Myster1um Tremendum

The Analysis of ' Tremendum '.

We said above that- the nature of the numinous can only be suggested by means of the special way in which it is reflected in the mind in terms of feeling. ' Its nature is such that it grips or stirs the human mind with this and that determinate affective state.' We have now to attempt to give a further indication of these determinate states. We must once again endeavour, by adducing feelings akin to them for the purpose of analogy or contrast, and by the use of metaphor and symbolic expressions, to make the states of mind we are investigating ring out, as it were, of themselves.

Let us consider the deepest and most fundamental element in all strong and sincerely felt religious emotion. Faith unto Salvation, Trust, Love—all these are there. But over and above these is an element which may also on occasion, quite apart from them, profoundly affect us ami occupy the mind with a wellnigh bewildering strength. Let us follow it up with every effort of sympathy and imaginative intuition wherever it is to be found, in the lives of those around uDin sudden, strong ebullitions of personal piety and the frames of miud such ebullitions evince, in the fixed and ordered solemnities of rites and liturgies, and again in the atmosphere that clings to old religious monuments and buildings, to temples and to churches. If we do so we shall find we are dealing with something for which there is only one appropriate expression, mysteriuto trernewlum. The feeling of it may at times come sweeping like a gentle tide, pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship. It may pass over into a more set and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing, as it were, thril-lingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the soul resumes its * profane', non-religious mood of everyday experience. It may hurst in sudden eruption up from the depths of the soul with spasms and cornulsions, or lead to the strangest excitements, to intoxicated frenzy, to transport, and to ecstasy. It has its wild and demonic forms and can sink to an almost grisly horror and shuddering. It has its crude, barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again it may he developed into something beautiful and pure and glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of—whom or what ^ In the pre-sence of that which is a ifystery inexpressible and above all creatures.

It is again ev ident at once that here too our attempted formulation by means of a concept is once more a merely negative one. Conceptually ' mysterium ' denotes merely that which is hidden and esoteric, that which is beyond conception or und'-rstanding, extraordinary and unfamiliar. The term does not define the object more positively :n its qualitative character. But though what is enunciated in the word is negative, what is meant is something absolutely and intensely positive. This pure positive we can experience in feelings, feelings which our discussion can help to make clear to us, in so far as it arouses them actually in our hearts.

1. 77 c ¡Element of Awefulnew.

To get light upon the positive ' quale ' of the object of these feelings, we must analyse more closely our phrase my.sterium trenieritluni, and we will begin first with the adjective.

' Tremor ' is in itself merely the perfectly familiar and ' natural ' emotion of fair. But here the term is taken aptly enough but still only by analogy, to denote a quite specilic kind of emotional response, w holly distinct from that of being afraid, though it so far resembles it that the analogy of fear may he used to throw light upon its nature. There are in some languages special expression.! which denote, either exclusively or in the first Instance, this fear' that is more than fear proper. The Hebrew hirpliah (hallow; is an example. To

' keep a thing holy in the heart' means to mark it off by a feeling of peculiar dread, not to be mistaken for any ordinary dread, that is, to appraise it by the category of the numinous. But the Old Testament throughout is rich in parallel expressions for this feeling. Specially noticeable is the emat of Yahweh (' fear of God '), which Yahweh can pour forth, dispatching almost like a daemon, and which seizes upon a man with paralysing effect. It is closely related to the SeT/ia iraviKov of the Greeks. Compare Exodus xxiii. ¡27: ' I will send my fear before thee and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come . . ; also Job ix. 34; xiii. 21 (' Let not his fear terrify me 1; ' Let not thy dread make me afraid '). Here we have a terror fraught with an inward shuddering such as not even the most menacing and overpowering created thing can instil. It has something spectral in it.

In the Greek language we have a corresponding term in o-eftaa-Tos. The early Christians could clearly feel that the title trejSaoroy (augustus) was one that could not fittingly be given to any creature, not even to the emperor. They felt that to call a man crcfiacrTos was to give a human being a name proper only to the numen, to rank him by the category proper only to the numen, and that it therefore amounted to a kind of idolatry. Of modern languages English has the words ' awe ' aweful', which in their deeper and most special sense approximate closely to our meaning. The phrase,' he stood aghastis also suggestive in this connexion. On the other hand, German has no native-grown expression of its own for the higher and riper form of the emotion we are considering, unless it be in a word like ' erschauern', which does suggest it fairly well. It is far otherwise with its cruder and more debased phases, where such terms as ' grausen' and ' iSi huuer ', and the more popular and telling ' gruscln ' (' grue'),' graven ', and ' cjrasdich ' (' grisly '), very clearly designate the numinous element. In my examination of Wundt's Animism I suggested the term ' Scheu ' (dread); but the special ' numinous ' quality (making it' awe' rather than ' dread' in the ordinary sense) would then of course have to be denoted by inverted commas. ' Religious dread' (or ' awe') would perhaps be a better designation. Its antecedent stage is ' daemonic dread (cf. the horror of Pan) with its queer perversion, a sort of abortive oil-shoot, the 'dread of ghosts'. It first begins to stir in the feeling of ' something uncanny ', ' eerie ', or ' weird '. It is this feeling which, emerging in the mind of primeval man, forms the starting-point for the entire religious development in feistory. ' Daemons ' and ' gods' alike spring from this root,and all the products of mythological apperception ' or' fantasy ' are nothing but di'.li rent modes in which it has been objectified. And all ostensible explanations of the origin of religion in terms of animism or magic or folk psychology are doomed from the outset to wander astray and miss the real goal of their inquiry, unless thi>y recognize this fact of our nature - primary, unique, underhable from anything else—to be the basic factor and the basic impulse underlying the entire process of religious evolution.1

