Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Creature Feature-Jinn by Author Elizabeth Alsobrooks

The Jinn have always fascinated me, from a very young age. Aladdin’s Lamp is probably the first contact most American children have with a “genie”. It seemed so dark and mysterious to me. In my era, we also had “I Dream of Jeannie,” with Barbara Eden, a sit-comedy. Then, Disney came out with an animated version of Aladdin’s Lamp and it was a romance in the style of Cinderella and the westernization was complete.
The reason that I mention westernization is that the Jinn are understood to be much more than a children’s tale by much of the world. The word Jinn itself comes from the Arabic al-jinn, Romanized as djinn, or anglicized as genies--most common among Americans. [The plural is actually Jinn, as in the Jinn species, and the singular is jinni.]

Islamic belief divides conscious beings into three species: the angels (malayka), the hidden ones (jinn), and humankind (nas, or banu adam). Both the Quran and Hermetic texts speak about Jinn, describing their creation, their abilities and their purpose.  Angels were created first, from light, and, “Indeed We created man from dried clay of black smooth mud.  And We created the Jinn before that from the smokeless flame of fire.” (Quran 15:26-27) Angels are not considered to possess free will, which is why in Islamic thought Satan is a jinn because an angel could not have chosen to be evil or to turn against the Almighty. Jinn have many other characteristics besides free will in common with humankind. They eat and drink and though it is frowned upon and forbidden have been known to have sex with and even marry humans and have children.

That’s where the similarities end. Jinn are tricksters, even those who chose to be good are often interfering and considered less than trustworthy. They are incredibly strong and fast and live for hundreds or even thousands of years (it’s unclear exactly how long). One explained to King Solomon that they could carry a heavy object a great distance in the twinkling of an eye.  Jinn can fly and become invisible. They are also magical shape shifters, able to take on whatever form they want, or even possess an object or person, as in demon possession. Scary creatures indeed!
There are a variety of jinn, varying from place to place and region to region. In Egypt, there are female jinn who inhabit the canals and tributaries of the Nile and lure men to their deaths, like the sirens from western cultures, but these legends don’t appear elsewhere in the Arab world.  
There are generally 5 types of Jinn. Marid are the classic genies of folklore, big barrel-chested with booming voices. They are often associated with water. Effrit are intelligent and cunning and thought to live in societies similar to humans, in caves and underground dwellings. Those of you who were True Blood fans, may remember that there was an Effrit during the last season. They are generally demonic, and this is the type of jinn over which King Solomon is said in the Quran to have had power. I drew from this particular legend to write, “The Opal Ring,” in my newest release, and the jinni in my story is the same one once enslaved by King Solomon with an opal ring.
There are also Ghouls. These have traveled north and west to become common in English language terms as undead monsters. Ghouls are thought to be zombie-like jinn who haunt graveyards and prey on human flesh. They are incapable of goodness and have low intelligence. The Sila are a talented shape shifter form of jinn. They are more tolerant of humans and are usually portrayed as females. They are rarely seen, but are thought to be similar to seelie, from the Middle English word for “good faerie.”  Finally, there are the Vetala, the original vampires, semi-malevolent spirits from ancient Indian (as opposed to Native American) folklore. They can possess human corpses and prevent them from decaying, to trick humans into believing the Vetala is an ordinary person. They are thought to have psychic powers and be able to foresee the future and the past.

I've included a link to an awesome movie on magicians being aided by jinn (which you read about in my new release below, too!). It's a long show 2 1/2 hours, so if you find it interesting you may want to bookmark it for when you have the time, but it's really interesting. The collection and comments by David Copperfield alone were fascinating to me as I saw him live in the 70s!

So I guess, the Jinn are an entire cast of creatures until themselves. There’s plenty of fodder here for many a future tale, and if you’d like to see what I’ve done with a Jinn tale, pick up a copy of my new release! It’s an Amazon Bestselling Hot New Release Anthology! And since it’s October, I’m donating $1 to Breast Cancer research in memory of my mom for every copy I sell, and Tell-Tale Publishing is donating 1% of all their October sales of the anthology to BCR!


"The Opal Ring" Upon the death of her mother, Jasmine accompanies her distracted, grief-stricken father to her perverted uncle's hotel in Cairo, Egypt. She takes her mother's job and becomes the magician's assistant and also learns to enhance her father's magic with spells discovered from her mother's Book of Shadows. They carry on, but all is not as it seems. Behind the glitz and glamour the smiling façade is a true illusion. Jasmine is in danger and needs to escape the gilded cage in which she's imprisoned. Her magic, though strong, is not powerful enough, so she plans to use a talisman she acquires from an antiquities dealer with the help of her one true friend, Ahmed, the hotel's security assistant. The legendary ring of King Solomon will enable her to control a terrifying but powerful jinni. He will boost her father's magic enough to secure a contract in Vegas so they can return to America.  But at what cost? 


Diane Burton said...

This is very interesting, Elizabeth. I never knew there were so many jinn. I usually think of the one from Aladdin or I Dream of Jeannie.

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

Thanks, Diane. Yes, so much fun to explore.

Victoria Craven said...

I love this post. It was very informative. I love the premise of the books.

Maureen said...

Love the post - so informative! And I loved I Dream of Jeannie! One of my first 'real' Halloween costumes. Thanks so much for sharing.

J Hali Steele said...

Never realized there were so many types of Jinn! Enjoyed reading your post.

Susan Coryell said...

Wow! Fascinating history of Jinn! Ghouls are Jinn--never knew that. Your books look--well--out there! Thanks for posting and good luck.

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

Thanks, Vicki!

Maureen, you were a genie? Cool! Did you belly-button show? LOL!

J Hali--I could have written tons on the subject...fascinates me!

Susan..LOL! Thanks! My romance stuff is not quite a "out there" as my horror stuff, of course, but it is after all the month of Horror and this is a "creature-feature"!

CJ Burright said...

Wow, fascinating post, Elizabeth! I knew a bit of djinn history, but you clearly know more than I do (and I love to learn new stuff). :)

Alicia Dean said...

So fascinating! I had no idea. I fondly remember I Dream of Jeannie though.

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

Thanks, CJ. Research is half the fun of writing for me!

You and me both, Alicia! I used to watch it all the time, even in reruns.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Sorry I'm late to the party.

I LOVED "I Dreamed of Jeanie!"

Your book sounds really good, Elizabeth.

Good luck and God's blessings