Djinn

These creatures are also known as daimons, mazzikim, peries, rakshasas, Airish Men, and many other names. They are enormously mutable in both form and nature, and many legends of mythical beings trace back to them.

Distribution

Djinn are found all over the universe. Their main environments are thin, hot plasma; there are colonies in the Solar corona and in Jupiter's radiation belts. Most Earthly djinn live in the ionosphere, also known as the Heaviside layer and (by esoterics) as the Sphere of Fire. However, they are perfectly able to live in terrestrial environments – on the earth, in the waters, and in the land.

Djinn have no native ability to travel between star systems, but nothing prevents them building starships (which look like superluminal gas clouds). More often they travel in the company of eldila or other higher beings.

Djinn have lived on Earth since it was created. Because of the Siege of Thulcandra, Earthly djinn have been heavily isolated for five billion years, more than a third of Time.

Description

The basic shape of a djinni is a spinning prolate spheroid of thin, hot plasma, about the size of a car, weighing a few micrograms, and invisible to the naked eye. Such a material structure is completely unable to support life or intelligence, by itself, but djinn have a much greater spiritual component than humans do.

A djinni in its basic form has a distinct front end, which is either the north or the south pole of the spinning spheroid. So the djinnish population divides into two halves, widdershins and deasil.

The basic spinning egg-shape is very flexible. Djinn easily extend their shape in amoeboid ways, and often assume a conical or cylindrical shape like a whirlwind. The whirlwind shape is very common when they are down in the atmosphere.

Shapeshifting

Djinn are adept at shapeshifting, including invisibility and impalpability in this. So they can really look like almost anything. They are behind most myths involving persons of nonhuman appearance, as well as myths involving shapeshifters.

In shapeshifting, the djinni must learn each new shape independently, like a musician learning a new composition. Unless a djinni is particularly devoted to the craft of shapeshifting, it will have a small repertoire of useful shapes that it sticks to, with simple variations.

Djinn exhibit "morphic inertia" in their various shapes. The longer they stay in any shape other than their native one, the harder it is for them to change shape. A djinni that has spent years as an animated stone giant, for instance, will need a few days before they can shake off that shape for another. Smashing the stone figure would overcome the inertia at once, but the djinni would be very likely to die of the blow.

Other Powers

Besides shapeshifting, djinn are very fast, capable of flying anywhere in the world in a few seconds. They are also very powerful physically, having the strength of a few multiples to a few hundred men, depending on the particular djinni.

All djinn are capable of spirit sight, and can see ghosts, angels, etc., under normal conditions (that is, unless the ghost hides or the angel chooses not to be seen). Spirit sight entails being able to see in the dark and, when one thinks to do so, through walls.

Djinn are capable of learning any form of magic that humans can employ.

Both physical and magical power levels vary wildly among djinn, the more powerful being rarer.

Life Cycle

Djinn come in male and female sexes. A female is called a djinnia. Conception, gestation, and birth all happen within a few seconds.

Infant djinn reach physical maturity as fast as resources come their way. And, as mentioned before, djinn are highly variable in power, so there is a good chance that the infant will quickly become as powerful as its parents or other immediate family while still infantile in mentality. (Mental maturity takes seven to fifty years – again, highly variable.) As a result, it is normal for the infant djinni to be put under geas by its family immediately.

The natural djinnish lifespan, like their power levels, ranges widely, from a proverbial seven times to seventy times human, or 500 to 5000 years, but it can be extended magically. The longer lifespans are rarer, and there is no guarantee they will not be cut short by violence. Djinni-on-djinni violence and magical attack are the commonest ways that djinn meet early death.

Hybrids – Lilites and Lilim

When shapeshifted into a fully human form, djinn can interbreed with humans. The same applies to any other species they temporarily but completely adopt. Those hybrids born to human mothers are called mougharabin or lilites, and are humans with some djinnish features. There are several clans or races of these and new ones could arise at any time. For more on lilites, see Spiritual Strains.

The hybrids born to djinnish mothers are called lilim and are djinn with tendencies to human psychology and shape; they are named after the first lilim, children of Adam and the djinnia Lilith. The masculine singular is lilu; the feminine singular is lili.

