Mysterium Tremendum

 

 

The following post comes from mythandmore.com which is the blog written by Margo Meck. I’m not going to comment on it at this time. I leave it at your doorstep to mull over. See my comments next post.

Posted September 14, 2013 in Musings & Mythologues

The word “numinous” was coined by Rudolf Otto from the Latin numen, meaning a god, cognate with the verb nuere, to nod or beckon, indicating divine approval.  This word, or its noun, the “numinosum,” refers to any phenomenon experienced as a manifestation of tremendous power felt to be objective and outside the self.  It is a crucial element of religious experience.  For Otto, the numinosum is non-rational and irreducible; it cannot be defined, only evoked and experienced.

According to Lionel Corbett, the numinous grips or stirs the soul.  The numinous produces a kind of holy terror, awe or dread which Otto describes as a feeling of the ‘mysterium tremendum.’ It can also erupt in the modern person as the experience of the uncanny or the supernatural.  Such awe may be overwhelming or it may be gentle as the still small voice.  The uncanny is not a function of intensity but rather of a specific quality. [see The Religious Function of the Psyche by Lionel Corbett for a detailed discussion on this.]

I experience the redwoods of northern California as a portal into the numinous.  The magnificence of these sentinels  “stirs my soul.”  I stand in awe of their grandeur.  There is something “uncanny” about them.  For me, these expressions of nature, I experience as supernatural.  There is something larger at work here; something that cannot be defined; only experienced.

According to Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and PsychepastedGraphic.png the numinous is also defined as something that suddenly confronts human awareness with an unexpected dimension of reality, something that is experienced as “Wholly Other” than the mundane sphere, that utterly transcends and subverts the everyday world of conventional experience, and that disrupts the very ground of one’s being as it was previously construed.  Jung’s notion of synchronicity can be recognized as the inexplicable coincidence that carries a numinous charge.

For me, myths are not necessarily numinous in and of themselves; just as the menu is not the meal, the map is not the landscape, and the road sign is not the way, etc.  What myths do is to alert us to the possibility of the numinous.  They help us recognize when we are in the grips of the mysterium tremendum.  The numinous can be beatific like Dante’s vision of Beatrice.  It can also hold a terror as when a demon visits us in a dream and we awaken breathing heavily in a cold sweat.  And, the numinous can also be experienced gently as the still small voice. Regardless of the form, the soul is deeply stirred.

My attraction to myth is many layered.  One of these layers is simply because myths are great stories.  Also, they typically contain pearls of wisdom.  They are mirrors reflecting the human condition.  And, I could go on.  However, for the purposes of this commentary, let me say that I am attracted to myths because they are metaphors for life that cannot really be explained directly.

Myths are keys opening the door beyond which lies the numinous.

Margo Meck is a mythologist, writer, story consultant, and speaker. She received her Ph.D. in Mythological Studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA. in 2007. She has lectured on various myth related subjects such as Personal Mythology and the Hero’s Journey.

Joseph Campbell says: “It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.”

What implications do you think this has for underlying themes in human culture?

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Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

(Available now in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.) 

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before them.

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

(Available now in Pre-Order and goes on sale April 29 on Amazon)

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

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The Origins and Sources of the Majesty Trilogy – Pt.3

 

Choice of Myths

Even if we don’t choose to write fantasy, an author is often implying myths even without realizing it. Because of the nature of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy it was essential that I pay attention to myths. In many ways they were one of the essential guiding lights. At the same time it was essential to realize that myths are not always myths. It may be that we think they are myths because the image or the themes may not be discoverable in a truly revealing manner.  And myths may be personal as well as functioning for societies or regions.

At Core

A myth is not just a fantasy or fetching story. Whether we see it or like it or not we have our own personal myths. Countries design their own myth and somewhere in the layers are the deep general myths we react to but we may not understand the origins or the intrinsic reality.

In these books I chose to take the myth of the mermaid. Of course there are always people that view myths as real. They may take reality and cast it as myth or the reverse. And some important component of reality they wish to reject may be cast as a fantasy or myth. For me mermaids were a mystery but it was possible to attach an interesting concept to them. For me there is always the “what if” and in this instance it was a matter of whether they might not just exist but also have a fundamental importance. When we look around the world, we see them as almost universally in cultures where they may be important. And then there are the larger unexplained myths.

Fundamental Forces

There are many levels of myths but there are a few large forces which are truly intriguing. I’ve written posts about the Mysterium and I would contend that women are closest to that force and it may well be related to why women seem to be feared and controlled. Also mentioned has been the Maelstrom which we see in the collisions of galaxies. There is destruction and creation.

There are various forms of power involved in these things we call myth. For some of them I see fundamental forces that are not mythical at all. It is just that their power is beyond our understanding and grasp. And so we hold them at distance and in awe. In literature we have the luxury of exploring these themes and forces. They are truly intriguing.

