A Zagaz is a Djinn held responsible for the deaths of infants. Dr. Françoise Legey, author of The Folklore of Morocco, a medical practitioner who oversaw hospitals in Algiers and Morocco identifies Zagaz as the spirit of infantile tetanus.

Zagaz is counteracted by magically powerful but extremely poisonous plants like oleander and colocynths. Rituals must be performed with extreme caution; powders and incense are concocted by skilled shamans, not amateurs or beginners.

Rituals against Zagaz are performed at the end of pregnancy, in the birthing room, and after the birth. • A powder ground from virtually all the magical and medicinal herbs sold by an herbalist is burned, as the aroma allegedly repulses Zagaz.

• Powdered colocynths and oleander are sprinkled in the corners of the birthing room, lest he be lurking in the shadows.

• Following birth, the midwife/shaman sprinkles a blend of asafoetida and oleander powder on the placenta, which she then buries in the cemetery, announcing, “I’m not burying you, Afterbirth. I’m burying Zagaz!”

• A blend of alum and harmala (Peganum harmala, also called Syrian rue) is burned as incense. The mother or midwife passes her right hand through the smoke three times and then lays her hand on the infant’s head.

• The baby is covered with a black veil and the protection of Sidi Mimoun, King of Djinn is invoked. See also: Djinn; Mimoun, Sidi

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.