The Idol and the Numinous: the Pagan quest for the Holy


  • Dominique Beth Wilson University of Sydney



Idols, Paganism, numinous objects, the experience of the holy


This paper is written in response to Michael York’s paper “Idolatry, Ecology and the Sacred as Tangible.” Where York’s paper offers an introductory overview of the role and function of idolatry within the history of world religions and the practice of Paganism, my paper seeks to explore the notion that idols are numinous objects. Suggesting that for the Pagan the idol is just one of many sacred objects used as a trigger or focus to facilitate interactions with the divine. This paper will also engage with Rudolf Otto’s ‘idea of the holy,’ to show not only the role that numinous objects play in the special relationship that Pagans have with the sacred and the divine, but also suggest that York’s claim that there is no distinction between the sacred and the profane and that everything is sacred indiscriminately, ignores the experience of the holy which exists within Pagan practice.

Author Biography

Dominique Beth Wilson, University of Sydney

PhD candidate in Department of Studies in Religion


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How to Cite

Wilson, D. B. (2011). The Idol and the Numinous: the Pagan quest for the Holy. Pomegranate, 12(2), 131–138.