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Friday, March 9, 2018
by Rain Al-Alim
Published by Scarlet Imprint
I have recently finished reading Jinn Sorcery by Rain Al-Alim, a book published in February of 2018 by Scarlet Imprint. I would like to now give my thoughts and impressions. As is the case with these kinds of things there are things I like and things that I feel are less than ideal.
I think it is probably important for me to give a brief accounting of the perspective with which I come to this task of writing a review for this book. Probably the biggest factor in my point of view is that I have had little exposure to the mythology of the jinn. Other than the representations in contemporary American culture, a reading of some of A Thousand and One Nights, and a study of the Latin Picatrix (which doesn’t really deal with jinn at all), I really know very little about the jinn. I have not read any of the contemporary treatments of the mythology nor any of the contemporary books that purport to teach jinn magic. My childhood had little exposure to peoples of the Middle East. You, dear reader, can make a judgement if this is a detriment or a benefit to my reading of Jinn Sorcery.
So, why did I buy this book if its subject matter is outside my general purview? Curiosity mostly. I, of course, had heard of jinn but knowing little about them I hadn’t felt compelled to work with them. I have a lot of respect for Scarlet Imprint have have several of their volumes. I know they put out quality products and I decided this was a way to dip my toe into reading about jinn magic without worrying that I was reading some pulp drivel someone invented one day when there was nothing on the television. And this brings up a second reason I bought this book, that it is reported to have hand written manuscript sources written by practitioners presumably transmitted from traditions that may be generations old. And indeed two manuscripts are listed in the bibliography. Further, I trusted that Scarlet Imprint would research and vet the translations and the written Arabic script and ensure their accuracy, since I am unable to do so.
As is the case with all of Scarlet Imprint’s publications, the book as a physical object is beautiful. My copy is number 269 of 1000 of the gold cover, standard hardback editions. The gold cover is glittering and shiny and I imagine that I would feel conspicuous reading this on the bus but it fits the Arabian themes very well. The paper stock that makes up the endpapers and pages are thick and excellent quality. I do, however, miss the letterpress embossing of the text that I fell in love with in my paperback copies of Geosophia and The True Grimoire. I also noticed that by the time I finished reading the book the gold cover retained some smudges where my fingers had rubbed against the gold.
In terms of the contents of the book one thing is immediately apparent; this is not a book for beginners. The book is brief at only 88 pages and, in my opinion, this brevity is both good and bad. It lends credence to the idea that Jinn Sorcery may be mostly or entirely derived from the notes of hand written manuscripts. After a short preface in which the hierarchy of jinn is touched upon the book dives straight into workings and, in fact, the entire book is only workings of various kinds. Outside of the preface and the endnotes for each chapter there is no material that constitutes an examination of the mythology, its cultural contexts, or where there might be intersection between jinn workings and other workings familiar to the contemporary Western practitioner. Perhaps this information is considered common and readily available from other sources.
Being a practitioner myself I saw several instances where the procedures and talismans in Jinn Sorcery had connections or similarities to workings in the Picatrix and to workings in the European grimoires. This made me question how much influence those sources had on the authors of Jinn Sorcery. If a jinn seal for scrying seems to me to resemble the seal of Scirlin in the True Grimoire are they from a common source? Did one influence the other or are they completely unrelated? I would have really appreciated more material in terms of comparing and contrasting this material with other sources. An examination of the roots of jinn magic and how they may be the same roots or not as other practices would have also been nice.
The workings themselves follow a basic pattern; a talismanic seal is drawn, lines from the Qur’an are written (either on the body of the seer or on paper), incense is burned, and a conjuration is recited many times (I saw as little as 9 and as many as several thousand). Seclusion is often prescribed as is fasting for a week to a month. In many ways the workings for jinn conjuration resembled the Abramelin working (which I haven’t done) in that the magician is expected to fully concentrate for the week or month or more on prayers and conjurations while constantly observing ritual purity. These are workings of intense concentration and focus and is another reason I feel this book is not so much for beginners. It is probably wise that these workings be reserved for magicians with experience in spirit work. I don’t doubt that the workings are effective but I have yet to try any myself.
A couple of things I found particularly interesting in Jinn Sorcery are, first, that the book tells the magician to greet the spirits in peace and/or that the spirit will greet the magician in peace. This is in striking contrast to the European grimoires that assume the spirits from their catalogs to be antithetical to the magician. This isn’t to say that there are no warnings or dangers in working the magic of Jinn Sorcery. One of the warnings comes from the workings that are the second thing I find particularly fascinating about this book, that is, marriage to a jinn. The book tells us that once one is married to a jinn they can never be with a human again lest the jinn get terribly jealous and injure the magician.
All in all this is a great book and I am glad to have added it to my library. The greatest benefit for me personally is that it gives me a perspective on how magic in this region of the world is practiced. I can’t say that I am well versed enough to modify any of the workings but perhaps someone with more experience will be able to. Over the subsequent weeks and months I will probably try some of the workings.