Animism

Animism (from Latin anima, "breath, spirit, life")[1][2] is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence.[3][4][5][6] Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even words—as animated and alive. Animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system of many indigenous peoples,[7] especially in contrast to the relatively more recent development of organised religions.[8]

Although each culture has its own different mythologies and rituals, "animism" is said to describe the most common, foundational thread of indigenous peoples' "spiritual" or "supernatural" perspectives. The animistic perspective is so widely held and inherent to most indigenous peoples that they often do not even have a word in their languages that corresponds to "animism" (or even "religion");[9] the term is an anthropological construct.

Largely due to such ethnolinguistic and cultural discrepancies, opinion has differed on whether animism refers to an ancestral mode of experience common to indigenous peoples around the world, or to a full-fledged religion in its own right. The currently accepted definition of animism was only developed in the late 19th century (1871) by Sir Edward Tylor, who created it as "one of anthropology's earliest concepts, if not the first".[10][11]

Animism encompasses the beliefs that all material phenomena have agency, that there exists no hard and fast distinction between the spiritual and physical (or material) world and that soul or spirit or sentience exists not only in humans, but also in other animals, plants, rocks, geographic features such as mountains or rivers or other entities of the natural environment, including thunder, wind and shadows. Animism may further attribute souls to abstract concepts such as words, true names or metaphors in mythology. Some members of the non-tribal world also consider themselves animists (such as author Daniel Quinn, sculptor Lawson Oyekan and many contemporary Pagans).[12]

Theories

Old animism

Earlier anthropological perspectives, which have since been termed the "old animism", were concerned with knowledge on what is alive and what factors make something alive.[13] The "old animism" assumed that animists were individuals who were unable to understand the difference between persons and things.[14] Critics of the "old animism" have accused it of preserving "colonialist and dualist worldviews and rhetoric".[15]

Edward Tylor's definition

Edward Burnett Tylor
Edward Tylor developed animism as an anthropological theory.

The idea of animism was developed by the anthropologist Sir Edward Tylor in his 1871 book Primitive Culture,[1] in which he defined it as "the general doctrine of souls and other spiritual beings in general". According to Tylor, animism often includes "an idea of pervading life and will in nature";[16] a belief that natural objects other than humans have souls. That formulation was little different from that proposed by Auguste Comte as "fetishism",[17] but the terms now have distinct meanings.

For Tylor, animism represented the earliest form of religion, being situated within an evolutionary framework of religion which has developed in stages and which will ultimately lead to humanity rejecting religion altogether in favor of scientific rationality.[18] Thus, for Tylor, animism was fundamentally seen as a mistake, a basic error from which all religion grew.[18] He did not believe that animism was inherently illogical, but he suggested that it arose from early humans' dreams and visions and thus was a rational system. However, it was based on erroneous, unscientific observations about the nature of reality.[19] Stringer notes that his reading of Primitive Culture led him to believe that Tylor was far more sympathetic in regard to "primitive" populations than many of his contemporaries and that Tylor expressed no belief that there was any difference between the intellectual capabilities of "savage" people and Westerners.[4]

Tylor had initially wanted to describe the phenomenon as "spiritualism" but realised that would cause confusion with the modern religion of Spiritualism, that was then prevalent across Western nations.[20] He adopted the term "animism" from the writings of the German scientist Georg Ernst Stahl,[21] who, in 1708, had developed the term animismus as a biological theory that souls formed the vital principle and that the normal phenomena of life and the abnormal phenomena of disease could be traced to spiritual causes.[22] The first known usage in English appeared in 1819.[23]

The idea that there had once been "one universal form of primitive religion" (whether labelled "animism", "totemism", or "shamanism") has been dismissed as "unsophisticated" and "erroneous" by the archaeologist Timothy Insoll, who stated that "it removes complexity, a precondition of religion now, in all its variants".[24]

Social evolutionist conceptions

Tylor's definition of animism was a part of a growing international debate on the nature of "primitive society" by lawyers, theologians and philologists. The debate defined the field of research of a new science: anthropology. By the end of the 19th century, an orthodoxy on "primitive society" had emerged, but few anthropologists still would accept that definition. The "19th-century armchair anthropologists" argued "primitive society" (an evolutionary category) was ordered by kinship and was divided into exogamous descent groups related by a series of marriage exchanges. Their religion was animism, the belief that natural species and objects had souls. With the development of private property, the descent groups were displaced by the emergence of the territorial state. These rituals and beliefs eventually evolved over time into the vast array of "developed" religions. According to Tylor, the more scientifically advanced a society became, the fewer members of that society believed in animism. However, any remnant ideologies of souls or spirits, to Tylor, represented "survivals" of the original animism of early humanity.[25]

