It is my firm belief that existence on the supramundane levels are equal and alike regardless of culture or geography, and that each culture and nation applies its own peculiar belief system and mythology to describe these extrasensory phenomena. Thus I have a perennial view upon spirituality and firmly believe that many of the different traditions and paradigms actually are explaining the same thing, but by using different languages. This is also my perspective in this essay – to blast down the Tower of Babel.
First I will try to describe the Arabic concept and significance of the jinn and ruhaniayyh, as I have understood my Arabian brethren and other sources on the Internet (mainly Wikipedia). Lets start off with the latter. In my review of the Grand Key of Solomon I linked the word “ruhaniyyah” etymologically to the Hebrew word “Ruah” or spirit. I further said that it was equivalent in meaning to the Sanskrit word “prana” or the Greek “pneuma”, and that it could be regarded as the equivalent of “intelligences”, as this word is used within the context of the Golden Dawn to describe certain entities corresponding with the Planets.
Now this word in Aramaic and Hebrew is Ruchanioth and is a name mentioned in the “Yetziratic” text of the 32 paths of Wisdom, relating to the 19th Path. Here it is said that (my emphasis):
The Nineteenth Path is the Intelligence of all the activities of the spiritual beings, and is so called because of the affluence diffused by it from the most high blessing and most exalted sublime glory.The ancient Arabic Sages believed that all objects or units of life emanates a spiritual intelligence, which is akin to the ethereal double and thus can be separated from the object to which it is attached. As an example a plant has a ruhaniyyah, or spiritual being, as well as a lake has one, or a Planet (such as Luna), or an animal. And also a human. And these spiritual emanations coming from all objects are alive, intelligent and conscious. It is not a spiritual entity connected by correspondence to that object; it is that object, or rather the spiritual double of the physical object.
I have been told that there exists ruhaniyyah not only of the Planets but also of the Elements, and of the letters, the latter being the most powerful. Furthermore, when the psychical object perishes, the ruhaniyyah returns to its source, i.e. God. Man is born with a ruhaniyyah, which may become perfected and transformed into the Higher Self or Higher Soul (to use terms from the Golden Dawn tradition). In Arabian parlance this perfected and Higher Soul or Self is called al-Taba or al-Kamel (“Perfect Nature”).
Thus I interpret the ruhaniyyah of a human as his soul, his innate nature, and his essence. And this soul may according to the Hermetics and Alchemy become a vessel of the Higher. I have been told that in magical working the Arabian Adept tries to harmonize his ruhaniyyah with that of the force he is invoking; he harmonizes his soul with the soul of the Moon in a Luna working, to take but one example. Likewise the Adept harmonizes himself with the soul of the Angel in an angelical working, etc. Thus as there are the ruhaniyyah of humans there are also the ruhaniyyah of angels, and that of jinn, etc.
To return to the concept of the ruach, prana or pneuma, the ruhaniyyah thus is the life force that animates all living physical beings, as “…the IHVH Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7). Therefore I surmise that the ruhaniyyah is related to the self (or Ruach) and the Higher Self or Spark of God in Man (Neshemah). Thus there is the perfected ruhaniyyah and the mundande ruhaniyyah, the latter being interdependent upon the former. As the body dies and decays the ruhaniyyah returns to its Creator, as the breath of God leaves man with the last breath leaving his lungs.
Thus what we see here in this concept of the ruhaniyyah is a principle that is not to be regarded as separated or independent of the magician or the entity (angel or jinni) being invoked by him, but as an integrated part of that very microcosm. This clearly distinguishes the ruhaniyyah from the jinn, still looking at these concepts from the Arabian perspective. According to the Arabian Sages God created three species, namely the angels, the jinn and man. The ryhaniyyah on the other hand are not a “species” but the innate nature of all the plethora of species.
The jinn, frequently mentioned in the Qur’an (and especially in the Surah entitled Al-Jinn), are considered as supernatural creatures, made from “smokeless fire” by Allah (or God), which occupies a parallel world to that of mankind, made of earth, and as the latter possesses a free will and thus (as man) can be either good or evil. Islam maintains that the Devil was a jinni called Iblis, not the angel Lucifer as the Christians maintain.
