I met a guy last week who is Arabic
and has travelled extensively in the area
where the legend
s of djinn (pronounced "gin") originated. He told me of many encounter
s he himself had had with djinn, as well as stories
told to him during his travels. I thought it important to add a bit more to the description
of djinn above.
According to Kalid (my Arabic aquaintance), there are good and bad djinn the same way there are good and bad humans. You can call on a djinn for help or guidance (or curses), but its risky business as everything in the ritual has to be JUST SO, in order not to offend the djinn. If you get on the wrong side of the djinn, you are in deep trouble.
While the attention of a djinn may be tempting and exciting, in reality, its not good to get mixed up with them. If you feel or see the presence of a djinn, a phrase recited from the Koran (Arabic bible) will banish them like holy water or garlic will vampires. I gathered there was a specific phrase in particular (loosley translated as "In the Name of God..." that was most often used, but generally anything you could remember on the spot would work.
They have laws they must follow in their society the same way we do; they arent allowed to show themselves to humans, and though they are able to take animal forms, they are forbidden to. But, as with humans, theyre only in trouble if they are caught at it.
He told me a story of a djinn who appeared to a man and stepped on his feet, sinking him down below the earth to a djinn city, to be put on trial for killing the djinn's son. But when it was discovered that the djinn's son had been in animal form at the time, the case was dismissed on the grounds that the djinn's son had been in an illegal activity himself.
He also told me that djinn like to hide on stairways or in sinks, because if they are hurt by a human (as in unwittingly pushing them down stairs or turning hot water on them) they are entitled to just recourse.
Above all, djinn are mischievous. This puts me so much in mind of the Irish/Scottish legend of the Fae, that it seems impossible that they havent stemmed from the same origins. And with similar legends from every corner of the world, it seems hard not to believe that these stories must have come from some common truth.
In North America we seem to scoff at these "folktales," but in the old countries people take them very seriously. The guy I spoke with about djinn was in every way serious about the stories he told me. Djinn are a part of peoples lives there; anyone off the street would believe you if you said you had a djinn sit on your chest so hard you could barely breathe to recite the Koran as you went to sleep the night before.