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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: Numinous


Numinous: The concept of the sacred and holy essence found in all great spiritual traditions and religions. The term was created by German theologian and mystic Rudolf Otto (1869–1937).


Derived from the Latin numen, it is used today to mean the experience of the presence of a divinity. It was popularized by Rudolf Otto in his book, The Idea of the Holy (original German title Das Heilge) who believed that the numinous experience could lead to a belief in deities, the possibility of spiritual transcendence, the supernatural, etc.


Containing divine power or divine presence, imbued with spirit. More generally: capable of evoking fear, trembling, and fascination. 

source: Great Sex Made Simple, Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson (Llewellyn Publications) - Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson (


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