“Iblis” may have an etymology deriving from the Greek word “diabolos”, i.e. devil. He was however elevated to the status equal of the angels. When man or Adam was created God ordered all his angels and Iblis to prostrate before his newest (and “best of”) creation, but Iblis refused and was cast down from heaven (as in the Christian mythos) and thus became Shaitan, or the “accuser” or “adversary”. Many of the jinn followed Iblis in his fall and thus became an evil choir of devils, or demons.
Thus in my review on the Grand Key of Solomon the King, basing my opinions on their nature as described in this textbook, I associated jinn generally as evil, rebellious and mischievous, possessing a demonic nature. I also maintained that some jinn were of a more spiritual nature while others were more corporeal, albeit invisible to the human eye, and thus could manifest very physical and tangible results. Jinn are also notorious of being prone of harassing and even possessing humans. They are also said to originate ailments and diseases of the body, such as cancer, etc. Thus sorcerers are still known to be hired in works of exorcism to heal sick people from their possessing spirits or jinn. This clearly resembles the Christian medieval belief of diseases originating in demons and exorcism as a therapeutic remedy.
There are different classes or types of jinn who commonly are being regarded as rebellious and mischevious, the most known or popular being the Ifreet. The infernal Ifreet are seen by the common Arabians as being very powerful subterranean creatures, winged and fiery. They immediately evoke the traditional Christian view on demons. But perhaps the most terrible of all the jinn, and most properly associated with demons, are the Ghoul. The monstrous Ghoul, a word which literally means “demon”, are seen as dwellers of burial grounds and similar uninhabited places, such as deserts. These macabre creatures are seen as shapeshifting demons that assume the guise of animals, particularity hyenas, praying on humans, drinking blood and eating the dead. This term “ghoul” is also well known in the English language, appropriated by the fantasy genre, and usually evokes the images of hideous and praying monsters.
In my review of the Grand Key of Solomon the King I also mentioned that humans and jinn lived on the opposite ends of the Elemental realm, humans being of earth and water while the jinn of fire and air. Thus the Qur’an associates the jinn with fire while the Grand Key calls them “winds”, i.e. refer to them as airy. As I mentioned earlier they are able to physically manifest, both as humans or animals, and even as trees or rocks.
According to the Arabian mythos humans and jinn share a lot in nature. I already mentioned “free will” as one such shared particular quality, especially in choosing between evil and good acts. The jinn are however susceptible to magic and thus to the influence of human will and desire. In my review I also gave them “human” qualities such as being “intelligent”, possessing their own “desires” and “preferences”. Even as being possessors of great wisdom and profound occult learning, and impressive magical abilities, such as travelling over great distances in a short time, etc. Thus the hordes of evil jinn are regarded by the Arabs as extremely potent and dangerous forces, primarily of conflict and waging of war.
Moreover the jinn, who are both of the male and female sex, are said to build their own communities similar to ours, possessing advanced technology surpassing our own (some even connect UFO phenomena to the jinn), having families, eating and drinking, living and dying, loving and hating, marrying and procreating, getting sick and even being religious, etc. Hence, similar to men the jinn are considered as being mortal, however their life span is considered being much longer compared to that of humans.
As beings of free will they may choose whatever religion, shared by humanity. That’s why the Qur’an states that Muhammed was sent as a prophet to both humanity and the jinn. Thus even a jinni may be salved and being able to ascend to heaven after death, or he may burn eternally in hell. Thus on Judgement Day, according to Islamic theology, both men and jinn will be judged.
So basically the jinn are as us. However they belong to a parallel world to ours and possess greater magical and pshychic abilities, and superhuman powers. Sometimes our respective worlds mix and humans may se into the world of jinn and the jinn enter our world to possess and afflict us, if bent on that hostile attitude.
However what I didn’t say in my review is that not all jinn are evil or hostile towards humans; they do possess free will and as already mentioned may chose between performing either evil or good deeds. On the contrary to the picture as given in the Grand Key, and of the Arabic Solomonic tradition, many of the jinn are supporters of man as many of them did prostrate before Adam. These good jinn are said to be under the command of Metatron himself (which according to Qabalistic interpretations once were the man called Enoch in the Bible, who “walked with God”).
