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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.