Summoning the Djinn

The djinn have sent ripples of interest through paranormal circles recently, thanks to the publication of Legends of the Fire Spirits (Lebling, 2010) and The Vengeful Djinn (Guiley & Imbrogno, 2011), which have introduced djinn lore to a contemporary western audience.

Djinn are beings made of ‘smokeless fire’, recognised throughout the middle east and the Arabic-speaking world. Created by Allah after the angels, they fell from His favour when they refused to bow before human beings. Expelled from our world as a consequence, many of them do not regard humans kindly. Some will seize any opportunity to supplant us or do us harm.

Reputedly, these beings were created male and female. They pre-date Islam but some have supposedly converted to the faith whilst others remain outside. Some are attracted to humans, yet tend to enjoy playing tricks on us. Some relish mainly the infliction of harm. Others are enlightened beings, yet these tend to remain aloof both from humans and their own kind. And there seem to be others besides whose motives and agenda remain a mystery.

Within cultures that recognise djinn they are often regarded as a single explanation for phenomena which, in the west, are regarded as distinct. Whereas ghosts, abducting aliens and mysterious beasts such as sasquatch and the chupacabra may appear unrelated to a western eye, elsewhere they are regarded equally as manifestations of djinn. The possibility that the djinn offer a unified theory of strangeness is the key theme of Guiley and Imbrogno’s The Vengeful Djinn.

The Vengeful Djinn

Guiley and Imbrogno's 'The Vengeful Djinn'. A unified theory of strangeness?

I hope to thrash out later my views on why a unified theory of the paranormal is problematic, but firstly I decided to summon a djinni and gain a better ‘feel’ for these entities. I chose to adapt a ritual I’ve seen copied and pasted around the internet, which involves writing on a mirror what appears to be a statement of intent in phonetic Arabic, specifying the gender and type of djinni to be summoned. The ritual begins and ends with the lighting and blowing out of three coloured candles, to the accompaniment of an opening and closing incantation repeated three times.

I carried over these elements into my ritual, although the words on the mirror I wrote onto paper, taping them to the glass beforehand to save time. I used ‘Ali Allah hamal jinni muschna shamal al-amari closun ontei‘ to specify a male djinni of the lowest, least powerful rank. And I opted for identical white LED candles, because these are more convenient and safer in a confined space.

Djinn can be nasty, so I placed the mirror in a Triangle of Art and kept the LED candles safely inside a protective, roughly circular area marked out by string. There were seven of us inside the ‘circle’. We planned to fortify our boundary of string by reciting in English the 99 Beautiful Names of Allah, placing around the circumference the strips of paper onto which we’d printed them. Also in the circle were a ouija board and planchette, for use in speaking with the djinni. For good measure, in the triangle, I also placed my ghostbox, made from a transistor radio with a component intentionally hacked to force it to scan the AM waveband without locking onto any specific channel. This would supply a randomised ‘voicebox’ for the djinni, which it could also use for communication in addition to the ouija.

To open the session I burnt incense made from asafoetida, wormwood and dittany of Crete, a combination that might traditionally be supposed to attract ‘low’ entities. Then we entered the circle, recited the 99 names, and I delivered three times the incantation, ‘Allah shafim barat shiu kamir‘, switching on one of the LED candles after each.

Something perturbing happened almost right away: the ghostbox in the triangle stopped scanning at exactly the moment we addressed our first question, and remained locked on a local news channel, which was not only disappointing but also distracting. We were all seasoned magicians, however, so we did not succumb to the temptation of supposing the summoning had failed, blithely dipping outside the circle to set the ghostbox right.

It’s vital to appreciate that in an important sense, magick never fails. What better trick to entice us out of our protection than to make it seem the ritual hadn’t worked? Instead, we simply accepted that the ghostbox was now lost. (In retrospect, I should have kept it inside the circle.)

Things were slow to start – again, perhaps this was a ruse to convince us the summoning had failed. The planchette was moving, but so weakly and indecisively that I repeated the incantation. Finally it roamed to ‘YES’, in answer to our repeated question whether the djinni was present. We noticed it indicated its responses with the tip of the planchette, rather than through the window in the centre.

