Animism an Explanation (Article Speech)

This is part of a speech I have on the explanation of animism.  It is something as a shaman I practise and something that the Pagan community no longer understands in Europe.  Indeed most of the world still partakes in animistic thoughts and cultures and we in the West are unable to break the cultural divide simply because animism is such an alien set of rules to us in ways.  I will hopefully reuse it as an essay at some point but until then it will stay in the form of a speech.  Do enjoy!

A moot as a lot of you probably know is a legal term dating back to the mid 16th century. It is a hypothetical argument or debate used as an exercise, an open-ended question open to interpretation and debate. By the debating of the issue, many new view points are made and the issue itself is explored and tested.

For a lot of pagans, like me, their religion is a continual growth and journey. Knowledge given in a variety of subjects aids these journeys. Being a Shaman I feel the journey a powerful tool, so the reason a lot of this following talk on animism follows a very personal interpretation is, so as to give you all a journey with which to follow. At this point I’d like to thank Ogma honey-tongue and the others for their ever assistance.

I chose animism to talk on because it is still a fully unacceptable superstitious belief in modern culture, even within the community at times. To quote a colleague from work “are you saying we can’t walk on grass, because we will kill it?” And yet modern shamanism, Gaia theory, Hoodoo and plenty of other acceptable and academic corner stones to modern paganism are based on all of the elements of animism. Towards the end I’d ask anyone to talk some and describe their own personal take on animism and whether they feel they have missed out on anything. I welcome any discussion this causes and creates, and hopefully this can show magic-practitioners a new element for their magic, other a greater depth to their one faith and in general a more refined skeletal system for the energy / spirit world and life around us.

Animism is basically the concept of energy / spirit life in all things – concepts, life, objects, places and names – all things and their interaction with each other. If people can understand the ideas of spirit energy, how a thing gains those energies, that energy as a form of life the interaction of those energies than those people understand animism.

 

When I first took to practising magic I was brought through a new-agey stone / gem shop in Wales and was taken by the owner to douse over semi-precious stones. There I felt my first most obvious and not-yet-present connection to the magical as I held moonstone, the refined dousing sent a bolt of energy through my arm. I continued collecting gems for a long time and used them in my arts. As it is often put each gem / stone will have a vibrational level – I prefer to think of it in stones, as a rhythm and each with its own properties. Moonstone for example gives us the divine feminine. They attract and give out this energy by their nature. Gem users or quartz users will know that each individual stone will be quite different. It has had its own life and experience s in getting here. So its natural Moonstone rhythm, for example, is blended and refined with other energy that comes into contact with it. Imagine a child’s block sorter that has lumps taken out of it and has stuff stuck on its edges so its a just-off shaped star. Which has off-shaped off-shaped star energy flow through it. This is the basis of animism. Energy interaction like this example.

I talk of energy and the flow of it. How many forms are there? We have obvious wind earth fire water spirit, but also myriad other examples youth, death, machine, worm, pirate as random examples. The way Europe has traditionally seen the flows of energy are through approximately four filters and everything else is a composite of them. The East uses only the two Yin and Yang, strong supple, male female, with the way blocking the way. And all energy comes from the flow between the two extremes. My examples of worm machine and pirate energy are just examples used to illustrate our simplistic elemental system is just that – simple. Maybe machine can be made with two cups fire and one cup of earth and water but as such it has an energy form of its own. The elements and their energy flows are our culturally symbolic dreams method of viewing and understanding energy. In Africa you have Fire, Energy, War and Wind are generally some of the most important elements.

Take a glass of whiskey. I will. Its two parts water, one cup barley or whatnot and half a cup of yeast but we talk of it as the sum of its parts rather than just its constituents.

 

If anyone remembers the school age trick of making a magnet. Rubbing a magnet along an iron needle. We are probably familiar with the concept of energizing – putting a crystal under water, moonlight, sunlight, good intentions. Well look at that idea for a minute – how about a butcher’s slaughter knife – it will catch the flow of death and violence upon it creating an energy rubbing similar to that of the magnet on the needle. If you apply to your teddy bear how he gets comfort energy, your car travel energy and a volcanic rock the energy of a volcano and so on.

