The Numinous and Addictions

(Sorry for the double post. I wanted to start a discussion and not add to the previous older thread)


I was inspired by something Ed K. posted in another thread last night about seeking the numinous in/through/because of/instead of our addictions (I paraphrase based on what I am working with) and went off on a google search ending up at a great article by Murray Stein. It's the first entry under "Articles".

“On the Importance of Numinous Experience in the Alchemy of Individuation ”

That's usually too long for me to savor in the evenings, but I went into some sort of high-attention trance due to both the subject matter and how skillfully he brought it through with words. I am still having revelations that it triggered today, and I copied a few key paragraphs into my e-journal for ruminating purposes. Without getting into my personal material tonight (because I would not know where to start or end!), I will just say that I am very interested in deepening into these remarks:

Numinosity enters this discussion in relation to the role that archetypal influences play in pathological states of mind.

Once the true underlying craving for spirit was effectively addressed and integrated into daily life, the desire for alcoholic ecstasy could be held in check.   

Are not all addictions, one wonders after having seen such a wide variety of them in clinical practice, a search for something so elusive as to be considered somehow “of the spirit”?


When I was in my early 20s and began recovering from an eating disorder thanks to the 12 Step programs, I realized that I was an Intensity Junkie and could pretty much get "addicted" to anything, even a chair. My longing for "higher" energetic merging and transcendent release was so deep and unrelenting. Today on my walk something came full circle and it all made perfect and total sense to me. Again. I also resonated to these paragraphs in Stein's piece, particularly the notion that some people have innate affinity for the numinous experiences and out of them can emerge "the personal myth":


Jung nevertheless shared with Otto the “religious musicality” (Max Weber’s term) to resonate to the numinous in the presence of religious symbols and ideas. Otto wrote that this sensibility couldn’t be taught, it must be evoked (Otto 1917: 7). As with the appreciation and creation of art, some people have a genius for it while others have less, little, or no talent in this area (ibid: 177). Jung had this gift to an extraordinary degree. His accounts of firsthand numinous experiences appear in several of his writings – Memories, Dreams, Reflections, “Septem Sermones ad Mortuos,” and above all in the famous Red Book (soon to be published). These writings demonstrate that Jung’s receptivity to numinous experience was profound and extensive. For this reason, he has been recognized by many as a true Homo religiosus. It should be noted that Jung’s accounts include purely “inner experiences,” such as dreams and visions, as well as the more extroverted type that Otto describes in the letters quoted above.

In other words, the attainment to numinous experiences, while significant in itself, was not of final import; rather, it provided the essential ingredients for further stages of the individuation opus. These experiences were something to work on. They offered the material out of which he could wrest his psychological theory and forge his final identity: “Out of it [i.e., the concluding numinous dream in a long series, the famous Liverpool dream] emerged a first inkling of my personal myth,” and “That [i.e., the whole series of numinous images and experiences] was the primal stuff … and my works are a more or less successful endeavor to incorporate this incandescent matter into the contemporary picture of the world” (ibid). This, in brief, is a thumbnail sketch of the psychological opus of individuation. It is an operation of sublimation, which raises the spiritual to the level of the psychological and renders numinous experience practical and useful. They become integrated into psychological functioning and assimilated into the contemporary world.


I'd love to hear from anyone who has an interest or background in treating and/or healing from all forms of addictive processes along these lines. (And links to books and other online resources on the subject very appreciated.)

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  • Thanks for the referral to S. Tompkins, Tomasz. I will look her up tonight. And I really can not recommend a book to you on houses and signs, sorry to say! I don't think I have one myself (Does Linda Goodman's "Love Signs" count? ;-) I think most of it came to me from readings over 3 decades by great astrologers all over the planet, and online readings. Nothing I ever formally studied or read about. Just absorbed, I guess!

    Speaking of books, addictions, archetypes, evolution of consciousness and thread jumping a bit, I purchased Jerome Bernstein's "Living in the Borderland" based on posts here and only got a bit into it before getting derailed by a few David R. Hawkins books. His stuff on levels of consciousness calibration, especially when applied to addictions and the numinous experience, is fascinating for me. His belief that the "drug of choice" does not bring the ecstatic state to the user but acts to disable and tamp down the normally operative, lower energy fields the user drags around all day so that the transcendent forces that are innate to the user's Self may emerge and express really rings true to me when I think of certain types of addicts I know. And probably varies with specific substances and compulsive processes used. Again, I am just looking at one side of the subject here and playing with various ideas. (Blame my 12th house Sun, Moon conjunct Mercury in AQ.)

