Thoughts on Animism

Is it possible to be a Naturalistic Pantheist and an Animist? Animism has traditionally been seen as believing that everything is imbued with spirits. If that is animism then clearly one cannot be both a Naturalistic Pantheist and an Animist.

But Animism sees all things as imbued with divinity. So does Pantheism. Recently Neo-Animism has changed the terms of debate from seeing things as having “spirits” to seeing things are “persons.” Perhaps this has something to teach us as Naturalistic Pantheists. Perhaps we could begin to follow the Neo-Animist suggestion to see all things as persons, whether human persons or non-human persons e.g. plants, trees, animals, birds, insects or micro-organisms. We can treat them with respect and try to build relationships with them, honouring all life, recognising interactivity and seeing man as part of the natural world.

Perhaps we can refer to the “spirits of a place” as all the animals and living beings that live in a certain place. Or listen to the Japanese concept of the Kami (the spirits of the Shinto religion). The word means “outstanding” and could be used to refer to any aspect of nature that leaves us with a sense of wonder and awe, maybe a river, a mountain, a sunset, a waterfall, a tree, a rainbow, a storm, thunder and lightning, the sun, moon or stars. We can talk of these things as “spirits” or of Nature communicating to us, even in a naturalistic way.

How should we communicate or treat these “spirits”? We can leave offerings for them, sing to them, talk to them, spend time with them, treat them with respect and protect them.

Here’s a video on Animism…


5 thoughts on “Thoughts on Animism

    • Me to, ivbeen thinking about naturalistic animism for a while.One of my friends finally asked what is naturalistic animism and my other buddy says an animal sees a rock and says there’s a spirit in the rock and we must worship at a naturally naturalistic Annimist Cesar rock and says hey look it’s a rock but with enthusiasm.

      But seriously worshiping the genius of a place in the Roman cents is a perfectly valid form of worship and the best part is the correct way to worship say the genius of the city of Boston is to obey traffic laws support sports teams And participate in civic society polis has to be created in the animistic guns that are interested in people are made by people I shared fiction that gives us a deeper truth

      Also plus I did this with voice to text so forgive the total lack of punctuation and whatever substitutions may be in tuned in the text intumed

  1. I wonder what these distinctions really mean. Is it all just semantics? As you know, I consider myself an animist. I have always been an animist although there was a time I did not have a word for it. I believe in spirits. Spirits everywhere, inside & out. I suppose that makes me a literal animist. I have never considered myself a pantheist, but that perspective does not elude or offend my sensibilities. Yet what you are considering in your questions about relationships with other-than-human personas is remarkably similar to my practice. If the distinction is in whether I call them “spirits” & you call it “divinity,” is there really a difference?

    Thanks again for another great video reminder. I haven’t watched that one in over a year — I think it is helpful to revisit important works from time to time. 😉

    • Hey, thanks for your comments Moma Fauna. I think it is possible to be both Pantheist and Animist because, while they are distinct philosophies, they are complementary. An Animism that is compatible with Naturalistic versions of Pantheism would not see things as having any sort of immortal or supernatural soul/ spirit, but would see all living creatures around us – from the smallest micro-organism to the largest tree as having in some sense “personhood” and therefore being worthy of respect. The practices of Animism offer anyone, regardless of their views on the existence of a supernatural spirit in things, the opportunity to show respect and build relationships with aspects of the natural world around us. And who’s to say that these things don’t have a spirit of some kind that is completely natural but not understood by science yet? For me personally, the post is more exploring questions than giving answers….its more about the practices and letting those form our beliefs.

  2. Pingback: The Three Kindreds « Naturalistic Pantheist Musings

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