Skip to main content

Sacred Time

  • Reference work entry

In profane understandings time appears to be a constant linear sequence of moments, but all religious and spiritual traditions conceive of a “sacred time” that is outside of or other than this sequence. Commonly, this sacred time is said to be an “eternal now” that is located “between” (or above or beyond) the moments that make up linear time. Time is an agent of death, corruption and the finite; spiritual traditions seek a realm that is ever-living, incorruptible and infinite and therefore not subject to the flux of time.

The psychological perception of time is inconstant. Time will often seem to either “fly” or “drag” and it seems to pass slower to children and pass faster as we age. Similarly, there are cultural differences in the perception of time. The nomad, for instance, has more of a spatial than a temporal consciousness. For the nomad the starry sky is a map, while for the sedentary city-dweller it is a clock. The decline of nomadic life and the arrival of sedentary life...

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Alexander, S. (1920). Space, time, and deity (Vol. 2). London: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brumbaugh, R. S. (1984). Unreality and time. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cowan, J. (1992). The elements of the aborigine tradition. Shaftesbury, England: Element.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eliade, M. (1959). The sacred and the profane: The nature of religion (W. Trask, Trans.). London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eliade, M. (1971). The myth of the eternal return: Cosmos and history. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

About this entry

Cite this entry

Blackhirst, R. (2010). Sacred Time. In: Leeming, D.A., Madden, K., Marlan, S. (eds) Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. Springer, Boston, MA.

Download citation