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Remember the old television show “Bewitched”? A friend of mine used to wish she had Samantha’s magical powers — so, with a twitch of her nose, she could cast a spell and bend the world to her will.
“If I had her powers and knew the magical words,” she would say with a half-joking sigh, “the housework would be done.”
Magic holds a tremendous appeal for just about everybody. Down through the ages, stories about those with magical powers have both fascinated and frightened us. Because of the mythology of magic, spells, and incantations, I’ve wondered — is there any basis in reality for magic?
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As a Baha’i, I’ve searched the Baha’i writings to see if I could find anything about any extraordinary powers we humans may have. I’ve thought, too, about the power of spoken words beyond the ordinary. Do certain words have an outsized impact on our minds and our souls?
Intone, O My servants, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men.
Intone means to speak aloud or chant. In order to be heard, we have to give voice to our words. When we speak, our larynx, throat, and tongue push sound vibrations out into the air, and create the means by which our words become heard. This vibration, or melody, is how the power of these words, the verses of God, are transmitted and have their effect.
The Baha’i writings say that these words have the power to kindle, or set aflame, our souls, to such a degree that we will attract the hearts of others — summarized by this even more astounding promise from Baha’u’llah:
Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb.
So the sweetness of our spiritual melody is enhanced by mystical means, by “scattering angels,” and transformed to such a degree that its power can be felt over great distances and cause the hearts of others to throb.
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Most likely a metaphorical and metaphysical promise rather than a literal one, this passage from the Baha’i writings provides an example of our powers and words that goes beyond the ordinary. The sweetness that we add to the melody and the words themselves, working together with the divine inspiration of a new revelation, have a mystical (dare I say magical?) influence upon the soul.
Besides this “sweetness,” what magic can humans perform? What powers do the Baha’i writings say we have? Baha’u’llah wrote:
Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty.
Can we become powerful “mirrors” of God, and if so, how? Baha’u’llah explained:
These energies with which the Day Star of Divine bounty and Source of heavenly guidance hath endowed the reality of man lie, however, latent within him, even as the flame is hidden within the candle and the rays of light are potentially present in the lamp.
So these powers are potential, not actualized. How can they be manifested? Baha’u’llah wrote that “the Day Star of Truth” uses the inspiration of God’s words:
… for the cleansing of every longing heart and receptive spirit from the dross and dust of earthly cares and limitations. Then, and only then, will the Trust of God, latent in the reality of man, emerge, as resplendent as the rising Orb of Divine Revelation, from behind the veil of concealment, and implant the ensign of its revealed glory upon the summits of men’s hearts. Through the Teachings of this Day Star of Truth every man will advance and develop until he attaineth the station at which he can manifest all the potential forces with which his inmost true self hath been endowed.
Humankind has a tremendous potential, already within us, to create a magical transformation in both individual and collective life.