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

Authors

  • Dominique Beth Wilson University of Sydney

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.v12i2.131

Keywords:

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

Abstract

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

References

Bastow, David. “Otto and Numinous Experience.” Religious Studies 12 (1976): 159-76. doi:10.1017/S0034412500009148

Cotterell, Arthur. Celtic Mythology. Oxford: Sebastian Kelly, 1999.

Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. San Diego: Harcourt & Brace, 1987.

Harvey, Graham. Listening People, Speaking Earth: Contemporary Paganism. London: Hurst, 1997.

Kasulis, Thomas. Shinto: The Way Home. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

McRoberts, Omar. “Beyond Mysterium Tremendum: Thoughts toward an Aesthetic Study of Religious Experience.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 595 (2004): 190-203. doi:10.1177/0002716204267111

Otto, Rudolph. The Idea of the Holy. Translated by John W. Harvey. London: Oxford University Press, 1982 [1923]).

Perowne, Stewart. Roman Mythology. Feltham: Newnes Books, 1983.

York, Michael. “Idolatry, Ecology and the Sacred as Tangible.” The Pomegranate 12, no. 1 (2010): 74-93.

———. Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

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Published

2011-06-05

How to Cite

Wilson, D. B. (2011). The Idol and the Numinous: the Pagan quest for the Holy. Pomegranate, 12(2), 131–138. https://doi.org/10.1558/pome.v12i2.131

Section

Articles