Adepts of the Arabian tradition refer to the “good” or beneficial jinn as luminous, resplendent, sublime and sacred in nature. Furthermore, the jinn may not easily be equated with the Elemental spirits as I suggested in my review, but perhaps in some instances with the Elemental Kings and Queens. Some of the jinn are associated with the Elements because of their habitation or activity, and thus are given surnames to designate their field of operation, such as al-Hawaee (“airy”) and al-Nari (“fiery”), etc. To exemplify, some jinn are said to live near volcanoes, or near or in water, and thus are designated as “fiery” and “watery”. But on the other hand some jinni are also given surnames according to their profession, similar to the practice of human Arabic societies, having nothing to do with their habitation or activities relating to natural phenomena.
This association with Elements and jinn could possibly later have developed into the notion of Elemental Kings or Queens. And in the Golden Dawn tradition the name of the fiery Elemental King is Jinn, which only feels reasonable considering the fact that the jinn, according to the Qur’an, are made from “smokeless fire”.
But according to the Arabic tradition jinn could be harmonious with or live in or close to the other Elements as well. For example there are a class of jinn that are associated with Earth, and which are called Ardhya (“of the Earth”). There is also another type of jinn called the Marid, associated with Water as they find their sanctuary in open waters of the seas and oceans. The Marid are regarded as the most powerful of the jinn, being able to grant wishes, as well as being the most arrogant and proud. The Marid also exhibit mean and evil intentions that may either be done out of spite or out of revenge towards a human being.
But according to the world view held by Arabian Adepts a jinni may never be considered as a spiritual being of a particular Element or elemental, as jinn are separate entities with their own inherent makeup similar to humans, and not of the inherent quality of the Element in which they dwell. As an example, some humans are regarded as “airy” or “fiery”, but no one would ever consider them being the spiritual entities of these Elements. The same reasoning is applied to the jinn. The elementals would more properly be attributed to the ruhaniyyah of the Elements.
However according to the Western magical tradition Elemental Kings and Queens are seen as being evolved Elementals who has been elevated to the status of individual beings, even likened to humans. Thus we may see here a form of a cultural crossover or correspondence between the concept of jinn and Elemental Royalty. The jinn of the Elemental habitations may be regarded as being given the task by God of managing and governing the Elemental Kingdoms, i.e. being compared to a species of Elemental aristocracy, but like in human culture not being part of or deriving from the society of which they rule.
But, as I already have pointed out, not all or even most jinn are considered belonging to the Elemental realm. Besides jinn of a more “mundane” occupation, there are also the jinn Kings associated with the Planets. And in a likewise manner any “saturnine”, or “mercurial” qualities of these jinn are no more inherent than these associated with humans possessing strong Planetary qualities in their natal charts. I.e. the Kings, like the Planetary angels, are beings corresponding to and not of the inherent quality of the Planets themselves, whose latter kind more properly are associated with the ruhaniyyah.
These Planetary Kings are fully described and evoked in the Grand Key of Solomon the King. I surmise that these are also of a more spiritual or sublime, or even celestial nature compared to the corporeal jinni associated with the Elements. Thus, in my opinion, the border between angels and these celestial jinn are not as clear-cut as one would expect, as is also the case with the relations between demons and corporeal jinn, the latter who by Arabian Adepts sometimes are seen as one and the same. Remember also the story regarding Iblis, the devil jinni who was elevated to a status equal to the angels, living in their realm, before being cast our as Satan because of his arrogance and rebellious nature. In the Christian interpretation he is clearly associated with the angel Lucifer.
I wonder if perhaps not all of the jinn originally were of a celestial or spiritual nature but some eventually finding themselves being cast out from heaven, as Adam or man was cast out from the heavenly Eden during the Fall? If this be the case this again can explain for the older origin of the jinn as compared to the human kind, as the former sinned and hence were cast out from heaven before the original sin and fall of man.
I will return to the subject of angels, demons and jinn in a short moment, but must take the liberty of referring to the Christian concept of demons as fallen angels, cast down from heaven together with Lucifer. Thus it was only after the Fall from his original “pure” and “heavenly” state that Adam began to procreate and create communities, etc. I wonder if this also is the case with the corporeal jinn in comparison with the celestial jinn?
But we must not forget that as the Elemental Kings aren’t regarded as evil or demonic there also in Arabian lore exists both good and evil terrestrial jinn, organized in societies, going to local places of worship, going to work, raising their children, etc. As there exist sinful and mischievous jinn, giving in to the temptations of Satan, there also exists pious jinn who serve God and are compassionate in their acts.
