Summary of The End of the Sacred (La Fin du Sacré) by Sylvain Durain

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  • Post last modified:February 2, 2024
La fin du sacré (the end of the sacred) book cover

Summary: 4 min

Book reading time: 1h20

Score: 8/10

Book published in: 2022

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  • All societies are built over three structures: the family, the state, and the “sky” (aka God(s))
  • The matriarchy was the original societal model: the main goddess was symbolized by Gaia, the Mother Earth, who lived by a never-ending cycle of chaos and order. This cycle echoed across the three structures.
  • At the tribe level, chaos manifested through the mimetic crisis, a fight among all members of the groups who with time, came to all desire the same thing.
  • Because chaos jeopardizes the survival of the tribe, members performed sacrifices of animals or people (Eg: their chief) to the gods hoping for a quick and swift re-establishment of order.
  • Time passed and the world slowly shifted from a matriarchy to a patriarchy to end the abominable practice of sacrifice.
  • On the family level, the Romans enforced the ascription of authority to the father.
  • On the state level, the Greeks invented democracy where the killing of the chief was replaced by the casting of the vote.
  • On the religious level, the Hebrews introduced the idea of one masculine God in place of the feminine Gaia.
  • The sacrifice of Christ, Son of God, redeemed humanity of its sins, thereby ending all other sacrifices, no longer relevant. It completed society’s transformation from the matriarchy to the patriarchy at the three societal levels.
  • Family-wise, the Bible describes the father as subject to God; the mother as subject to God and her husband; and the children as subjects to their parents, introducing the notion of unity, hierarchy, and authority, three necessary laws for a functioning society.
  • State-wise, the King represents Christ and symbolizes the authority of the state.
  • Religion-wise, God is now masculine.
  • Christianity fulfills the transformation of a “bloody” matriarchal society to a safe and peaceful patriarchal society.
  • Getting away from Christianity necessarily means shifting back to a matriarchy, with the sacrifices it entails. That’s where we are today.

What The End of the Sacred Talks About

The End of the Sacred (La Fin du Sacré) is a book written by Sylvain Durain. The book introduces the concept of “the sacred” and links it to the practice of sacrifice.

His thesis explains that sacrifices must be performed in non-Christian matriarchal societies which Christianity, through the establishment of the patriarchy, ended.

The thesis of the book is peculiar and won’t leave you cold.

Sylvain Durain begins by defining the notion of “sacred”, explaining that the sacred is necessarily that for which we make sacrifices.

He introduces the history of sacrifices since the dawn of times and shows how societies that practice it were necessarily matriarchal societies, that is, societies whose social pillar is incarnated by the feminine.

But matriarchal societies, as a result of conceptualizing life as a cycle oscillating between order and chaos, must perform sacrifices to re-establish order within society.

It’s a great book albeit difficult for readers that are not familiar with the theories of René Girard (I suggest you read the summary of Wanting if you don’t know what a mimetic crisis is).

While most of the book is interesting, concise, and pleasant to read, the author briefly ventured into economic and contemporary political realms to propose personal theories on events that are not connected with the main theme of the book, which I found regrettable.

Yet I highly recommend this book to anyone who questions the origin of the comeback of violence within the (secular) West.

Unfortunately, it’s only available in French.


The book lacked certain explanations (why does the father prevent the mimetic crisis in the family?) and was unclear at times.

Get the book here.

Summary of The End of the Sacred by Sylvain Durain

What is the “sacred”?

The word “sacred” relates to the word “sacrifice” -> the sacred is what we make sacrifices for.

The sacrifice has always been a necessary rite in human societies and was practiced by every people and every tribe that ever walked the planet.

To quote the Roman Petronius:

Gods are good and we get from them all that we enjoy (…) but the gods are fair and we are guilty. We need to keep them happy, we need to expiate our crimes. The best way to do so is the sacrifice.

There are three types of sacrifice:

  • Love sacrifice: the tribe sacrifices a scapegoat to show it loves its gods.
  • Reparation sacrifice: the tribe performs a sacrifice to redeem their mistakes.
  • The wish sacrifice: the tribe sacrifices to increase chances of winning a war, rain for the fields, etc.

Why do people sacrifice?

