Black Magic Fetish Market Has One Stop Shopping For Voodoo Supplies

black magic

Sorcerers and healers who practice black magic use a variety of raw materials to make their traditional medicines. Dessicated chameleons, snake skins and dried birds are popular ingredients as are crocodile and monkey skulls. In Lome, the capital of the west African nation of Togo, the Lome Fetish Market has one-stop shopping for just about everything a witch doctor might need.

“This place is like a pharmacy for everybody in the world. When someone has a serious sickness and the hospital cannot help, they come here to the fetish market,” said Joseph, a local healer in a BBC News report.

Also a popular tourist attraction, visitors are welcome to look. Taking photos or a guided tour is OK too, for a small fee.

Check this photo gallery brought to us by “Jess”, featuring her tour of the Lome Fetish Market and showing some of the images captured along the way via reddit, where an interesting discussion about such matters is going on.

%Gallery-177226%Those who practice black magic believe that using the ingredients we see here will cure a variety of ailments or be used to cast curses and spells (or get rid of them).

Want to know more about black magic and the Lome Fetish Market, check this short video:




[Photo Credit- Jess via Reddit]

Photo Of The Day: Turkish Tulips

Photo Of The Day - Turkish tulips

April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes. We’re getting plenty of rain this month in Turkey, but we’ve had flowers. April is the big month for tulips in Istanbul, and you can see them planted all over town as 11.5 million were planted for this year’s season. I took today’s photo at Emirgan Park, one of the prime viewing spots of the Istanbul Tulip Festival. There are over 100 varieties planted in Emirgan Park alone, many in interesting patterns like the nazar evil eye, a major symbol of Turkish superstition.

You probably associate tulips with Holland, but it was Ottoman Turks who first cultivated them and introduced them to the Dutch in the 17th century. Today, Turkey is trying to reclaim the flower, growing millions of tulips with a goal of becoming an exporter again by 2014. Along with fresh flowers, you can see the influence of the tulip in the shape of the Turkish tea glasses, and as legend has it, the shape of the sultan’s turbans.

Have a springtime photo to share with us? Add it to the Gadling Flickr pool for our next Photo of the Day.

The 13 most unlucky cities in America

most unlucky citiesSuperstition holds that when the thirteenth day of the month falls on a Friday, it’s bad luck. It happens at least once a year, at the most three times. Hotels, hospitals and cruise ships commonly don’t have a 13th floor because of it. Some people don’t travel on Friday the 13th and many who do are extra careful.

Men’s Health magazine rated cities in the United States for luck by adding up a number of factors including the most lottery and sweepstakes winners, deadly lightning strikes, most hole-in-ones and others.

This gallery, based on the Men’s Health’s study gives us the 13 most unlucky cities in America.

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A couple other Friday the 13th facts

  • Any month’s thirteenth day will fall on a Friday if the month begins on a Sunday.
  • Those with a irrational fear of the day are said to have friggatriskaidekaphobia.
  • The dollar bill features 13 steps on the pyramid, 13 stars above the eagle’s head and in its right talon holds an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 olives.

Flickr photo by MissTurner


Learn About Friday the 13th

Knocked up abroad: Turkish superstitions on pregnancy and children

Turkish superstitionsBeing pregnant in a foreign country, even as a traveler, gives you a unique perspective into a culture, their beliefs and practices, and values. While I’ve been in Istanbul, I’ve found Turkish superstitions to apply to all aspects of life, pregnancy and children no exception. Over the past six months, I’ve heard a lot of interesting customs and beliefs, some of them wackier than others. Turks love babies and tend to be deferential towards pregnant women – I always get a seat on the train and am often offered help whether I need (or want) it or not.

As a foreigner with a non-Turkish husband, I’ll be exempt from many of these traditions, but enjoy learning about each of them.
The nazar – don’t leave home without it
If you’ve been to Turkey, you’ve undoubtedly seen the nazar boncuk, or evil eye, everywhere. The blue glass stone is put on doorways, cars, jewelry, and anywhere else it can be attached to. There is no religious significance and not many people still believe the old superstitions, but the tradition remains. Few Turkish parents would let their child out without a nazar pinned to their clothing for protection from evil spirits.

Beware of cold
Nearly every illness in Turkey will be attributed to cold drafts, and this means many Turks will not use air conditioning in summer, and bundle babies even on the hottest days. Cold floors are repeatedly the culprit, and women should avoid walking barefoot to avoid infertility, miscarriage, and just unpleasant gas. Mothers-to-be should wear slippers to avoid lectures from Turks. After birth, the mother should continue to stay warm while breastfeeding, as cold milk will result in a stomachache.

On food
My favorite Turkish custom has yet to happen for me, but it’s said that if a pregnant woman smells food, she must taste it. In theory, waiters might chase pregnant women down the street with a food sample to avoid bad luck. If you crave sweet things, you’ll have a boy; sour food means a girl. A lot of red meat will result in a boy, mainly vegetables, a girl. If a pregnant woman eats eggs, the baby will be naughty. Any particular food cravings may result in a birthmark on the baby in the shape of the food. I’ll keep you posted if I have a badly-behaved set of boy-and-girl twins with pickle-shaped birthmarks.

