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Germanic Belief and the Experience of the Divine

By jameybmartin

One can experience the divine in the small and familiar as much as in the great and majestic. I personally have even experienced it in a random “street fight” (assault, jumped) of all things! And aye, as much in joy as in sorrow as well. But all of these experiences are … an expression of the divine in human terms, an uplifting of our awareness and appreciation for what surrounds and/or comprises us, and our sense of “belonging” or relation to it. One might use the term sublime, “impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration, etc”, as the general category of spiritual experience that all of these varied experiences, in all of their differences and nuances, in all of their varying intensities and artfulness of expression, can confidently be lumped under.

I’d prefer to categorize them the “holy” of course — from the Old English hal root, which is also seen in such other Modern English words as health and, more poignantly, whole — but either way this general category of experience is at once comfortable, warm, empowering and uplifting. You could say it is the “experience of the masses”, both high and low.

But there is another experience of the divine … raw, primal, jarring, and anything but comfortable. It is what Rudolph Otto, in his book Idea of the Holy, called the mysterium tremendum et fascinans and described as an encounter with something “wholly other”.

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