On ouija duty were Soror E and Soror M, our two female members. No one apart from myself had read up on the djinn, or had even been aware that this was how we would be spending the evening, so conditions were good for testing the entity.

In response to, ‘What is your gender?’ the planchette beneath the hands of our sorors moved to ‘M’ for male. I was the only one aware that the statement of intent on the mirror specified a male. In answer to, ‘What is the initial of the djinni who rebelled against Allah?’ the planchette moved directly to ‘I’ for ‘Iblis’, the correct answer, which – when I revealed this information to the group – elicited some raised eyebrows. (It’s so funny, as Ramsey Dukes has pointed out [2011: 22], how no one, not even experienced magicians, actually expects magick to work.) Perhaps it was a coincidence; perhaps it was unconscious telepathy by Sorors E and M; in either case, we now had a sufficient basis for an experience of having summoned a djinni.

Communication was still slow, however, and vague. We invited the djinni to manifest some physical effects, such as changing the channel on the ghostbox or producing knocking sounds. Having listened to the audio record, there is perhaps a distant-sounding knock immediately after my first request, but eventually the djinni stated via the ouija that it couldn’t deliver. The vague responses continued, until Soror M noticed that the radio was saying something about ‘women introducing men’, and wondered whether this was a communication that male members of the group should take up the ouija. Fraters B, K and Q stepped up to the breach and we started to receive some stronger answers, but there were no more instances of the strikingly transpersonal responses that had been attained through Sorors E and M.

The gist of the conversation was as follows:

Do the djinn exist?

What is your attitude to human beings?

Why do you hate us?

There was a good deal of gibberish mixed in with the answers, which the djinni more than once declared was intentional. But perhaps ‘EVJK’ was meant to be ‘EVIL’, with the last two letters shifted each by one place.

Is Allah the One God, and is Mohammed His Prophet?

Evidently, our djinni had converted to Islam, or was pretending to have done so.

A djinni in a cave

This photo of 'a djinni in a cave' has been circulated so much that its origin is probably now untraceable.

What is your age?
DJINNI: 970.

This was then denied immediately afterwards and revised down to ’90’.

Do the djinn favour humans who are Moslem?

It was then revealed that the djinn despise all humans, regardless of their religious tradition.

Do you have a plan for the human race?

Are you responsible for all of the phenomena that we call ‘paranormal’?

Some of it?

Are you responsible for UFOs?

Alien abductions?

Are aliens real?

Are you responsible for ghosts?

Bigfoot and other strange animals?

Where do you live?

The first word makes sense, but when challenged concerning the rest the djinni immediately confessed that it was talking gibberish.

Do you tell the truth?

Do you inhabit the same space as we do?

Is there a way that we can get to where you live?

Is there a way that you can get to where we live?

Are you in this room with us now? In the triangle?

There was some discussion about whether we should liberate the djinni, using the technique we have previously used with spirits of the human dead. The djinni stated that he wanted us to do this, but I was reluctant. The djinni had told us that he hated and wanted to burn us; my gut feeling was that if we tried to liberate him, he would just sit back and laugh.

Frater B invited the djinni, as a fire spirit, to affect the candles at the corners of the triangle. Immediately, one of them burnt out, but the djinni then denied via the ouija that he had caused this to happen.

Satisfied that I had at least obtained answers to all the questions I’d prepared, we gave the djinni leave to depart. It refused, and persisted in moving the planchette. But after I’d recited the ritual’s closing incantation three times, ‘En tien Allah cluman‘, turning off one of the LED candles on each recitation, the planchette ceased roaming and the spirit seemed to have gone. Yet before anyone set foot outside the circle, we performed a final, vigorous IAO banishing.

Overall, the session seemed to me to have been quite successful – especially the response to the test questions. The knocking sound captured on the audio is not evidence of anything, but certainly occurred at the right moment, and sounds completely at odds with the physical space we were actually in: a common characteristic of paranormal audio effects. What struck me most of all, however, was how tricky and malevolent the manifestation had been. It seemed as if the djinni had thrown the ghostbox back in our faces, more interested in using it as a trick to coax us outside the circle than in communicating through it. The palpable hatred of humans and the desire to burn us were not exactly endearing either. Given that this djinni was supposedly among the least powerful and most friendly, I would think hard before I summoned one from higher up the ranks.