A land or place gathers energy from belief, from geological activity from the cows eating the grass upon it for millennia and as such has massively powerful spirit forms. Celestial bodies even more so – Gaia / mother Earth, Mother Moon, Sol and the rest of our solar system as thoroughly explored by our European alchemists.

Animals pick up an energy form by what they do – predator, prey, flies, swims etc. Where it lives in the seas or oceans, savannahs or back gardens. People pick up energy in similar ways – their job for example.

I have already given examples of objects such as a knife or a moonstone. A Christmas tree – its dead – still has tree energy residing and that of its Christmas guise.

The concept of a person’s mojo or karma, even their aura is a way in which we can talk of own spirit energy at that time. By altering it we can alter our spirit and thus change how other things interact with us – if we meditate in front of a fire or travel we can gain that energy. And much the way that energy can change us, our new changed energies will in turn change what then comes into contact with us. Buying a toy car and energizing it as a form of sympathetic magic shows the same principles. Plate of coppers etc.

If anyone reads Pratchett they would be immortally familiar with “Death” and anthropomorphism is based on the concept of the flows of energy pooling into a coherent form we give shape around a concept in this case death. But energy gathers in the form of a role regardless – so a predator generates the same energy the world over. Therefore a predator has general predator energy. Certain names by people’s reactions and thoughts – Jesus for example. It is shapes that power of that name. In the Scriptures their blessed name of Christ marked him. Jesus therefore is the role that we have given to him after.

 

OK an energy say that of a wolf can have multiple forms – predator, wise, cunning protector, violent, hunter and so on. What makes up a wolf. But its not simply a case of all the ingredients for a wolf. An engineer is a fit of an electrician, an architect and a builder amongst other things but the way in which he is a builder. The point there is the concept of fluidity of energy that it merges and blends to create a unique form. Taoists believe that Yin becomes Yang and vice versa and that is how the I-Ching oracle or book of changes works.

Finally even without a direct forces an object or a concept, energy can still group together and form a spirit life, as I said earlier a unique and complex form of energy can be taken as a spirit life. Take the slaughter knife again the general violence and death released and concentrated continually in that area forms together spirits of, in this case, violence and death, sometimes very complex and sometimes intelligent. The continuation of ancestors, animal totems and so on is much the same, a coalesced form of energy that lives as a spirit alone just like the anthropomorphic form.

 

Life as Princeton says needs a state of self-animations, the period of which a thing exists. Animation – the condition of living or state of being alive. I would argue that everything with a spirit therefore is spiritually alive. Animism and animation both come from the same word root anima, “Latin” for soul or driving force, used originally as an animistic term. All of these energies have their very own unique signatures and identity. I say identity because it is something the spirit form, we interact with. If they have an interactive identity are they not alive – animals don’t have to be intelligent to be alive and some here accept gods that are not tangible. Wherein lies the difference?

Caoimhín

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6 Responses

  1. I wish new agers would find another word for their thing than “energy” since energy is an important physical concept which has nothing to do with what they mean when they say “energy”.

    • For starter I am not a new ager but fair enough. Secondly though the concept of energy predates the English language and I am using it in the same context as Plato does for example. As well as that, if you see as the English language developed my usage of the word energy falls in that bracket, from Chaucer to Newton.

      • it just confuses a lot of scientifically illiterate people is all

      • 🙂 Its a point. And its why I never take the name as New Age. Science and belief. Fact and fantasy are two seperate things and I find it important to always see the difference. But energy don’t forget is something you would describe a person as having, vigour and drive. 🙂

      • :/ I would not juxtapose science and belief, nor compare them to fact and fantasy.

        Science is a technical system that enables a particular kind of manipulation of the environment, it is precise, quantitative and predictable.

        Beliefs in ordinary life can include scientific beliefs (I for instance believe that gravity on earth is approximately 10N), but other beliefs are not somehow less true for not being part of science. Furthermore in science as practiced there are no beliefs, only working models (but this is just as practiced, in ordinary life people do adopt beliefs from science and there is nothing wrong with doing so).

        Fact and fantasy …well, that seems to judge the truth content of one above the other. Which is… problematic at best.

        Oh man… I really am too pomo for my own good…

      • More true…. Now that is a value added decision and one in which current scientific thought disagrees with. As scientific thought is so incomplete as of yet. The best you can say is more definite.

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