From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"All known religious beliefs, whether simple or complex, present one common characteristic : they presuppose a classification of all the things, real and ideal, of which men think, into two classes or opposed groups, generally designated by two distinct terms which are translated well enough by the words profane and sacred (profane, sacré). This division of the world into two domains, the one containing all that is sacred, the other all that is profane, is the distinctive trait of religious thought." --The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life , Durkheim (1912), tr. Joseph Ward Swain
Sacred means revered due to sanctity and is generally the state of being perceived by religious individuals as associated with divinity and considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspiring awe or reverence among believers.
From an anthropological or atheistic perspective, the religious view of the sacred is an emic perspective on a culture's collection of thoughts and practices that function as a basis for the community's social structure.
Objects are often considered sacred if used for spiritual purposes, such as the worship or service of gods. The property is often ascribed to objects (a "sacred artifact" that is venerated and blessed), or places ("sacred ground").
The word "sacred" descends from the Latin sacrum, which referred to the gods or anything in their power, and to sacerdos, priest; sanctum, set apart. It was generally conceived spatially, as referring to the area around a temple.
The English word "holy" dates back to at least the 11th Century with the Old English word hālig, an adjective derived from hāl meaning "whole" and used to mean "uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete". The Scottish hale ("health, happiness and wholeness") is the most complete modern form of this Old English root. The modern word "health" is also derived from the Old English hal. As "wholeness", holiness may be taken to indicate a state of religious completeness or perfection. The word "holy" in its modern form appears in Wyclif's Bible of 1382.
- Durkheim, Emile (1915) The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. London: George Allen & Unwin (originally published 1915, English translation 1915).
- Eliade, Mircea (1957) The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. Translated by Willard R. Trask. (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World).
- Joseph Campbell
- Sacred-profane dichotomy
- Sacred architecture
- Sacred art
- Sacred dance
- Sacred geometry
- Sacred history
- Sacred language
- Sacred music
- Sacred Mysteries
- Sacred natural sites
- Sacred prostitution
- Sacred tradition
- Sacred text
- Sacred waters