In 1869 (three years after Tylor proposed his definition of animism), the Edinburgh lawyer, John Ferguson McLennan, argued that the animistic thinking evident in fetishism gave rise to a religion he named Totemism. Primitive people believed, he argued, that they were descended of the same species as their totemic animal.[17] Subsequent debate by the 'armchair anthropologists' (including J. J. Bachofen, Émile Durkheim and Sigmund Freud) remained focused on totemism rather than animism, with few directly challenging Tylor's definition. Indeed, anthropologists "have commonly avoided the issue of Animism and even the term itself rather than revisit this prevalent notion in light of their new and rich ethnographies."[27]

According to the anthropologist Tim Ingold, animism shares similarities to totemism but differs in its focus on individual spirit beings which help to perpetuate life, whereas totemism more typically holds that there is a primary source, such as the land itself or the ancestors, who provide the basis to life. Certain indigenous religious groups such as the Australian Aboriginals are more typically totemic, whereas others like the Inuit are more typically animistic in their worldview.[28]

From his studies into child development, Jean Piaget suggested that children were born with an innate animist worldview in which they anthropomorphized inanimate objects, and that it was only later that they grew out of this belief.[29] Conversely, from her ethnographic research, Margaret Mead argued the opposite, believing that children were not born with an animist worldview but that they became acculturated to such beliefs as they were educated by their society.[29] Stewart Guthrie saw animism – or "attribution" as he preferred it – as an evolutionary strategy to aid survival. He argued that both humans and other animal species view inanimate objects as potentially alive as a means of being constantly on guard against potential threats.[30] His suggested explanation, however, did not deal with the question of why such a belief became central to religion.[31]

In 2000, Guthrie suggested that the "most widespread" concept of animism was that it was the "attribution of spirits to natural phenomena such as stones and trees".[32]

The new animism

Many anthropologists ceased using the term "animism", deeming it to be too close to early anthropological theory and religious polemic.[15] However, the term had also been claimed by religious groups – namely indigenous communities and nature worshipers – who felt that it aptly described their own beliefs, and who in some cases actively identified as "animists".[33] It was thus readopted by various scholars, however they began using the term in a different way,[15] placing the focus on knowing how to behave toward other persons, some of whom aren't human.[13] As the religious studies scholar Graham Harvey stated, while the "old animist" definition had been problematic, the term "animism" was nevertheless "of considerable value as a critical, academic term for a style of religious and cultural relating to the world."[34]

Hombres ojibwe
Five Ojibwe chiefs in the 19th century; it was anthropological studies of Ojibwe religion that resulted in the development of the "new animism".

The "new animism" emerged largely from the publications of the anthropologist Irving Hallowell which were produced on the basis of his ethnographic research among the Ojibwe communities of Canada in the mid-20th century.[35] For the Ojibwe encountered by Hallowell, personhood did not require human-likeness, but rather humans were perceived as being like other persons, who for instance included rock persons and bear persons.[36] For the Ojibwe, these persons were each wilful beings who gained meaning and power through their interactions with others; through respectfully interacting with other persons, they themselves learned to "act as a person".[36] Hallowell's approach to the understanding of Ojibwe personhood differed strongly from prior anthropological concepts of animism.[37] He emphasized the need to challenge the modernist, Western perspectives of what a person is by entering into a dialogue with different worldwide-views.[36]

Hallowell's approach influenced the work of anthropologist Nurit Bird-David, who produced a scholarly article reassessing the idea of animism in 1999.[38] Seven comments from other academics were provided in the journal, debating Bird-David's ideas.[39]

More recently post-modern anthropologists are increasingly engaging with the concept of animism. Modernism is characterized by a Cartesian subject-object dualism that divides the subjective from the objective, and culture from nature; in this view, Animism is the inverse of scientism, and hence inherently invalid. Drawing on the work of Bruno Latour, these anthropologists question these modernist assumptions, and theorize that all societies continue to "animate" the world around them, and not just as a Tylorian survival of primitive thought. Rather, the instrumental reason characteristic of modernity is limited to our "professional subcultures," which allows us to treat the world as a detached mechanical object in a delimited sphere of activity. We, like animists, also continue to create personal relationships with elements of the so-called objective world, whether pets, cars or teddy-bears, who we recognize as subjects. As such, these entities are "approached as communicative subjects rather than the inert objects perceived by modernists."[40] These approaches are careful to avoid the modernist assumptions that the environment consists dichotomously of a physical world distinct from humans, and from modernist conceptions of the person as composed dualistically as body and soul.[27]

Nurit Bird-David argues that "Positivistic ideas about the meaning of 'nature', 'life' and 'personhood' misdirected these previous attempts to understand the local concepts. Classical theoreticians (it is argued) attributed their own modernist ideas of self to 'primitive peoples' while asserting that the 'primitive peoples' read their idea of self into others!"[27] She argues that animism is a "relational epistemology", and not a Tylorian failure of primitive reasoning. That is, self-identity among animists is based on their relationships with others, rather than some distinctive feature of the self. Instead of focusing on the essentialized, modernist self (the "individual"), persons are viewed as bundles of social relationships ("dividuals"), some of which are with "superpersons" (i.e. non-humans).

