Earlier this summer a friend asked me, "So, what are American's afraid of?" over a glass of wine and dinner. I paused, out of everything in this modern day world, what is everyone most afraid of? My initial answer was another Great Depression or economic collapse. People are definitely afraid of that, I'm afraid of that! What would happen? What would life look like if all the sudden employment dropped by 80%? Then my second answer, perhaps ghosts? Probably, right? Ghosts interest people, scare people, haunt people, and pass messages to people. They are family members bringing love and empathy. Or your complete nightmare here to ring in Hell until you're tortured to death.
We chatted for a bit as she pondered my answers. My friend, who was raised in the Middle East, was intrigued, maybe bored. I asked the same of her "what are Turks afraid of?" She unleashed. A Turk's biggest fear is a Genie. Like mythical creature/being. Not the answer I was expecting haha. I asked her to please explain.
Turns out there are three main types of Genies. The first, an oversized giant with animal fur. The second, a short midget-like being with big black eyes. But the third, the third is the most dangerous. Shape shifters made from a filmy smoke, living amongst humans disguised as some of our closest pets, friends, and family members. According to the Quran, these genies promised God they would not touch humans. Yet they are still known to cause nightmares and seizures in people. So naturally, there are prayers and rituals to help keep them at bay.
To add to genies frightening the masses, the Anatolian Witches are known to harness the 3rd type of genie's power. This helps in fortune telling and black spells because genies have a direct link to the spiritual world. Yet this power can be very dangerous, as it tends to be negative power with bad repercussions. Modern day Turkey has fortune tellers, card readers, astrologists, and more sprinkled amongst the cities like coffee shops. You can visit one for as little as $5. It's even possible to study under the Hecate Temple, or Mother of Anatolian Witches. Witchcraft and genies are modern day Turkish Culture. The last thing you'd want is to consult a bad witch disguised as a friend. Definitely a genie.
To say the least, my mind was taken for a trip. Another glass of wine please. Americans have lost a good amount of mythology. Which I think is actually starting to make a slight comeback with our generation. There seems to be some culture take-back stemming from Indigenous groups around the country, and it's amazing. The mythology belongs to the Natives of this land. I'm most familiar with the Tlingit beliefs because I grew up in their land. The closest comparison to a genie is the Kooshdakhaa, a shape shifter. Any run-ins with it, and you'll rarely live to tell it. But I am unaware of any human trying to harness such power. Maybe there once was?
Out of all the things to be scared of, what would you say today's Americans are most afraid of?
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Photography - Sydney Akagi Photographer
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