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Paramahansa Yogananda's "The Spell"

Paramahansa Yogananda's poems serve to deepen yoga meditation, offering devotees new ways of grasping the spiritual nature of all creation.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Introduction and Excerpt From"The Spell"

Paramahansa Yogananda's "The Spell" creates a little drama featuring nighttime as nectar brewed by the sun, and that nectar is a potion that casts the spell of sleep over the tired individual, alleviating his/her thirst for rest. The fascinating little piece includes a brief prayer that invokes the Blessed One to allow this spell to provide this fatigued physical body of "little fleshly cell[s"] with the rest it needs to refresh itself.

Excerpt From "The Spell"

Ah, this old, old nectar of night,
Brewed below by sun-god bright —
Let every little fleshly cell
That's tired and thirsty drink it well; . . .

(Please note: The poem in its entirety may be found in Paramahansa Yogananda's Songs of the Soul, published by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA, 1983 and 2014 printings.)


The speaker metaphorically likens falling asleep to falling under the power of a "spell."

First Movement: The Sun-God Is Brewing the Nectar of Night

The speaker describes night as "old, old nectar," but he is also referring to the subject of his discourse which is "sleep." He creates a fascinating drama of night being "brewed" by the "sun-god" whose is located "below." Of course, while the sun is shining visible upon one hemisphere of the earth, the other one is experiencing night.

The adverb "below," however, does not refer to location; it refers to disposition. The sun-god's location is a mental concept here, and is more congruent as a period of time than as a place. Thus, in dramatically active terms, the sun-god as he appears to the hemisphere of earth on which he is shining is metaphorically brewing the nectar that is night.

Second Movement: A Prayer for Rest

The speaker then prays that every living cell of the physical encasement allow itself to drink deep of this nighttime nectar which brings about the "soothing spell of sleep." It is sleep that refreshes the body after it becomes tired. When that body becomes tired, it also grows thirsty for the state of sleep that it has come to know as the cure for that fatigue.

The speaker accuses the heart and brain of "infect[ing]" those "little fleshly cell[s]" with the aches have been accumulating during the daytime activities and that result in the state of tiredness that then thirsts for rest and relaxation. It aches to come under this "spell of sleep" that the nectar of nighttime will afford it.

Third Movement: Falling Asleep

The speaker then dramatizes the act of falling asleep. Sleep is this "spell" that quickly marches into his consciousness, seeming to fall over him and warm him as it takes him out of ordinary, daytime consciousness. The state of sleep is thus metaphorically likened to having one come under a spell that alters that consciousness.

This "spell" is not comparable to that cast for selfish purposes by another person—it is common in the culture that casting spells is the purview of witches, wizards, and feminine sex-appeal—this spell results in the refreshment of the one over whom it is cast.

Fourth Movement: Erasing Thought from the Mind

The speaker continues his thought from the previous movement. The spell that is being cast over him has caused him to feel warm, and now he finds that it is loosening the myriad thoughts that have kept his mind busy.

This spell is now removing, or more colorfully "rob[bing]," those thought from the mind of the tired body that is now falling asleep. Thus the speaker willingly allows his consciousness to become a "prisoner" because being a prisoner of such a comforting force provides a "charm" that the tired body desperately needs.

A spiritual classic

A spiritual classic

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes

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