Enchanted Vocabulary: Himma

Himma is a word used by medieval Sufi mystics to mean the creativity of the heart. It’s closely related to intention, desire, and the soul’s capacity to imagine.

Persian frieze tile with phoenix, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Persian frieze tile with phoenix, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tom Cheetham describes the idea like this: “The archetypal creative act is not based on Power but on Love…. To create is to Love, to let flower…. This is the meaning of himma: real being is created not by thought, but by passion” (from The World Turned Inside Out). To create is to let flower. That means allowing and surrendering – not forcing or controlling.

So himma means a shift from the illusionary “power” of thinking-fearing-dreading-planning, and into the strength of loving and letting.

Imagine it: the locus of your awareness hovers somewhere behind your eyes. Feel it there. Now let it drop down, down, to a place behind your breastbone. Let it hover. Let it relax. Let it spread out. Let your eyes adjust to this new kind of light, the low glow at the edges that pulses with the creativity of that which is vast. This is the space of openness, of receptivity. This is peace and passion both at once. This is himma.

Enchantment as a Strategy

What if enchantment bathes the whole world and everything in it? What if everything comes from and returns to sparkle?

Flaming Heart, by Megan Massacre
Flaming Heart, by Megan Massacre

To live in enchantment, choose to feel enchanted. If you don’t feel enchanted, and you want to, change how you feel, like changing the radio station. You’re free to tune to a different channel — despair, boredom, terror, whatever — but awe, wonder, love, and fun — the ingredients of enchantment — grease the wheels for creative ideas, for innovative responses and fresh perspectives.

It might go like this:

  1. Gather your energy into your center. Somewhere inside your ribs. It shines there like a small sun.
  2. Remember that the sun is a star.
  3. Know that enchantment is not about you. It’s far, far bigger than you, but still, you get to choose your enchanted response. You get to make decisions.
  4. Feel into the creative, collaborative day ahead. Your fairy godmother waves her wand and showers you with the same magical stardust that makes up the earth and your body.
  5. Listen close, all day long. Listen for your guidance.
  6. Shazam.

The Enchanted Revolution

Some say that incremental change is the safest, sanest way to address systemic problems. But sometimes, when the cracks in a broken system shiver with seismic reverberations, and the pressure of looming catastrophe feels crushing, baby steps will not work, personally or collectively. Then it’s time for transformation, and transformation begins with enchantment.

To enchant a tricky situation:

  • stop judging it, so you can
  • look at it differently and
  • hold it lightly as you
  • attune to the possibilities that orbit like electrons, which will let you
  • stay nimble, stay quick, the better to
  • appreciate the metaphors and no matter what
  • be willing to learn
  • be willing to teach
  • be willing to work
  • be willing to play
  • be willing listen for wisdom and always, always
  • remember that it’s not about you any more than
  • it’s about everyone and all that is.


blue and green girl

Magical Thinking vs Magical Being

Magical thinking is the literal belief in a connection between a cause and an event that in fact have little or no connection. It’s superstition, and it mistakes magic for a rule system. Magical thinking happens in the head and tries to manipulate the universe. It’s fundamentally fearful.

Helix Nebula, nasa.gov
Helix Nebula, nasa.gov

Magical being, on the other hand, is an orientation, a consciously chosen mode of experience that opens to the creative capacities of the universe. Magical being cooperates with existence, collaborates with it, allows it to offer suggestions, opportunities, possibilities.

Magical being happens in the heart, along with the other great invisibilities such as love, wonder, and awe. These powers — so elusive when it comes to weights, measures, forecasts, and charts — are the ingredients of any spell worth casting.


Enchantment holds no investments in endings or outcomes. What’s an outcome, anyway? Nothing ever actually stops, and anything temporarily seen as an ending is also a beginning and middle, depending on your point of view.

img_9403-2Enchantment focuses on the flow, the moment. Enchantment attends to this sparkle, this stardust, this situation calling for an enchanted response.

Happy-Ever-After describes a feeling that happens outside clock time, literal time, mind time. It happens in soul time, metaphor time, magic time, heart time. It also isn’t happy, per se. It’s bigger than that. Enchantment feels the fathomless.

In the moments when love sings out — at births, deaths, fallings-in-love, breakings-up, every random waylay of wonder — a high note sounds that cannot stop. Enchantment listens, and hears, and listens, and hears, now and always, ever and after and ever again.