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Introduction to Animism

By Aidan Grey

Animism is usually described as the belief that all things have a soul. That suffices, from an academic point of view, but from an experiential one, it doesn’t quite have the oomph and significance that I get from my relationships. It’s the difference between the actual relationship with Mom and the idea that “she’s just your Mom”. The latter is accurate, but really, there’s so much more to that word that what you just said.

The world is full of people: human people, cat people, oak people, wind people, rock people, thought people, and so on. When it comes to trying to understand the world, Animism presupposes that everything else is a person, and approaches its ethics, ritual, and theology from that direction. “How should you treat another person?” is a central question. Who, or what, that person is, is of secondary importance at best.

Which then comes to an even better way of understanding Animism – at least, I sure think it is. Since that whole “soul” thing is pretty ambiguous, and the People thing is kind of blunt and doesn’t necessarily include the nuances, I usually say that the world is full of relationships. These aren’t just the connections and associations you get in the whole “Web of Life” concept, these are actual relationships with people who have their own agendas and wishes and likes and problems. These are relationships that are particular to YOU as a distinct individual, relationships with everything that affects your life, from the other people at your work to the beings you’ve eaten or that you wear. Animism is intensely practical that way.

Read the original article at: Pantheon

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