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Elfin

What causes numinous feelings?

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This is something that interests me greatly, how certain places, for no apparent reason, evoke a numinous feeling. It might be a particular place in a park, or tree, or hill. Very often, water is involved, such as a river or lake. It might also be a stone circle or some other ancient monument. Every single church I have ever been into, however, has felt cold and dead, the very opposite of numinous, so it's not just a question of places that have been used for worship. Is there an actual, tangible physical process involved?

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

p.s. I had to google 'numinous'. lol

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

p.s. I had to google 'numinous'. lol

I don't have any "eye of the beholder" and it's not a question of beauty. I can listen to a beatiful, emotive piece of music anywhere, but numinosity seems to be tied to specific locations.

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I don't have any "eye of the beholder" and it's not a question of beauty. I can listen to a beatiful, emotive piece of music anywhere, but numinosity seems to be tied to specific locations.

For everyone or just for you? That's what I meant when I used the beholder phrase.

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For everyone or just for you? That's what I meant when I used the beholder phrase.

I think so yes, the notion of place seems to be an integral part of numinosity.

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I think so yes, the notion of place seems to be an integral part of numinosity.

You know that everyone has the same numinous feelings as yourself?

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You know that everyone has the same numinous feelings as yourself?

I don't know that, but I do know that certain places where the feelings are very strong seem to evoke them in almost everyone.

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Posted (edited)

Good Luck!

Please forgive me and forget I ever posted a response. If I could delete my posts/questions, I would.

Edited by Eldorado

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Good Luck!

Please forgive me and forget I ever posted a response. If I could delete my posts/questions, I would.

Why do you want to do that?

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Every single church I have ever been into, however, has felt cold and dead, the very opposite of numinous, so it's not just a question of places that have been used for worship. Is there an actual, tangible physical process involved?

I'm the exact opposite of you in that respect. When I visit a church I can 'feel' my surroundings, there's something special about being there but it's hard to explain what. For me, the stained glass windows, the altar, everything really, although I expect that sounds odd to anyone who's not interested in these places. The same goes for Cathedrals and Abbeys, I just love looking around places like those.

Other things like waterfalls, rivers, birds singing etc., anything nature related, I find that enjoyable and soothing. A walk through a forest when you stop and listen, all you can hear is silence, it's beautiful. A walk along the seashore you can hear the roar off the sea, it's wonderful. Nature is spiritual I think.

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I'm the exact opposite of you in that respect. When I visit a church I can 'feel' my surroundings, there's something special about being there but it's hard to explain what. For me, the stained glass windows, the altar, everything really, although I expect that sounds odd to anyone who's not interested in these places. The same goes for Cathedrals and Abbeys, I just love looking around places like those.

Other things like waterfalls, rivers, birds singing etc., anything nature related, I find that enjoyable and soothing. A walk through a forest when you stop and listen, all you can hear is silence, it's beautiful. A walk along the seashore you can hear the roar off the sea, it's wonderful. Nature is spiritual I think.

The part about the natural world I fully agree with, which is why I like camping out, whenever I get the chance.

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Yeah I agree, Ive been to locations and felt a sense of spiritual intensity. Eerily though Ive noted some areas seem to suffer higher than normal human mortality rates and have more of their share of bad luck and wonder if the opposite can also be true...

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Yeah I agree, Ive been to locations and felt a sense of spiritual intensity. Eerily though Ive noted some areas seem to suffer higher than normal human mortality rates and have more of their share of bad luck and wonder if the opposite can also be true...

Yes, I think the opposite is true as well. There are places that just feel bad.

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There are places where you can sit in the lap of Mother Earth and she will hold to her breast. If you listen she will tell you a story.

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Yes, I think the opposite is true as well. There are places that just feel bad.

Those are the places of greatest learning and understanding. It is the realm of chaos and disorder, We don't like it cause we lose control, but there is beauty in the storm.

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This is something that interests me greatly, how certain places, for no apparent reason, evoke a numinous feeling. It might be a particular place in a park, or tree, or hill.

I think John Muir experienced this.

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Long ago Rudolph Otto wrote a book called The Idea of the Holy (you could 'google' him). In this book he coined the Latin phrase "mysterium tremendum et fascinosum" ('tremendous and fascinating mystery') describing the feelings of numinosity to which you refer. If I recall accurately, Otto described both subjective and objective aspects to the phenomenon. Hence, a person with negative feelings or experiences regarding churches and other formally 'holy places' won't sense the numinous there. Likewise a person afraid of the outdoors, the dark, etc. would not sense numinosity in the woods or some other remote place. Years ago I was a camp counselor out in a rural part of NY state for kids from the inner city. Many couldn't sleep, because they couldn't handle the silence and quiet sounds like crickets and water lapping on the lakeshore; they were used to sirens, yelling, screeching tires and even gunshots all night long. I'm fortunate, as I feel equally at home in so many different numinous environments.