Struggle and Sighting Our Future

Futures and destiny may arrive unbidden and too often we fail to prepare. At least attempting to grasp what may be is essential. While we often cannot define precisely what is coming, it helps to consider some thoughts.

And as someone who engaged in psychotherapy with clients I understand that it is often difficult for us to understand what is driving us and who we may be at root. And then there is the matter of the forces outside of us that may guide us or certainly will influence us. Precisely because they are often so powerful we may try to ignore them. We struggle personally but also our societies struggle as well as if they are living entities.

And then I have to come back to the roles of women and why they are so routinely subjugated. And the subjugation exists not just because men impose it but there also appears to be a form of subjugation imposed by women. And now we have an opportunity to face this issue and, although it is widespread and deep, it seems we can attend to it and influence it.

Of course, we have to confront the large forces such as Mysterium and Maelstrom. It helps if we at least pay attention even if we cannot control forces striding through the universe. In all it is a matter of stepping away from passivity and working to understand and together work to influence our world and our future. I know that sounds trite but as I look at a time of growing crisis I see too many turning away or failing to evaluate. We have so many opportunities and the passion of change is fully upon us. 

###

Don’t Miss My Developing Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

I refer to it as a work of magical realism. It is a series with a strong mythological element and a real world setting in this time when women are being empowered at last. It is a time of wonder and awakening for all of humankind.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power – Book 1

(Available now in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.) 

Avery had dedicated her life to work for the future of third world women. Her life was enhanced when she met the man who became the love of her life. They could not know that they shared a destiny and that a mission set long ago by our Earth Goddess was to be revealed before them.

Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise – Book 2

(Available now in Pre-Order and goes on sale April 29 on Amazon)

These people, called Tethyans, live in cities in the sea but can morph into fully human form and come to land to form families. They join with the warrior women called the Andromeda to fight against the forces working to impair the future of humankind. Avery has found her birth name of Chantia and she and Beck find there is soon to be a child of seeming great import just as the world falls into terrible strife with millions already dead. 

 

 

Introducing the Women of the Andromeda

 

They Came and Conquered

In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy the Andromeda women are the women who are the defense force for the Tethyan people. They were not in the initial construct of the series, but showed up demanding not just attention, but place. Their role kept expanding and evolving.

They Are Real!

We’ve all heard of the Amazon warrior women. Were they real or a mythological construct? It didn’t matter. I wanted warrior women in the story. Were they real and did they live along the Amazon River in Brazil as the name might suggest?  No. 

And then I ran across the book The Amazons by Adrienne Mayor. What I found was an amazing encyclopedia—a life’s work in some ways. She opened my eyes and gave an additional perspective on the role of women in the world. Fascinating.

The Reality Expanded

The Amazon women fundamentally are from the region called Sythia which was a territory stretching “from the Black Sea to the Adriatic Sea (northern Greece, European Turkey southwestern Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and former Yugoslavia” The warrior women are also found in the Steppes into Asia. These areas were inhabited by nomadic and seminomadic people who fought among themselves and were involved in changing alliances. While there is no perfect clarity in this fraught region, the women were often referred to as Amazons. Yes, they were warriors and fought fiercely 

alongside their men.

Ancient Essential Equality

In so many of these tribes the women had remarkable equality to live, love and die in battle. There was evidence of free sex and it seemed that paternity was not at issue. Life could be short, brutal and, it seemed, exciting. It was a challenging environment where survival was at issue. Does paternity as an issue fade away when there is nothing to inherit as there might not be in these tribes? The continuity and survival of the tribe was the primary issue.

Prejudice against women is an issue in today’s world. The ancient world too had deep prejudice about Amazon women in some of their societies. In ancient Greece, for example, women were subjugated at home. In the Greek tales of their heroes these men went to war against the Amazon women. 

Another World to the North and East

Among the Sythian tribes women were equalized and went to war. One of the reasons was their management of horses. In today’s horse culture we still see women prominently. One suspicion was that horses respond better to a woman’s less confrontational approach. Women also were at no disadvantage at all on horseback and so did well in battle. Since archery on horseback was common, women could easily and effectively participate. And it seems that iron weaponry was first developed among these people and the women put these weapons to good use.

Prejudice in the ancient world was just as widespread as presently. Interestingly the term Barbarian, which we take as a negative, referred to anyone who didn’t speak ancient Greek.

Extensive History

In history women often fought alongside the men. In the TV series The Vikings we see the Shield Maidens standing in battle along side their men. Warrior women were prominent in the Middle East and all the way into China. In India and China in the martial arts the battles were often fought without weapons and women could participate and triumph.

