Eliade: A Summary
When the religions of other cultures where first being studied, they were always observed with the intention of ridicule and debasement when compared to Christianity. It would not be until Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) stepped in that the world would get an unbiased view of the different faiths in the world. Eliade was a perennialist, which meant that he looked for what all religions had in common rather than what set them apart from one another. During his studies, he wrote an account called The Sacred and the Profane in which he explains his five points of a “hierophany” (the manifestation of the sacred): consecration, axis mundi, orientation in time and space, division of the sacred and profane, and the modern man versus the religious man.
An axis mundi is an object that is believed to be a connection between the heavens and the earth. It could be a naturally occurring object like a hill or mountain, or man-made like a totem pole. This also ties into the concept of the orientation of time and space in that it is viewed as the “center of the world” (Eliade, 36). Eliade even goes so far as to claim that an axis mundi is necessary for a hierophany to exist. He says that nothing can be done “without a previous orientation” (22). In other words, a hierophany needs a set point in order to operate properly.
Consecration is the act of making an object or person sacred. How this is done varies among cultures. When it is done, it carries over into Eliade’s next point, the division of the sacred and the profane. This is the act of separating sacred space from profane space, such as the area outside of a church and the area inside of it. Eliade states that the difference between sacred and profane space is that in the latter, “space is homogeneous and neutral” (22); there is nothing spiritually significant about it. This is referenced in his final point concerning the differentiation between modern and religious people.
Eliade believed that every...

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