Guthrie expressed criticism of Bird-David's attitude toward animism, believing that it promulgated the view that "the world is in large measure whatever our local imagination makes it". This, he felt, would result in anthropology abandoning "the scientific project".[41]

Tim Ingold, like Bird-David, argues that animists do not see themselves as separate from their environment: "Hunter-gatherers do not, as a rule, approach their environment as an external world of nature that has to be 'grasped' intellectually  ... indeed the separation of mind and nature has no place in their thought and practice."[42] Willerslev extends the argument by noting that animists reject this Cartesian dualism, and that the animist self identifies with the world, "feeling at once within and apart from it so that the two glide ceaselessly in and out of each other in a sealed circuit."[43] The animist hunter is thus aware of himself as a human hunter, but, through mimicry is able to assume the viewpoint, senses, and sensibilities of his prey, to be one with it.[44] Shamanism, in this view, is an everyday attempt to influence spirits of ancestors and animals by mirroring their behaviours as the hunter does his prey.

Cultural ecologist and philosopher David Abram articulates and elaborates an intensely ethical and ecological form of animism grounded in the phenomenology of sensory experience. In his books Becoming Animal and The Spell of the Sensuous, Abram suggests that material things are never entirely passive in our direct experience, holding rather that perceived things actively "solicit our attention" or "call our focus," coaxing the perceiving body into an ongoing participation with those things. In the absence of intervening technologies, sensory experience is inherently animistic, disclosing a material field that is animate and self-organizing from the get-go. Drawing upon contemporary cognitive and natural science, as well as upon the perspectival worldviews of diverse indigenous, oral cultures, Abram proposes a richly pluralist and story-based cosmology, in which matter is alive through and through. Such an ontology is in close accord, he suggests, with our spontaneous perceptual experience; it would draw us back to our senses and to the primacy of the sensuous terrain, enjoining a more respectful and ethical relation to the more-than-human community of animals, plants, soils, mountains, waters and weather-patterns that materially sustains us.[45] In contrast to a long-standing tendency in the Western social sciences, which commonly provide rational explanations of animistic experience, Abram develops an animistic account of reason itself. He holds that civilized reason is sustained only by an intensely animistic participation between human beings and their own written signs. Indeed, as soon as we turn our gaze toward the alphabetic letters written on a page or a screen, these letters speak to us—we 'see what they say'—much as ancient trees and gushing streams and lichen-encrusted boulders once spoke to our oral ancestors. Hence reading is an intensely concentrated form of animism, one that effectively eclipses all of the other, older, more spontaneous forms of participation in which we once engaged. "To tell the story in this manner—to provide an animistic account of reason, rather than the other way around—is to imply that animism is the wider and more inclusive term, and that oral, mimetic modes of experience still underlie, and support, all our literate and technological modes of reflection. When reflection's rootedness in such bodily, participatory modes of experience is entirely unacknowledged or unconscious, reflective reason becomes dysfunctional, unintentionally destroying the corporeal, sensuous world that sustains it."[46]

The religious studies scholar Graham Harvey defined animism as the belief "that the world is full of persons, only some of whom are human, and that life is always lived in relationship with others".[13] He added that it is therefore "concerned with learning how to be a good person in respectful relationships with other persons".[13] Graham Harvey, in his 2013 Handbook of Contemporary Animism, identifies the animist perspective in line with Martin Buber's "I-thou" as opposed to "I-it". In such, Harvey says, the Animist takes an I-thou approach to relating to his world, where objects and animals are treated as a "thou" rather than as an "it".[47]

Religion

Shaman tableau
A tableau presenting figures of various cultures filling in mediator-like roles, often being termed as "shaman" in the literature
Autel animiste. Village Bozo, Mopti, Bandiagara, Mali. Date du cliché 25-12-1972
Animist altar, Bozo village, Mopti, Bandiagara, Mali in 1972

There is ongoing disagreement (and no general consensus) as to whether animism is merely a singular, broadly encompassing religious belief[48] or a worldview in and of itself, comprising many diverse mythologies found worldwide in many diverse cultures.[49][50] This also raises a controversy regarding the ethical claims animism may or may not make: whether animism ignores questions of ethics altogether[51] or, by endowing various non-human elements of nature with spirituality or personhood,[52] in fact promotes a complex ecological ethics.[53]

