Friday, October 12, 2012

Genies, Djin, and Dust Devils

Compare the visual similarity of the dust devil to the manifesting Djin

The Djin is a popular character better known as a Genie. With roots as old as human records of desert phenomena, these legends are based on observation of dust devils. Ancient nomads watched sandstorms wander across the desert, and told of them in legend and story as they traveled. Their ability to magically give and take things likely stems from the sand's ability to cover up whole settlements, and to reveal what it covered long ago.

The Djin in esoteric myth is attributed to an Arabian tradition spirit formed of more subtle matter and of a higher order than humans. There are many kinds of Djin. Some say they are composed of air and were created thousands of years before humans, but like humans, will be destroyed at the last judgment. Djin are hard to kill and long-lived, but can be killed by comets flung from heaven and can kill each other. The Koranic tradition says they were created from fire and have fire in their veins. According to the Koran, Solomon employed them to help build his temple. During the spread of Christianity one could deduce that these myths became records of a culture that resisted conversion by the Church.The Bedouin  tribes say they are invisible demons. Local legends say the ancient city of Petra was haunted by Djin and was their home. At one time Bedouins killed outsiders to keep Petra a secret, perhaps to protect engineering knowledge used to move water around creating a productive oasis in the desert, and the techniques used by masons for building into the rock face.

Kings named Suleyman governed genies. According to legend they ruled the earth before the creation of Adam. One mythology records that the Djin battled the angels, lost, and were then forced to go to islands in the Arabian Gulf. Angels took a young Djin prisoner; his name was Iblis. He became their leader. When God said, “worship Adam”, the angels said “yes”, but Iblis refused. He was turned into a devil, leading the Shaytan Djin. Shaytan becomes Satan. Although not all Djin are evil, one defends against the evil ones with iron, as with European fairies. Djin are powerful spirits, which assume all kinds of shapes. They can appear as a beautiful woman, and have vertical slits for pupils. They can mate and have families. Male Djin may not marry human women, but female Djin can marry human men – the children of these unions appear human, but can fly, walk through walls, and have extreme longevity.

Folklore about Djin is an example of palimpsest by local cultures onto oral mythologies which have their roots in natural phenomenon. Placing the symbolism in context with historic and natural events helps to sort out and order the descriptions and legends surrounding the Djin. The beginnings of descriptions of a natural phenomenon became fable and legend, and as local fables were merged, the stories were added to.  Genies are a favorite character in contemporary stories and movies such as Aladdin.

About Symbologist Michelle Snyder

Michelle earned her post-graduate degree at the University of Wales. She is an author, columnist, publisher, artist, and teacher. Her artwork, inspired by her love of symbolism and folklore, has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio with her husband Jay Robert.
Books by Michelle, available at Amazon:


Symbology ReVision: Unlocking Secret Knowledge  
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: My Art and Symbols 
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered 
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images 
Symbology: World of Symbols 
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids



A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book One - The Lost Unicorn


A Tale of Three Kingdoms: Book Two - The Lost Mermaid

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