Mircea Eliade Quotes

Light does not come from light, but from darkness.
Mircea Eliade (Isabel and the Devil's Waters)
And I realize how useless wails are and how gratuitous melancholy is.
Mircea Eliade (Le Roman de l'adolescent myope)
Water symbolizes the whole of potentiality - the source of all possible existence.
Mircea Eliade
As long as you have not grasped that you have to die to grow, you are a troubled guest on the dark earth.
Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, 1961)
Man becomes aware of the sacred because it manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane.
Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, 1961)
The joy of life is not a profane type of enjoyment: it reveals the bliss of existing, of sharing in the spontaneity of life and the majesty of the world.
Mircea Eliade (History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1: Man's Destiny)
The primitive magician, the medicine man or shaman is not only a sick man, he is above all, a sick man who has been cured, who has succeeded in curing himself.
Mircea Eliade (Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, 1951)
To whatever degree he may have desacralized the world, the man who has made his choice in favor of a profane life never succeeds in completely doing away with religious behavior.
Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, 1961)
The Experience of Sacred Space makes possible the "founding of the world": where the sacred Manifests itself in space, the real unveils itself, the world comes into existence.
Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, 1961)
The crude product of nature, the object fashioned by the industry of man, acquire their reality, their identity, only to the extent of their participation in a transcendent reality.
Mircea Eliade (The Myth of the Eternal Return, 1954)
The great cosmic illusion is a hierophany.... One is devoured by Time, not because one lives in Time, but because one believes in its reality, and therefore forgets or despises eternity.
Mircea Eliade (Images and Symbols, 1952)
Whether religion is man-made is a question for philosophers or theologians. But the forms are man-made. They are a human response to something. As a historian of religions, I am interested in those expressions.
Mircea Eliade
In imitating the exemplary acts of a god or of a mythic hero, or simply by recounting their adventures, the man of an archaic society detaches himself from profane time and magically re-enters the Great Time, the sacred time.
Mircea Eliade (Myths, Dreams and Mysteries, 1967)
For those to whom a stone reveals itself as sacred, its immediate reality is transmuted into supernatural reality. In other words, for those who have a religious experience all nature is capable of revealing itself as cosmic sacrality.
Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, 1961)
Through reading, the modern man succeeds in obtaining an "escape from time" comparable to the "emergence from time" effected by myths... Reading projects him out if his personal duration and incorporates him into other rhythms, makes him live in another "history".
Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, 1961)
To the best of our knowledge the present book is the first to cover the entire phenomenon of shamanism and at the same time to situate it in the general history of religion. To say this is to imply its liability to imperfection and approximation and the risks that it takes.
Mircea Eliade (Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, 1951)
Poetry remakes and prolongs language; every poetic language begins by being a secret language, that is, the creation of a personal universe, of a completely closed world. The purest poetic act seems to re-create language from an inner experience that … reveals the essence of things.
Mircea Eliade (Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, 1951)
I have never affirmed the insignificance of historical situations, their usefulness for understanding religious creations. If I haven’t emphasized this problem, it is precisely because it has been emphasized too much, and because what seems to me essential is thus neglected: the hermeneutic of religious creations.
Mircea Eliade (No Souvenirs - Journal Entry)
My religion: Very seldom do I feel a need for the presence of God. I don't pray and I don't know how to pray. When I enter a church, I try to pray, but I can't tell if I succeed or not. But often I have religious “attacks”: the desire for isolation, for contemplation far from other people. Despair. The desire (and the hope) for asceticism.
Mircea Eliade (The Portugal Journal, 1941-1945)
The history of religions reaches down and makes contact with that which is essentially human: the relation of man to the sacred. The history of religions can play an extremely important role in the crisis we are living through. The crises of modern man are to a large extent religious ones, insofar as they are an awakening of his awareness to an absence of meaning.
Mircea Eliade
A religious phenomenon will only be recognized as such if it is grasped at its own level, that is to say, if it is studied as something religious. To try to grasp the essence of such phenomenon by means of physiology, psychology, sociology, economics, linguistics, art or any other study is false; it misses the one unique and irreducible element in it — the element of the sacred.
