Jeki Bud, Jeki Na Bud (It was, it was not) ~ Beginning of Fairy Tales in Persian
“So let us return to the matter in hand: this spiritual world surely takes on many different forms and manifests in perceptible forms.” ~ Ibn Arabi, in Futūhāt al-Makkiyya
Once upon a time…
The Prince Janshah, accompanied by his slaves and friends chased a beautiful deer that vanished each time they came closer to it. Little by little the Prince lost his companions and his slaves, one after the other, until he becomes the only survivor of the group. He finds himself in a wild, isolated environment. For the first time in his life Janshah is confronted with his own self in real solitude. This is the first degree of a long initiation unraveling to the hero, who is only fifteen years old. This means he is neither a child nor an adult and on his iniatic way to become a man.
“But no sooner that he sets eyes on her than she becomes a bird and flies away”.
Janshah’s journey is long and takes him to unfamiliar places. He faces all kinds of perils and encounters many weird creatures, and finally he sees from a far distance a faraway castle. He walks day and night to reach it. He enters it and meets a Shaykh named Nur, a very old Jinni who rules over birds from the time of the Prophet Solomon. Skaykh Nur grants him refuge and allows him to wander through the entire castle with the exception of one room. Now Janshah’s second stage of initiation begins. As in all fairy tales, Janshah transgresses the rule and enters the room to fulfill his destiny. In this forbidden place he finds his one beloved, a Jinnayah (female Jinn) of ravishing beauty. But no sooner that he sets eyes on her than she becomes a bird and flies away. Janshah is enraptured and a feverish passion burns in his heart. In his yearning for the female Jinn he wastes away to skin and bones. One day, he tells his Shakyh about his encounter and Shakyh Nur informs the youth that his beloved is a Jinnayah called Shamsah.
Now, his third iniatic stage begins. Janshah waits and lingers for a whole year to see his beloved Jinnayah again, who returns together with all the other birds to the castle. During this time Janshah laments and cries for the Jinnayah. Finally Shamshah and her friends return. Janshah, as his mentor Shaykh Nur advises him, steals her feathered dress. He promises to return it if she marries him, which she does. She stays with him for some time, but one day she finds the dress Janshah has hidden from her, and flies away. The tale continues:
“For the Lady Shamsah had said to her parents “Janshah loveth me with passionate love and for sure he will follow me, and when flying from his father’s roof I cried to him, “If thou love me, seek me at Takni, the Castle of Jewels!“
Janshah must embark on a second journey to recover his beloved. This signals his fourth and last stage of initiation. The hero once again comes across a series of strenuous ordeals that he overcomes to be reunited with his beloved Jinnayah.
Retold and quoted with some alterations from “1001 Arabian Nights”, and “Islam, Arabs and the Intelligent World of the Jinn” by the very exellent and admirable Amira El-Zein.