Fetishism/totemism

In many animistic world views, the human being is often regarded as on a roughly equal footing with other animals, plants, and natural forces.[54]

Shamanism

A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing.[55] According to Mircea Eliade, shamanism encompasses the premise that shamans are intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds. Shamans are said to treat ailments/illness by mending the soul. Alleviating traumas affecting the soul/spirit restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness. The shaman also enters supernatural realms or dimensions to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community. Shamans may visit other worlds/dimensions to bring guidance to misguided souls and to ameliorate illnesses of the human soul caused by foreign elements. The shaman operates primarily within the spiritual world, which in turn affects the human world. The restoration of balance results in the elimination of the ailment.[56] Abram, however, articulates a less supernatural and much more ecological understanding of the shaman's role than that propounded by Eliade. Drawing upon his own field research in Indonesia, Nepal, and the Americas, Abram suggests that in animistic cultures, the shaman functions primarily as an intermediary between the human community and the more-than-human community of active agencies — the local animals, plants, and landforms (mountains, rivers, forests, winds and weather patterns, all of whom are felt to have their own specific sentience). Hence the shaman's ability to heal individual instances of dis-ease (or imbalance) within the human community is a by-product of her/his more continual practice of balancing the reciprocity between the human community and the wider collective of animate beings in which that community is embedded.[57]

Distinction from pantheism

Animism is not the same as pantheism, although the two are sometimes confused. Some religions are both pantheistic and animistic. One of the main differences is that while animists believe everything to be spiritual in nature, they do not necessarily see the spiritual nature of everything in existence as being united (monism), the way pantheists do. As a result, animism puts more emphasis on the uniqueness of each individual soul. In pantheism, everything shares the same spiritual essence, rather than having distinct spirits and/or souls.[58][59]

Examples

  • Mun (also called Munism or Bongthingism) is the traditional polytheistic, animist, shamanistic, and syncretic religion of the Lepcha people.[60][61][62]
  • Shinto is the traditional Japanese folk religion and has many animist aspects.
  • Korean shamanism, similar to Shinto, has many animist aspects.
  • The New Age movement commonly demonstrates animistic traits in asserting the existence of nature spirits.[63]
  • Some Neopagan groups, including Eco-Pagans, describe themselves as animists, meaning that they respect the diverse community of living beings and spirits with whom humans share the world/cosmos.[64]

Animist life

Animals, plants, and the elements

Animism entails the belief that "all living things have a soul", and thus a central concern of animist thought surrounds how animals can be eaten or otherwise used for humans' subsistence needs.[65] The actions of non-human animals are viewed as "intentional, planned and purposive",[66] and they are understood to be persons because they are both alive and communicate with others.[67] In animist world-views, non-human animals are understood to participate in kinship systems and ceremonies with humans, as well as having their own kinship systems and ceremonies.[68] Harvey cited an example of an animist understanding of animal behaviour that occurred at a powwow held by the Conne River Mi'kmaq in 1996; an eagle flew over the proceedings, circling over the central drum group. The assembled participants called out kitpu ("eagle"), conveying welcome to the bird and expressing pleasure at its beauty, and they later articulated the view that the eagle's actions reflected its approval of the event and the Mi'kmaq's return to traditional spiritual practices.[69]

Some animists also view plant and fungi life as persons and interact with them accordingly.[70] The most common encounter between humans and these plant and fungi persons is with the former's collection of the latter for food, and for animists this interaction typically has to be carried out respectfully.[71] Harvey cited the example of Maori communities in New Zealand, who often offer karakia invocations to sweet potatoes as they dig the latter up; while doing so there is an awareness of a kinship relationship between the Maori and the sweet potatoes, with both understood as having arrived in Aotearoa together in the same canoes.[71] In other instances, animists believe that interaction with plant and fungi persons can result in the communication of things unknown or even otherwise unknowable.[70] Among some modern Pagans, for instance, relationships are cultivated with specific trees, who are understood to bestow knowledge or physical gifts, such as flowers, sap, or wood that can be used as firewood or to fashion into a wand; in return, these Pagans give offerings to the tree itself, which can come in the form of libations of mead or ale, a drop of blood from a finger, or a strand of wool.[72]

Various animistic cultures also comprehend as stones as persons.[73] Discussing ethnographic work conducted among the Ojibwe, Harvey noted that their society generally conceived of stones as being inanimate, but with two notable exceptions: the stones of the Bell Rocks and those stones which are situated beneath trees struck by lightning, which were understood to have become Thunderers themselves.[74] The Ojibwe conceived of weather as being capable of having personhood, with storms being conceived of as persons known as 'Thunderers' whose sounds conveyed communications and who engaged in seasonal conflict over the lakes and forests, throwing lightning at lake monsters.[74] Wind, similarly, can be conceived as a person in animistic thought.[75]

The importance of place is also a recurring element of animism, with some places being understood to be persons in their own right.[76]

Spirits

Animism can also entail relationships being established with non-corporeal spirit entities.[77]

Other usages

Science and animism

In the early 20th century, William McDougall defended a form of Animism in his book Body and Mind: A History and Defence of Animism (1911).

