Into the Glamoured Spot:
Numinous Nature, Fairy-Faith, and the Imagining Psyche
Linda Ann Suddarth
There are places within nature which are imbued with magic and beauty. This dissertation explores the numinous or sacred within nature which creates such a hold upon the imagination. The images of enchantment from fairy-faith open the realms of nature as a threshold experience, explored through the research of W.Y. Evans-Wentz and Katherine Briggs. The concept of the invisibles in nature as “Other” is investigated through the ideas of Mary Watkins.
When one steps into these enchanted spaces, one may want to spontaneously sing, dance, or remember a story. Such an enchanted experience signals that the invisibles or fairy-folk may be present. The Irish poet W. B. Yeats wrote “…the beautiful [fairies] are not far away when we are walking in pleasant and quiet places.…I will explore every little nook of some poor coppice with almost anxious footsteps, so deep a hold has this imagination upon me” (Mythologies 64).
A relationship between the human and natural orders of being encourages the imagination of both worlds. As Gaston Bachelard argues: “The imagination gives more than things and actions, it invents new life, new spirit; it opens eyes to new types of vision” (On Poetic Imagination and Reverie 16). The poetic imagination provides a way to enter the mythical spheres of nature. The imagining psyche as seen through the lens of alchemy, mysticism, and physics, is explored through the work of W. B. Yeats, Mary Oliver, and William Shakespeare. In these works, the poetic imagination creates stories that give visionary form to the invisibles of nature. This study also investigates the figures of Arthurian legend, Merlin and Vivien in their fairy aspect. Their story of disappearance into the primeval forest provides metaphors for the workings of numinosity within nature, such as the “return to the forest,” and the “sacred marriage,” explored through the thought of Heinrich Zimmer, Mircea Eliade, C. G. Jung, and Marie Louise von Franz.
Finally, an accompanying creative component includes a journal of active/guided/shamanic imagination, a journal focusing on travel to Ireland, and a collection of poems, which, taken together, contribute to the exploration of the numinous qualities of nature.