Lilim, like all djinn, are shapeshifters, but they have two default forms. One is the standard djinnish fire-egg; the other is an ectoplasmic human form, a humanoid aeriel body, like that of a ka or ghost. Their human form often has exotic features, like blue or green skin, or glowing eyes, though it is hard to tell if such details are really part of the default form unless you know the individual well; they can tweak such things easily.

Lilim, like lilites and like other djinn, are divided into many tribes and clans. Many of these have bad reputations. The stereotype of "bad lilim" is sly, seductive, and predatory. The stereotype of "good lilim" is elusive, daintily pretty, and gentle. When confronting a pure-blood djinni, a human may feel they are faced with something like a tornado or an unexploded bomb; when confronted with a lilu, a human may feel they are confronted with a maze or dark forest of unknown safety.

Lilim have less raw magical and physical power than most djinn, and perhaps because of that often make a greater study of subtler magics. They are especially known for glamour and for innovative ways of generating and storing prana. With malign lilim, "generating" includes "stealing" by psychic vampirism, or simply by con games and cheats where the stakes include prana. Benign lilim often use artistic forms of thematic magic to generate extra prana. Few lilim use austerities to generate more prana; they feel they are already too weak.

Hybrids – Ifrits

Also spelled efreet, ifreet, afrit, or afreet. These are the most powerful class of djinn. They are to djinn what nephilim are to humans, being as much as half eldil by "blood." Many old gods were ifrits.

Kau

Any djinni can cast a ka. Most djinn can cast only three to five kau, with three being the commonest limit, but myth talks of magical prodigies casting armies, and more reliable legend records twelve or fourteen. For a djinni, its ka is a servant or guard or proxy, of course, but also a shadow-bearer, voicing or doing what the djinni dares not.

Death

Since djinn are more spiritual in nature than humans, there is less difference in state when they die. But there is a difference. At death, a djinni loses its material aspects, just as a human does; therefore, they lose all their great physical strength, their power to shapeshift, and the ability to cast and pull kau. They can cast intangible shapes and move things telekinetically, as a human ghost might, but only at a cost in prana and therefore not continuously.

Death frees them from any geases cast on them by incarnate agents such as humans or other djinn, but geases cast on them by eldila or other powerful spirits remain in effect. They retain their True Names and can contract new geases, but lose any power stored in their names and must begin anew. See "Geases" and "True Names" below.

The above powers usually do not matter, though, since the shock of death casts most djinn into the oblivion of Sheol for a long time, or they are intercepted and taken away to an afterlife in Paradise, Hell, or an elysium, as humans are. Djinn only rarely become haunting ghosts or wandering spirits. See The Afterlife.

Society

Geases

Djinnish society is a network of geases, which largely takes the place of law and custom. The primary geas is to parents. Next comes marriage geases, which take a wide variety of forms. After that, come geases of loyalty to various wider societies, most commonly tribes but occasionally feudal hierarchies. Then come various contractual geases of essentially economic nature.

Djinn attached to lamps or rings or the like are attached by a geas.

The penalty for violating a geas is generally loss of magical and physical power to some degree, up to fatality.

True Names

A very widespread geas system is the use of True Names. At birth, the djinni is given a secret True Name. It can then self-geas by promising "I swear by my Name." Those who know the djinni's True Name can, at the very least, attract its attention by using the Name in a formal summons and may be able to bind the djinni unilaterally if they have the right magical powers. This system has even been adopted by humans, in some times and places, and within humans' more limited magical powers. See also Nymic Magic.

Heaven and Hell

Thanks to living in a war zone for five billion years, djinn usually have one of three stances toward eldila: aligned with Heaven, aligned with Hell, or terrified of both. Individuals and groups do change alignments all the time, but these are major events.

Those aligned with Heaven or Hell can expect to be called on by bright or dark eldila for services or may even live in a court or entourage attached to a particular angel or group of angels. (Such a life is best visualized by humans in metaphorical and allegorical terms. We are talking about animated electricity working for intelligent quanta of primordial energy, after all.) In return, they receive some amount of protection from their patrons and some amount of fearful respect from unaligned djinn. Infernal djinn also receive perks like slaves of various species and such luxuries and wealth as djinn value. Celestial djinn are expected to work on the principle of virtue being its own reward, but at least their masters don't shred them or eat them if they fail.