Not only is the saying of Luther, that the natural man cnnnot fear (Jod perfectly, correct from the standpoint of psychology, hut we ou_;ht to go further and add that the natural man is quite unable even to shudder (ijrauen) or feel horror in the real sense of the word. For ' shuddering' is something more than • natural', ordinary fear. It implies that the mysterious is already beginning to loom before the mind, to touch the feelings. It implies the first application of a category of valuation which has no place in the everyday natural world of ordinary experience, and is only possible to a being in whom has been awakened a mental predisposition, unique in kind and

1 Cf. my papers in Tin ologische HuhSschuu 1910, vol. i, on 'Mjtii and Religion in Wundt'I Vulktriisyehologie', and in Deutsche Liti ratiozcitung, 1910, No. 38. 1 find in more recent investigations, especially those oflt. It. Marett and N. Soderblom, a very 'welcome confirmation of the positions I there maintained. It if true that neither of tliem calls attention quite as precisely u in this matter, psychologists need to do, to the unique character of the religious ' awe' and its qualitative distinction from all ' natural' feelings. But Marett more particularly comes within a hair's Iireadth of what 1 take to be the truth about the matter. Of. his Threshold of Religion (London, 1909), and N. Sflderblom'B l)as Werden (Us Goltisglauhens (Leipzig, 1915;, also my review of the latter m Thiol. Literaturzfitvny, Jan. 1915.

different in a definite way from any ' natural' faculty. And this newly-revealed capacity, even in the crude and violent manifestations which are all it at first evinces, bears witness to a completely new function of experience and standard of valuation, only belonging to the spirit of man.

Before going on to consider the elements which unfold as the 'tremendum ' develops, let us give a little further consideration to the first crude, primitive forms in which this ' numinous dread ' or awe shows itself. It is the mark which really characterizes the so-called ' Religion of Primitive Man and there it appears as ' daemonic dread This crudely naive and primordial emotional disturbance, and the fantastic images to which it gives rise, are later overborne and ousted by more highly-developed forms of the numinous emotion, with all its mysteriously impelling power. But even when this has long attained its higher and purer mode of expression it is possible for the primitive types of excitation that were formerly a part of it to break out in the soul in all their original naíveté and so to be experienced afresh. That this is so is shown by the potent attraction again and again exercised by the element of horror and ' shudder' in ghost stories, even among persons of high all-round education. It is a remarkable fact that the physical reaction to which this unique ' dread ' of the uncanny gives rise is also unique, and is not found in the case of any ' natural' fear or terror. We say : ' my blood ran icy cold and ' my flesh crept'. The ' cold blood' feeling may be a symptom of ordinary, natural fear, but there is something non-natural or supernatural about the symptom of ' creeping tlesh '. And any one who is capable of more precise introspection must recognize that the distinction between such a ' dread' and o natural fear is not simply one of degree and intensity. The awe or ' dread' may indeed be so overwhelmingly great that it seems to penetrate to the very marrow, making the man's hair bristle and his limbs quake. But it may also steal upon him almost unobserved as the gentlest of agitations, a mere fleeting shadow passing across his mood. It has therefore nothing to do with intensity, and no natural fear passes over into it merely by being intensified. I may be beyond all measure afraid and terrified without there being even a trace of the feeling of uncanniness in my emotion.

We should see the facts more clearly if psychology in general would make a more decisive endeavour to examine and classify the feelings and emotions according to their qualitative differences. But the far too rou^h division of elementary feelings in general into pleasures and pains is still an obstacle to this. In point of fact ' pleasures' no more than other feelings are differentiated merely by degrees of intensity; they show very definite and specific differences. It makes a specific difference to the condition of mind whether the soul is merely in a state of pleasure, or joy, or aesthetic rapture, or moral exaltation, or finally in the religious bliss that may come in worship. Such states certainly show resemblances one to another and on that account can legitimately be brought under a common class-concept ('pleasure'), which serves to cut them off from other psychical functions, generieally different. But this class-concept, so far from turning the various subordinate species into merely different degrees of the same thing, can do nothing at all to throw light upon the essence of each several state of mind which it includes.

Though the numinous emotion in its completest development shows a world of difference from the mere' daemonic dread', yet not even at the highest level does it belie its pedigree or kindred. liven v, hen the worship of ' daemons' has long since reached the higher level of worship of "gods ', these gods still retain as ' numina ' something of the 'ghost" in the impress they make on the feelings of the worshipper, viz. the peculiar quality of the 'uncanny' and 'awful', which survives with the quality of exaltedness and sublimity or is symbolized by means of it. Arid this element, softened though it is, does not disappear even on the highest level of all, where the worship of CJod is at its purest. Its disappearance would be indeed an essential loss. The ' shudder' reappears in a form ennobled beyond measure where the soul, held speechless, trembles inwardly to the. furthest fibre of its being. It invades the mind mightily in Christian worship with the words: ' Holy, holy, holy '; it breaks fortli from the hymn of Tersteegen:

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