Thursday, September 26, 2013

Magic Thursday...Genies & Djinn

Genies or Djinn...

When you hear those words, you could be imagining a few things... You might think of Disney's blue Genie from Aladdin, or perhaps, the lady actress with the very flat tummy from I dream of Jeannie. Or you might be like me and visualise the genie from Arnott's TimTam advert.

(Forget the Timtam's lady, take the genie!)

I am very happy to note that Genies and Djinn are beginning to crop up with greater frequency in paranormal fiction (yay!) but what is the difference the difference between Djinn and Genie? Is there a difference?

Why yes, there is... allow me to elaborate.


Djinn
 

 
You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that the term Djinn (sometimes Jinn or Djinni) hails from Islam.
According to Verses in the Qur'an and the Hadiths (traditional collection of the actions and sayings of Muhammad the Prophet), the Djinn are a mythical race of creatures who roamed the earth before humanity began.

 In this tradition, it is stated that the djinn were created of fire without smoke, men were created of clay, and angels created from light. Additionally the djinn are not visible to humans, but may be perceived in the movement of air and the sensation of an electrical current.

The djinn are also shape shifters. According to Islamic belief, they may take on a human or animal form (cow, scorpion, bird). Interestingly, for those of you who read my Hell Hound post last year, the djinn may also choose to appear in the form of a black dog.

When in a corporeal form, the djinn is obviously forced to obey the laws of nature and physics,  it is therefore possible to destroy a djinn in a corporeal body, unlike when they are in their natural form and invisible.

Interestingly, within traditional beliefs, djinn are considered a complete race of beings, and may be found as male and female. They are able to procreate with one another to produce child-djinn.
Djinn tend to occupy places usually not inhabited by humanity, often deserts and wastelands. Some djinn may develop a preference for living in rubbish bins, or on a much more sinister note - cemeteries.

Like humans, the djinn appear to be capable of free will, making their decisions according to their own preferences. They also maybe of a religious nature, in that they follow a major religion, not necessarily Islam, but Buddhism or Christianity if they prefer.

Some djinn choose to be malevolent and aggressive towards humans. In  Malaysia for example, if you are having a problem with a troublesome djinn, you may call a Bomoh (witch-doctor) to come and capture it for you. There are reports in Malaysia of Bomoh's capturing as many as nine djinn in a single house. They apparently captured them and placed them in bottles... (if you'd like to read an article about it, click here.)

(alleged captured djinn in bottles)

Hmmm, wait, did I just say captured in a bottle? Is this sounding a bit familiar?

Yes, you're correct... the more westernised fantasy notion of the Genie, stems from myths about captured djinn.
We are all familiar with the tales of "Aladdin", "The Fisherman and Djinni," "Sinbad the Sailor", and "The Book of One Thousand and One Nights" - all of which have captured djinni in them. It is these tales that have formed the basis of the westernised genie. The djinn in the stories mentioned above all had the ability to give their masters wishes - and it is from these tales that the genie as we know it evolved.

Genies
 
 
 
The term Genie is clearly derived from the word djinn.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (awesome resource!) the noun "genie" was first referred to in the 1650s, "tutelary spirit," from French génie, from Latin genius (see genius); used in French translation of "Arabian Nights" to render Arabic jinni, singular of jinn, which it accidentally resembled, and attested in English with this sense from 1748.

However, in more recent fictional works (including my own) the word genie has taken a shift from the mythical race of beings found in the Qur'an, to being an individual person (usually a sorcerer or magician), who has been cursed by another magician / sorcerer and placed in a lamp and or bottle as punishment for some crime. Once released the genie must bestow three wishes upon their new master.

Of course, in fiction, the author has a great deal of literary license over this subject, and so you may well find the distinction between Djinn and Genie not so clear cut as I have laid out here. This is, of course, a natural part in the evolution of myths. Myths and the beasts they encompass are in a constant state of movement; they ebb, they flow, they shift and change constantly, according to different authors, cultures and beliefs - which is why mythology is so fascinating in the first place!


 
And on that note, I bid you a Magic Thursday!

PS... if you want to read more about Genies and Djinn in paranormal romance, a number of our Darksiders have books about them.

Nicola E. Sheridan - Magic Series
Erica Hayes - Demon Chained
Jenny Schwartz - Out of the Bottle Series
Shona Husk - Boyfriend in a Bottle

If there is anyone I've forgotten add your Genie book to the comments!







2 comments:

  1. I recommend "Legends of the Fire Spirits" by Robert Lebling for anyone interested in learning more about beliefs re djinn http://www.amazon.com/Legends-Fire-Spirits-Genies-Zanzibar/dp/1582436320 At the back of the book, he shares a translation of Victor Hugo's Les Djinn. I've found one online to share because it's a fantastic poem http://blogs.transparent.com/french/abracadabra-victor-hugo-unleashes-les-djinns/

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