Book Review: The Vengeful Djinn by Guiley and Imbrogno

A while back, an interesting vision prompted me to do some research on the djinn and I noted interviews and articles on The Vengeful Djinn: Unveiling the Hidden Agenda of Genies by Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Philip J. Imbrogno. I decided, after looking at some of the material about the book that I wanted to read it, since it appeared that the authors were attempting a sort of unified field theory of the supernatural i.e. putting forward the thought that most, if not all, paranormal events could be explained by the presence of the djinn. I found such an idea to be erroneous but I wanted to read the book before drawing any conclusions.

The Vengeful Djinn is exactly what I feared it would be: a book that takes one particular sort of spirit and tries to push, pull and stretch that spirit type to fit all the known categories of the paranormal from UFO sightings and abductions to werewolves to hostile hauntings. The djinn can, according to these authors, even explain Bigfoot sightings and, of course, the djinn were responsible for the wave of craziness that enveloped Point Pleasant, West Virginia, surrounding the sightings of Mothman.

The authors have taken a single type of spirit, the beings of smokeless fire found in the Q’uran and other Islamic sources, and turned them into the be all and end all of the paranormal. I was particularly incensed by the authors’ presumption in assuming that the djinn were actually the spirits evoked in the Goetia. I think, before one makes that sort of assumption, as a non-practitioner of the Arts Magical, one might want to consult with someone who has actually worked the Goetia and ask them what sort of spirit they are working with. Hint: the answer is not djinn.

Do I believe that djinn exist? Most certainly. I suggest a reading of Legends of the Fire Spirits by Robert Lebling for more detailed information on these spirits. They are a recorded part of Middle Eastern folklore that goes back to the time before Mohammed. Do I think that the djinn are powerful? Absolutely, again, the folklore and the witness of magicians in the Middle East attests to the fact that these spirits pack a punch and that they can be mischievous or outright dangerous. Do I feel that the djinn are responsible for a great deal of paranormal activity in the Middle East and other areas of the world? While I am certain that these spirits do still “act out” in various ways, I am not convinced that they are as widespread as the authors would have us believe. I think that the djinn, like the faery, have an attachment to the place, people and culture that recognized them.

The djinn, in Islamic thought, seem to hold the same sort of position that the demon holds in Christian thought; the djinn is the spiritual being that is responsible for all things that cannot be explained by the presence and intervention of angels and it is sometimes difficult to tell the two types of spirit apart. It seems to me that Christians and Muslims have developed their own unified field theory of the paranormal that specifically excludes the input of outside sources; if it is not specifically of their god, then it must be evil and be the work of a demon or djinn. Such a position is in no way congruent with the complex reality of the Otherworld as viewed by magicians throughout the ages.

Open any grimoire or decent book on ceremonial magic or paganism and one of the things the reader will encounter is lists of spirits. Angels, demons, spirits of the four elements, the faerie, genii loci, the ancestors and so forth. The magician truly is a walker between the worlds and, as such, has extensive contact with beings on both sides of the veil. He or she recognizes that the world of spirits is populated by various and multudinous races and that each of these beings has a different “feel” to them, a signature by which they can be recognized. Different magicians may attach different names to these signatures but all agree that each “feel” represents a different type of entity and that these entities vary wildly in their appearance to the magically inclined and in their tolerance for human beings.

I did not come to write this article by accident. While I have done work in the faery realms, I had never encountered a djinn until several months ago when I had a hypnagogic vision of a being of fire speaking to me from a cloud of smoke – a common appearance for the djinn, as I learned while researching what this being might be. Like the faery, the djinn seem to be adverse to being maligned and my research on this creature led me to the Lebling book and then on to the subject of this review. While this article will likely not reach a wide audience (unless the djinn decide to lend a magical hand), I think that these beings of smokeless fire simply want us to recognize that the paranoia evident in The Vengeful Djinn – the djinn were removed from our world and they want it back – is just that, paranoia. While there are djinn that detest human kind, there are also plenty of other spirits out there that share that sentiment. I do not see an organized plot by the djinn or any other spirit group to take our world for themselves.

I understand that writers have to make a living and that, in order to do so, they have to find items that appeal to the public. I understand, too, that research into a particular type of being can result in a sort of tunnel vision. Humans so want there to be an “easy” explanation of the paranormal, even if the explanation scares the heck out of them. I’m sorry to say though that the things that go bump in the night are always going to elude those who are not willing to take the plunge and begin walking through the worlds and really experiencing the diversity of the Otherside.


About stormeye60

A place for discussing the interface between magic and things that go bump in the night. View all posts by stormeye60

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