Forgive me for not being more definitive. The stories are long and the information is detailed. There are very few universals to lend simplicity. I recommend Mayor’s book for detailing of all kinds. It goes deep into myths, ancient stories, even to such things as who invented trousers, sagas, tattooing and on and on.

The import of the book to me was that it speaks to the reality of women and cultural differences. It is illuminating and liberating. 

They Came and Conquered

And then there is the matter of my choosing to have warrior women in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. I did most of the writing before I found Mayor’s book. It reinforced my choice to include these talented, smart and brave women who stood for the defense of their people and ultimately the future of humankind. Interestingly I chose to have them evolve through the series and Mayor’s book supports such an involvement.

I’ll be blogging more about the Andromeda women. Early on I thought they would be useful for the plot, but found my feminist leaning led to a steady increase in their part in the story. I’ll be commenting on their role but also be blogging about stories related to individual women.

What I love more than anything is that currently I’m seeing illumination and empowerment of women in all regards. It is not just right and not just time, but as in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy it may well lead us to an enhanced future. 

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Dreams Versus Reality

 

Your Dreams

Do you dream? Oh no, I’m not talking about those things that crop up at night. I’m talking about the dreams you have for your future, your desires, what might be. How much of a hard edge do they have? Do they involve mysticism? Do they lead you into a spirit world of your own? What do they say about you and your life?

Questioning Reality

I’m a clinical psychologist and have spent a lot of time talking with people about their lives. Often we talked about what we call reality but as the decades passed I came to question the meaning of the word. Do our hopes and dreams fall outside the realm of reality? Of course not.

Fiction Choices

And when you read, what are your choices? Do you gravitate toward apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, romance or simply something which advances a “what if”? Are you engaged by ancient mysteries or are you looking for inspiration in how they may emerge in the here and now.

Relating to Reality

At once I have to say that the title of this blog, Cusp of Reality, reflects my core belief. I do not believe in a fixed reality. Reality is ephemeral and subject to our own interpretations. We live on a cusp and reality is often something which emerges and recedes into a mist. We take up a station of beliefs and surround ourselves with family and friends who reinforce something stable enough to be called reality.

Myth and Mysticism

And then there is what lies out there in the mist of the past. We enjoy myths and may recognize that they may offer prophesy and be visionary. Yet, we may fail to recognize that they can convey a stark and important reality of their own. And myths do not just speak to the past but also may relate to the future as it is emerging and how it may be.

Conclusions

Assuming we live on the cusp of a changing reality, then we have to wonder what we are to do with that reality. Naturally most of us take hold and fix a reality of sorts which works for us. But then there is the matter of the emerging world. That is where speculative fiction and such things as dystopian fiction, science fiction etc. come in. We can explore with them. And my considerations have led me to the writing of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. It asks what ifs and comes out of my life experience. The trilogy relates to stewardship in a world in crisis. Women are central because it is apparent that they are emerging as a much greater force in the world. Certainly women have always been important but they are coming into power and partnership with men in new and important ways. And we have to wonder if there is a transformation of some form in our future.

A Dual Pathway

The possibilities are fascinating in a world which appears to have gone asymptotic in many ways. And so I’ve chosen to explore through this blog and through fiction in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. Stay tuned.

Surely, regardless of your age, you have dreams, if not for yourself, then for someone in your life. What are those dreams and who are they for?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Monthly Newsletter

 

 

 Welcome To My Newsletter – Myth and Transformation 

Roger B Burt: Author of Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: 

Women in Power

(The newsletter posts the second Monday of the month)

Come Join Us In An Adventure 

Our world is an intriguing place and its drama has increased considerably lately. In my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I touch on major themes and possibilities related to our world. Book 2 , Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise is to be published soon. There is adventure in the books on which I will comment but I will also be sharing my perceptions of our real world adventures. Let me begin with a quote from Joseph Campbell – Author and scholar. I read Campbell’s statement decades ago and it has stayed with me as a living, fundamental truth. Its reality has fueled my writing.

Joseph Campbell

“It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.”

I Should Have Known Better

As a clinical psychologist writing a novel with mythic content sounded interesting. And as an intuitive personality writing offered possibilities—and possibilities are the fundamental passion of my personality type. I learned there were demanding characters lurking in my head. Also there were emerging crises in our world that would align themselves in the plot and do much to drive it.

Life Beyond the Mundane

Myth is inspiring and we can see it unfold in our lives. And now, in our world we see dramatic events dominating our lives. We may be on the edge of another great conflict but we may also be on the verge of a transformation. Let’s begin by exploring. We will see won’t we?

Let me invite you to join us at my blog  cuspofreality.com

Available Now: Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power (Book 1 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy)

Amazon Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Gaias-Majesty-Mission-Called-Women/dp/1935994255/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535136372&sr=1-1&keywords=Gaia%27s+Majesty