Recently, I wrote about the genius in all of us. There was quite a divided response to this article which indicated the doubt so many have about our own tremendous inner capacities, and this inspired me to delve further into what the word ‘genius’ actually means. I don’t believe that this is the exclusive club it has been perceived to be and it may be expressed or experienced differently for each of us. When I embark on this kind of inquiry, I always look up the etymology of the word – it’s origins – and although it sheds some light on the meaning, we can also use our own inner knowing to discover what it means to us personally and this, I believe, is the most powerful and empowering aspect of this kind of inquiry. It is the first rule of using your inner genie. It is an inner exploration as well as an outer one as our beliefs and understanding are a personal matter.
Let’s begin with the word ‘genius’. This is just one account of its origins but I think we can glean a lot from it.
late 14c., “tutelary or moral spirit” who guides and governs an individual through life, from Latin genius “guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth; spirit, incarnation; wit, talent;” also “prophetic skill; the male spirit of a gens,” originally “generative power” (or “inborn nature”), from PIE *gen(e)-yo-, from root *gene- “give birth, beget,” with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups. Sense of “characteristic disposition” of a person is from 1580s. Meaning “person of natural intelligence or talent” and that of “exalted natural mental ability” are first recorded 1640s.
The above description of the origins of this word would seem to indicate that it is not from the outside world of knowledge that one gains this kind of distinctive and highly regarded intelligence. I would agree with this. It points to a guiding spirit and this is something I now experience and connect with daily. It has improved my life and my understanding of it substantially, and I believe we all have this capacity. This connection leads to phenomenal insight, rather than being so completely influenced by the mass dissemination of information from the outer world, which is not often driven by this deep source of understanding.
I will comment on one part of the above description of the origins of the word genius; specifically, this statement: “the male spirit of a gens”. I have not found any other reference to this so far that indicates a specifically male aspect but many references of ‘gens’ related to Jinni or Genie interestingly – more on this later. We all have both masculine and feminine in us and although we may experience a presence or spirit as masculine or feminine, they have both of these qualities as we do. The polarization of these masculine and feminine qualities has created a harmful social divide. Through my own inner spiritual connection, I have been moving into a more harmonious state which involves an awareness and balancing of these masculine and feminine qualities in a way that is ideal for me. I see the potential for all of us to do so. It doesn’t mean that we will all have the same opinions or experiences; it just means that we will be able to live peacefully in this diversity of life.
When I looked at the root words of ‘genius’, I couldn’t help but think of the word “genie” and see a connection. Whether or not the writer of this recorded etymology agrees with me, to me, it seems there is a very clear relationship between these two words. One that not everyone will be comfortable with but this is often true when we make discoveries that change our worldview or understanding of how things are. I know this from personal experience. Above all, I always recommend that when determining whether or not you agree with this, to consult that inner knowing/genie/genius.
Definitions from Oxford Languages
mid 17th century (denoting a guardian or protective spirit): from French génie, from Latin genius (see genius). Génie was adopted in the current sense by the 18th-century French translators of The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, because of its resemblance in form and sense to Arabic jinnī ‘jinnee’.
Doesn’t this sound familiar? These two descriptions are very similar to the description of the word ‘genius’ and the beauty of this is the potential for each of us to discover this magical resource within us. The classic representation of the ‘magic carpet’ associated with the ‘genie’ can easily be interpreted as a prayer rug (yoga/meditation mat?) and if one goes into a deeply meditative state, it can certainly take us on very magical journeys that can provide us with deep insights and even help us to achieve our goals and to prosper if that is one of the goals.
Now below, is the definition of jinn – the origins of the word ‘genie’. In this description, the theme of spirit continues and of course, there is also a mention of ‘demons’. Do not be deterred! We will explore this word further and it may help to put this fearsome concept into perspective.
1680s, djen, from Arabic jinn. It is a collective plural, “demons, spirits, angels;” the proper singular is jinni, which appears in English occasionally as jinnee (1840) but more frequently as genie.
LAST STATEMENT FROM ABOVE DESCRIPTION: Similarity to genius is accidental.
Again this theme continues and yet, there was a statement at the end of this description/definition that I do not agree with at all. I can see that this is an opinion rather than a statement of fact. My inner genie is quite adamant about this. Now, do I have to consult an inner voice each time I come across something like this to decide what the truth of it is? I do not. Once I read it, I could see that it is a point of view that for me, does not hold up at all. I felt it right away (my inner genie at work) and looked back at the other definitions/etymology and descriptions and I see very clear connections that perhaps you do too – or perhaps not. We can all use our inner genius to draw our own conclusions. Even if we don’t always conclude the same thing, it doesn’t mean that battle must commence to determine the truth for everyone. We may use our knowledge for ourselves or share it with others if we feel inspired to do so and come to peace with the idea that people may use their own inner knowing to move them in whatever direction is appropriate for them. This is the essence of freedom. It is also the essence of peace.
Now, onto the word ‘Demon’ (also damon/daimon) which is an interesting exploration that reveals lots of influence and we can decide for ourselves how this affects the meaning of this word for us:
c. 1200, “an evil spirit, malignant supernatural being, an incubus, a devil,” from Latin daemon “spirit,” from Greek daimōn “deity, divine power; lesser god; guiding spirit, tutelary deity” (sometimes including souls of the dead); “one’s genius, lot, or fortune;” from PIE *dai-mon- “divider, provider” (of fortunes or destinies), from root *da- “to divide.”
