The Sacred And The Profane

2581 Words Jan 22nd, 2015 11 Pages
The belief of a sacred space has been a highly contested concept since the beginning of mankind. Each individual may have a different perception or opinion on whether a particular place is truly sacred. However, many of these places have a close and personal connection to certain individuals, due in large part to having experienced a supernatural occurrence or witnessed a miracle of life. Often times, these places become associated with a divine presence, and are ultimately labeled as sacred for a particular religion. In The Sacred and the Profane, Mircea Eliade describes the key elements that define a space as sacred rather than profane. He stresses his belief that not all space is homogenous, and that there are certain places that hold …show more content…
It is this interruption in space by a holy spirit that makes the space qualitatively different from its surroundings, and one in which will eventually become an axis mundi. Eliade defines axis mundi as a world center for the figurative connection between the different realms. It connects and supports heaven, earth, and the underworld, allowing passage and communication from region to region. Often times, the spot functions as the world’s beginning, and may be found either as a natural object, or as a product of human manufacturing. But above all, the axis mundi brings peace and order because of the centrality and unity that it may instill among a group of people, leaving the other unfamiliar and chaotic areas behind. As you will see in the following biblical texts, hierophany and the axis mundi play a crucial role in the history of Jerusalem, and its resulting establishment as a central religious capital and sacred space. In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, one of the earliest depictions of the city of Jerusalem as the axis mundi is found, even before its establishment as a distinct city. God tells Abraham to take his “only son Issac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains” (Genesis 22:2). But right as he is about to reach out for the knife and kill his son, an angel of the Lord calls out to him from heaven and stops him
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