Animism

MoonOwl Observations

August, 2013

Animism

 

Animism is the probably the earliest religious philosophy employed by our ancestors. It is still practiced today, mainly in Africa and the Americas. The dictionary defines Animism as “the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls”. Also, “ the belief that natural objects have souls that may exist apart from their material bodies.

 

This does not mean that Animists personify the gods with human characteristics, names or myths. It means that everything in nature is ascribed a spirit and an energy.  The Wheel of the Year and the cycles of life are then actually seen as divine in their own right. It encompasses philosophical, religious and spiritual beliefs that souls or spirits exist in animals, plants, rocks, rivers, trees, fire and other entities of the natural environment.

 

Animism comes from the latin animus , which means “soul, life”. Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas are two people who contemplated the possibility that souls exist in animals, plants and people. Sir Edward Tylor was responsible for the definition currently accepted in anthropology. This happened around the 1870’s. He defined it as “the general doctrine of souls and other spiritual beings in general.” There is a lot of information surrounding these people and their views that I cannot summarize it all, so instead if you wish to-  research more into them.

 

Traditions such as European Cunning Craft often follow Animism. Some neo-pagan groups will describe themselves as animists, meaning that they respect the diverse community of living beings and spirits with whom humans share the world. This belief system is also very popular with Native American tribes. It is also found in Shinto, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Pantheism.

 

Animists attempt to live in the world as if the world is a community of living persons, and not only humans. We live in a realm of living, personal beings and we should live respectfully within this multispecies world.

 

If you believe in Animism you should demonstrate respect to all of earth and not it as an object.