The malignant sense is because the Greek word was used (with daimonion) in Christian Greek translations and the Vulgate for “god of the heathen, heathen idol” and also for “unclean spirit.” Jewish authors earlier had employed the Greek word in this sense, using it to render shedim “lords, idols” in the Septuagint, and Matthew viii.31 has daimones, translated as deofol in Old English, feend or deuil in Middle English. Another Old English word for this was hellcniht, literally “hell-knight.”
The usual ancient Greek sense, “supernatural agent or intelligence lower than a god, ministering spirit” is attested in English from 1560s and is sometimes written daemon or daimon for purposes of distinction. Meaning “destructive or hideous person” is from 1610s; as “an evil agency personified” (rum, etc.) from 1712.
The Demon of Socrates (late 14c. in English) was a daimonion, a “divine principle or inward oracle.” His accusers, and later the Church Fathers, however, represented this otherwise. The Demon Star (1895) is Algol (q.v.) .
I find it interesting how the meaning of this word involves divine power, genius and also the root: da “to divide”. I think it’s important to consider this in a society that is becoming more and more socially divided. However, I don’t think these divisions are a result of us consulting our inner realm of understanding. Another part of the origins of this word ‘demon’ involves “one’s genius, lot, or fortune” All of these themes seem to be intertwined and imply that these inner spiritual forces have a lot to do with our intelligence and our fortune or destiny in life. The first view, as presented above (evil spirit), is one that differs widely from the view presented at the end of this description offered by Socrates, which provided a meaning for ‘daimonion’ as a “divine principle or inward oracle.” This was Socrates’ word for his inner spiritual guide. He lived in the 5th century which preceded the more negative definition provided at the beginning of the above account of this word’s etymology. This would seem to indicate that the meaning of this word or how it was interpreted changed later on and it’s not difficult to see how this concept of each person having their own, direct spiritual connection might seem to pose a threat to religious rule and other crowned rulers who were considered to have a closer connection/relation to God. Another interesting part of the above description of this word involves “god of heathen, heathen idol”. Heathen means not belonging to a widely held religion. This reminds me of pagans who were considered to be heathens. Pagan etymology/origins: Latin paganus ‘villager, rustic’, from pagus ‘country district’. Latin paganus also meant ‘civilian’. Pagans were civilians and country folk who had their own beliefs and traditions and were persecuted for it – one might even say ‘demonized’.
I’m sure the rabbit hole goes deeper and involves religious influence as well as political and the ideology of those who record these things as it always will. The religious experience at the time of c. 1200 was not from most accounts, an empowering one or one that advocated independent thought. Instead of tapping into one’s inner spirit/knowing/genius, most were encouraged to follow the teachings of officials and religious leaders or the records of those celebrated people who made their own spiritual connections long before and most importantly of the official interpretations of these recorded experiences. Some of the stories that arose from these early spiritual experiences are inspiring and still inspire people today. However, there are now, more and more people discovering that they may have their own lived experience of their unique, personal spirituality and I believe it was experiences like these that inspired so many people who were considered to be geniuses of their time as Socrates alluded to using a word that ironically came to mean something evil. I believe there’s also an interesting connection between these words and the word ‘gene’ which we have come to understand as being an essential aspect of our unique physical being. Here’s a short excerpt of the origins of this word:
From German Gen, from Ancient Greek γενεά (geneá, “generation, descent”), from the aorist infinitive of γίγνομαι (gígnomai, “I come into being”). Coined by the Danish biologist Wilhelm Ludvig Johannsen in a German-language publication, from the last syllable of pangene.
The statement that stands out the most from the above description is “I come into being”. This is a far more profound and meaningful statement than I have ever heard in scientific discussions around ‘genes’. I think all of this reveals a deeper mystery surrounding who we are, what our true potential/capacities are and how that relates to spiritual guidance and our relationship to our own spirituality. What I have gleaned from this exploration of the word ‘genius’ has confirmed what I have learned from my own experiences which is that this inner connection is a fundamental aspect of who we are and being separated from it, causes suffering. We are so much more than our physical selves. Now that so many people in the world suffer from anxiety, depression, addiction, ill health etc., it’s important to get back to some essential idea of who we really are and begin to build from there. This has been an essential aspect of healing for so many of us who have been on the path of physical/emotional healing and personal growth.
Amidst all of the turmoil in the world today, and perhaps because of it, there is an emergence of practices that allow people to connect with their own inner spirit and inner knowing. It is creating a shift that holds great promise for our future and one that is truly empowering to every individual. With this inner exploration, not only may we encounter/connect with our inner spirit/genius, we also discover the darker inner elements within that create suffering. Each of us may decide what to do with/about these darker elements. There are many tools for us to discover and heal and if we focus inward, we will know which ones resonate with us as individuals. Delving within can teach us a great deal and help us tap into our own inner genius. This inner connection can help us form a better relationship with ourselves, with others and with the world around us. It can help us create a life that is an expression of this deeper, wiser, more authentic part of ourselves – one that is conducive to a happier and more harmonious existence.
If you would like to learn more about working with me to access your inner genie/genius through hypnosis, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a free discovery call.