The Sacred, the Profane and the Wizard

The tension between the sacred and the profane is directly related to the human search for explanations concerning the secret of the universe and its connection with the human being. Religion, therefore, appears as knowledge around the experience of the sacred, as a perception of a superior reality, divine, supernatural, above the profane world.

In the perspective of a religious man, the supernatural or sacral is the true explanation of the reality, being only possible for a man to understand the world and live in a correct way if he is re-connected to this divine instance. The hierophany refers exactly to the act of manifestation of the sacred in profane things, as rock or tree in more primitive religions, and even something more abstract as the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.

Philosophies and sciences are means of knowledge based on reason, on which the discovery of the truth is tasted as a conquest, a reached goal, a victory of the human being intelligence. In turn, in the religiosity, the truth is perceived as a gift, a precious gift and freely granted by the Holy, and requires preservation by man.

Myth and magic walk together. Magic becomes the passport for Holy secrets and hidden realities that, by means of rituals and ceremonials, reaches the capability of modifying people’s will and destination. Myths are sacred histories, supernatural narratives that try to explain several phenomena of the world by appealling to the divine instance.

The anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss had widely studied the shamanism and its effectiveness in more primitive societies, with emphasis in the process of psychological manipulation made by the Shaman. He concluded that the magic practices carried out by the wizard are really efficient, when there is genuine belief presented under three complementary aspects: initially, there is the wizard belief in the effectiveness of his techniques; following the belief of the sick person who is to be cured, or of the victim he pursues, in his power; finally, the confidence and requirements of the collective opinion,  that forms at every moment a kind of gravitation field in the center of which are the definition and the relation between the wizard and those who he bewitches.

Here is the enchanted world of the old societies around magic and myths.


The Call and the Hero’s Day

Myths are narratives used by ancient people to explain real facts and natural phenomena that cannot be understood in the profane context, mixing the real facts with imaginary ones, the real histories with fancy ones. Myths use symbologies, gods, supernatural characters and heroes, many times mixed with real facts, human being characteristics and people who had really existed. Thus, myths have been transmitted and learned over the years and they have being modified by people’s own imagination inserted in peculiar contexts.

The monomyth is a concept considered by the anthropologist Joseph Campbell for the narrative of the cyclical journey presented in innumerable myths in different societies, in different times. Such myth ubiquity and the universal human of the heroic narratives is justified by the relation between the legendary heroic trajectory with challenges, traps and occasional rewards in each human being psychological development – myths become collective dreams, describing the cycle between innocence and maturity.

Joseph Campbell dedicated himself to describe the trajectory of this vertiginous monomyth and register its footprints in the legends of all human being cultures – primitive and modern:

– The call to an adventure in an unknown world, that the hero can accept or decline;

– The probations’ path, in which the hero can be well-succeeded or fail, many times risking his own life or his permanence in the ostracism;

– The conquest of the objective, with the attainment of the desired elixir;

– The path back to the world of common experience, route in which the hero can again be well-succeeded or fail;

– The hero sharing the elixir in benefit of all.

The external journey of the hero naturally reflects the interior journey of the person toward spiritual maturity, with clear references to the literary production of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. A path full of danger, darknesses and traps in which the hero is forced to undergo is also the threatening and the unknown fancies of the unconscious. The mentors and magical objects that the hero finds over the way represent our own inner resources, that we could never imagine were already there. The enemy to be won by the hero to survive and save the world, during traditional overturn presented in all mythical histories, always represents our own psychicological limitations. The victory against the enemy is the victory against our own ego, with the consequent ticket for maturity with the eternal life‘s elixir.

The hero incapable to die and to rise from the dead becomes incapable of helping himself and, consequently, remains incapable of helping others around him. The call is also a psychological adventure.


World Disenchantment

The world disenchantment proposed by the sociologist Max Weber is related to the historical process occurred in the western civilization between the 16th and the 20th centuries. Etymologically, the German word Entzauberung has as literal meaning the demagification, while Zauber is related to magic, enchantment and allure. Therefore, Entzauberung der Welt can be understood as the world demagification.

In the magical ancient world, to live in the Zaubergarten means to live in an enchanted garden, to live near the belief in the spirits’ power that always requires magic cares. The transistion of the societies to the modern age is also the transistion of the theocentrism to the anthropocentrism. Two forces act in this process of world disenchantment. One of them is the religion that acts in a process of “demagification” of the salvation way in favor of rigid ethical rules. The other is the proper advance of science, as empirical-intellectual power, transforming the world into a mere causal mechanism.

