Secrecy of Salvation: Mysterium Tremendum of the Cosmic Horror

Tancredi Marrone, Department for the Study of Religions, Masaryk University


The subgenre of Cosmic Horror has inspired many authors in the course of the past century, eventually establishing itself firmly in pop culture and our collective literary imagination. Within this narrative, humanity is confronted with the vastness of an unfeeling and empty cosmos. Ancient gods and sinister beings lurk in the darkness caring nothing about our existence and carrying ontological truths which shatter rationality and mental sanity. Those who try to unveil these secrets are met with madness and despair with an understanding that certain forms of knowledge are best kept a mystery. In this paper I will explore the category of Cosmic Horror in its various expressions highlighting its similarities with the mystical experience of the Mysterium Tremendum. The latter being a description coined by Rudolph Otto to express interaction with the numinous which can be voluntarily achieved albeit of the horrifying kind. The question will be whether some secrets naturally protect themselves due to the intensity of their revelation.

Keywords: Lovecraft, Numinous, Mysterium Tremendum, Rudolph Otto, Mystery, Secrecy, Non-Euclidean geometry, Terror, Transcendence.