But I suspect that the more celestial, i.e. Planetary jinn, cannot easily be compared to the terrestrial ditto but more in activity and nature to that of the angels. However there are also theories in the Golden Dawn, contained in an unpublished document belonging to the Th.A.M. (Theoricus Adeptus Minor) Grade, which concerns the sexual life and sexual organs of angels. But according to its doctrine this kind of sexuality is of a more sublime nature compared to that of the terrestrial humans or jinn.
Let us now leave the particular Arabian view on the jinn and instead focus upon the cross-cultural concurrence of this phenomenon. Taking a perennial stance let us start off with the examination of the Arabian words jinn (plural) and jinni (singular), جني, trying to trace their origin using etymology and uses of similar words in other and neighbouring cultures. The Arabic root JNN means “hidden” or “concealed”, which amply describes how we as humans normally perceive them. But is this word actually of an original Arabian origin or was it perhaps incorporated with the Arabian language and taken from another neighbouring culture?
Sometimes a jinni is referred to as a “genie”, the westernised form of the Arabic word. Now, the word genie derives from the Latin genius. Although the use of the word “genie” in Europe is actually the result of the original French translation of Arabian Nights, which was later borrowed by the English translators, and therefore the etymology between the ancient Latin use of the word “genius” and the Arabian “jinni” somewhat disputed, I find it plausible that the Arabians may have lent the term from the Romans but given it a somewhat different meaning, although there are striking similarities.
The Roman use of the word genius, which translates into “generation” (similar to the word genesis), generally means the inherent and divine nature of a subject or object, i.e. more resembling the Arabian significance of the word “ruhaniyyah”. It on the other hand also applies to them being protective spirits assigned to a human at his birth and following him to his death, which is a bit contradictory as it evokes the idea of a guardian angel. Interestingly enough they were often depicted by the Romans as wearing wings, which is awfully similar to the later representations of angels in Christian iconography. However I personally don’t find these terms or concepts as conflicting as Arabian Sages or Adepts choose to still regard them today. And I believe that the Romans, like their Greek predecessors, hit the mark that is more useful for Adepts within the Golden Dawn and Rosicrucian traditions, i.e. within the Christian esoteric context.
The Romans basically borrowed their concept of the genius from the Greek notions of the daimon, or daemon. In classical Greece the daimon was seen as being either a good or evil intermediary spirit between the divine gods and mortal humans. They were often seen as the guardians of the mortals, sometimes the souls of dead heroes being transmuted into daimones, or divinities.
Plato traces the etymology of the word to daemones, which translates into “knowing” or “wise”. Through Platon we also see the emergence of the evil daimon. This later developed into the Hellenistic division between the good eudaemons and the evil cadodaemons. In the later Christian version of Neo-Platonism the eudaemons were seen as identical to angels, while ordinary daemons were seen as evil, hence the word “demon” in Christian theology.
In ancient Greek religion there was also the notion of agathos daimon or agathodaemon, which translates into “very good spirit”, a synonym to the eudaemon, which served either as a presiding spirit over vineyards and grain fields, or as a personal guardian spirit. This may be directly translated into the later Roman belief in the genius. This must also be the origin of the use of the term “Divine Genius” in the Golden Dawn tradition, i.e. a guardian spirit of a divine nature. In later Christian theology this later developed into the Guardian Angel, which also can be seen in the reference to the “Holy Guardian Angel” of the classical grimorie The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.
The opposite of this guardian spirit is the evil spirit or cacodeamon, which became the “cacodemon” or simply “demon”. This term translates into “evil spirit”. These are the entities that are the subject of demonic evocation in the medieval grimoires, such as The Key of Solomon. Thus in ancient Greek and Roman mythology we may, in my humble opinion, trace the root of the later Arabian concepts of the evil and the good jinn. But as the view upon the genius or daemon in the Greco-Roman concept is rather vague as to their actual nature, i.e. if they may be seen as the inherent nature of the human or as a distinct being outside of him, the Arabs are quite clear in their view on the jinn as separate beings. It seems as the Romans and Hellenistic Greeks saw them as both, while the Arabs divided them into the jinn and the ruhaniyyah.
But whereas the Christians later developed the genii and daemons into our common view on the angels or demons, the Arabs separated the jinn from the creation of angels. Hence it is my belief that the Arabs both drew upon ancient lore and more “modern” (i.e. Christian) mythology in their belief on the supramundane beings. That’s why all this becomes confusing for the Christian Esotericist. Personally I regard the luminous and good jinn, governed by the great archangel Metatron according to Arabian Adepts, of the same nature as the angels (or perhaps a separate class of angels) and thus immortal.
