's interesting.

Lizzie: Yeah. It's quite interesting.

Zoe: Yeah, like, my first thought was, oh, they might just be trying to evade her wrath, but then you were like, no it's not just to evade her wrath, so--so that is interesting.

Lizzie: Yeah, exactly.

Zoe: Yeah!

Lizzie: Like she's, like, somebody who merits respect, I guess?

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: So, her first name, Aisha, is a common name in Morocco after one of the prophet’s wives.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: According to my Moroccan friend who asked their grandma, Aisha can be translated to French as “celle qui vivra, celle qui est pleine de vie”, so basically a lively woman who is full of life.

Zoe: Okay.

Lizzie: So, the myth has roots in the pre-Islamic period, more specifically in the period of time where the Phoenicians were present in Morocco, around 1000 C.E., although, by another source, around the 7th century C.E. And you'll find this interesting. Okay, so Aisha is linked to the Phoenician goddess of love, Astarte--

Zoe: Uh huh.

Lizzie: A version of the Babylonian Ishtar--

Zoe: Uh huh!

Lizzie: --or Inanna, who we talked about in episode 2--

Zoe: Yep (laughs).

Lizzie: Um, who is a symbol of fertility.

Zoe: Okay!

Lizzie: Because of this, Aisha appears or lives where there is water, whether it be by a river or a pond or a well, et cetera.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: She has also been compared to Qetesh, who was a fertility goddess also associated with sacred ecstasy and sexual pleasure, whose name may have been pronounced by Ancient Egyptians as Qātiša, which sounds like Qandisha--

Zoe: Mm hmm!

Lizzie: --so that is another possible origin of her name.

Zoe: Okay!

Lizzie: Aisha is sometimes said to have a husband, or “male associate,” called Hammu Qayyu, but only in certain regions. And there are also some legends that say she is afraid of needles, and that you can be rid of her by sticking a steel knife in the ground.

Zoe: Okay! In the ground. That's good.

Lizzie: Yeah (Zoe laughs). The myth of Aisha is often related to water, which is a clear symbol of fertility.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Before we continue, what are your overall thoughts?

Zoe: Alright. Well, I have a lot of them, so.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: First of all, um, do you know if the name Aisha is still common in Morocco?

Lizzie: Yeah, it is.

Zoe: Okay. Yeah. So that's interesting. Um. That even though it's associated with this, like, female spirit who's, um, quite frightening, like, it's still a common name, so.

Lizzie: I will say that I looked up to see if Qandisha was an actual surname, and I found that it is not.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: But that there is one person in Sweden with the first name Qandisha.

Zoe: Oh! Well, hello them!

Lizzie: Yeah, and I--(both laugh) I told our Moroccan friend, and they were like, I wonder if they know if their--that their name scares Moroccan children.

Zoe: (laughs) That's really funny. My other thoughts. Um, she kind of reminds me of Erzulie Dantor.

Lizzie: Oh!

Zoe: Because--

Lizzie: Because of the Portuguese--

Zoe: Yes! So, because she was sort of a symbol that inspired people to fight against their colonial oppressors--

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: And drive them out, um, and so as Erzulie Dantor, uh, is credited with, um, being an inspiration for the Haitian Revolution, this is--that Aisha was the inspiration--inspired her village and other people in Morocco to drive out the Portuguese. So I thought that was really cool. And then also Erzulie Dantor does have some reputation for being pretty vengeful, and a little scary at times, though not to the extent that-that Aisha does, um. But, like, uh, I thought that was also interesting. I think that, um, the association with the ancient fertility goddesses is very interesting.

Lizzie: It is!

Zoe: And basically assumes a lot of this myth does sort of demonize sex and sexuality a lot.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Because it is, like, this woman--this evil seductress woman will seduce you, and either, like, you'll die in the pro--in the act, or you'll die after, or you'll grow impotent, and lose interest in women, which is, like, another thing.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Um, and sort of seems to, like, you know, demonize the act of having sex. And then her association with, like, goddesses of sexuality, like Ishtar and Astarte, is interesting because those goddesses were quite venerated. And respected, and-and sexuality was a large part of their worship. And so I--part of me wonders if, like, there is some other, later influences coming in and twisting the worship of those goddesses and the memories of those goddesses into, like, a more malevolent force.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Um, similar to the story--the possibility of the origins of La Xtabay, um, and the Spanish colonizers.

Lizzie: Interesting. Yeah, I have no idea. I just came across something that said basically that Aisha can be a benevolent figure, so I talked to our Moroccan friend--

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: And they were like, that is--I've never heard that before, like I wonder if it's much older.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Like, I wonder if it comes from, like, a different region, that maybe, back in the day, in certain places--

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Aisha actually was considered a more benevolent figure in some ways.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: And so, you never know.

