Djinn are the indigenous spirits of the Middle East and North Africa. They preceded Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the area but have since traveled the world with Islam and are now found far from their original home. In Neil Gaiman’s novel, American Gods, a Djinn is envisioned driving a taxi in New York City. There’s no reason to think this far-fetched.

Djinn is sometimes used to indicate both singular and plural, but in Morocco, Djinn refers to an individual spirit. The plural is jnoun.

Djinn constitute a vast community of spirits. They come in all shapes and sizes and vary in power and temperament. Djinn have hierarchical societies that parallel those of humans. Thus Chemharouch is a king of Djinn. Some Djinn are fascinated by people and behave very much like orishas. They can be benevolent protectors. Others just want to be left alone.

The name Djinn derives from Old Arabic and means “covert” or “darkness.” Most Djinn are secretive, covert spirits who are invisible most of the time. Many are ambivalent toward people. They are nocturnal, preferring to sleep during the day. They haunt ruins, cemeteries, and crossroads. Blood appeals to them, and so they may be found in slaughterhouses.

Djinn like liminal spaces: they have a tendency to take up residence at the threshold of homes. It’s crucial not to step on the threshold but over it and also never to throw anything on the ground without giving warning, especially liquids or waste products. Djinn who are rudely awakened tend to reflexively strike out: they cause illness, sudden stroke, and/or paralysis that will resist medical treatment, responding only to magical and shamanic cures.

• Some Djinn are skilled shape-shifters and may appear in any form.

• Some Djinn are consistently benevolent and are venerated and loved.

• Some Djinn are consistently temperamental, treacherous, hostile, and malevolent: the very embodiment of evil spirits. People may propitiate them, but the motivation is fear.

In recent years, Djinn have been blamed for encouraging suicide bombers.

Djinn are spiritual devotees, too. There are Pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Djinn; each is allegedly most likely to help humans who share their religious persuasion although the most generous Djinn are kind to all and the most malevolent are equal-opportunity offenders. Djinn love and crave heat. They live in the desert, by hot springs, and in bathhouses. They despise the cold, and Djinn in colder climes tend to be grouchy.

Djinn hate salt and fear iron and steel. All may be used to keep them far away. They don’t like noisy, crowded places although they are curious spirits and will venture out to observe or even participate in fairs, markets, and festivals. Djinn enjoy stories and can be pacified or lured by telling exciting, suspenseful tales. They will hover quietly in corners and listen. In the manner of Scheherazade, should you need to keep a Djinn calm or play for time, keep telling stories. If you anticipate dealings with Djinn, it’s not bad to maintain a repertoire of tales, just in case.

Djinn have a code of honor. Even the most malevolent Djinn will honor a promise or vow. (Make sure that you do, too.) Djinn appreciate favours done for them and respectful behavior.


Jinn; Genie; Jinni


Djinn famously manifest as snakes, cats, or dogs. It’s considered dangerous to injure, kill, or even annoy any of these creatures as it may be a Djinn in disguise.

The most powerful individual Djinn have personal preferences in terms of offerings as well as colors. Please see individual entries for more details.


The traditional offering involves pouring oil over flour. Jewish Djinn like fruit jam. Christian Djinn have the reputation of eating anything, but that may just be from the Islamic perspective. Djinn tend to like alcoholic beverages, candles, and incense, especially benzoin.

They hate salt. Make sure anything given to them was prepared without salt, or it will be rejected and their enmity earned.