As time passes, differentiations and hierarchies get loose within a group of people; everyone began to resemble everyone else, which leads everyone to desire the same thing, which leads to a giant dispute called a “mimetic crisis” -> everyone is fighting with everyone because everyone wants the same thing.

When this happens, the members of the group have two choices:

  1. They go through with it and all kill each other.
  2. They blame it all on a scapegoat.

Tribes who survived chose option 2. They sacrifice the scapegoat, diffuse the mimetic crisis and reestablish peace within the group. Then the mimetic crisis comes back and everything starts again in a never-ending cycle.

These societies are matriarchal in nature.

The main deities are of feminine essence as what matters in society is the life that the tribe receives (newborns, food, etc).

Life is understood as a cycle oscillating between order and chaos. When chaos arises (the mimetic crisis) a sacrifice must be performed until order is restored.

But sacrifices are no longer performed in our society. Why?

Sacrifices stopped when society became patriarchal, that is, when Jesus Christ died on the cross.

By dying “for humanity”, Christ expiated the sins of the world, becoming the last person to ever be sacrificed.

If the blood of the Son of God redeemed us, we no longer need to sacrifice anything or anyone, as no sacrifice can ever beat that of Christ.

Jesus incarnated the presence of God on earth, the ultimate authority that maintains order.

The establishment of permanent order through the rise of authority symbolized by the Father across the three structures of society rendered the sacrificial rites useless. This is the patriarchy.

Here’s how it developed in each of the societal structures.

The Family

The family is inherent to human nature in the way that sacrifice is.

In pre-Christian societies, the father wasn’t known because nobody understood the mechanism of procreation. The child was raised by the tribe and only knew his mother.

His “father” was his uncle who did not incarnate authority. The child was raised by the tribe.

This conceptualization of the family evolved when the Romans decided that by law, fathers had the authority over their families. This led to a more stable family life and shifted society a little bit more toward a patriarchal system.

Then Christianity arrived and changed the matriarchal concept of the family entirely.

God made Adam and subordinated him to Himself. Then Ha made Eve from Adam, and subordinated her to Himself and Adam. He told them to come together and multiply.

We distinguish three laws of public utility:

  • Unity: of man and woman, of the parents with their children
  • Authority: of the parents over their children.
  • Hierarchy: the woman subject to the man, and the children subject to their parents.

Cicero said that family is the backbone of society: when it decays, so does society.

The new Christian patriarchy established the father as a symbol of authority within the family, hence preventing the chaos arising out of the mimetic crisis.

The absence of the father in the family necessarily leads to a comeback of the matriarchy with the cycle of order and chaos governed by the sacrificial rite.

The State

In the pre-Christian world, the tribe chief was equal to everyone else but was also the representative of the authority, a magician, an economic counselor, etc. There was no separation between the sacred and the profane because the conception of the world was monistic (everything and everyone is one same thing, no distinction between God and people).

As a result, the chief became the scapegoat when things went south and was sacrificed to restore order.

The “patriarchalisation” of the state was first led by the Greeks through the invention of democracy. The idea wasn’t for everyone to have freedom but to end the sacrifice of the chief by replacing it with the casting of the ballot.

You no longer kill the chief; you vote.

Christianity established the patriarchy at the state level by creating the King, lieutenant of Christ, symbol and guarantor of peace.

He won’t be sacrificed as Christ has already been sacrificed, so any other type of sacrifice isn’t needed.

The “Sky”

The sky concerns the level of the Gods. In a pre-Christian matriarchal society, there was no incarnated authority as the main goddess was Gaia, the Earth, with an ever-changing mood.

The vision of the world was cyclic, alternating between order and chaos (hence needing sacrifice), which echoed across the two other societal levels (family and state).

People that are born are not “new people”, but reincarnation. Time is infinite.

The conception of God as a woman to God as a man was introduced by the Hebrews.


Christianity has moved the West (and most of the world) from a matriarchal society, functioning according to a cycle of order and chaos that necessitates sacrifice, to a patriarchal society of order where the Father, symbolized across the family by the father, across the state by the king, and across the “sky” by God, incarnates authority that ended the violence of sacrifices.

When we deconstruct and dechristianize society, we inevitably come back to a matriarchal society with the sacrifices it entails.

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