Hierophany: A Religious Analysis

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As a prominent religious historian, Mircea Eliade popularized the term "hierophany" in discussing the sacred reality that exists beyond the physical world that we see. In defining the hierophany, an important distinction has to be made between the sacred and the profane. While the sacred is what are considered to be the gods and god-like elements present in religion, the profane is the everyday "normal" aspects that one sees. Religious myths contain hierophanies in that they feature the interaction between the sacred and the profane, in which the sacred enters into the world of the profane. The actual word "hierophany" means for the sacred to become manifested in a physical sense and to subsequently open up itself to be worshipped or looked…show more content…
A non-religious person will experience their environment, in terms of its spatiality, as being quite neutral and homogenous. In sharp contrast, someone who is religious will view and exist in a space that is clearly delineated into differing aspects. One aspect will be the sacred aspect and the other aspect will be the normal aspect that everyone can see. The very idea of a sacred place is based on the relationship between the profane and the sacred. Those who are religious will seek out the sacred aspects of the world in order to spend their time there. While those who aren't religious may still view certain places as being "special," this is different from it being sacred, as it's simply a degraded religious experience (Eliade 1992). For example, if someone views the place where they first proposed to their wife as being special, it's a different concept. Perhaps one of the most commonly understood sacred places would be a church or place of worship for those of a particular religion. A sacred enclosure, which was often a part of ancient religions, would often contain physical structures that pointed to the sky, which was were the gods were meant to…show more content…
In order to better elucidate upon the scared nature that is present, he examines various elements that are present in nature. The first is the sky, which he states is religious in nature due to its sheer scope, height, and the fact that it brings forth the idea of "transcendence (Eliade 1992)." This is where many of the world's ancient and current religions state that the ultimate god lives, as well as other smaller gods. Next, Eliade examines the remote gods as an element. Eliade points out that a concept that is present in many religions in terms of the ultimate god is that once that god which is part of the sky creates the world, the god lets successor gods oversee everything else. Perhaps one of the reasons for this common characteristic is that agriculture made humans focus more on other types of gods. Water is the third element that he examines, which he states is symbolic in the fact that it is shapeless and thus, is the place from where creation can come from and assume a physical form. While form comes from water, it can also symbolize a loss of shape if one is placed back into it. Baptism is one such example. Another element that is examined is the actual physical earth. Because humans were created on the ground of the earth, the earth can be thought of as being the "Mother" in many of the ancient religions (Eliade 1992). Even yet another element that he examines is that of trees. Trees have a

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