The physicist Nick Herbert has argued for "quantum animism" in which mind permeates the world at every level.

The quantum consciousness assumption, which amounts to a kind of "quantum animism" likewise asserts that consciousness is an integral part of the physical world, not an emergent property of special biological or computational systems. Since everything in the world is on some level a quantum system, this assumption requires that everything be conscious on that level. If the world is truly quantum animated, then there is an immense amount of invisible inner experience going on all around us that is presently inaccessible to humans, because our own inner lives are imprisoned inside a small quantum system, isolated deep in the meat of an animal brain.[78]

Werner Krieglstein wrote regarding his quantum Animism:

Herbert's quantum Animism differs from traditional Animism in that it avoids assuming a dualistic model of mind and matter. Traditional dualism assumes that some kind of spirit inhabits a body and makes it move, a ghost in the machine. Herbert's quantum Animism presents the idea that every natural system has an inner life, a conscious center, from which it directs and observes its action.[79]

Ashley Curtis has argued in Error and Loss: A Licence to Enchantment[80] that the Cartesian idea of an experiencing subject facing off with an inert physical world is incoherent at its very foundation, and that this incoherence is predicted rather than belied by Darwinism. Human reason (and its rigorous extension in the natural sciences) fits an evolutionary niche just as echolocation does for bats and infrared vision does for pit vipers, and is—according to western science's own dictates—epistemologically on a par with rather than superior to such capabilities. The meaning or aliveness of the "objects" we encounter—rocks, trees, rivers, other animals—thus depends for its validity not on a detached cognitive judgment but purely on the quality of our experience. The animist experience, and, indeed, the wolf's or raven's experience, thus become licensed as equally valid world-views to the modern western scientific one—indeed, they are more valid, since they are not plagued with the incoherence that inevitably crops up when "objective existence" is separated from "subjective experience."

Socio-political impact

Harvey opined that animism's views on personhood represented a radical challenge to the dominant perspectives of modernity, because it accords "intelligence, rationality, consciousness, volition, agency, intentionality, language and desire" to non-humans.[81] Similarly, it challenges the view of human uniqueness that is prevalent in both Abrahamic religions and Western rationalism.[82]

In art and literature

Animist beliefs can also be expressed through artwork.[83] For instance, among the Maori communities of New Zealand, there is an acknowledgment that creating art through carving wood or stone entails violence against the wood or stone person, and that the persons who are damaged therefore have to be placated and respected during the process; any excess or waste from the creation of the artwork is returned to the land, while the artwork itself is treated with particular respect.[84] Harvey therefore argued that the creation of art among the Maori was not about creating an inanimate object for display, but rather a transformation of different persons within a relationship.[85]

Harvey expressed the view that animist worldviews were present in various works of literature, citing such examples as the writings of Alan Garner, Leslie Silko, Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Walker, Daniel Quinn, Linda Hogan, David Abram, Patricia Grace, Chinua Achebe, Ursula Le Guin, Louise Erdrich, and Marge Piercy.[86] Animist worldviews have also been identified in the animated films of Hayao Miyazaki.[87][88][89][90]

See also

References

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References

  • Abram, David (1996). The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World. New York: Pantheon Books.
  • Adler, Margot (2006) [1979]. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America (Revised ed.). London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-303819-1.
  • "Animism". The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). Bartleby.com Inc. 2007. Archived from the original on 9 February 2007.
  • Armstrong, Karen (1994). A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Ballantine Books.
  • Bird-David, Nurit (2000). ""Animism" Revisited: Personhood, Environment, and Relational Epistemology". Current Anthropology. 41 (S1): 67–91. doi:10.1086/200061.
  • Curtis, Ashley (2018). Error and Loss: A Licence to Enchantment. Zürich: Kommode Verlag.
  • Dean, Bartholomew (2009). Urarina Society, Cosmology, and History in Peruvian Amazonia. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0-8130-3378-5.
  • Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe (2003). Ideas that Changed the World. Dorling Kindersley.
  • Guthrie, Stewart (2000). "On Animism". Current Anthropology. 41 (1): 106–107. doi:10.1086/300107. JSTOR 10.1086/300107. PMID 10593728.
  • Harvey, Graham (2005). Animism: Respecting the Living World. London: Hurst & Co. ISBN 978-0-231-13701-0.
  • Insoll, Timothy (2004). Archaeology, Ritual, Religion. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-25312-3.
  • Forbes, Andrew; Henley, David (2012). "Lamphun's Little-Known Animal Shrines (Animist traditions in Thailand)". Ancient Chiang Mai. 1. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books.
  • Wikisource Lonie, Alexander Charles Oughter (1878). "Animism" . In Baynes, T.S. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (9th ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 55–57.
  • Segal, Robert (2004). Myth: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.

