Numinous

‘If Freud had given somewhat more consideration to the psychological truth that sexuality is numinous – both of a god and a devil – he would not have remained bound within the confines of a biological concept’ C G Jung – Memories, Dreams & Reflections

I lay in bed last night reading and re-reading a couple of pages of Jung’s book and nothing was going in. I have owned this book for about fifteen years now.  I go back to books a bit like clothes, my old favourite pair of jeans, sometimes they are a bit tight around the waist and don’t quite fit. Other times they fit perfectly and are exactly the right accompaniment to the rest of my attire. Last night Jung’s words just didn’t quite fit and as I was about to turn off the lamp the word numinous stood out.

Jung explains it; ‘numinous – both of a god and a devil’

Numinous is defined in the dictionary;

‘having a strong religious or spiritual quality’

Depending on your religious or spiritual connections would depend on your interpretation of the word numinous. I agree with Jung’s statement about Freud but I think it stretches further than Freud and sexuality.

Society have always liked to shun the dark side, always trying to be good, on the side of good, making the bed scary. Locking bad away. What would happen if we embrace the bad, give it a platform, give it a voice, let it out. Do we really think it would take over? There is a reason that good generally wins and that is because of human nature, most of us are inherently good.  The problem comes when we are told to hide the parts of us that are ‘bad’.  Whatever that is, from an obsession to a birthmark to an addiction.  We all have traits that at some point someone has told us are bad.


This comes back to resistance, another word I have come to appreciate and acknowledge.  The more we try to resist anything the stronger it gets. The ‘bad’ becomes stronger and the good becomes weaker. We need to first walk with this bad, let it take a few steps, experience it, talk to it, feel it. Maybe even hold its hand. Take time to understand it and then perhaps when it is released it won’t be the monster we first thought.

Whilst we were living in England we had three fire places with two small children. Our friends came over with their two and not use to fires in the home they asked us to put the fire guard up, which we did. This fascinated their children more than the actual fire, our two pulling them away and telling them ‘hot,hot!’ If you can’t feel the heat of the fire you don’t have the information to make the right decision. Our children have never put their hands in a fire because they know it’s hot. We used the fire guard so that the carpet didn’t get scorched, not to protect the children from a wonderful natural source of heat and light.

We are all numinous, whatever that means to you and how you connect to it.  We will always have good and bad and we need to accept the whole if we are to grow. Next time you feel the bad winning within you or next to you or around you, talk to it, listen to it and feel it. Don’t shut it out, shut it down or ignore it. Maybe it just needs a voice or perhaps just wants to be heard.

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