In Europe, when you wanted to frighten children you just needed to mention the bogeyman or the devil , pictured or imagined with his tail, trident and with fire coming out from his eyes. In our North African regions it wasn’t just imagination since all the children and most part of adults felt, saw or heard beings from the great beyond that might alternate an ethereal constitution with a more carnal one, depending on the circumstances. The character which frightened us most was Aicha Kandicha, a being coming beyond death and it was strange to find any children who hadn’t noticed this old woman with long and greasy hair, wrinkled features, noticeable hump, cruel and flashing look and open, teeth less mouth. Or she could appear walking on the waters with the look of a gentle fairy, wearing a shining kaftan and as she was approaching the shore she changed into the appearance described above.
She frightened us so much that only mentioning her made us go to sleep, eat o behave. She is the most fascinating character of our region that we remember with a mixture of fear, affection and nostalgia at the same time.
Aicha Kandicha frightens mostly boys and very few girls. Why is this? It is one of the
oldest myths from the Magreb, where the power of women over men is evident in all the evil tales from the Berber mythology.
This traditional jewish-berber mythological character is the transformation and metamorphosis of another mythological character from the South of Morocco, Lilit, the antecessor of Aicha Kandicha.
It is believed that Eva wasn’t Adam’s only wife. Before Eva, Adam married Lilit and she was the first feminist of the history of mankind. She was permanently angry with Adam about his arrogance and the constant humiliating treatment towards her ( forcing her to obey him , having sex with her under him, taking advantage of his physical superiority all the time) and she left Adam. God immediately punished her, transforming her into a devil and condemned her to give birth every day and to cause the death of her own children; if she hadn’t given birth males that day, she had to steal them from another woman although sometimes she confused children’s sexes. We always feared this woman taking us out of our bedrooms and killing us.
We also feared “ los de embacho” which were evil beings from the great beyond which disturbed the tenants in a house. You could feel and hear them running, whispering, talking , walking under your feet .They were like damned elf’s with some sort of relationship with your present or your past and who were a nuisance or disturbance to your ordinary life but they meant no real harm for you. I remember them like the noise of a hundred of rats running under the floor tiles of our houses.