Religion & Spirituality

What is imago mundi?

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09/13/2011

Imago Mundi

What is more, for religious man, cosmos in its birth spread out from the centre. Consequently, when he undertook new construction work, religious man, by analogy, organised it outwards from a central point. Thus, a new village might be developed from a crossroads outwards, giving it four zones. Such a plan made a new construction an imago mundi, a representation of the cosmos on the ground.

Understanding his world this way, religious man experienced attacks from enemies as the work of demons, enemies of the divine creation who threatened to return that creation to chaos. Typically, such demons were represented as dragons; in fact, chaos itself might be represented as a dragon.

Eliade notes that something of this way of thinking persists in his contemporary world, in talk of dark forces threatening to plunge civilization into chaos.

Going back to the imago mundi, the cosmic order represented in construction, Eliade points out that religious man saw it in his dwelling. Thus, peoples whose tents or huts had a central post or pillar could understand it as an axis mundi, supporting 'our world' and linking it to heaven.