Mythical Monday: Wishing for a Genie by Mae Clair

A creature of Arabian folklore, genies−or Jinns as they are often called−are powerful supernatural beings with inclinations that alternately tend toward good or evil. Believed to be spirits of fire and smoke, they are skilled in magic, but not so powerful as to be free of manipulation by others. It is the genie’s sad fate to suffer imprisonment, usually trapped inside an old oil lamp, confined by an evil sorcerer.

magic Aladdin genie lamp with blue smoke

I’ve always found it interesting that these beings of immense power are subject to bondage by another. According to western mythology, once released from their lamp, the genie is required to grant three wishes to the person who frees them.  I’m sure most everyone remembers the movie Aladdin with the talented Robin Williams, voicing the genie. If you’re a bit older, you might also remember I Dream of Jeannie with Larry Hagman as astronaut Tony Nelson, and Barbara Eden as the genie he discovers after returning from a lunar mission.

I loved that show as a kid, but references to genies predate Hollywood’s version by centuries. Some believe the demons Jesus cast out in the New Testament may have been the embodiment of Jinns. Clearly, these were of the malevolent variety. There is also speculation that when Isaiah spoke with the seraphim (“burning ones”) in the Old Testament, he may have been interacting with the Jinn.

Some years ago I wrote a short story about a woman who discovers an old bottle and frees a genie from imprisonment. The wishes she requests are rather unique. It’s one of the pieces I’m most proud of in my writing repertoire, something I really need to shop around sometime soon.

Countless others have used the genie theme before me. It has appeared in literature, popular TV, and even gaming. A story that never grows old, it continues to inspire through the belief of whimsical magic and starry-eyed possibility.

Humanitarian wishes aside (i.e, world peace, a cure for cancer, an end to famine, etc.) if you suddenly had a genie at your disposal, what would you wish for?

20 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: Wishing for a Genie by Mae Clair

  1. I caught Aladdin recently again, not having seen it since I was a kid. It seemed every TV channel aired it following Robin Williams’ passing.
    I’m not sure what I’d wish for. I’m the cynical sort so I’d be wary of the saying “be careful what you wish for”.

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    • I know. Wishes always make me think of the old story, The Monkey’s Paw. Only tragedy came from those wishes, but if I had a genie at my beck and call, I think I’d be tossing out a wish or two, LOL!

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  2. I love the idea of genies, definitely something I would like to look into in future writing.

    I think I would probably wish for me and my family to live long and healthy lives. (And for money, unimaginative, but it would have to be done :D).

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    • I’m hoping to get the short published, so this is motivating me to polish it up and find a market for it. I came close with the magazine Realms of Fantasy years ago (great rejection letter) but my timing was bad. They had just ran a genie story. 😦

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  3. This was great — I too always wondered why they couldn’t free themselves if they had that kind of power at their disposal. Of course, it wouldn’t be a good story if that happened. LOL I’d LOVE to see your story with the genie and the unusual wishes. 🙂 As for my wishes. . . hmmm. I’ll have to ponder that. I suspect they change with my mood. 🙂

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    • Yep, I definitely have to do something with that genie story now! 🙂 I think the hardest part of having three wishes would be the fact that there are only three. I’d probably be terrified of making bad choices. Interesting thought about wishes changing with your mood. I can completely see myself doing that!

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  4. Your story sounds interesting. As about the three wishes, I don’t know. . . Can’t I triple them? I have a longer list. And I wonder, if these beings can fulfill the other people’s dreams, why can’t they set themselves free? But of course, the magic would be lost.

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    • Ooh, I wonder if you can make a wish to triple the wishes, LOL. More than likely there’s some kind of “genie code” against that. And you’re right about the magic…I’ve been a fan of a show called ONCE UPON A TIME for years now, and there is a character who is is fond of saying “Magic always comes with a price.” I guess captivity is the price for a genie.

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  5. I loved Dream of Jeannie…and Aladdin…and I would LOVE to read your story! Now how could I possibly narrow the “selfish wish” down to just three? I don’t know, but maybe I would begin with the restoration of a medieval castle on my own personal island…. 😉

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    • Debbie, I love the sound of that wish. Definitely a great starting point! 🙂

      And I guess I’m going to have to look for short story markets again. This group has really lit a fire under me to get my own genie story published! 🙂

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  6. I loved I Dream Of Jeannie! If I had a wish, if wish for a lifetime of happiness for me and my family. It seems so general, but I’ve learned there’s not just one thing that can make someone happy, so wishing for happiness itself has to be the ultimate goal. And if I’m happy, I can help those around me to be happy 🙂

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    • What a great wish, L.J., and you’re so right that happiness amounts to different things for different people. A general wish for happiness is a great idea, especially as it’s certain to be contagious to those around you!

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  7. I love tales with genies. At present I think I would wish for more time in each day, or perhaps the ability to function with no sleep. Then I might get everything I need to done.
    Enjoyed the post, Mae.

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    • More hours in the day sounds like a great idea, Daisy. It would be wonderful to have a magical formula to catch up on all the stuff that puts us behind–and have more time to devote to writing! 🙂

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