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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Djinn and Demons part 3 - Controlling Djinn

In my last posts, I wrote about the Djinn, after first explaining the difference between medieval demons and ancient Greek and Middle Eastern demons.Now I'll write about the most useful folklore surrounding Djinn for a fantasy writer, the control of these powerful Mythological Humanoids.

Last post, I mentioned that when free, the Djinn live in Kaf, a mythical range of emerald mountains that encircles the Earth, but these physically variable creatures could be trapped and controlled by magic and called to the service of humans. This is where the folklore become highly applicable to authors and story ready.

Free ranging powerful spirit people are all well and good, or terrible and bad depending on their mood, but putting the power of such god-like people in the hands of fallible humans has great potential for dramatic action and gripping plots. Just watch a few episodes of I Dream of Jennie, a sitcom from the late 60's, to get plenty of plot ideas.

Aladdin's lamp, of A Thousand and One Arabian Nights fame, is one source of magical control of a Djinn. The Djinn is made cute, cuddly and blue in the Disney version of Aladdin, yet even here he is still crazy and unpredictable as voiced by the late great Robin Williams.

Though submissive and offering three magical wishes, most Djinn in lamps are still dangerous and scheming once taken out of the nursery stories and brought to the older children and adults. Djinn want to get free, so conflict abounds.

In the original story of Aladdin's Lamp, the place that Aladdin finds the lamp is through a tunnel where there are enormous underground trees [Cue Monty Python scared music here] that bear jewels on their branches. These fist sized gemstones come in all colors of the rainbow. [Sounds like a little piece of Kaf to me.]

There are many magical objects that imprison Djinn, not just lamps. Rings were popular. In fact, there is a legend about a the magic ring of King Solomon. This story is found in Israeli folklore and says that King Solomon had a magic ring with which he tamed and then controlled thousands of Djinn that he carried on his back when he traveled [Why his back?] Supposedly he used their power to build the temple in Jerusalem. The History of the World, by J.M. Roberts, claims Solomon did have outside help to build the temple, but that it was the subjugated Phoenicians and their superior knowledge of working with the famous Cedars of Lebanon and engineering that accomplished this task. A much less colorful tale to be sure, but apparently demons were given the credit for building many ancient and medieval bridges too. [Engineering must have seemed magical to the illiterate masses of those times. ]

The story of Solomon and the Djinn doesn't end there, though. This magic ring, set with a gem stone, a diamond perhaps, and etched with a hexagram and the true name of God had a life force of its own that protected Solomon from the dangerous Djinn. He directed them to make statues, palaces and gardens. Through them he acquired his great wisdom and riches. Supposedly grimoires such as The Key of Solomon and The Lesser Key of Solomon explain how to imitate his success and learn his secrets.

But be warned, Asmodeus, on the most powerful Djinn tricked the ring away from Solomon by asking to borrow it, then threw Solomon out, instead of returning it. Asmodeus became king instead and threw the ring into the sea. Fortunately for Jerusalem, Solomon recovered the ring from the belly of a fish [reminds me of the talents Jesus pulled out of the mouth of a fish to pay taxes and also of Jonah.] Then Solomon put Asmodeus in a jar.

The question my research left me with is what other magical objects were Djinn traditionally bound to for the purpose of controlling them?

Here's a great site for further research on Djinn.

1 comment:

KC Trae Becker said...

Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles suggested that the reason Solomon wore the Djinn on his back was to avoid the Djinn's Evil Eye.
I think that makes a lot of sense.