Sometimes the internet isn’t terrible. This weekend I hopped on Twitter while I was waiting for my pasta water to boil and was immediately gripped by a tweet from an occultist I follow that contained a link to an eBay listing and the message, “If you’ve been thinking about buying this, DON’T.”
Of course I then immediately clicked on the listing, which was titled “ULTIMATE MYSTIC MAGIC MARID DJINN PARANORMAL RING MILLIONAIRE WEALTH MONEY MAKER”. My god, the rush that came over me. All these capital letters, the zany adjectives, the blatant disregard for any commas at all. The last time I got this excited about any product description was when I discovered an ice cream that had both brownie and cookie batter in it.
The description promised many good things:
This one piece holds contains the full power of 4,350 years (plus, or minus) of Haunted Billionaire Spirit. The Collection of Germany, Switzerland, and Ireland was presented to the most superior people in this world during a long ranging period from 1216 A.D. through to present day, although the transference of such items have become few, and far between in the last 100 years, making this piece EXTREMELY, EXCEPTIONALLY RARE!
I rubbed my hands together and read on.
PERSONAL IMPRESSIONS RECEIVED
WHILE HOLDING THIS TALISMAN
HAUNTED BILLIONAIRE SPIRIT RING PARANORMAL MAGICK BILLIONAIRE DECEASED ESTATE
Attracting such manifestations into your life as
Suddenly Cash Flow
Become Six Sense
Become Expert Knowledge
Become Talent up (skill of keeper)
You do not bring or wear this item for attach Powers to your life – When you attach djinn Power just Keep in secure place
Have all that you wish for!
Make your dreams come true!
There was a significant catch, though, in the form of an attached disclaimer that vociferously denied liability for any paranormal or metaphysical affects the wearer may experience upon acquisition of the ring. It also noted that the ring itself was subject to change between the time of order and the time of delivery. It was described as both an emerald and a cubic zirconia; neither of which were stones present in the ring that was pictured.
The ring, and others like it, can be found in a gallery of auspicious amulets on eBay. I have not hotlinked deliberately: the Haunted Shit will find you when it is your time. The gallery of auspicious amulets is an area of eBay that is full of similar promises of wealth-bearing talismans, many of which are also haunted (by the seller’s own admission), and all of which claim some degree of entanglement with djinn. Djinn are a sort of chaotic neutral spirit which originate in the ancient Arab world, perhaps best known in English as “genies”. According to various writings they are capable of being benevolent or demonic. They are not immortal, but their lifespans average hundreds or even thousands of years. They appear in both the Q’uran and in modern occult literature. They share our human appetites for food, sleep, and sex—although they disdain anything salty. They can take corporeal form or manifest as any number of fantastical beasts, snakes, dogs, or cats. (It is even said that stray cats should not be shooed away at dawn or dusk lest they be djinn incognito.)
None of this information should suggest that I am the expert you should consult for definitive knowledge on djinn—I’m simply reporting what a bit of cursory Googling revealed to me. One thing I’ve gleaned with a certainty is that the idea that a djinn can possess you is very real, and that aforementioned “marid djinn” appear to be, from the scuttlebutt on Wikipedia, the highest and most powerful class of djinn one might encounter.
Knowing my own mercurial and tempestuous nature, it seems entirely logical that any potential brush with djinn of any caliber should be carefully considered well in advance of any haunted jewelry purposes, let alone marid djinn which are nearly four thousand years old and haunting a ring. The situation, I realized, lends credence to the phobia some people have about antiques, a thing I’ve long derided as a cheapskate whose possessions are largely sourced from secondhand shops and flea markets. Billy Bob Thornton is one of the more famous sufferers of this anxiety, or so I thought. In researching the source of a quote I was sure I remembered him uttering about Haunted Shit, I came across a NYT profile from a few years back in which he said, “My phobias have been greatly exaggerated. I don’t mind a chair. I can go as far back as you want with Asia or Mexico. It’s that French/English/Scottish old mildewy stuff. Old dusty heavy drapes and big tables with lions’ heads carved in it. Stuff that kings were around. That’s the stuff I can’t be around. It was too big to be functional. It creeps me out.”
I seem to have wandered away from the original point of this post slightly, which is that the internet is indeed a hellscape that mainly and luridly chronicles our descent into the dark ages of this third millennium, but it is also a place that abounds with fascinating discoveries and absurd trivia. Haunted Shit bridges these worlds for me in a most compelling fashion, and I think that’s why, for all my love of science, I will disappear down a k-hole of scammy mysticism with absolutely no compunction. I feel it’s important to remember the world has been considered a Truly Weird Place for as long as humans have been around to ruminate on it, and that this contemporary weirdness we’re living through is just a drop in the bucket of our vast, collective, overactive imagination as a species. I find it comforting to think of the library of mythologies and mysteries and secrets and sorceries that have been accumulating for as long as we have had to confront the inexplicable and horrifying realities of Being People In The World. As we enter the countdown to the general election, I have removed almost all pundits, politicos, and reputable news outlets from my feed and focused almost exclusively on my fellow artists, out of work comedians, UFO spotters, and occultists—and I’ve found myself looking at life from a broader and more whimsical perspective.
Yet, though it mesmerizes me, I will not actually purchase the ring that carries the unpredictable spirit mojo of the long dead billionaire. I will spend some time thinking today about it. I’ll imagine some intrepid young Swiss archeology student hiking up a strange peak in the Himalayas and receiving the ring in a secretive ritual at the doorstep of a misty temple. Enlightened to the great secret of boundless prosperity he will make his joyous descent, rejoin the bustle of post-World War I Geneva, and go on to make an obscene fortune as an international MSG distributor. His life will be marked by cinematic tragedy—a dramatic horseback riding misadventure or an Alpine car crash will snuff the young life of his first true love; his only child will be kidnapped by a strange international consortium and be lost forever to the wild Amazonian jungle—and eventually he will fade into obscurity, a sort of Howard Hughes-ian character who lives in the shadowy confines of penthouses and distributes the bulk of his wealth anonymously to museums and orphanages.
At his last, dying hour, the ancient ring will slip from his limp hand and roll in a lopsided amble to the edge of a very expensive tigerskin rug, where it will not be found until many days later when the housekeeping staff is packing up his things for the estate sale. A resourceful worker will pocket the ring and then hand it to his daughter, and she will hand it to her daughter, and eventually, years and years later—after the terrible fire consumes the ashram and the ashram gift shop and she can only conclude it is the doing of an impish spirit who will not be appeased by any amount of hot yoga-practicing vegan moon worshippers, no matter how many she attracts to the compound—she will go on eBay and share a photograph of a ring that is certainly not this ring, and she will wait for you to find her listing, and realize that all your dreams—the good ones and the nightmares, too—are just $132 dollars away from coming true.