Knowledge of the Land,Morocco

Morocco is a diverse nation, rich in culture and history. In the past, the country was comprised mainly of nomadic tribes known as the Berber or Amazigh – who for thousands of years lived off of the land, drinking at natural water sources and, according to the Greek historian Herodotus, practicing a shamanic religion which worshipped the sun and moon.

When the area now known as Morocco was colonised, it finally adopted an Arabic mother culture that established power in various cities and towns, and also Islam as the prevalent belief. Fes was the centre of this Islamic revolution, while Marrakesh remained (and still does today) a Berber cultural hub, filled with antique styles of dress, and the colours and patterns of the nomads. Morocco is a nation of contrasts. The Arabic Muslim and the Berber Shaman are side-by-side, woven together into a luxurious rug that spreads over the land, resulting in unique cultural treasures .

The souks, Arabic by nature, are filled with Berber sweets or artwork. Darija is spoken – a mix of both languages, and considered incomprehensible by other Arab speakers. The Amazigh alphabet is displayed beneath Arabic, in a recent move to embolden the contribution of their nomadic ancestors. Today, of course, millions of Moroccans live in the Berber way, particularly around the Atlas Mountains and Sahara regions.

The land itself is filled with natural treasures. Vast mountainous regions spread like a sea of yellow or lush green, with tiny villages perched on each wave. The Lower Atlas is almost jokingly compared to the Swiss Alps, while the Upper Atlas is full of powerful mountains that are sacred to the tribes who live beside them. Not far are the cool cedar woods near Azrou, which stretch up to Fes, while the Chouf region inspires visitors with rolling hills, blue villages, and naturally grown psychedelics.

The coastal regions include heady, vibrant towns like Tangiers, which rather than Berber or Arabic, has a more European colonial heritage. Here, the streets are filled with French and Spanish gems, a liberal stance towards alcohol, and women wearing Western clothing. In the town of Essaouira, colourful fishing huts home visitors who enjoy the mediterranean quietude that allows them to relax and experience a joyful life.

Then, the Sahara. The great sweeping monotony of a desert, in which people have sought sanctuary and silence. It spreads over 9.2 million kilometres, housing numerous tribes and sitting within contended national boundaries. The Sahara is nature at her most perilous, but also at her most mysterious. The allure of the desert has never ceased to call-to-adventure, and for Moroccans, it is a sacred place connected to god.

To know Morocco is to understand the contrasts occurring within nature. Few places are so blessed by the marriage of natural and human intervention, working together to establish radiant beauty and culture and spirituality. It is indeed a rolling carpet of mystery and faith – a place which invites us to live by the law of the land, and connect with our inner selves amidst its glorious sensual pleasures.