SACRED SYMPTOMS: how does the numinous heal?

Sep 24, 2020

Jung states “the main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neurosis but rather with the approach to the numinous…the real therapy. In as much as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology.” Jung defines numinous as “a dynamic agency or effect not caused by an arbitrary act of will” that conveys a mysterious yet deeply meaningful message.

Numinous experiences happen to us, yet we can approach the numinous by engaging in practices like active imagination, recording dreams, or religious and esoteric modalities. Wisdom traditions—and Jung—have marked the trails. Life crisis and trauma can also open us to the numinous: fairy tales, myths, and religious texts relate happenings of help when all seemed lost. Whether sought or suffered, something greater appears when ego yields. We can act on the guidance that is given, and may attain the healing gifted by experience of the numinous. 


I have a joined a circle of men and women studying something psychological. I watch and wait for their leader to welcome me but he wanders off. It is part of a festival and people are lying around sexually pleasuring each other. I explore downstairs but when I come back the workshop members have put on costumes of gods and goddesses (the theme is Celtic, Nordic) They are coming to a gate at the centre of the ritual and I am in the way.

Suddenly, a door opens and I’m pulled out of the way. It is the workshop leader and he takes me to a workbench. I can’t remember his name but his book is on the bench. He is called Loki. Suddenly, the screw falls out of my glasses frame and lens falls out. I look on the floor but it is made of sand and there are lots of screws which are too big.

After a long search, with no success, I discover something thin and fine in my mouth. I take it out. It is part of my glasses. There is more in my mouth. It is a sliver of the lens and rather than being plastic it is made of glass. I must get it out of my mouth or I will swallow and cut my own throat.


William James. The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (Amazon). 

C.S. Lewis. The Problem of Pain (Amazon).

To learn more about dreams, join Dream School.


  1. Michael

    I wanted to thank you all for these podcasts. They are really special to me. I especially wanted to thank Joseph and Lisa for sharing your sacred, numinous stories in this episde. That can be very vulnerable, but they were both very inspiring. Just became a Patreon supporter, keep up the good work. It is appreciated!

  2. Laura

    Thank you ; this episode ( #130) was very powerful. Are there any fairy tales or myths which would relate to these themes?
    ( Especially something needing to come out of the mouth or be spoken.) I think Joseph alluded to one about a king needing to speak into a knot in a tree.

    Thank you.

  3. Walter

    The audio doesn’t work anymore – I tried in on 3 different browsers…

    • Joseph Lee

      Hi Walter,
      I just tested it on the site and found it played as expected. Try downloading our app. That seems to work for almost everyone.


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