Be careful what you look at
According to Turkish custom, pregnant women should look at nothing but pretty things while expecting, for fear that the baby could take on unpleasant characteristics of an ugly, disabled, or dead person. Trips to the zoo are limited too, it’s bad luck to look at bears, monkeys, or camels. It is said that if you look at a person often, the baby will resemble them, so keep watching Mad Men if you want a handsome boy. For extra measure, once the baby is born, never call him cute or pretty, best to call it ugly so that the spirits won’t make it so.

Cutting the cord
When the baby is being delivered, fathers will choose a secret name and tell the doctor, who will whisper it into the baby’s ear as she is born. After birth, the umbilical cord has to be properly disposed of, and where it is buried will influence the child’s life. Bury it outside a mosque for a devout child, at a medical school for a future doctor (I’m guessing Harvard must have a lot of umbilical cords in the grounds). Circumcision practices are a whole other story, but they happen much later in life for boys and involve little sultan’s costumes.

Visiting the baby
Traditionally, new mothers didn’t leave the house for the first 40 days of the baby’s life, but this is rarely the case today in Turkish cities. Baby showers take place after the birth in the home of the new baby. New parents should provide small gifts for guests who visit the baby, such as chocolates or a sachet of herbs. In return, guests bring pieces of gold for the baby (also common at Turkish weddings) and drink a special drink, Lohusa Şerbeti, to welcome the newborn.

Sweat the small stuff
Most of us have heard that pregnant women should be careful coloring their hair (it’s really fine, just avoid getting color on your skin), but many Turks also believe that cutting the mother’s hair will cut the baby’s life short. Speaking of short, don’t measure the baby, lest he stay short-statured. Finally, they may be small, but don’t think you can just step over a baby: it’s bad luck for you as babies are considered to be angels.

Many thanks to my Turkish and expat friends at the Sublime Portal for their stories, input and advice!

Gadling readers, what beliefs are popular in your country or places you’ve traveled?

[Photo courtesy Flickr user Camera on Autopilot]


Want more Knocked Up Abroad? Check out the first few installments here, and stay tuned for more on travelling in the second and third trimester, where to do pre-baby shopping, and more on having a baby in a foreign country.

Exploring England’s oldest Anglo-Saxon church


One of England’s most alluring traits is the way its historical ages pile atop one another. This is a nation where farmers discover Roman coin hordes in their fields, where people drink in 400 year-old pubs, where people worship in churches that have been around as long as England has been Christian.

If you’re ever visiting Durham in northern England be sure to take a brief drive or bus trip to the nearby village of Escomb. In the center of town stands this church, built sometime around 670-690 AD. England was not England back then, but rather a patchwork of warring Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In many regions, people had converted to Christianity within living memory, and there were still some who clung to the Old Religion. The crumbling remains of Roman cities, forts, and shrines could still be seen, remnants of a greater civilization that was already taking on the character of legend.

At this time some unknown individuals built this church. It has been in use almost continually ever since and is the oldest intact Anglo-Saxon church in the country. Its sturdy walls have borne the centuries well. If you look carefully you can see much of England’s history marked in its stone.

The Anglo-Saxons were actually three distinct tribes–the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes–who came from what is now Denmark and northern Germany to fill the power vacuum left by the departing Romans in the early fifth century. The Angles settled in this part of the country. They were still pagan then, and would remain so for a century. Eventually churches started to appear. The stone for this church mainly came from an abandoned Roman fort nearby. A couple of the stones even have old Roman inscriptions, one saying “Legion VI”, which had been garrisoned at the fort.

%Gallery-101095%The Angles added their own elements. A seventh century sundial sits high on the wall, decorated with a serpent and a monster’s head. The serpent symbolized the Teutonic creator god of the pagan Angles, and the serpent may be a symbol of the god of chaos and creativity. It’s interesting that the newly converted Angles kept a lot of their pagan symbolism! The sundial has only three marks, to show the times for mass. A more modern sundial with proper hours was added in the seventeenth century.

Inside the church are some early medieval crosses and a baptismal font that once had a locking cover to keep the locals from stealing the holy water to use for spells and folk medicine. Paganism died hard in this part of the country!

What’s most remarkable about this church is that it’s still being used. It was abandoned for a time and was in danger of falling into ruin in the nineteenth century, but the local parish decided to save it. Services are held here regularly, and during my visit I got to speak to the organist, who told me that priests vie with one another to be assigned to such an historic house of worship. The congregation uses a special old Gaelic prayer rooted in the Celtic tradition that fits nicely with the atmosphere of the place:

As the rain hides the stars,
As the Autumn mist hides the hills,
As the clouds veil the blue of the sky,
So the dark happenings of my lot
Hide the shining of thy face from me.
Yet, if I may hold thy hand in darkness,
It is enough,
Since I know, that though I may stumble in my going
Thou dost not fall.