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Abstract

One of the first definitive works on the concept of the sacred was Emile Durkheim’s 1912 work The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. In it, he defined the sacred in opposition to the profane. The next major work on the sacred was not until Mircea Eliade’s The Sacred and the Profane, in 1959. A review of the literature since that time reveals that the thinking on the sacred/profane dichotomy has changed little since these seminal writings. A useful tool for examining the sacred was created in 1989 when Belk, Wallendorf and Sherry explored the dichotomy as it relates to consumer behaviour. Here they identified twelve properties of the sacred: hierophany, kratophany, myth, mystery, sacrifice, ritual, opposition to the profane, contamination, communitas, commitment, objectification, and ecstasy and flow. These properties can be used to explore the sacred in the context of modern pilgrimage. One source of information about modern pilgrimage is travel narratives. Travel narratives are part of the quest genre, a romantic narrative where travellers are compelled to journey for that which is sacred. The quest genre is a metaphorical vehicle for narrating a spiritual journey composed of several stages, the call to journey, preparation, the journey itself, and returning. This paper explores the properties of the sacred, drawing evidence from travel narratives, to explore the qualities of sacred journey.

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