Mircea Eliade (Patterns in Comparative Religion, 1963)
I would like to analyse the attitude of historicists of all kinds. . . all those who believe that one can understand culture only by reducing it to something lower (sexuality, economics, history, etc.) and to show that theirs is a neurotic attitude. The neuropath demystifies life, culture, the spiritual life. . . he can no longer grasp the deep meaning of things, and consequently, he can no longer believe in their reality.
Mircea Eliade (No Souvenirs - Journal Entry)
Shamanism in this strict sense is not confined to Central and North Asia, and we shall endeavor later to point out the greatest possible number of parallels. On the other hand, certain shamanic elements are found in isolation in various forms of archaic magic and religion. And they are of considerable interest, for they show to what extent shamanism proper preserves a substratum of “primitive” beliefs and techniques and to what extent it has innovated.
Mircea Eliade (Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, 1951)
Do what he will, he [the profane man] is an inheritor. He cannot utterly abolish his past, since he himself is a product of his past. He forms himself by a series of denials and refusals, but he continues to be haunted by the realities that he has refused and denied. To acquire a world of his own, he has desacralized the world in which his ancestors lived; but to do so he has been obliged to adopt an earlier type of behavior, and that behavior is still emotionally present in him, in one form or another, ready to be reactualized in his deepest being.
Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, 1961)
It is above all the valorizing of the present that requires emphasizing. The simple fact of existing, of living in time, can comprise a religious dimension. This dimension is not always obvious, since sacrality is in a sense camouflaged in the immediate, in the "natural" and the everyday. The joy of life discovered by the Greeks is not a profane type of enjoyment: it reveals the bliss of existing, of sharing — even fugitively — in the spontaneity of life and the majesty of the world. Like so many others before and after them, the Greeks learned that the surest way to escape from time is to exploit the wealth, at first sight impossible to suspect, of the lived instant.
Mircea Eliade (History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1: Man's Destiny)
It was lunar symbolism that enabled man to relate and connect such heterogeneous things as: birth, becoming, death, and ressurection; the waters, plants, woman, fecundity, and immortality; the cosmic darkness, prenatal existence, and life after death, followed by the rebirth of the lunar type ("light coming out of darkness"); weaving, the symbol of the "thread of life," fate, temporality, and death; and yet others. In general most of the ideas of cycle, dualism, polarity, opposition, conflict, but also of reconciliation of contraries, of coincidentia oppositorum, were either discovered or clarified by virtue of lunar symbolism. We may even speak of a metaphysics of the moon, in the sense of a consistent system of "truths" relating to the mode of being peculiar to living creatures, to everything in the cosmos that shares in life, that is, in becoming, growth and waning, death and ressurrection.
Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, 1961)
For the past fifty years at least, Western scholars have approached the study of myth from a viewpoint markedly different from, let us say, that of the nineteenth century. Unlike their predecessors, who treated myth in the usual meaning of the word, that is, as "fable," "invention," "fiction," they have accepted it as it was understood in archaic societies, where, on the contrary, "myth" means a "true story" and, beyond that, a story that is a most precious possession because it is sacred, exemplary, significant. This new semantic value given the term "myth" makes its use in contemporary parlance somewhat equivocal. Today, that is, the word is employed both in the sense of "fiction" or "illusion" and in that familiar especially to ethnologists, sociologists, and historians of religions, the sense of "sacred tradition, primordial revelation, exemplary model." … the Greeks steadily continued to empty mythos of all religious and metaphysical value. Contrasted both with logos and, later, with historia, mythos came in the end to denote "what cannot really exist." On its side, Judaeo-Christianity put the stamp of "falsehood" and "illusion" on whatever was not justified or validated by the two Testaments.
Mircea Eliade (Myth and Reality, 1963)

Relevant Pages

Western Esotericism





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Mircea Eliade Biography

Mircea Eliade portrait

Born: 1907
Died: 1986

Mircea Eliade was a historian of religion, writer and philosopher. He is best known for his various insights and unique ideas concerning the nature of spirituality, religion and man.

Notable Works

Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (1951)
The Myth of the Eternal Return (1954)
The Sacred and the Profane (1961)
Myth and Reality (1963)