The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion

The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion

Mircea Eliade, Willard R. Trask

Language: English

Pages: 257

ISBN: B0006AVKSA

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion

Mircea Eliade, Willard R. Trask

Language: English

Pages: 257

ISBN: B0006AVKSA

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In The Sacred and the Profane, Mircea Eliade observes that while contemporary people believe their world is entirely profane, or secular, they still at times find themselves connected unconsciously to the memory of something sacred. It's this premise that both drives Eliade's exhaustive exploration of the sacred—as it has manifested in space, time, nature and the cosmos, and life itself—and buttresses his expansive view of the human experience.

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raises no difficulty for religious thought. For it is not a matter of geometrical space, but of an existential and sacred space that has an entirely different structure, that admits of an infinite number of breaks and hence is capable of an infinite number of communications with the transcendent. We have seen the cosmological mean­ ing and the ritual role of the upper opening in various forms of habitations. In other cultures these cosmologi­ cal meanings and ritual functions are transferred to

divinities-which he calls dema divinities-has con­ clusively shown that in eating and in dying man partici­ pates in the life of the demas.12 For all these palaeo-agricultural peoples, what is essential is periodically to evoke the primordial event that established the present condition of humanity. Their whole religious life is a commemoration, a re­ membering. The memory reactualized by the rites (hence by reiterating the primordial murder) plays a decisive role ; what happened in illo tempore

sees in the sun all the gods of the Graeco­ oriental world, from Apollo and Jupiter to Osiris, Horus, and Adonis (Saturnalia, I, ch. 17-23) . In the Emperor Julian's treatise On the Sun King, as in Proclus' Hymn to the Sun, solar hierophanies give place to ideas, and religious feeling almost completely disappears after this long process of rationalization.35 This desacralization of solar hierophanies is only one among many other similar processes through whose operation the entire cosmos is

under­ stand the need for ritual construction of a sacred space, we must dwell a little on the traditional concept of the "world" ; it will then be apparent that for religious man every world is a sacred world. C HAOS AND COSMOS One of the outstanding characteristics of tradi­ tional societies is the opposition that they assume be­ tween their inhabited territory and the unknown and indeterminate space that surrounds it. The former is the world (more precisely, our world ) , the cosmos ; every­

microcosmic scale-of the Crea· tion. The water in which the clay is mixed is assimilated Sacred Space and Making the World Sacred 31 to the primordial water ; the clay that forms the base of the altar symbolizes the earth ; the lateral walls represent the atmosphere, and so on. And the building of the altar is accompanied by songs that proclaim which cosmic region has just been created ( Shatapatha Brahmana I, 9, 2, 29, etc. ) . Hence the erection of a fire altar-which alone validates taking

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