Esoteric Tourism in Morocco
I am sure that there are problems, but my impression is that Morocco is a very safe place to travel. One good side of having such a robust tourist industry is that everyone is pretty interested in keeping things mellow, but there are still many areas that are less "routinized". At another point in my trip, I had the opportunity to visit a public hammam in a provincial town with no real tourist industry. My guide that day was a woman, so she just pointed me to the entrance, where I fumbled around taking off my clothes and putting them in a cubby before entering another room and bumbling around until somebody started lathering me up with the delicious mudstuff they use on your skin. At one point I was sitting there and realized that my wallet with all my cash and my passport was sitting there in an open cubby when all sorts of dudes saw me come in. But then I thought, "hey this is a provincial town, and all these dudes are Muslims." I could have been wrong of course, thieves are everywhere, but I chilled out and everything was fine.
Indeed. That is a very cool book. One problem with today's idolization of "shamanism" inside psychedelic healing is that it ignores all the many non-psychedelic forms of indigenous healing that are equally wild and colorful, and clearly effective (or it wouldnt keep happening all over the world). Some of the Bruno Latour material I use in High Weirdness came about because of his exposure to indigenous (probably African) healing practices now found all over Europe.
Yes, the dude abides. I find the beauty of nature, even the dusk light through a cracked urban window, does wonders for the curse. Really committing to the possibility of finding beauty in the brief sometimes hair raising passages that make up our lives.
Hey thats cool, I didn't know any of that. I definitely want to return, partly to see Fes!
I think its pretty well accepted that jinn have pre-Islamic origins, although then of course we are talking different origins, from the Mahgreb to Indonesia! There is a lot of magic in the Berber world view, and the intense trance music of gnawa (which has more West African origins prolly) attests to that. Islam CAN be less authoritarian (though still strict in observerance), just as Christianity CAN be anarchic. All these huge religions are multiple and mixed -- the hardest dogma to swallow for me was the one about the unity of Islam, when its so clearly splintered!
Yeah lately I have been trying to really identify and even lean into the fears that are stitched through the day, not the big obvious ones (which are big and obvious) but the subtle ones. Developing the habit of leaning in, befriending, hanging out, not magnifying...
This is a really gorgeous piece of writing.
Erik, just... amazing.
Zid Zid Zid Mister... 🌪️
Thanks for sharing this beautiful travel story. I really should get to Morocco one day.
Thanks man, may you be stuffing your rucksack soon for new adventures!
Thank you for stuffing us in your rucksack for this amazing journey, Erik. I have missed travelling for some years now, and your text beautifully elucidates the joy in being present to the liminal edges of religion and psychology, Abrahamic and magical beliefs, and the beautiful juxtaposition and doubt of both.
Thanks for the report out Erik, the whole mandala. What a coincidence, my partner was in Morocco in June as well, for the Critical Edge Alliance conference which is a consortium of alternative and progressive colleges around the world. There he learned that in Morocco is found the oldest continuing running university, as well as the world's first mental hospital, and the largest car-free urban area in the world, Fes el-Bali. XOM
Thank you for that wonderful journey, Erik. I've been getting little tugs from my own Spirit Posse to visit Morocco. Perhaps I should do so. Besides the middle age drift and Covid to be concerned with, I also have to consider my safety and well being as a solitary woman. But you plucked that magic string, so I'll have to see what happens.
Personally I'd be more interested in whether the jinn stuff is partly indigenous, meaning it predates Islam. Might be some ancient wisdom there, even if it's a lot of superstitious nonsense. Because speaking of the Abrahamic religions, they're all bullshit. Most of it never happened, period. Starting with . . . the beginning. Metaphors? Arguably, but why kill over that?
As far as Islam being less authoritarian than Christianity, well . . . not really. Not now anyway, not in most countries. Shia and Sunni, over some weird split that dates back a millennia and a half ago. How many Christian denominations are there? And even with that schism, there's one Koran, and very little they disagree about. Disagree with them though and see what unfolds. Everyone excuses that due to the fanatics, but where do they come from? Orthodoxy can come from central HQ or it can come from without, but it's the results that matter. The moderates don't really have much sway regardless, Morrocco is very much an outlier anyway. They don't have a pride parade either.
Good to hear from you, Erik. And you bring serendipitous tidings of the djinn!
As I embrace the weirding way a little more each day (not strictly by choice), I'm become more comfortable with the feeling of being a stranded "alien anthropologist." This feeling was not welcome for a long time. Felt more like a mysterious curse. Half a lifetime later, it never feels like a blessing, but at least now I feel like I've come to terms with my predicament. There's strange joy and suffocating terror, and the desire to pick up the sword is always present, but you know, the dude abides the best he can.
Your words are always welcome. And comforting.