In short, Numinous Quest is the newsletter/blog of Alexandros Lysios. To find out why I chose to name it with the title and subtitle I did and how it informs what I choose to write about, read the backstory to Numinous Quest further down below.
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Become a paid subscriber and get access to a copy of my ebook Causa Sui: Writer Without a Cause. Join or start conversations by being able to comment on posts. The most astute commenters will receive either invites to livestreams I do or discount codes for them. You’ll be supporting the mission described in the backstory below and succinctly presented in Operation Numinous and alluded to in Revealing the Sacred.
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The numinous revolution may not be televised but the politics of the future and its integration with the Sacred, Erotic, and Aesthetic in the context of the global awakening underway will be foretold here. Be among those who know first. Plus, why lose the opportunity of getting some organic soul food for your consciousness with the high quality content I frequently publish and make available for everyone? Check the archives for proof.
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The Backstory to Numinous Quest
I’ll start by explaining what is meant by the terms that make up the title and subtitle of this newsletter/blog (Numinous Quest: Uniting the Sacred, Erotic, and Aesthetic, with the Politics of the Future) beginning with the term numinous.
Rudolf Otto, a German philosopher and theologian, once claimed that:
“while the concept of "the holy" is often used to convey moral perfection—and does entail this—it contains another distinct element, beyond the ethical sphere, for which he uses the term numinous. He explains the numinous as a "non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self...a condition absolutely sui generis and incomparable whereby the human being finds himself utterly abashed.”1
He later goes on to describe it as:
“a mystery (Latin: mysterium) that is at once terrifying (tremendum) and fascinating (fascinans). He writes: “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, thrillingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the soul resumes its “profane,” non-religious mood of everyday experience. [...] It has its crude, barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again it may be 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 presence of that which is a Mystery inexpressible and above all creatures.”2
Having read such descriptions at any previous stages of my life, I would have probably dismissed them as nonsense. However, all of this changed after my psychedelic awakenings3 when the encounter with the numinous became as unmistakable as it was unforgettable. Strangely enough, once I deeply experienced it a number of times, I realized that this was actually not my first encounter with it. Every “peak experience” in my life was an encounter with the numinous, a step over an ineffable threshold, crossing one or more of what I now call the Three Gates.
The Three Gates: The Sacred, Erotic, and Aesthetic
In my experience there are three gates from which you can get to the numinous.
The Sacred Gate can be crossed via engaging in practices and modalities found in modern and ancient spiritual traditions (e.g. meditation, yoga, breathwork), some of which may include the use of natural or synthetic entheogens. It is associated with the search, experience, and value of Wisdom, hence philosophy & mysticism, are deeply connected with this gate.
The Erotic Gate, requires some extra context in order for its meaning to be understood. The word erotic in contemporary English usage has acquired a too close association with the merely sexual aspect of its meaning. It is, however, an Ancient Greek word, and its original meaning was not exhausted by sexuality and was in fact distinct from it. When in English we say: “I fell in love”, in Greek we would say: “eroteytika” (phonetically). Few would deny the experience of falling in love brings about an unmistakable transformation in our lives, with artists and poets around the world often associating glimpses of eternity and otherworldly happiness with the erotic state, while its mishandling can cause major pain and suffering. Eros is the kind of love that you cannot bring about by an act of will and is more reminiscent of an act of grace in which you find yourself inexplicably in. Plato wrote an entire dialogue dedicated to it, The Symposium, and describes how properly responding to Eros can facilitate a form of ascension. In other words, the Erotic Gate, is crossed only when you properly respond to erotic grace, not when you merely spend it in sexual debauchery divorced from its sacred origin. This is why the practices that help you cross it are more related to what we today call sacred sexuality. While sexual intercourse may be part of the crossing, it is by no means implied that in order for it to be crossed one has to have physical sexual intercourse. The Erotic Gate can also be crossed with a proper nurturing of erotic energy, transmuted to higher levels of refinement that don’t require physical touch in order to facilitate the crossing, see this post to see how being a philosopher can be an example of that. It is associated with the search, experience, and value of Love, irrespective of whether the object is another being or an activity that arouses it.
The Aesthetic Gate is associated with the search, experience, and value of Beauty, which is why artists, whether culinary, performative or fine, using the senses to take us beyond them, are its main representatives. However, there are avenues to beauty that do not use the five senses and yet are able to reach it, mathematicians being the best example of how one can experience that kind of beauty in the elegance of an equation, while music being the perfect combination of the sensorial and non-sensorial roads to beauty, given the close relationship of mathematics and music. No matter which road, the Aesthetic Gate is one of the most common gates crossed. The arts often can take us to a world beyond the senses that makes us feel that existence is worth living, hence Nietzsche’s famous pronouncement, “without music, life would be an error.”
To cross one or more of the Three Gates is to experience meaning and value in things beyond yourself.
So how does that relate to the politics of the future?
Uniting the Sacred, Erotic, Aesthetic with the Politics of the Future.
Emile Durkheim once remarked:
“What is moral is everything that is a source of solidarity, everything that forces man to…regulate his actions by something other than…his own egoism.”4
With the rise of nihilism, brought about by the death of God as aptly predicted by Nietzsche, the only thing left to regulate man’s egoism were the egos of other men. Politics became an arena of competing interests without any shared immanent or transcendent goals. The Leviathans of the modern nation states may have prevented our lives from being nasty, brutish, and short, but could do nothing for our long lives being empty and devoid of meaning.
Almost a century of politics divorced from the sources of meaning and value is leading us to global ecological and social collapse.
Uniting the domains that provide meaning and value to human existence (the Sacred, Erotic, and Aesthetic) with politics will produce the only politics that have a future worth living. For that to occur we need to have a solid understanding of how we can scale crossings of the Three Gates, so as to facilitate the personal transformations that would allow us to regulate our actions by something other than our egoism, namely the search, experience, and values of Wisdom, Love, and Beauty.
Numinous Quest, in a sense, is comprised of field notes on my mission towards that goal.
From Durkheim’s The Division of Labor in Society, p.331, trans. W. D. Halls. New York:
Free Press, 1984/1893.