The Power of Ritual: The Creation of Sacred Time and Space in a Profane World

Ritual is a powerful tool for creating the sacred in an otherwise profane world. From ancient times to modern day, people around the planet create ritualistic practices that provide meaning and purpose, access spiritual realms of consciousness, heal wounds and offer power over adversity.

The “the sacred and the profane chapter 1 summary” is a book that talks about how rituals are created in a world where things are so fast paced. Rituals help people to slow down time, take their mind off of their busy lives and become more connected with themselves and their surroundings.

The flammarion wood engraving.

We discussed the nature of ritual earlier this week, and how its present scarcity may be at the foundation of modern-day men’s restlessness, apathy, estrangement, and overall ennui. It’s our conviction that life is flat and devoid of rhythm and texture without ritual.

Now, we’re not advocating for the reintroduction of rituals throughout society; we’re not optimistic about putting a cat back in its bag after it’s been let out. Rather, we hope and urge that individual men find a place for ritual in their life via the communities and social organizations that they choose. This may be accomplished by searching out organizations that give a rich, rewarding ritual experience, such as lodges, clubs, sports teams, churches, or fraternities. You may also do this by turning a couple of your daily tasks into rituals. If you consciously build that character for it, anything from family traditions to your daily cup of coffee may become minor rituals. We’ll discuss how to do this in the future.

You can even explore developing your own rituals that include others, such as a club initiation, a rite of passage for your kid, or a pledge of friendship among friends. I’m still debating the validity of this concept, but I don’t see why you couldn’t. Because our present society values “authenticity,” we moderns are hesitant to set up or schedule such a ritual, thinking that “genuine” rituals emerge from the ether and grow freely and organically. However, most rituals, even those that seem to be rather mysterious and old, were in reality devised by someone, or a group of someones, quite purposefully, deliberately, and self-consciously. They may have evolved from actions that previously had a practical function but have now lost their value in the mists of time, or they may have evolved from behaviors that once served a practical purpose but have since achieved ritual significance. Those rituals whose beginnings we can’t pinpoint seem fundamentally more genuine to us, but that’s because no one was present to document how they came to be. If someone had been there, they may have discovered a man sitting in a cabin, concocting a new ritual. In any case, that’s a topic for another day.

Today we’ll start a conversation about why you may want to engage in more rituals. What kind of power does ritual have? What role does ritual have in a man’s life? I had hoped to condense this topic into a single article, but, as usual, I misjudged the quantity of information to cover. Plus, since this is such a broad, meaty subject, I figured it would be better to break it up into three “shorter,” easier-to-digest sections rather than one long one.

We’ll talk about two alternative ways of looking at the world in this installment: holy and profane. This piece will be more more esoteric and religiously focused than the last one, yet it is difficult to examine ritual without first knowing its foundations. While religion (or the absence thereof) lies at the foundation of the holy and profane, as Mircea Eliade, the professor who popularized these terms, put it, “they are of significance both to the philosopher and to everyone striving to uncover the potential aspects of human experience.” So, basically, everyone.


The Sacred and the Profane are two sides of the same coin.

We believe that today’s world seems flat and one-dimensional because it lacks a layer of the holy and lives entirely on the plane of the profane, or secular in a religious sense. The holy and profane, according to Eliade, are the “two modalities of being in the world.” The holy signifies a mysterious and awe-inspiring mystery — a “manifestation of a fundamentally other order” than our normal (or profane) daily existence. The religious man (and by religious man, we mean those who live/d in premodern cultures) has traditionally sought to experience the holy as much as possible, seeing it as the domain of truth, the source of power, and that which is “soaked with existence.” The profane seems unreal to the religious man, and leads to a condition of “nonbeing.” The nonreligious individual, on the other hand, rejects any appeal to mystery or the supernatural. As a humanist, he thinks that “man creates himself, and he only makes himself totally in proportion to how desacralizes himself and the world he desacralizes himself and the world he desacralizes himself and the world he desacralizes himself and the world he desacralizes himself

If you’ve ever had a sensation of “nonbeing,” it’s possible that it’s because the contemporary world has been desacralized, or “disenchanted,” as Max Weber described it. In a traditional civilization, all of man’s fundamental functions had a utilitarian purpose while also having the potential to be transformed into something divine. Everything from eating to sex to labor has the potential to “become a sacrament,” or a “communion with the holy.” Such activities have been desecrated in the contemporary world; we live in a totally profane environment.

