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.
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?