Zoe: Yeah, and it's very interesting cause, like, she could--like I said at the beginning, I thought she would seem like a more benevolent figure, because she had this very important role of driving out, like, the Portuguese colonizers. But then it seems that she turns on the people that she helped, and now she's, like, hurting them as well, or is harmful to them as well. Um, whereas, like, Erzulie Dantor fought in the Haitian Revolution, and she is vengeful, but she's only vengeful towards, like, specific people. She--and, like, she has a purpose. It's not just, like, she hurts people.

Lizzie: She's not just after, like, hurting people--

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: --and that sort of thing.

Zoe: Mm hmm. And so I just think that's, like, an interesting development in her story, in that, like, she's not really there for anyone, it seems. Despite, like, the origins that make her seem like she's there.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: And then that makes me wonder about, like, what message we're supposed to take about, like, the expulsion of Portuguese colonizers from Morocco.

Lizzie: Interesting!

Zoe: Although that could be--

Lizzie: Yeah, I hadn't thought about that.

Zoe: This is not a period of time I know a--this is not an area I know a lot about. But it's, like, a thought.

Lizzie: Yeah, I get that.

Zoe: But yeah, those are, like, my main thoughts.

Lizzie: Okay, so! I don't know if this will surprise you or not, but there have been attempts to reclaim Aisha by some feminist movements as a symbol of subversive feminine power.

Zoe: That makes a lot of sense (laughs).

Lizzie: Yeah, it really does. So, there were several sources that I found that analyzed Aisha through this lens, comparing her with other goddesses and legendary figures that were--that were also demonized by men, such as sirens, succubi, Cleopatra, Isis from Egyptian mythology, and Dido, the legendary Phoenician queen of Carthage, as well as Joan of Arc.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: As these are all examples of women demonized for their power or sexuality.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: She has also been compared to La Llorona, presumably because their backstories. They both deal with loss and grieving.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: There's also a French language magazine called Qandisha, which is a feminist magazine for women in Morocco, which was started in 2011 and as far as I could tell, couldn't--hasn’t been updated since 2016.

Zoe: Mmm. It sounds cool, though.

Lizzie: Yeah, it does!

Zoe: Also, a thought about the La Llorona thing is that there's also the association with water, which I think--

Lizzie: Oh, yeah, true! And I think--doesn't--I might as well be wrong, but doesn't the--La Llorona have, like, long hair?

Zoe: I think so!

Lizzie: Possibly?

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: So that makes sense.

Zoe: Probably talk about in a future episode, where we cover her, because we definitely should.

Lizzie: We definitely will.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: So, there's an Iranian-Kurdish artist called Morehshin Allahyari who has a piece called “She Who Sees The Unknown: Aisha Qandisha” created in 2018.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Allahyari says about the piece on her website: “In this video, I use Aisha’s power and possession to revisit a personal love story addressing experiences such as toxic masculinity and emotional abuse which is often a collective experience for many women and femmes; especially focusing on the experiences of women of color in which their anger is often interpreted as “too much” or “negative” and their tears are often invisible in the dominance of white women’s tears and fragility. I think about this video and text as a process for opening, revenge, closure, and healing. I created it as a way of embracing both anger and mourning, using them as a source of agency rather than shame.”

Zoe: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And that sounds really cool. Like, a really cool piece to, like, check out.

Lizzie: Yeah! You-you should. It is quite cool. So, there have been attempts to reclaim Aisha from original sources that may have been much more, like, woman-hating--

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: --and fearing of women who are sexual and who assert power over others, and this reclaiming of her can serve as a source of healing for women of color in particular.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Yeah. I mean, I def--there's definitely misogyny in her story.

Lizzie: (overlapping) Yeah, for sure.

Zoe: So, I think the act to reclaim her is very cool and very powerful. And we love to see it!

Lizzie: Exactly. So, a source I read also mentioned that men who suffer possession by Aisha are often those who are unable to carry out expected roles such as suitor, husband, or family provider--

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: --or who have just experienced a failed love affair, estrangement from a spouse, or death of a family member.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: It also mentions Aisha’s relationships with fellow women. It says, “Aisha Qandisha, whose emotional demands and jealous interference with relations with human women externalize the apparent psychological conflict.” I find this interesting because you hear a lot about female demons who go after men, but don’t hear a lot about their relationship with women.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: It seems to me that Aisha doesn’t have a good relationship with human women either, but that she goes after mostly men in revenge, whereas she has no reason to go after women.

