Feelings and emotions, as states of mental tension, find their natural relaxation in uttered sounds. It is evident that the numinous feeling also, in its first outbreak in consciousness, must
1 In point of fact one cannot always speak to God as 'Thou', and sometimes not at all. St. Theresa addresses God as ' Eternal Majesty ', and the French readily use ' Vous' for ' Tu '. And Goethe came very near to the 'tremendum mysterium' when he said to Eckermann (Dec. 31, 1823) : ' People treat the name of God aB though the inconceivable and wholly incomprehensible supreme Being were not far more than such as they. Eise they would not say : " The Lord God," " the dear God," " the good God." Were they penetrated through and through by a- sense of His greatness, they would be dumb and unable to name Him for very veneration.'
have found sounds for its expression, and at first inarticulate sounds rather than words ; but it is improbable that it devised special and peculiar sounds for itself. Analogous as it is to other feelings, it no doubt adoj ted the already familiar sounds expressive of the emotions of terror, amazement, joy, and the like. IJut it could, and sometimes did, put, as it were, a special stamp upon sounds coin, d for a different use. The German interjection ' Hu ! for instance, expresses to-day invariably and exclusively, not terror ;ri general, but terror accompanied by shuddering, i.e. numinous ' terror '. So, too, whereas %us in vulgar Arabic is, I am told, a sound expressive of soothing in general, the corresponding Hebrew sound has is only found in a numinous context. (Cf. Amos vi. 10 : ' Ilold thy tongue (/ia.s), for we may not make mention of the nsme of the Lord.' Zepli. i. 7: 'Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lo:d God.' Hab. ii. 20; Judges iii. 19; also Amos viii. 3.) Such a specialization of a common interjection has very possibly often come about. When tlie ecstatic Dervishes of Islam bring their 'Zikr ' to an end, they brei>k into ejaculations, such as 'Allah Akhar', which end finally in a protracted groaning Hu. Tiiis Hq has indeed been explained on rational grounds as the Arabic personal pronoun of the third person, 'lie', i.e. Allah. IJut ar.y one who has actually heard these ejaculations finds it hard to think of them simply as pronouns. Rather wo have the impression that in this sound the numinous feeling is seeking to discharge itself.
This specialization is perhaps the clue to the understanding of the ¡Sanskrit word ascarya, to which reference has been made more than once. Its derivation lias been hitherto an enigma ; but one may conjecture that the explanation is in fact very simple, and that the word is just a compound of the two words as and carya. Caryl = ' agendum ', that which is done or is to be done ; while as is a primi ive sound to express the 'siupendum', the long protracted open vowel of wonder (a, oh, ha), combining with the sibilant, which in all languages is used to express or produce a terrified silence (cf. Ilist! Sli! Sst !). An ' ¿Li-cary a'1 would not then bo properly and primarily anything conceptual at all, nor even a 'marvel', but simply 'that in the presence
1 Compare the exactly parallel forms a-kSra, ahan l-iira: arid vide Soderlilom, I)as I! trdtn dts Gothsglaubens, 1U16, p. Uti, on the Manitu of the Indians.
Was this article helpful?