While Eliade equated religious men with the holy and nonreligious men with the profane, he believed that “even the most avowedly nonreligious individual participates in religiously oriented conduct in his inner essence.” Even a guy who does not believe in the supernatural world finds events such as a wedding, a mountain top, or the birth of a child to be extraordinary. “Mythical elements — the conflict between hero and monster, initiatory combats and ordeals, archetypal characters and imagery (the maiden, the hero, the paradisal landscape, hell, and so on)” are still present in his films and novels. Nonreligious people continue to seek renewal and rebirth in many ways. He would refer to these things as noteworthy or remarkable rather than sacrosanct. If he wants a richer life, he has to intersperse such momentous experiences with daily life as much as the religious man does, and to make such extraordinary moments as separate from his workaday world as feasible.

“Beauty, like food, is needed by everyone, as are spaces to play and worship, where nature may cure and strengthen the body and spirit.” John Muir was a naturalist who lived in the United States.

Famous naturalist John Muir, for example, believed in nature’s hallowed, religious beauty. Indeed, some analysts believe he abandoned his Christian origins entirely and became a lone member of the religion of nature. He strayed from orthodox religion and infused the spiritual, or holy, into his life in his own unique manner. By climbing trees in the midst of storms and exploring the ever-changing landscapes of glaciers, he established ritual for himself. Even if you aren’t religious in the conventional sense, you may still incorporate sacredness into your life.


Sacred Hours

One of ritual’s most powerful abilities is to mark specific times and places as holy, as “something fundamentally and completely distinct” from the profane. Let’s start with the concept of holy time.

All rituals, according to Eliade, are reenactments of primordial actions committed by God, gods, or mythological ancestors during the creation era. It’s as though the original events are reenacted when the gods are imitated, and the ceremony unleashes part of the strong, transformational force that existed at the dawn of time. Each ritual restores freshness and power to a worn-out world by re-creating and re-founding the universe, re-sacralizing time and starting it afresh.

Some faiths have a more cyclical and historical, linear perspective of time than the Abrahamic religions, yet their rituals enable participants to “periodically become contemporaneous with the gods” and the faith’s heroes. When a Christian or a Jew partakes in the Eucharist or the Seder, they are reenacting the actual Last Supper and Exodus. The divine force that existed at the time of the first occurrence is recreated. It is a ritual-remembering experience that links the person not only to the original performers, but also to all people who have performed the same ritual throughout history. Past and present are therefore merged, offering a feeling of continuity to the participant; profane time is subjugated, and holy, everlasting time arises.

Outside of religion, the power of ritually constructed hallowed (or at least meaningful) time may be felt. Consider an organization that relies on its history to shape its present identity and code of conduct. When reenacted, the ritual may not unleash divine power, but it does help to remind members of the founding events and the group’s essential ideals, encouraging the inheritors to continue on the tradition. The Fourth of July, for example, may be used as a moment to reflect on the founding ideals of, well, the Founders, if it is ritualized.

Sacred Grounds

Rituals designate not just certain times but also specific locations as holy. These hallowed spaces, according to religious traditions, are areas where the barrier between people and the transcendent is thin, allowing communication between heaven and earth. You may leave the profane world behind when you enter a holy area. Time is also transcended (as previously described), and you may go back in time to take part in the founding events of your religion.

When you enter holy space, you enter a state of “liminality,” which is a condition of being neither here nor there. Dr. Tom F. Driver describes how this permits you to transform into someone who isn’t you in your “regular” life:

“When individuals participate in ritual action, they distance themselves from their workaday roles and positions, partly if not completely.” When individuals join ritual, there is a boundary in time and space, or both, and definitely a delineation of conduct that they must cross. The everyday world, with its social framework, is halted for the time being.”


