Hierophany: How The Sacred Manifests In The Profane
The concept of “hierophany “was dear to Mircea Eliade, the scholar of religious experience. Hierophany is the manifestation of the Sacred. There is a paradox to the Sacred: While it transcends the Ordinary, its manifestation is in the Ordinary, where it hides in plain sight.
Now, this may seem a bit abstract. So I will use an example, something that happened a few years ago, the sordid story of Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels.
Trump’s sexual adventures and his lying and bullying are solidly entrenched in the underbelly of the realm of the Ordinary. But he is not just an ordinary man. He made a career of embodying a certain kind of power that attempts to mask the fear of being weak.
And Stormy Daniels is not just an ordinary woman, either. She has figured out how to draw power from appearing to be an object of fantasy. She knows how to speak power to power.
So, as the sordid tale unfolds, we can also see in it the unfolding of one of the most sacred mysteries of the human condition: the dance of Sex, Power & Shadow. The larger-than-life cast of characters in this story makes it easier for us to see that archetypal dance.
Hopefully, seeing it reminds us that archetypes, and the Sacred, do not exist in a separate plane. The Sacred is not any truer, or less true, than the Ordinary, and vice versa. They are different experiences.
Limiting ourselves to seeing the Ordinary is an impoverishment. Seeing only the Sacred is an insult to common sense. In stating this, I am not claiming to represent what Mircea Eliade thought. I am articulating my own perspective.
My perspective is that of a therapist. In therapy, as we slow down the process in a state of heightened awareness, we become more in touch with what could be called the Sacred.
But the term is misleading if it implies that we see the Sacred as something that needs to be dealt with at a metaphysical level. In a down-to-earth manner, we pay moment-by-moment attention to experience, including the physicality of it.
This is the paradox of therapy: We deal with the Sacred in a down-to-earth way. Of course, it is only a paradox if we see the Sacred as being on a different plane.