Friday, March 23, 2012

Otto's idea of Numinous

Do not be fooled by Numinous CC


Rudolf Otto, the German theologian, in his famous work Das Heilige formed the idea of numinous. Numinous is derived from the Latin word numen meaning spirit. Thus numinous means experience of spirit or supernatural. Of course this is a simplified definition of numinous. Otto understands the idea of numinous in terms of mysterium tremendum (awe inspiring mystery) and mysterium fascinans (fascinating mystery). The  spirit or deity is mysterious and arouses the feeling of awe and fear. At the same time the spirit is fascinating as one is attracted towards it and feels compelled to form a communion with it. This communion with the awe inspiring fascinating spirit forms a numinous experience. Here, spirit is very similar to a deity. However, numinous experience is not limited to a spirit or a deity. Green dense forest, snow clad mountains, grand water falls, dark mysterious heaven also arouse the feeling of mysteriun tremendum along with mysterium fascinans. Thus such experience are also numinous experience. 

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