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Neo-Animism and Bioregionalism

By John Halstead

[Snip] Neo-Animism

“Neo-animism” posits that the world is full of other-than-human “persons”, including “salmon persons”, “tree person”, and even “rock persons”. The concept of personhood implies relationality and reciprocity, as well as rights. Neo-animists want to see the rights of all “persons” respected. The term “other-than-human” persons was coined in 1960 by A. Irving Hallowell to describe the understanding by the Ojibwa people he studied that many more things could be a person than Westerners realize. The phrase was later adopted by many neo-animists.

It is difficult for Westerners to understand the concept of “other-than-human” persons, especially when talking about (seemingly) inanimate objects like rocks. But for the animist, there is no such thing as inanimate matter. All matter is animate, and thus alive, at least in the sense that it is part of a complex self-regulating living system called “Gaia“.

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