Zoe: Mmm.

Lizzie: Like, rather than favoring women, it just seems to be some sort of curse to go after men for eternity because of her terrible past.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: If that makes sense?

Zoe: Mm hmm, yeah.

Lizzie: Like, we talk about women such as Aisha and La Xtabay, from Episode 5--

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: --as though they’re evil, but I feel like another interpretation is that they’re bound to this life through their terrible pasts involving trauma and grief, so the more modern feminist interpretations of female demons such as Aisha makes sense to me.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Absolutely.

Lizzie: This reclaiming of such figures as Aisha can be quite healing.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Yeah, I mean, I think it's--what the artist said about how women, and especially women of color's rage is, like, seen as too much. And it's, like, you know Aisha had every reason to be angry, and to lash out and to attack these people who destroyed her entire family, like, everything she's--she did makes perfect sense.

Lizzie: Exactly. Yeah, like her backstories actually are quite sympathetic, I feel like.

Zoe: Yeah. Absolutely. And then, like, the later stories, I feel, are a lot less sympathetic to her, and so I think that change is interesting. Whether there was, like, an original story, and that was, like, people took it, like adopted it and, like, told new stories and, like, came up with ideas that were more, like, (laughs) sort of more misogynistic and reflected, like, patriarchal cultural values, or, like--I don't know, I just think that the-the change from, like, a story--a backstory, which, like, really makes sense and is quite, like, powerful, and, like, shows, like, a really important woman who really, like, is working to, like, free herself and her people from these oppressors, and then just turns her into this, like, demon who hurts and kills people.

Lizzie: Yeah. Another thing I came across in my notes was that often there are stories, like, real stories about Aisha appearing to Moroccan people, but they're often, like, a third party--

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Like, my cousin saw Aisha, that sort of thing.

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah, I was wondering, like--for a few of the women that I've researched, I've kind of tried to, like, look on Reddit and be, like, are there any, like, encounters that I can find where people are like, oh, I saw her and I barely escaped with my life! Or whatever. And, like, the story of Aisha sounds like something where there'd be stories like that. Cause she's so--

Lizzie: Yeah, there definitely are.

Zoe: Cause she's sort of like a folklore character, and she's also kind of like an urban legend, it seems.

Lizzie: Mm hmm. Yeah, she's definitely--like, she's super, super well-known in Morocco. Like, she's just, like, universally feared, like, she's a story you tell to children to scare them, you know?

Zoe: Mm hmm. Yeah. And, like, it's still very present today, right?

Lizzie: Yes.

Zoe: Mm hmm. So, like, I assume you probably wouldn't wanna go around saying her name in Morocco.

Lizzie: No, I think not.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Which, in that sense, she kind of reminded me just a little bit of Oiwa--

Zoe: Mm, yeah!

Lizzie: Just because of that whole, like, she wants to be respected, you don't have to, like--you don't wanna say her name too many times, that sort of thing.

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah! I mean, I was sort of thinking that, I was like, Lizzie, you're always bringing--telling us about these women who are, like, (Lizzie laughs) kind of don't like being talked about too much! And now here we are, talking about them! Like--

Lizzie: Whoops.

Zoe: Whoops. Yeah.

Lizzie: Well, she's cool, so.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Yeah, she is cool! I also think it's very cool that she has, like, she might have camel feet.

Lizzie: Yes.

Zoe: I think that's, like, a very cool distinctive feature.

Lizzie: We talked about her just a little bit--we, like, mentioned her in passing when we were talking about, um, the Baobhan Sith--

Zoe: Yeah!

Lizzie: In the Vampiric Women episode, because the Baobhan Sith had, like, goat feet--

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Or hooves, or something.

Zoe: It just said they had hooves, I assumed it was goat feet cause that's generally how it goes when you're talking about evil spirits. Because, like, there's the demonic implications of-of goats in general, but yeah.

Lizzie: Is there?

Zoe: Yeah! Yeah, cause, like, the devil's associated with goats.

Lizzie: Ohh! Interesting! I didn't actually know that.

Zoe: Yeah, um, it's, like, sheep are holy, and goats are evil.

Lizzie: Huh.

Zoe: I mean, like, not really, but there's a whole biblical story about, like, separating the sheeps from the goats, and it's, like a metaphor.

Lizzie: That's crazy.

Zoe: Like, the sheep represent, like, the holy people, and the goats represent the evil people, and they all get sent to hell. But yeah.

Lizzie: They're just animals.

Zoe: They are! They just have weird pupils because they can see all around them (Lizzie laughs). But yeah, anyway (laughs).