    I am also so eager to read In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabriel Mate, MD. His open and vulnerable Presence really moves me deeply. I've watched many of his videos on youtube. And now I have a new Hollis and Murry Stein book on midlife en route, and classes start tomorrow. Good thing I'll be on a long plane ride out to CA four times a year! Lots of reading time.

  • That's funny cause I really don't know much about the houses and signs and have always been prone to study the aspects :-). I'm totally convinced the best book on the aspects in the whole field is Sue Tompkins' "Aspects in Astrology". Full of psychological insights, mathematics-free :-). Do you know it?

    Anyway, I think Tompkins is definetely one of the most "Saturnian" writers in the field and it makes me wonder  how her style of describing the aspects would resonate with your sensitivity.

    Can you recommend anything for the houses and the signs, please?

  • Thomasz Lange posted this on my wall and I'd like to move it, and my response, here, in hopes others will join into the inspiring discussion:


    For some technical reason I wasn't able to leave you a comment in the group discussion so I'm posting it here if you don't mind. I wonder if you have any interest at all in archetypal astrology? There you get the archetypal Neptune strongly associated with spirituality as well as alcohol, for example. I think any astrologer looking for the sources of one's addictive behavior would examine Neptune's placement in the birth chart together with the Moon which is in turn linked with one's emotional nourishment. Then there is also Pluto considered responsible for all sorts of obsessive-compulsive disorders. I certainly found plenty of food for thought while analyzing my birth chart several years ago in terms of my inclination to addictive behavior :-), that is after I 'd finally managed to overcome my scepticism towards astrology in general, of course.

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    • Thomas, YES! Thanks so much for the comment. I don't know if you saw it but in a recent thread I said that if Neptune does not get off of my Sun, I might not make it in this life! They've been in a very potent conjunction all last year, probably the year before, and according to my annual astro update just last week, will continue to dance their way with me for the next two years at least. GAH! Not that I need any help in the illusion/delusion/addiction-prone areas, with a 12th house Sun (Aquarius), along with Moon conjunct Mercury also in that 12th house! Pisces rising, needless to say, and Neptune conjunct Jupiter in 8th house of Scorpio. Pluto is hanging out in Virgo in the 6th. Serve or Suffer!

      As a matter of fact, my astrologer (Margaret Sweet...phenomenal!) had just returned from Hawaii where she attended a wonderful conference with Richard Tarnas, so we were able to integrate that nicely into the two hours. Out of all of this was planted the seed about my own deep "longing" for union with the numinous, which I concretize (as Marion Woodman would say) into people, substances and experiences. I decided that "The Legacy of My Longing" would be a good first book title and as a result, I am committed to moving 27 years' worth of my dreams onto a blog to really deepen into this whole dynamic that I carry so very intensely. I've suspected all along I would one day work directly with addicts in some way, and I am fascinated by the dreams of addicts, which is why I was so magnetized to Woodman's earlier books on addicts and their dreams... so....YES! It all begins to weave together so grace-fully, does it not? - Astrologer
    • Sorry for missing  the thread. With this amount of astrological knowledge I can hardly believe you need any other astrologer for consultation. And your fascination with the dreams of addicts is a very epitome of the Neptunian at work, isn't it?

      As for myself, I have Neptune in conjunction with the ascendant and in close opposition to Saturn. They both make sure never to let me forget about themselves.:-)  

    • Fascinating! And I have a basic, mostly intuitive understanding of the signs and the houses. Aspects, progressions, nodes* and such? Not so much! I know enough to know how much I don't know, but I do love and value astrology and am constantly getting readings from various people and computers. If I were not so afraid of math, I probably would've taken that path decades ago in terms of vocation. Like Tarot, it's something I've used for 30 years, on a daily basis, but never gotten so deeply involved with that I really took it on, intellectually, in a more full and systemic way. I like the intuitional, divination, NUMINOUS aspects, I suppose.

      (*You inspired me to go check. The North Node is keeping Neptune company in Scorpio 8th. I think that means something. ;-)

      I'd be curious to know how charts splay out in terms of specific addictive processes. For example, perhaps alcoholics have predominantly water sign and/or 12th house Suns/Ascendants? Do the charts of compulsive gamblers show a preponderance of certain planets in certain signs and houses? What about love or sex addiction, codependents, overeaters? I'm sure this data exists somewhere, and I'd probably "eat it up" if I were pointed that way. And I realize I am grossly reducing both astrology and addictions down to the lowest denominator here, and that is not my intention. I don't know nearly enough about astrology to extrapolate much further, and I know way too much about addiction to think it could be so easily nailed down to one system or set of conceptual structures. But I do love looking at the many sides of the gemstone. Thanks!

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