However, the pious and terrestrial jinn, also under the rule of Metatron, being mortal and thus more closely akin to humans, probably more correctly may be regarded as constituting a aristocracy or ruling class of the Elemental Kingdoms, similar to the classical Greco-Roman view on the daimones or genii as overseers of places or fields. Lastly the evil jinn, such as the Ifreet, ruled by Iblis or Satan, in my view must be regarded as the equivalent of the Hellenistic cacodaemons or the Christian demons.
Now how are we then to resolve the issue of the inherent subjective nature versus the distinct and objective entity, of which we will find ample evidence of confusion in ancient and medieval mythology? How may all this be related to the modern concept of the Golden Dawn?
In my review of the Grand Key of Solomon the King I proposed a middle way that respects both views as correct, but seen from different perspectives. In this instance we may again evoke the ever so popular analogy of the nature of the Light in quantum mechanics; i.e. it may either be a particle or a wave according to the perspective or choice of the observer. Perhaps this is also the case with the Divine Genius or Daemon or Jinn of the Magician?
What if our Higher Self or Higher Soul, within ourselves, has its equivalent in the outside world as distinct from ourselves? What if the Holy Guardian Angel is an outer representative of our Higher Self? In my opinion the Golden Dawn concept of the Divine Genius surely may be applied to both perspectives.
According to the fundamental document of the Golden Dawn’s Inner Rosicrucian Order (the Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis) called Ritual “U” – Microcosm, there is the concept of dividing the microcosm according to the Four Worlds of the Qabalah, i.e. Assiah (material and human) Yetzirah (astral and angelic), Briah (mental and archangelic) and Atziluth (casual and divine).
Thus man himself belongs only to Assiah, which arranges him into a complete Tree of Life where his Kether (or Yechidah) forms the Higher Self or Lower Genius. Beyond this “Assiatic” or human Tree formulates the “Yetziratic” Tree in which resides the Guardian Angel or Higher Genius. For all practical purposes this Guardian Angel and Higher Genius may be regarded as an outside entity beyond the mortal nature or humanity. Using Arabian nomenclature the Higher Self or Lower Genius would correspond with the ruhaniyyah while the Guardian Angel or Higher Genius would be the equivalent of man’s own jinni.
Interestingly enough there is an Arabian concept of guardian jinn called “Qareen”. According to Islamic literature the Qareens are jinn-type spirits unique to each individual, which may be translated to “constant companion”. This companion may either be good or evil. If evil the Qareen is said to whisper into man’s soul and tell him to give in to his evil desires. This is obviously the equivalent of the Evil Persona in the Golden Dawn tradition, attributed to Yesod and Nephesh (animal soul), while the good Qareen is the equivalent of the Lower Genius attributed to Kether and Yechidah (divine soul).
Even more interestingly Arabs believe that it is the very deeds of humans that turns the Qareen to either being good or evil. If the human host is given in to mischief and sin, and thus the Qareen being misguided by his human companion straying from the righteous path, it then becomes a shaytaan (in the Golden Dawn tradition called Omoo-Sathan; the evil persona), this being a punishment of God. It is said that the Qareen of Muhammed himself became a devout convert of Islam after hearing the prophet reading from the Qur’an.
In my personal opinion what actually happens is that the human will (distinct from the divine will of man, residing in Yechidah or the Lower Genius), called Ruah or human soul, may either give in to his Evil Persona, corresponding to the demonic Ifreet or rebellious jinn, or to his Lower Genius, i.e. the guardian Genie. Thus according to his actions either the Evil Persona grows in strength and dominion over his Ruah or the Lower Genius becomes more pronounced, and eventually may unite with man’s soul and enlighten it with the Light of God.
Thus in conclusion we here see a striking resemblance between the Arab notion of a Qareen jinni and the Graeco-Roman genius/daemon and the Christian guardian angel, which the exception of the Hellenistic and Christian guardian having more initiative towards the good and being a active spiritual guide. Still there are to many similarities to ignore the perennial outlook upon this subject. And I hope that my tentative speculations have contributed somewhat to this field of research, if not creating a greater confusion that ever before.