The word genie is actually a Western interpretation of the original Middle Eastern term, djinn or jinn. A djinn refers to anything that falls into the category of concealment, much as the genies we know and love tend to be concealed in bottles or lamps. The Genies as we see today can be kind, caring creatures, or tricky and spiteful. Either way, we always enjoy their presence in our favorite movies, shows, or books.
Standard Genie Lore
Genies are mystical creatures, sometimes appearing similar to ghosts, who are contained in an object such as a lamp or bottle. When the container is rubbed correctly, or the genie is called up, he, she or it will appear and grant wishes for the master. Usually the master is given three wishes, and the genie remains a captive unless he is wished free by the one he serves.
Because of this forced servitude and cramped quarters, many genies are irksome and cranky. They are forced to grant wishes, but may do so with their own interpretations. Other genies are more focused on actually helping their master. They might enjoy the master's company or hope to be wished free. Some simply have a pleasant nature, regardless of circumstances.
About half of the genies we see in movies or on television are kind and caring. Genie, as played by Robin Williams, in Disney's Aladdin is the perfect example. He is funny, nice, and uses his magic to help Aladdin land the girl of his dreams Ė the beautiful Jasmine. In "I Dream of Jeannie", a popular sit-com from the 1970s, Jeannie was a genie in love with her master, and used her magic to help him around the house in hopes of him returning her love. He does finally fall in love with Jeannie and marry her in the fifth and final season of the show.
Other genies are much trickier and try to teach their unfortunate masters a lesson. These unkind creatures find ways to abide by the parameters of the wish, but make the situation play out in their favor or cause something unpleasant to happen. An example of this would be wishing for a million dollars, only to be in a terrible car accident and win the million dollars in a lawsuit for your injuries or friend's death. Hey, you got your million dollars didn't you? These genies tend to appear in fantasy novels or darker movies, such as "Wishmaster."
Finding Your Own Genie
If you are looking for your own genie, you need to start a bit farther than your own backyard. Genie lamps or bottles are almost always elaborately decorated and usually hidden away in the far reaches of the earth. Island beaches or shifting desert sands conceal these creatures.
Your best bet would be to score your local flea markets or antique shops to see if you find any beautiful or unusual containers. If you do, very discreetly give the lamp or bottle a few rubs and shakes or whisper into it. If you've got a live one, you'll know soon enough. Your genie will appear, and you must be on guard. Three wishes can bring you great fortune or great disaster. Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it...