Lizzie: But yeah, Aisha can also have goat feet!

Zoe: I think it's interesting that she's associated with water. I feel like there's just a lot going on with her in general. Um, like I said, she has goat feet or camel feet, so, like, there's that implication of, like, demonic association, maybe. And then there's the fact that she's, um, like a spirit from Islamic folklore, um, and then there's the fact that she's associated with water, which, like--it just feels like there's, like, a lot of different, like, tropes that are being applied to her--

Lizzie: Lots of different symbolism.

Zoe: Yeah. And I think that's very interesting, and it seems like maybe she's, like, a combination of a bunch of different, like, cultures and ideas, like, coming together to create this character. But I don't know.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: And, sort of the idea, like you said earlier, of the water symbolizing fertility is pretty interesting, and that makes sense for her and her story, but then--like, it feels like the rest of her character doesn't, like, doesn't gel with that, like, um, her being like, um, you know, camels--not associated with water. It's just, like--

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: There's just so much going on. It's just a interesting feature. It's just, like, you know, it's not, like, oh, she's a w--she's associated with water, so she's, like, scaly and slimy, you know, like a lot of, sort of, like water, like, creatures are, and, like, um--

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: --female water spirits that are kinda seductive are like that. But, um, it's--she looks very different from that. So like if you showed me--if you, like, described her to me, I--my first thought wouldn't be, like, oh, she's associated with water.

Lizzie: True. Also, it's cause she--cause she's associated with fertility, but also it's like, she leaves men impotent--

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: It's really interesting.

Zoe: Yeah! And--

Lizzie: So she's a woman of many contradictions.

Zoe: Yeah! Absolutely. And I think--

Lizzie: She's so complex.

Zoe: (laughs) Yeah. And I think that, like, in a way, she's sort of been made into, like, this kind of boogeyman, for, like, male fears about female sexuality.

Lizzie: Mm hmm, that makes sense.

Zoe: Um, and so, like, they're basically, like, here are all the things we're afraid of. Or, like, all these, like, different spirits from various cultures and we'll, like, create our own, basically.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: But again I do think it's, like, very interesting that she is so, like, associated with, like, the freedom struggle? But she's not good.

Lizzie: Yeah. I find it's much more, like, the urban legend portion about her--

Zoe: Okay. Yeah.

Lizzie: Like, her--said to be her origins.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Yeah that makes a lot more--that makes a lot of sense. It's sort of, like, oh, you know, she was said to be this woman, and then, like, during this part of history and stuff like that, as opposed to meant to be something more in-depth.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: I think it's interesting that she possesses men.

Lizzie: Yeah (laughs).

Zoe: Cause we don't really see a lot of, like, cross-gender possession in mythology, or at least I haven't see a lot?

Lizzie: Interesting.

Zoe: Like, you know, it's generally, you know, female spirits, like, are attacking the women, or maybe, like, male spirits will attack women as well, because, like, there--if you're thinking about sort of, like, fears about attacking, like, young--innocent young women and stuff like that. But there's not a lot of stories about, like--or at least, not that I'm aware of. I could be unaware of some. Of women, like, getting inside and, like, possessing men and-and I think that, like, that taking away of men's autonomy is also, like, again, a big representation of fear of women's sexuality and, like, impotence, and stuff like that.

Lizzie: That's interesting.

Zoe: And how, like, the fear of, like, if women have enough power, they'll just lose control over themselves.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: Or something like that. That's my interpretation.

Lizzie: I mean, she definitely represents fears about sexuality and power and women.

Zoe: Mm hmm. For sure.

Lizzie: But also in the Erzulie episode, we talked about possession as well--

Zoe: Right!

Lizzie: And I believe that Erzulie Freda and Erzulie Dantor can possess anyone.

Zoe: Right, mm hmm.

Lizzie: But yeah.

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah, so she seems like a really cool woman. I'm really--I think it's really amazing, her story and her history, and also that she's being reclaimed now.

Lizzie: Yes.

Zoe: And so, thank you for listening! Um, please feel free to subscribe, leave a review, tell all your friends, and we'll see you next week with another episode! Good-bye.

Outro, underscored by music:

Zoe: Mytholadies Podcast is produced by Elizabeth LaCroix and Zoe Koeninger. Today’s episode was researched and presented by Elizabeth LaCroix, with help from Margot and Zaïn. You can find us on Instagram and Twitter (and now Tumblr) @mytholadies, and visit us on our website at Mytholadies.com. Our cover art is by Helena Cailleaux. Our music was written and performed by Icarus Tyree. Thanks for listening! See you next week.