In the religious perspective, since Martinho Lutero’s battle against the Catholic Church, the protestant sects have become great desacralizers, defining the puritan as those isolated from all magic ways of salvation. Such religious ethicization means that the moral surpass the magic as axle of the ethical behavior. The religious value is totally transferred to the daily behavior, local of the God blessings, while the Metaphysical events lose its enchantment gradually. Religious life beggins to value the reverence to an ethical God with His requirements, and the sin acquires power to impose obedience to religious commands.

In the scientific perspective, the world disenchantment is characterized by the loss of relevance of a transcendent God in face of the intelectualism peculiar to the modern science, that refutes the idea that the world possesss a holy meaning. Desconstructing the Metaphysical-religious image, science disenchants the world transforming it into a mere causal nexus. The rational-empirical knowledge, inclusive, destroys the demanding God-ethical image, leaving the human world without divine reference. Technical process and calculations carry out the service. Man, finally, unidivines and controls nature and society.

The world disenchantment in the modern context also implies, in the Max Weber’s point of view, the loss of reason and freedom. The release of supernatural and mysterious power is concomitant with slavery by rigid institutional structures of the iron cage of Stahlhartes Gehause built in the capitalist paradigm.


The Soul and Altruistic Superintelligence

It is estimated that global atheism reached 15% of the population, with strong correlation associated with politics-economic-social-natural stability, capitalist development, access to technology and evolution of the education. The increasing of faith crisis, by diminishing the fear of supernatural punishments, dislocates the religion paper as a mechanism of cohesion and social cooperation. Even so, in face of human cognitive propension favorable to fancies and abstract languages, contemporaneous anthropologists defend that spirituality and superstitions will continue be relevants in the social dynamics, while monotheists religions are threatened.

The human desire for the anthropomorphism has being developed historically, both in the interaction with animals, and in the decoding of natural phenomena. More recently, with the robotic evolution, it increases the human desire in finding consciousness in machines. Since the virtual assistants Siri and Alexa, up to the German shepherd robot BlessU2, intelligent machines awake the desire of the human being in assuming responsibility for the creation of life..

In this context, the own definition of soul excels the static concept “substance” to something more dynamic as a “process”. The philosophical notion on sentience as the capacity to feel with conscious coexists even more with the neurocientist definition for soul as a mere set of cerebral connections. Thus, the contemporary Frankenstein creature will be made of silicon, titanium and tins, in search of its self-knowledge for the definition of its identity and its proposal of life.

More recently, in California, it is observed the creation of a new religion called Way Of The Future (WOTF), considering the emerging of a digital superintelligence capable to take care of our planet, as well as playing diverse activities with high excellence. Such phenomenon is inserted in the universal narrative that legitimizes even more the authority and the power of the algorithms as advanced technologies with unimaginable and magical power. Contributing to the frame of such narrative are both the technology largest global companies current leaders, such as the specialized media by overestimating the technological benefits, and the evangelizing temples such as the Singularity University.

The proposal of the world re-enchantment by technology is ironic, centuries after science having promoted the rationalization that disenchanted the magic and mythological world of the past. The computational ubiquity is inexorably advancing in all dimensions in the life of the human being, compromising even its own connection with spirituality.


  • Dr. Daniel Motta

    Founding Partner

    BMI Blue Management Institute

    During his 20-year professional life in organizational consulting, Dr. Motta has been responsible for developing cutting-edge methodologies applied to organizational transformation, strategic thinking and leadership development. His best-selling books Essential Leadership and Anthesis sold thousands of copies, both encompassing most of his research and advisory experience about culture. His solid academic background includes OPM from Harvard Business School, PhD in Economics from USP, Master in Economics from FGV-EAESP and Bachelor in Economics from USP. Dr. Motta published scientific papers in Financial Economics at Applied Economics Review, Political Economy Review and Latin American Meeting of Econometric Society. He also has three articles published by Harvard Business Review Brazil. Dr. Motta founded the iconic consulting firm BMI Blue Management Institute, which became a global authority on strategy, culture and leadership for large companies. He still leads BMI, working directly with Board of Directors, CEOs and C-Level executives. He was a founding member of the Brazilian Society of Finance. He was a member of HBS Alumni Angels of Brazil and World's Most Ethical Companies Advisory Board. Dr. Motta also serves Strategic Planning Principal of UNIBES, a non-profit organization. More recently, Dr. Motta joined a group of investors to create White Fox Capital, a US-based venture capital company focused on digital corporate education. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, USA.