Friday, June 22, 2012

Vendredi: Chthonian Histories

The vast, Saharan desert has always held its mysteries, some of them straight out of any chthonian nightmare.  One of these survives to this day in the form of Aisha Kandicha or Quandisha, the camel-legged succubus.  Aisha, like so many other demonic ladies of the religious "Big Three", was once a revered mother goddess who has become a symbol of that most feared item on the Judeo-Christian-Islamic taboo list: female sexuality.

According to legend and some modern day accounts, Aisha is a djinniya or female spirit, who romes the desolate mountains of northern Morocco.  She is said to have beautiful hair and a stunning face that can make a man forget what he is up to and follow her into the shadows.  There, sadly, she will reveal herself in her true form: below the neck she sports long, heavy breasts, the wings of a bat, the talons of a hawk and the legs of a camel or goat.  The wayfarer is done for at this point; Aisha will tear him to bits and he will never be heard from again.

Most curious of all the legends of this frightening harpy is that she is a creature of water.  Despite her desert haunt, her name - Aisha - can be translated as "loving to be watered."

Patricia Monaghan in The Book of Goddesses & Heroines tells us that, despite how it may look on its face, there is in fact no paradox here.  Aisha is most probably yet another demonized form of the great Phoenician goddess Astarte whose name meant exactly the same thing to her people.  The true meaning of the name has been lost however, for the water Astarte loved was the life-giving seed of her consort, Haman.  Monaghan speculates that Astarte's worship may have traveled to Morocco with colonists from Carthage, which itself was a Phoenician settlement.  Aisha's second name - Quandisha - may be a corruption of Qadesha, the holy temple prostitutes who served Astarte.

Once again, a figure who embodied sexuality as joy has been transformed into a monster, representing sexuality as misery and death.  Aisha even has a consort of her own, an evil jinn whose name is strangely familiar: Hammu Kaiyu or Qaiyu.

Modern reports of Aisha sightings continue to this day.  Disappearances in the Moroccan mountains continue to be blamed on her as well.  But don't take my word for it.  Click over to the Destination Truth blog and find out what Josh Gates and his team found - or didn't find - in their search for yet another goddess turned demon.

Header: Aisha Kandicha via Unexplained Mysteries 


Timmy! said...

Ahhhhhh! Female sexuality, Pauline!

I am SHOCKED that Josh and the gang at Destination Truth didn't find the camel-legged succubus...

That does seem like a fairly insulting term, though.

Just saying...

Pauline said...

I agree on all accounts. It's a pretty cool story, though...