Further reading

  • Badenberg, Robert: "How about 'Animism'? An Inquiry beyond Label and Legacy". In: Mission als Kommunikation. Festschrift für Ursula Wiesemann zu ihrem 75. Geburtstag, edited by Klaus W. Müller. VTR, Nürnberg 2007; ISBN 978-3-937965-75-8 and VKW, Bonn 2007; ISBN 978-3-938116-33-3
  • Hallowell, A. Irving. "Ojibwa ontology, behavior, and world view" in Stanley Diamond (ed.) 1960. Culture in History (New York: Columbia University Press). Reprinted in Graham Harvey (ed.) 2002. Readings in Indigenous Religions (London and New York: Continuum) pp. 17–49
  • Harvey, Graham. 2005. Animism: Respecting the Living World (London: Hurst and co.; New York: Columbia University Press; Adelaide: Wakefield Press)
  • Ingold, Tim: 'Rethinking the animate, re-animating thought'. Ethnos, 71(1) / 2006: pp. 9–20
  • Wundt, W. (1906). Mythus und Religion, Teil II. Leipzig 1906 (Völkerpsychologie, volume II)
  • Quinn, Daniel. The Story of B
  • Käser, Lothar: Animismus. Eine Einführung in die begrifflichen Grundlagen des Welt- und Menschenbildes traditionaler (ethnischer) Gesellschaften für Entwicklungshelfer und kirchliche Mitarbeiter in Übersee. Liebenzeller Mission, Bad Liebenzell 2004, ISBN 3-921113-61-X
    • mit dem verkürzten Untertitel Einführung in seine begrifflichen Grundlagen auch bei: Erlanger Verlag für Mission und Okumene, Neuendettelsau 2004, ISBN 3-87214-609-2
  • Wikisource Thomas, Northcote Whitridge (1911). "Anet" . In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 53–55.

External links

Adivasi

Adivasi is the collective term for the indigenous peoples of mainland South Asia. Adivasi make up 8.6% of India's population, or 104 million people, according to the 2011 census, and a large percentage of the Nepalese population. They comprise a substantial indigenous minority of the population of India and Nepal and a minority group of the Sri Lankan society called Vedda. The same term Adivasi is used for the ethnic minorities of Bangladesh and the native Tharu people of Nepal. The word is also used in the same sense in Nepal, as is another word, janajati (Nepali: जनजाति; janajāti), although the political context differed historically under the Shah and Rana dynasties.

Adivasi societies are particularly prominent in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, and some north-eastern states, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Many smaller tribal groups are quite sensitive to ecological degradation caused by modernisation. Both commercial forestry and intensive agriculture have proved destructive to the forests that had endured swidden agriculture for many centuries. Adivasis in central part of India have been victims of the Salwa Judum campaign by the Government against the Naxalite insurgency.

Animism (Tanya Tagaq album)

Animism is the third studio album by Canadian Inuk musician Tanya Tagaq, released May 27, 2014 on Six Shooter Records. The album won the 2014 Polaris Music Prize on September 22, 2014, and the Juno Award for Aboriginal Album of the Year at the Juno Awards of 2015. It was also a shortlisted nominee for the Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year, but did not win.

Tagaq has described the album as more consciously political than her earlier work. The political themes culminate in the album's final track, "Fracking", in which Tagaq vocalizes the Earth's cries of pain as it is subjected to hydraulic fracturing.The album was produced by Jesse Zubot, and features musical contributions from percussionist Jean Martin and opera singer Anna Pardo Canedo. In addition to the album's Juno Award nominations, Zubot was a nominee for Producer of the Year for the album tracks "Caribou" and "Uja".

"Caribou" is a cover of a song by noted American alternative rock band Pixies.

Burmese folk religion

Burmese folk religion refers to the animistic and polytheistic religious worship of nats (deities of local and Hindu origin) in Burma (Myanmar). Although the beliefs of nats differ across different regions and villages in Burma, there are a handful of beliefs that are universal in Burmese folk religion.