The celestial and infernal factions are roughly equal in size. The unaligned are a slight majority of all djinn. However, these three factions are not distributed uniformed over the world. There are good, bad, neutral, and battlefield patches, and they shift.

Religion

All Terran djinn are mixtures of good and evil, like humans, unless they are very far gone in the service of either Heaven or Hell. Those trying to be good come in all the same religions as humans, plus some unique to themselves. These include unaligned djinn, who are not necessarily ethically neutral – just scared of eldila. There are even "atheist" djinn, though these are really more like deists, believing God or the Absolute or Whatnot exists, but that it has no relevance to their lives.

Unaligned djinn, if they worship, may worship God alone and still shun eldila, or they may worship gods of their own choosing. Usually, pagan djinn worship some real object, unlike human polytheists, whose object is most often a legend based only dimly on some spiritual reality. The objects of pagan djinnish worship are most often ancestors. Some worship elementals, or Valar or Maiar (whom they do not classify as eldila).

Human Contact

At present, djinn have very limited open contact with humans because of the Sundering and eldilic pressures, which may be the same thing. The bright eldila protect humans from djinnish exploitation or even well-meant over-interference. The dark eldila do not want humans in many cultures to have ready proof of the supernatural. So djinn walk very secretly among humans.

Djinn in the Source Material

There are hardly any clear references to djinn in the Inkling works that form the basis of the Inkliverse, but there are some loose ends and hints that could be construed that way with a little work:

Famous Djinn

The Solomon Dynasty

Before it was given as the name of the great Hebrew king, "Solomon" was the family name of a great house of djinn in the Mid-East. Several ifrits from this family set up as gods in Egypt and Mesopotamia, after aquiring eldilic kau.

The Melchizedek Dynasty

The djinnish house of Melchizedek is not so old or so powerful as the house of Solomon, but it is the custodian of the oldest monotheistic religion still practiced among djinn, and it supplied the king who blessed Abraham (Genesis 14:18). The family still resides in Jerusalem.

Iblis

He was once so great among the djinn, he was ranked with the angels and had minor angels in his retinue. He was offended when, at the creation of Adam, he was told Adam and Eve would have dominion and theirs be the ruling race of Earth. He turned traitor and joined the forces of Hell, where he again rose to great power, being the peer of Beelzebub and the other infernal dukes.

Iblis is the Devil's personal steward, and when the Bent One secludes himself – which he does fairly often, since his soul is a chewed-out sock-puppet for the use of Satan, and he can do little more than lick his wounds when the hand is withdrawn – Iblis is virtually in charge. It galls the great fallen eldila to be commanded by a mere djinni, but he has been delegated huge and horrible powers, and the dukes' main recourse is the threat of what the Bent One will think when he comes back. But Iblis does an excellent job of reflecting his master's evil will, so that threat is hollow.

Lilith

She is a mighty and ancient djinnia, "wife" of Samael. She wanted to be queen of all djinn. Ages ago, she made a deal with Samael: she feeds him and he gives her monsters and other minions to use for her ambitions. But she always wants more than he gives, just as he wants more than she can feed him; her empire is mostly a pyramid of succubi and vampires, sending her prana to power her battles and feed Samael's endless starvation.

Lilith shares Iblis's resentment of humanity and makes a special practice of milking prana from infants, producing night-terrors and, sometimes, crib-death. This puts her and her lilim in a running battle with guardian angels.

"The Stepmother"

She was a djinnia who protected and propped up the USSR until her death in 1988. Her real name is unknown; she was known to esoteric Arabians as Zat al-Dawahi, "Mistress of Misfortunes," and referred to as Machikha Nash, "our stepmother," by the Soviet sunder guard, the Committee for Dialectical Extrapolation. She was magically poisonned when she ate the body of Kim Philby. (She was a ghl.) Philby was shot with enchanted ammo in 1964 by Greenwood agent Andrew Hale to assassinate, not Philby, but the Stepmother. The Soviet Union quickly collapsed.


Return to Inkliverse
Return to Wind Off the Hilltop

Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010