Melk

Melk

Also known as: Malk; Plural: Mlouk

The Mlouk are the spirits summoned and venerated by Morocco’s Gnawa Brother hood. Although the name resembles a Semi tic word for “king” (Arabic: Malik, Hebrew: Melekh), it actually derives from an Arabic verb meaning “to own.” The Mlouk are literally the owners or possessors, all implications intended.

Mlouk are invoked via rituals, incense, music, songs, and colors. Each individual Melk has songs, rhythms, fragrances, colors, and so forth that call him or her. Mlouk are both female and male. The various Mlouk derive from African shamanism, Sufism, and the Jewish Bible. (Moses is the Blue Melk.) Most are considered either Muslim or Jewish; a few are Pagan.

There are seven Mlouk troops who are identified by colors: purple, red, blue, black, green, yellow, and white. Each has a leader. For example, Lalla Mira is the Yellow Melk.

As with Vodou or Bori spirits, Mlouk appear during rituals in specific order. Male Muslim Mlouk appear first, followed by female Muslim Mlouk and then Jewish and Sudanese Mlouk, who appear together. Aisha Qandisha and Aisha Sudaniyya are considered Sudanese Mlouk. (In this context, the term Sudanese refers to sub-Saharan Africa in general and not just the modern nation.)

Mlouk are possessing spirits. They cannot be exorcised. The possessed person is inhabited by a spirit who can become either an ally or an enemy:

• If the human is a welcoming host, a symbiotic alliance is formed.

• If the human is not welcoming, then the spirit tenant who can’t be evicted causes trouble, anguish, and poor health.

See also: Aisha Qandisha; Aisha Sudan iyya; Bori; Djinn; Lalla Mira; Mimoun, Sidi and the Glossary entry for Possession

Judika Illes
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.