A nat is a spirit or god who resembles a human in shape that often maintains or guards objects. When people die, they can become nats. Those who become nats often have a gruesome violent death which explains their vengeful nature. Nats also are believed to have the ability to possess animals, such as tigers or alligators. These spirits can also be found in nature in things such as trees and rocks. The majority of these nats are viewed as troublesome and irritable. They require calming, food and offerings.

There is a specific nat called an ouktazaung that is said to guard treasure. Rumor has it that this ouktazaung lures men to them, similar to a siren, in Greek mythology. If the victim is caught by the ouktazaung it takes her place and the ouktazaung can roam free, but only for twenty years, after which she must return to her treasure. A village will traditionally also have a spirit which is the patron of their village; this is called a Bo Bo Gyi.

Celtic animism

According to classical sources, the ancient Celts were animists. They honoured the forces of nature, saw the world as inhabited by many spirits, and saw the Divine manifesting in aspects of the natural world.

Dinka religion

Dinka mythology refers to the traditional religion and folk tales of the Dinka, or Muonyjang, ethnic group of South Sudan.

Hausa animism

Hausa animism or Bori is an African traditional religion of the Hausa people of West Africa that involves spirit possession.

Hawaiian religion

Hawaiian religion encompasses the indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the Native Hawaiians. It is polytheistic and animistic, with a belief in many deities and spirits, including the belief that spirits are found in non-human beings and objects such as animals, the waves, and the sky.

Hawaiian religion originated among the Tahitians and other Pacific islanders who landed in Hawaiʻi between 500 and 1300 AD. Today, Hawaiian religious practices are protected by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Traditional Hawaiian religion is unrelated to the modern New Age practice known as "Huna."

Household deity

A household deity is a deity or spirit that protects the home, looking after the entire household or certain key members. It has been a common belief in pagan religions as well as in folklore across many parts of the world.

Household deities fit into two types; firstly, a specific deity - typically a goddess - often referred to as a hearth goddess or domestic goddess who is associated with the home and hearth, with examples including the Greek Hestia and Norse Frigg.

The second type of household deities are those that are not one singular deity, but a type, or species of animistic deity, who usually have lesser powers than major deities. This type was common in the religions of antiquity, such as the Lares of ancient Roman religion, the Gashin of Korean shamanism, and Cofgodas of Anglo-Saxon paganism. These survived Christianisation as fairy-like creatures existing in folklore, such as the Anglo-Scottish Brownie and Slavic Domovoy.

Household deities were usually worshipped not in temples but in the home, where they would be represented by small idols (such as the teraphim of the Bible, often translated as "household gods" in Genesis 31:19 for example), amulets, paintings or reliefs. They could also be found on domestic objects, such as cosmetic articles in the case of Tawaret. The more prosperous houses might have a small shrine to the household god(s); the lararium served this purpose in the case of the Romans. The gods would be treated as members of the family and invited to join in meals, or be given offerings of food and drink.

Ko-Shintō

Ko-Shintō (古神道) refers to the original animism of Jōmon period Japan which is the alleged basis of modern Shinto. The search for traces of Koshintō began with Restoration Shinto in the Edo period. Some movements which claim to have discovered this primeval way of thought are Oomoto, Izumo-taishakyo, and Shinrikyō.

The Sino-Japanese word ko (古) means "ancient or old"; shin (神) from Chinese shen, means "spiritual force" or simply "spirit", often translated as "deity" or "god"; and tō (道) from Chinese Tao, means "The Way". Thus Koshintō literally means the "Ancient Way of the Gods". The term Shinto itself originated in the 6th century (to distinguish it from continental ideas such as Buddhism and Taoism then being introduced).

Koenraad Elst

Koenraad Elst (born 7 August 1959) is a Belgian orientalist and Hindutva activist. He is primarily known for his support of the Out of India theory which argues against the mainstream academic view that the Indo-European languages originated in the Kurgan culture of the Central Asian steppes.

Malaysian folk religion

Malaysian folk religion refers to the animistic and polytheistic beliefs and practices that are still held by many in the Islamic-majority country of Malaysia. Malaysian folk faith is practiced either openly or covertly depending on the type of rituals performed.

Some forms of belief are not recognised by the government as a religion for statistical purposes although such practices are not outlawed. There is a deep interaction between the Chinese folk religion of the large Malaysian Chinese population, and the indigenous Malaysian folk religion.

Mana

Mana, in Austronesian languages, means "power", "effectiveness", and "prestige". In most cases, this power and its source are understood to be supernatural and inexplicable. Its semantics are language-dependent. The concept is significant in Polynesian culture and is part of contemporary Pacific Islander culture; it came to the attention of Western anthropologists through reports from island missionaries. Its study was included in cultural anthropology—specifically, the anthropology of religion. Links were seen between mana and earlier phases of Western religion: animism at first, followed by pre-animism.

