What Happened To The Sacred?

The word “sacred” is one that we hardly ever use outside of religious settings or events. For a number of reasons it has become a word that we shun. It is, however, and important idea about an important subject that transcends cultural definitions about it meaning.

Because it has been so misused, it deserves a look to see if we can reclaim it in a productive way.

What Does Sacred Mean?

According to Wikipedia,

The word “sacred” descends from the Latin sacrum, which referred to the gods or anything in their power, and to sacerdos and sanctum, set apart. It was generally conceived spatially, as referring to the area around a temple.[citation needed]

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 religious meaning of sacred is the commonly used reference for the word. It is interesting that the English word derives from an adjective that means healthy and whole.

The Ancient Sacred

Aboriginal culture is one of the oldest if not the oldest living culture in the world. The aborigines migrated south from somewhere in Asia to Australia over c. 60000 years ago. They created one of the richest sacred traditions in the world known as “Dreamtime” . In their culture sacred referred to the land and the ancestors, both of which were considered the basis of well being of the people of the culture.

So for them, sacred was a life giving and life supporting idea. It was directly related to daily life. They help nature to be sacred since it supported their lives very directly.

The Sacred And Modern Life

Later cultures institutionalized the sacred under religious institutions and so the Roman (latin) definition of sacred as directly related to the gods located power in a religious/mythical figure and assigned those figures power. Nature was no longer the location of power.

With the institutionalization of the sacred, the sacred was removed from the individual and located in the hands of those with hierarchical authority. Once that happened, hierarchy and the sacredness of elites became a cultural phenomenon.

It does not really matter how the sacred is removed from nature to cultural institutions. Once it happens, nature becomes degraded as does the “average” meaning non-elite individual. We humans have been fighting about this ever since.

Hyperindividualism And The Sacred

Removing the sacred from our daily lives by cultural structures has impacted the relationship of individuals to one another especially since the natural world is often concentrated in the hands of elites. It has changed what we considered vital for our survival and elevated money as a need for our survival. As a result many people do not make the connection between the natural world and their survival and well-being.

Since nature is no longer communally owned we do not have a natural access to our survival and as a result have become disempowered. Few people have the ability and skills to survive in nature any more. All the money on the world does not protect us from that disempowerment.

HSPs And The Sacred

Highly sensitive people have a natural access to the sacred of life and to nature. It is our natural home. Our intuitive, energy sensitive natures cannot deny the sacred power of the natural world. It is unlikely for HSPs to transfer that awareness to cultural institutions no matter how respect-worthy they might be.

One of the special gifts of the highly sensitive person is our access to the natural sacred and it is one of the gifts we have to offer the world. There is a movement in the world to reclaim our rightful place in the world and that involves siting ourselves as a part of nature not over it. It also means rediscovering nature’s awe and mystery.

What’s lovely about it is that we HSPs have a wonderful opportunity to offer our eyes and experience of nature’s gifts to those who need to reconnect. It is a wonderful gift that we have to offer others.


maria hill

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program using cultural and personal development frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers The Magic Of Joy program for quantum healing and the Emerging Sensitive Community focused on living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is a Certified Theta Healer and certified in Spiral Dynamics. She is an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. katty brown on April 26, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Many teachers are not aware that boys are naturally more restless.hi i am great fan of your blog,i am regularly follow your post.every time you give me very useful information that helps me a lot.They are definitely over prescribed


    • Maria on April 26, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Katty and sharing your perspective.

      All the best,

    • katty brown on April 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      thanx a lot ………………u 2 all the best

  2. Claire on February 23, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    I really like this post. Since young adulthood I have felt rather alienated from my surroundings, and from most people. I grew up in London, and am still here. While I think it’s possible to connect with spiritual aspects of ourselves, even in big cities, through such activities as Yoga, and by using alternative treatments etc. , it is extremely difficult because the constant noise & ‘busyness’ of our lifestyles make it so. I am feeling increasingly drawn to a different place where I can re-connect with the essence of myself, perhaps I am trying to live in my Soul more, if that makes sense. I relate this to your idea of The Sacred because I feel I need to be in an environment which is much more respected by its inhabitants. I don’t know if that place exists. Interesting times.

  3. Francie Stoutamire on February 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    As an HSP and introvert I thoroughly enjoy and resonate with your posts! My son – a poster child extrovert – is also an HSP, there are definitely some out there.
    Having been brought up to deny my intuitive and sensitive nature, I began to finally live from the inside out in my mid-40’s. Now in my mid-60’s one of my greatest joys has been to create a website in which I share images that reflect how I treasure nature and love light. Interesting that you mention the use of the word sacred, as naming my site Sacred Eye Studio, Images of Everyday Grace is perfect for how I have always viewed the world.
    Thank you for all that you do to share about being HSP, I really appreciate it!

    • Maria Hill on February 24, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Francine,

      I am glad that you like the posts. Living from the inside out is a great way to approach life for an HSP. If you ever want to share one of you images on my Facebook page, you can send them to me there. A lot of people stop by.

      All the best,