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Thursday, October 06, 2011


I know I said that I would write something funny today, but so far I am not. If I'm the only person to lie to you today, then write me and complain. Otherwise, forget my transgressions. I do want to set down a note about mysteries and powers and gods.

The seasons had their gods and rites. The powers of the seasons, the growing and flowering followed by the decline and death, impressed themselves upon early mankind - still do, actually - and mankind found these things to be numinous; that is, filled with the power of the Numen, or the power of a god.

Was the cycle mysterious? The cycle was, for the most part, perfectly regular and predictable: be at Stonehenge at the Solstice and see the rising sunlight fall upon the lithos or gnomen or sundial and spring had arrived.
So the sense of numinous did not come from mysterious meaning unpredictable.
What did it come from?
I think it came from the sense of being "overwhlemed" and on the verge of losing individuality.
Consider Venus, goddess of Love: what exactly is so mysterious about being attracted to someone easy on the eyes? Nothing; but it is the overwhleming flood of desire which leaves us in the presence of the Numen.

The starry sky is numinous, too; the galaxies far away. So are the seasons, for although we have great knowledge of what the seasons are and their nature, we are still on the verge of being overwhelmed: spring turns our minds to new growth, summer is exurberant, fall is chiaroscuro emotions of longing to stay and wanting to go, and winter up to Christmas is Ritual of giving and after Christmas is the dead hibernation.
This sense of being overwhelmed is similar to the sense of enchantment we experience when in the presence of Art. Art is when we are closest to the ancient gods: we take inspiration from the infinite and place it within boundaries of understanding.
Art, too, is a mystery.


Ruth said...

This gets at what I was trying to say in the poem "Red Pines" — that I am always this side of that. The overwhelming other that draws you in, but you can never quite grasp.

I really like this, and especially those last two sentences about Art. This makes sense in my spirit, and I want to think on it.

Montag said...

It makes sense to me, too. It is very logical once you leave place in your cosmology for the numinous.