A djinni knocks in response to our invitation? [MP3, 300Kb, 20 secs]


Ramsey Dukes (2011). How To See Fairies. London: Aeon.

Rosemary Ellen Guiley & Philip J. Imbrogno (2011). The Vengeful Djinn: Unveiling the Hidden Agendas of Genies. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn.

Robert Lebling (2010). Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar. London & New York: I.B. Tauris.

The John Dee Working

Near the end of September, 2010, Alan and I travelled to Mortlake in London, to contact the spirit of the Elizabethan magus, Dr. John Dee, near the site where his house once stood by the River Thames.

Our first call was the Saturday coffee-morning at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Dee is rumoured to have been buried here beneath the chancel, although his memorial stone vanished centuries ago. We were made very welcome by the parishioners, and found out much about the building’s history, in the process realising just how thoroughly posterity has wiped away all traces of Dee.

monas hieroglyphica

The Monas Hieroglyphica.

After a break for lunch we made our way across the road from the church, where a local historian advised us Dee’s house had stood. Muddy steps led down from the path to the gravelled riverbank. Using the pendulum, we ascertained this was indeed the site of Dee’s house, but were told it was not a good place to perform our ritual. We were directed instead twenty feet along the riverbank, to a tree on which both of us repeatedly bashed our heads as we set up the equipment. We discovered a length of chain attached to the wall, which we used to form a circle. In the middle we made a shrine from stones that included Dee’s picture, the monas hieroglyphica, and an offering of incense.

Alan started the evocation, when we noticed that the tide was coming in. Indeed, the steps we’d descended to the riverbank were already underwater – we would have to scale the wall to escape! Confusion gained the upper hand as we tried to work out whether there would be enough time for the ritual. However, the pendulum had directed us well. The spot it had led us to was the very last to vanish beneath the waves. There was just enough time for a quick chat with Dee.

Are you here with us?
I can see the churchyard.

Are you buried in St Mary’s church?
I can see Dee standing there. Dressed in a dark blue or black gown, with a skull cap of the same colour.

Thank you for speaking with us today. Are you buried in the chancel of St Mary’s church?
I can see him standing in the chancel. He is pointing his wand downwards. He is slightly to the left of where we were filming.

Can you tell us anything about your relationship with the angels?
I can see a triangle of gold.

Has anything been missed from the historical record in terms of your interaction with the angelic beings?
Dee went on a journey with them. I see Dee on a passenger jet plane.

What do the last words written in your diary actually mean?
[No response.]

What happened to Edward Kelley?
I see an old man.

So he didn’t fall from a tower and die?
I see an old man – not living in very pleasant circumstances, but old.

[The trance is interrupted as Alan notices the tide edging perilously close.]

Is there any karmic connection between yourself and Duncan?
There is. But it’s not resolving easily into words. The colour blue. Moods. Personalities.

Dee as Britannia

John Dee. Inventor of the British Empire.

The hieroglyphic monad – can you tell us what it means?
Something to do with the Sun – that’s the important part, which is not obvious.

Does the sun represent in some way spiritual awakening or enlightenment?
I can see Dee’s face and figure projected onto the monad. The monad is, in a sense, a representation of him. But he doesn’t understand the question in the terms you’ve put it. It’s a portrait of himself in some sense.

Did you and Kelley manage to create the alchemical gold?
I think he’s saying, ‘No’. He’s saying something about the moon – so, the opposite of what you just asked. What he discovered with Kelley was the opposite of that.

Was the alchemy that you were involved in more spiritual in nature?
He keeps showing me the green man in the churchyard. He keeps showing me images with his face woven into them… Oh, his final words in his diary: not ‘tonitum’ but tertium. Not ‘corffe’ but quid.

Any final message for myself or Duncan?
I can see a triangular figure. It’s gold. Solar. Hot. Fire. Turning clockwise. It’s a reworking of the OE symbol, the three hares. It has been transmuted into gold. It is turning.

Is he simply wishing us luck with our work?
The shape means something.

Are you at peace with the way you’ve been erased from history?
There is some real sorrow around that.

[A vision of Dee in drag, as Britannia.]


The John Dee Working

A short film about the working. Click to view on YouTube. (Duration: 6 mins.)