Rituals may sacralize not just the overall atmosphere, but also the actual items inside that area (as well as the people, but we’ll get to that later). Elements that would be commonplace in your profane existence take on a new significance and might be used as a cipher to disclose the holy to you. This is how Jonathan Z. Smith defines it:

“When one enters a temple, one enters a delineated place in which nothing is incidental, at least in theory; everything, at least theoretically, is significant.” The temple serves as a focusing lens, exposing and identifying importance…

Simply by being there, the commonplace (which stays entirely ordinary to the observer’s perspective) becomes meaningful, holy. It becomes holy when we focus our attention on it in a specific manner…

The sacra are holy merely because they are used in a sacred setting; there is no distinction between a sacred vessel and a regular vessel. They are thought to be susceptible to the prospect of significance by being utilized in a holy space, to be seen as agents of meaning as well as function.”

Rituals may help us perceive things in a different light. Until it’s the Blood of Christ, wine is simply wine. Until it’s utilized to uncover hidden truths, a handshake is merely a handshake. Before you remove your shoes to walk on hallowed ground, they are simply shoes. As Eliade puts it, “pondering the significance of these symbols might carry you beyond the individual, into the universal” and provide you fresh insights into reality.

What is holy space, exactly?

Houses of worship are probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of holy space. You travel not only between the street and the sanctuary when you pass over their physical thresholds, which are typically emphasised by towering arches or massive doors, but between two forms of being – the holy and the profane. Removing your shoes before entering a mosque or making the sign of the cross with holy water before entering a cathedral assist to physically signify this transition.

Many churches today have modeled their buildings and services after popular culture edifices and entertainments in order to make the transition from the outside world into the sanctuary as seamless as possible, in order to avoid making potential members uncomfortable with a physical structure and rituals they are unfamiliar with. In principle, this limits worshipers’ ability to view divine manifestations as “something fundamentally and completely different…like nothing human or cosmic.” Sacred ritual is believed to disorient in order to reorient, yet contemporary worship often skips the first step.

Buildings, on the other hand, are not the dominant element that allows for “irruptions of the holy” (to use Eliade’s great expression). Sacred space is created by ritual rather than physical building, therefore it may be found anyplace believers are ritually tapping into the divine, from a church to a trailer park to a forest of redwoods.



If you often question yourself, “Is this all there is?” It’s possible that you’re overdue for a spiritual bath. Even if it’s as basic as designating a portion of your morning as holy time or a room in your house as sacred space, you may need to find a place for ritual in your life. You’ll be flat for the rest of your life if you wait for life to give you texture and significance. The contemporary world resides completely in the profane realm; the only way to reach the holy realm is via ritual. Ritual also mediates and strengthens the links of community and brotherhood, in addition to providing the individual a feeling of significance and belonging. In our next article, we’ll return to that subject.

Listen to William Ayot’s podcast about a man’s desire for ritual:


Read the Series in Its Entirety: The Rites of Manhood (Rites of Manhood) are a set of rituals that Rituals and Man’s Need for Them In a profane world, the Power of Ritual: Creating Sacred Time and Space Ritual’s Power: Creating Shared Worlds and Bonds That Go Beyond the Ordinary The Rocket Booster of Personal Change, Transformation, and Progress: The Power of Ritual Conclusion of the series on the Nature and Power of Ritual: Resistance to Ritual

Read the Series in Its Entirety: The Rites of Manhood (Rites of Manhood) are a set of rituals that Rituals and Man’s Need for Them In a profane world, the Power of Ritual: Creating Sacred Time and Space Ritual’s Power: Creating Shared Worlds and Bonds That Go Beyond the Ordinary The Rocket Booster of Personal Change, Transformation, and Progress: The Power of Ritual Conclusion of the series on the Nature and Power of Ritual: Resistance to Ritual


Mircea Eliade’s The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion

Catherine Bell’s Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions

Tom F. Driver’s Liberating Rites: Understanding the Transformative Power of Ritual

Jonathan Z. Smith’s “The Bare Facts of Ritual”




The “sacred and the profane chapter 2 summary” is a book that discusses how ritual can be used to create sacred time and space in a profane world. The author argues that ritual is an important part of human life, and it allows us to connect with our inner selves. Ritual also helps us to understand ourselves better by providing a sense of meaning, purpose, and identity. Reference: the sacred and the profane chapter 2 summary.

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