Magic, Genies, and More: The Supernatural In and Out of Iran.

Dec. 6, 2023

…she was trapped in her bottle by an evil jinn after she refused to marry him… a snippet of a film description for the 1952 movie, I dream of Jeannie that later became an American comedy of the same name.

Jiin in folklore hold an impressive command over the popular imagination. Special precautions are taken against harming or summoning them. Thus, they are often referred to by antiphrasis like az mã  behtarãn (those better than we) or ‘azïzãn (the dear ones) and special care is taken not to summon them inadvertently by mentioning their name, whistling or otherwise provoking their wrath…(Masse, p. 357-58; cf. Loeffler, p.142)

Disney put a spin on jinn with its 1992 debut of Aladdin, who found love and support from his friendly and helpful sidekick, his big, blue friend.

Please join three of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center’s fellows who will tell tales on how the supernatural and magic—from fortune-telling to beliefs around jinn (or genies) and the evil eye—are integrated into people’s everyday lives and practices inside Iran and circulated globally through its diasporas.

We'll have Turkish coffee, authentic Persian sweets, and other fun goodies to share!

Come for the knowledge, stay to explore, make connections with the community, and perhaps have your fortune told with a genuine (albeit drastically shorter) coffee reading. Engage in a fun and new activity in a low-pressure environment as you enrich your knowledge about potentially lesser-known practices and beliefs.

The session will take place on January 24 at noon.


Wintersession registration opens Monday, December 11 at 8 am. Reserve your spot for tea with fellows, friends and jinn.

Researchers Beeta Baghoolizadeh, Maral Sahebjame, and Negar Razavi will host the session, along with a special guest who will do the readings. Baghoolizadeh is currently working on her next book, which looks at jinn through a historical lens. In this session, she will focus on beliefs around jinn in Iran. Sahebjame will speak about the gendered dimensions of these magical beliefs and practices, and Razavi will speak about her experiences with fortune tellers and rituals around the evil eye.