Book Review: Gaza Writes Back

     Need to feel inspired about writing?  Order a copy of Gaza Writes Back, a collection of short stories written by young writers in Gaza.  The collection features fiction written by young people who have lived through the current blockade…

The Enchanting Peri of Persia

The Peri are a class of mythological beings in Persian lore akin to the Western concept offaerie.  Like fairies, the original version of a Pairika was far more malevolent than later incarnations. In earlier incarnations, the Peris…

Kohl Rimmed Eyes...

A popular cosmetic, eye medicine and protective ward against the evil eye, kohl (كحل  in Arabic) has been in use since 3100 BC.  It was used by by Egyptians of noble rank to cover the upper eyelid, while green malachite was used for…

Ancient Beats

Stringed instruments have been used to entertain for thousands of years.  The oud, an ancient pear-shaped stringed instrument, is still a popular instrument used in Middle Eastern music.  It's thought to be the descendent of the lute.  Both…

Desert Animals Part 1: What Does the Fox Say?

Below is a picture of a Fennec fox, the smallest of the fox family and a common predator found in the Northern Sahara.  This animal was captured by local children and is being shown off to tourists for tips.  The children lure the animals…

The Jinn Part I: Aisa Qandisa

The Jinn of Middle East and North Africa legend bear little relationship to the Western caricature of a bare-chested figure arising from an oil lamp to grant wishes.  Created before the race of man from smokeless fire, the Jinn, like humans,…

Supernatural in the Souk

Deep in the heart of the souk of Marrakech, small shops sell darker goods than colorful sandals and clanging tea sets.  The stall pictured above has items for sale to aid in the casting of magic spells, both light and dark.  In the middle…

Magic in Marrakech

Koutubia mosque View of the Koutubia mosque from the roof-top restaurant of our hotel. The hand of Miriam This is a beautiful example of a Jewish Hamsa, in an ancient synagogue in the traditional mellah, or Jewish quarter, of Marrakech.…

Off to Marrakech...

No, seriously, I'm doing research! So today marks the first day of my vacation, I mean my fact-finding trip to Morocco. I'm hoping to learn more about traditional beliefs about the Jinn and incorporate them into my novel. I didn't need…

The Hand of Fatima

Now that you're tossing and turning at night, worrying about the Evil Eye, you're probably eager to hear about ways to protect yourself from it. In Italy, you might ward off Il Malocchio with the mano cornuto or sign of the horns : The…

Il Malocchio

The Evil Eye The occult has always fascinated me.  My real world persona is so grounded, so rational, so entirely focused on a linear view of reality that perhaps it's only natural my down-time fantasies should revolve around all that is…

The Mountains of Qaf: A Travel Guide

Described variously as a single Mount Qaf that serves as the progenitor of all mountains, or as a ring of soaring mountains that encircle the world, the mountains of Qaf, or Jabal al Qaf in Arabic, are often described as the home of the Jinn. The…