The Numinosum

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.

~Albert Einstein

When I first began studying Jung, the word numinous was not in my dictionary.  Perhaps it can be considered a general increase in consciousness that today Merriam-Webster offers 1:  supernatural, mysterious.  2:  filled with a sense of the presence of divinity:  holy.  3:  appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense:  spiritual.

Numinosity might be the goosebumps that do waves all over your body when you experience something uncanny.  Or it might wake you up in the middle of the night with a shocking image from a dream.  It might be what transports you when listening to beautiful music.  Or it might actually be the reward for your search for The Other.  I’ve felt it with gratitude when a muse jumps onto my journaling page.

What I know for sure is numinosity comes when you draw near to the realm of the divine.  Maybe Eros is your guide.  You may feel numinosity when synchronicity happens to you.  Or you may dive headlong into the sea of the unconscious.  Careful you don’t drown.  Psychosis can be described as being overwhelmed by the collective unconscious.  Jung warned against the mind-blowing experiments of tripping on LSD in the ’60s because they might trigger psychosis.

Moses went up on Mt. Horeb and came down with the Ten Commandments, which God had given him up there, and also with white hair instead of chocolate brown.  Scared him to death. He had experienced the numinosum.


Author: Katherine Brittain

Writer/Cultural Anthropologist

3 thoughts on “The Numinosum”

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