I agree with you--I think it's a quality of place, but also what the person brings to it him or herself.

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I think that numinosity is a natural phenomena, it exists almost everywhere, but so often we don't have the eyes or peace of mind to perceive it: the world is sacred. There are places that feel especially good, for whatever reason, power spots is what some people call them. And there are places that feel bad and make us want to leave, the energy is negative. But I'm thinking with those places maybe something terrible happened there and overlay the natural positive energy of our Mother. That's just a theory, though. When we do ceremony we call in the ancestors, energies of the four directions, God, etc., and feel like we've helped create a positive space, but what is all of those things are with us all the time, but it's only during ceremony, when our consciousness shifts, that we perceive it? Maybe it's like that with numosity? Love that word, was first introduced to it while reading The Spiral Dance at the beginning of my spiritual journey.

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As well as nature, art will do it for me. I have often found great art or music which will spark the same feelings of numinosity.

The Spiral Dance, the best book Starhawk wrote.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/73869.The_Spiral_Dance

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IMO Numinosity is a psychological construct, and it was strongly held up as such by jung and other psychiatrists.

In every individual, certain individual places or events, for individual reasons going back to childhood, to experience, and to 'belief" create a feeling. The feeling is part emotional, part intellectual construct, and part a self aware feed back of how we are feeling which thus creates a self sustaining and enhanced version.

It works the other way too. I read of a young man who was ill every time he walked in an area with a certian cooking smell. No one could work out for years why this might be so Eventually it turned out he had been abused by a family member as a very young child. He had no conscious memory of this but the cooking of certian foods occured where and when he was abused and years later just the smell subconsciously made him quite ill, via its association with the abuse.

Many english and australian people relate a very strong sense of well being, asociated with the scent of fish and chips, as it takes them back to family holidays in the summer months, and by association happy times with family and friends.

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It could be a psychological construct based on how we perceive ourselves and the world, I suppose. If I hold the world as sacred and someone else sees it as profane, then each of our perceptions would perhaps be different based on that world view. On the other hand, there are accounts of people whose perceptions have shifted radically in just a few moments. I'm in this group. Right now I don't see how this could be a psychological construct, but I'm always willing to keep an open mind about it. What's important to me, though, is that the experience itself changed my life for the better, for which I am grateful. How that came about or what caused it I can only count as a blessing.

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It could be a psychological construct based on how we perceive ourselves and the world, I suppose. If I hold the world as sacred and someone else sees it as profane, then each of our perceptions would perhaps be different based on that world view. On the other hand, there are accounts of people whose perceptions have shifted radically in just a few moments. I'm in this group. Right now I don't see how this could be a psychological construct, but I'm always willing to keep an open mind about it. What's important to me, though, is that the experience itself changed my life for the better, for which I am grateful. How that came about or what caused it I can only count as a blessing.

MAny experiences change our world view and hence our psychological constructs very rapidly.

For me two things are critical.

Enough self awareness to understand that this is so and why it happens, so that I can understand the causation of all my empotional/intellectual responses.

Second "engineering" the abilty to create via will and discpline any emotional/intelectual response i desire. Thus i am both aware of why i have a feeling of numinousity in the bush while walking by myself, but i am also able to damp that out or enhance it at will. I can simply create such feelings and responses no mater what my physicla environment because i have learned the basic elemants of them and how to construct them. Thus, understanding the power and stuctural components of a rose to create a numinous feeling in me, I can reconstruct exactly the same feeling for an onion or a radish More importantly this abilty can be applied to every experience and encounter we have in life.

When some one tries hard to make me angry or hurt me, for example, I can honestly reply with a constructed but real/genuine inner feeling of; peace, joy, love, humour etc., and respond to them from within that mood. It utterly confuses and confounds most people and, used wisely, defuses and recalibrates the moment into something more productive. it works especially well on people who are manipulative and tend to abuse power, are pompous/self righteous, or on those in authority who do not use their authority productively, but to gain power over people.

Edited by Mr Walker

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I'm gonna side w/ Walker here and say its psychological, that the places you feel these things in have something to do with an emotional attachment to the type of place you're in.

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Often in places like this I get the same tingly feeling in my skin that I get with static electricity.

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Often in places like this I get the same tingly feeling in my skin that I get with static electricity.

yes indeed although one feeling has a physical cause (static electricity) and the other, while feeling similar, has a psychological cause, like why we blush. Tingling sensations may also occur as a warning when our mind knows something is wrong but we can't conscioulsy recognise what the danger is. The tingling actually comes from the nerve ends but can be produced by both physical and psychological causes and the feeling is indistinguishable whatever the cause.

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