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Rise in 'occult' practice is really scary

Vol XXVII NO. 295 Sunday 9 January 2005


It's already afternoon. There isn't anything useful to do. Been to all the coffee shops, seen all the friends you can stand being around and had it with shopping and trying on clothes which don't fit.

Life is boring. Every day is a repeat of the one before it and there is no hope things will ever change.

Whether it was that knight in shinning armour you have been waiting for all your life, a promotion at work or a child to brighten up your life, divine intervention seems to have left you on the shelf, ignoring your pleads and prayers for this one more thing which will make your life complete.

But here comes Umm Mohammed, the tested and tried "fortune-teller" who can bring a smile to your face in exchange and make all your dreams come true - even those far-fetched impossible ones - for a little money.

In addition to telling you your fortune, this sophisticated woman will give you advice on how to entice and keep a man, keep your mother-in-law at bay and make sure no-one takes that promotion you have had your eyes on.

She can also make sure that your children pass at school and that your neighbour's daughter doesn't get married before yours.

Umm Mohammed (a fictional name because I wouldn't dare make the real woman cross) is famous throughout Bahrain and beyond, with loyal and regular customers travelling from around the region to listen to her words of wisdom.

She knows what's troubling you from one look at a magical assortment of rocks, sea shells, coloured stones and metals, which she shakes in a woven basket.

The assembly of those stones, their proximity to other stones and how close they are to you when she tosses the basket's contents on the floor, have the answers to the problems which keep you up all night counting sheep.

For a BD10 consultation fee, Umm Mohammed can tell you why you suffer from insomnia and when you are going to travel on your next holiday.

Answers for more important questions related to your love life, promotion at work and magic potions to ensure that you or your spouse is pregnant before the next full moon are also available, for a price that may be in the thousands of dinars.

Traditional remedies I have heard of include carrying and burying talismans, burning incense until everyone in your household, including the cat, is suffocated and drowning your bedroom with rose water!

While the story of the man who accused his wife of sending demons to his house to terrify him, his mother and his maid may have spurred a few laughs amongst readers, the belief in sorcery is so common in Bahrain, it is frightening.

Men and women who claim to be possessed and have solutions for people's miseries are found in all of Bahrain's towns and villages and practice their "powers" in broad daylight, with the full knowledge of some very influential authorities, I should add.

With mounting pressures in life, I can sometimes understand why some people could be tempted to visit the "occult" for a consultation.

I don't know whether it is a total lack of hope that drives people to such practices, or whether there really is some truth in what those people claim to be able to achieve and I really don't want to know.

Thank God I have a full-time job and so much more on my plate, I haven't had time to take this route.

The only time I went with friends out of curiosity to check it out created some disharmony in my otherwise perfect life.

The fortune-teller we had visited was adamant that my better half was at a "gathering of friends" while I was insisting that he was at work, probably surrounded by his colleagues.

She was right. I was wrong.

The end result is that I will never allow anyone to tell me my fortune again. Yet.

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