Body: Corporality and the Capacity for the Sacred

There are many consistencies between the sacred spaces of the world, the art and architecture of religious monuments and temples or the humbling heights of mountains and vast landscapes. However, the most notable commonality that stretches between all sacred space is us. As we move between sacred space and the profane realm, it is us that is always there and capable of perceiving both divinity and normality. The body, or as I like to say, just body is how we come to navigate, interpret, and sense the world around us. Body is a sacred space. Now I recognize the grammatical inaccuracy here, but I will continue to use this type of language to prevent any notion of possession or disconnect between what I identify as ‘me’ and how I present myself. Body is me, and I am body. This has helped me navigate, connect, and ground myself into my own physicality. 

Joseph Campbell, in his interview with PBS, spoke in depth about the idea of bliss. He implied active choice was a major contributor to this sense of divine presence. The “realization of your bliss, your true being comes when you have put aside… the passing moment with its terror, and with its temptations, and its statement of requirements of life; that you should live this way.” (2021). This reminded me that sacredness, much like the work of Mircea Eliade suggests, is contingent on the participation of the self in that moment and in that space.

Sacred space is a defined space, one that is different and distinguishable from all other spaces (Brereton, 1987, p.526). It is unique in that it is unlike regular or profane space and is best defined by this comparison. Body is perhaps the most distinguishable space in the universe. Linked tightly with identity and forms of self, body is unique in that it is us. It is how we present, how we are perceived and the symbol by which others come to recognize us. Sacred spaces and structures possess a character or trait that sets them apart from all other spaces (Brereton, 1987, p.527). Perhaps it is our individual consciousness that makes this distinction most obvious. Body is a “system of conditioning influences that the individual assumes” and it is through this system that we come to view the world (Eliade, 1957, p. 173). Though sentience is widespread and permeates beyond not just the self but the human species, it is still only you that can view this universe in the way that you do.

There are several reasons why I believe body to be my primary sacred space. As previously mentioned, body can move in and out of perceived sacred space and dictates not only what appears as sacred but the feeling of divinity itself. It is in this way that body becomes a vehicle for communication and connection with the divine (Eliade, 1957, p. 173). Like forms of Tantric yoga suggest, body is how one orders and interprets the world, and it is through this interpretation that we confront on an individual level, our perception of God or holiness (Brereton, 1987, p.532).

Body, like some sacred spaces, is made sacred in the way that it is uniquely created. Like Japan was formed from the brine of a jeweled spear (Brereton, 1987, p.527), we were made from the miracle of two cells that happened to get along. This mirrors the same process as much of nature and should be viewed, at least in my opinion, as a reflection of our inherent connection to the Earth. It is through the act of being born that we come to be consecrated because this is when we meet the world that brought us here. Birth and being are deeply connected with nature through the space of body. This is so incredible and strange. It will continue to amaze me for the rest of my life.

Besides being born, body is a space unique from other realms of human life. To begin with, it is the sole source of what we deem as life within our species. Body mirrors common themes of divinity in this way. The ability for body to foster both creation and life as well as death and destruction is something holy in and of itself. Like great creators and destroyers in various religions, body constructs and dismantles life all on its own, harbouring a power we only seem to associate with omnipotent and omniscient beings.

Body is also a place of ritual. It is a space that is fed frequently and given offerings of love and sustenance. Body engages in dance, play, and participates in various acts of love, life, creation, and ultimately cessation. Body mirrors the magic, mystery, and noise of the cosmos while also serving as a place for the quiet contemplation of mindfulness. Body is distinct from the external, allowing for refuge from the world while still being deeply connected to it through nature. We are an entire world, one internal and isolated from the loud external world we live in, and it is a place I live in all of the time. It is private, yet expressive. It is independent yet intertwined.

Though I am not religious, I can understand why many followers of various religions come to believe that humans were made in the creator’s image. Perhaps not in the two legs and two arms kind of way, but in the way that body comes to mimic all life on Earth in one way or another. Sacred spaces are often viewed as a visual metaphor for the world (Brereton, 1987, p.530). I find in myself, a lot of the same things I see outside of myself. Body requires rest and action, like the sowing, growth, and harvest of crops. Much like nature requires light, shade, sun, and rain we require the contrasts of the universe to truly find peace and presence. It is only with body that we can truly do that.

Body is a unique space. It is the centre of my universe, just as you are the centre of yours. Body allows one to confront and connect to other people and to other unique universes in this world. I have had a long history of disconnect with this space, as I am sure many of us have. This is why I have chosen to omit articles and possessives when speaking about it. Body is not something I drag around nor is it simply a vessel for my being. It is the entire space I take up and I have spent my entire life trying to allow myself to exist in every corner of me. To me, this is sacred. It is absolute presence. It is connection. It has forced me to confront absolutes like death and disease but also to find comfort in them. Much like notions of God has done for millions of people. It has brought me great pleasure and great pain. It has connected me to the Earth from which I came, and for which I will return. But for now, body will keep that divinity, that sacredness that is found in each of us and will hold onto it, for even a short while. Body is me, and I am body. To me, this is sacred.




Buddhist from Brooklyn. (2021). Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth 05 - Sacrifice and Bliss, Bill Moyers Interview Pbs. YouTube. Retrieved January 16, 2022, from

Brereton, J. (1987). Sacred Space. In The Encyclopedia of Religion (Vol. 12, pp. 526–535). Macmillan.

Eliade, M. (1957). The sacred and the profane: The nature of religion. Harvest.


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