WIT Press

The Numinosity Of Water


Free (open access)





Page Range

39 - 44




2,369 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


E. Tyree


Numinosity refers to the spiritual power in the relationship between the individual and other people and things. The numinosity of water is discussed in the context of culture and religions. Science without consideration of numinosity can be dehumanizing. Often considered supernatural, other synonyms of numinosity include transcendent, ineffable and marvelous, not necessarily including religious belief. Secular expression of numinosity includes poetry and other literature and arts. Human connection with water is expressed in the sublime, poetry and myth, and the shadow, torture and disease. Loss of the spiritual and cultural meaning of water is a risk associated with coming shortages and potential conflict over supply. Culture loss is associated with adverse health consequences. Keywords: water symbolism, sacred sites, indigenous rights, symbolic power, numinosity. 1 Introduction A numen is an object or idea, which has power to an individual via its abstract meaning. Numinosity describes the supernatural or mysterious quality of the relationship between the individual and the numen. Data sources on the meaning of water to populations worldwide are extensive and rich. Much of this accumulated knowledge is available in publications on cultural symbolism. Literary criticism and art history address the transcendent nature of water in those genres, which are not the particular focus of this discussion. The objective here is to apply various lenses through which to see the numinosity of water, identify helpful references on the topic, and demonstrate the importance of addressing the numen of water to populations, cultures and politics worldwide. Numinosity comprises myth, including creation stories, epic narratives and regional fables. Geertz calls these various forms of oral and written tradition


water symbolism, sacred sites, indigenous rights, symbolic power,numinosity