In Moroccan mythology, the Jnun (plural, meaning “spirits/ghosts”; singular- Jenn) are invisible spirit-beings, some of which (particularly ‘Aisha Qandisha) can take the form of attractive women or monstrous hags. If this type is encountered by a person and a knife isn’t plunged into the ground, the Jenn will possess the person. This possession causes several negative physical and psychological affects and results in impotence as well. The Jenn cannot be exorcised, it can only be placated. The usual means of placation are a trance-inducing ritual, music, or animal sacrifice (music creates a state known as hal which can grant baraka to spirits which accept the music). Their etymology is related to the Jinn.
The mluk (sing. melk) are abstract entities that gather a number of similar jinn (genie spirits). The participants enter a trance state (jedba) in which they may perform spectacular dances. By means of these dances, participants negotiate their relationships with the mluk either placating them if they have been offended or strengthening an existing relationship. The mluk are evoked by seven musical patterns, seven melodic and rhythmic cells, who set up the seven suites that form the repertoire of dance and music of the Gnawa ritual. During these seven suites, seven different types of incense are burned and the dancers are covered by veils of seven different colours.
Each of the seven families of mluk is populated by many “characters” identifiable by the music and by the footsteps of the dance. Each melk is accompanied by its specific colour, incense, rhythm and dance. These entities, treated like “presences” (called hadra, Arabic: حضرة) that the consciousness meets in ecstatic space and time, are related to mental complexes, human characters, and behaviors. The aim of the ritual is to reintegrate and to balance the main powers of the human body, made by the same energy that supports the perceptible phenomena and divine creative activity.