Genies (also called Jinn or genii) are spirits in cultures of the Middle East and Africa. The term genie comes from the Arabic word jinni, which referred to an evil spirit that could take the shape of an animal or person. It could be found in every kind of nonliving thing, even air and fire. Jinn (the plural of jinni) were said to have magical powers and are favorite figures in Islamic literature. To the Mende people of Sierra Leone in Africa, genii are spirits who occasionally try to possess living men. The Mende use magic to fight genii who enter the living.
In ancient Rome, the term genii, the plural form of the Latin word genius, referred to the spirits that watched over every man. The genius was responsible for forming a man’s character and caused all actions. Believed to be present at birth, genius came to be thought of as great inborn ability. Women had a similar spirit known as a juno. Some Romans also believed in a spirit, called an evil genius, that fought the good genius for control of a man’s fate. In later Roman mythology, genii were spirits who guarded the household or community.
For the ancient Semites the Jinn were spirits of vanished ancient peoples who acted during the night and disappeared with the first light of dawn; they could make themselves invisible or change shape into animals at will; these spirits were commonly made responsible for diseases and for the manias of some lunatics who claimed that they were tormented by the Jinn. The Arabs believed that the Jinn were spirits of fire, although sometimes they associated them with succubi, demons in the forms of beautiful women, who visited men by night to copulate with them until they were exhausted, drawing energy from their encounter.
Many Muslims would likely view the term “mythological” as a pejorative statement because traditionally they take the belief that Jinn are real beings. The Jinn are said to be creatures with free will, made of smokeless fire by God, much in the same way humans were made of earth. In the Qur’an, the Jinn are frequently mentioned and even Surat 72: Al-Jinn is entirely about them. In fact Muhammad was said to have been sent as a prophet to “men and Jinn”.
Jinn are not to be confused with the Kareen mentioned in the Qur’an in Surat An-Nas and in Islamic mythology. A Kareen is an evil spirit, while technically a Jinn is considered demonic, intent on tricking people into committing sins, similar to a personal demon. As they are unique to each individual, Kareens would be the ones a magician would summon after a person’s death, such as in a séance, for the soul goes to God and the unruly Kareen would remain on earth and would, conforming to his malevolent nature, impersonate the deceased whose character he’s familiar with. Islam strictly forbids magic. Orthodox Muslims however, recite various verses from the Qur’an such as the Throne Verse, Surat an-Nas and Suart al-Falaq as means of protection and prayer. In Islam-associated mythology, the Jinn were said to be controllable by magically binding them to objects, as Solomon most famously did; the Spirit of the Lamp in the story of Aladdin was such a Jinni, bound to an oil lamp.
In sorcery books Jinn are classified into four races after the classical elements; Earth, Air, Fire and Water. In those races they come in tribes, usually seven, each with a king, each king controls his tribe and is controlled by an Angel, whereas the Angel’s name is torture to the Jinn king as well as his specific tribe, much the same way Jesus’ name is to a demon during an exorcism. Unlike white and evil witches, Jinn have free will yet could be compelled to perform both good and evil acts, compared to a demon who would only hurt creatures or an angel with benevolent intentions. Knowing what to ask what spirit to perform is key as asking a spirit to perform a chore counter its natural tendencies would anger the spirit into retaliating against the sorcerer.