Mo (religion)

Mo or Moism (Chinese: 摩教; pinyin: Mó jiào), occasionally called Zhuang Shigongism (Chinese: 壮族师公教; pinyin: Zhuàngzú shīgōng jiào; literally: 'Zhuang Ancestral Father Religion'), is the religion of most Zhuang people, the largest ethnic minority of China. It has a large presence in Guangxi. While it has a supreme god, the creator Bu Luotuo (布洛陀), numerous other deities are venerated as well. It has a three-element-theory (sky, earth and water). Mo is animistic, teaching that spirits are present in everything.Mo developed from prehistoric beliefs of the Zhuang people; it also has similarities to Chinese folk religion, and has developed similar doctrines to Buddhism and Taoism, in the process of competition with the influence of these religions on Zhuang culture. The Cultural Revolution of China weakened Mo, though the religion has undergone a revival since the 1980s. Moism varies from region to region.

Nature worship

Nature worship is any of a variety of religious, spiritual and devotional practices that focus on the worship of the nature spirits considered to be behind the natural phenomena visible throughout nature. A nature deity can be in charge of nature, a place, a biotope, the biosphere, the cosmos, or the universe. Nature worship is often considered the primitive source of modern religious beliefs and can be found in theism, panentheism, pantheism, deism, polytheism, animism, totemism, shamanism, paganism. Common to most forms of nature worship is a spiritual focus on the individual's connection and influence on some aspects of the natural world and reverence towards it.

Radical 113

Radical 113 (示 Unicode U+793A, compound form 礻 at U+793B, pinyin shì meaning "ancestor, veneration") is number 113 out of 214 Kangxi radicals. It is one of 23 radicals composed of five strokes (the compound form has four strokes). In the Kangxi Dictionary there are 213 characters (out of 49,030) to be found under this radical.

The character 示 represents an altar or offering table, the top stroke depicting the offered goods. Compare to this the Egyptian ḥtp hieroglyph which has the same motivation of "altar with offering". In the seal script the table has a T shape.

Semantically, the sign suggests relation to anything connected with animism in traditional Chinese religion, such as 祭 "to sacrifice, to practice ancestor veneration", ultimately composed of the sign for meat 肉 and the sign for a hand 手 above the altar character, as it were iconographically expressing "hand placing meat on an altar". The sign 祟 for "spirit" originally referred to misfortune caused by malevolent spirits.

In 禁 (jīn ) "to forbid, restrict, restrain", the 林 (lín ) above the radical has only phonetic significance (rebus writing).

Similarly, 神 "spirit" has radical 113 plus 申 shēn as a phonetic marker.

祖 "ancestor" on the other hand has radical 113 plus 且, a pictograph of a stand with shelves for offerings to ancestors.

Some signs including the radical have no connection with spirits or animism and are placed in the category purely on formal grounds, such as 票 "ticket" which originally had radical 火 rather than 示.

The compound form 礻 always appears in the left half of characters.

Shors

Shors or Shorians (Shor шор-кижи) are a Turkic people in the Kemerovo Oblast in Russia. Their self designation is Шор, or Shor. They were also called Kuznetskie Tatars (кузнецкие татары), Kondoma Tatars (кондомские татары), Mras-Su Tatars (мрасские татары) in some of the documents of the 17th–18th centuries.

Most Shors live in the Tom basin along the Kondoma and Mras-Su Rivers. This region is historically called Mountainous Shoria. The Shors also live in Khakassia and Altai Republic. According to 2002 census, there were 13,975 Shors in Russia (12,601 in 1926, 16,042 in 1939, 14,938 in 1959, 15,950 in 1970, 15,182 in 1979 and 15,745 in 1989). The Shors speak their own Shor language.

In the late 17th century, the Shors converted shamanism to animism, but most later became members of the Russian Orthodox Church but continued to follow shamanism and animism as a part of their culture.

The Shors as a people formed as a result of a long process of intermixing between the Turkic, Ugric, Samoyedic and Ket-speaking tribes. Their culture and origins are similar to those of the northern Altay people and some of the ethnic groups of the Khakas.

The Shors were mainly engaged in hunting, fishing, some primitive farming, and pine nut picking. Blacksmithing and iron ore mining and melting were also important (hence, the name "Blacksmithing Tatars"). The lifestyle of the Shors changed significantly following the October Revolution of 1917. Most became skillful farmers, cattle-breeders, or industrial workers.

Environmental activist Alexander Arbachakov won a Whitley Award for his work preserving sustainable communities in Shor territory.

Sunda Wiwitan

Sunda Wiwitan (Sundanese: ᮞᮥᮔ᮪ᮓ ᮝᮤᮝᮤᮒᮔ᮪, English: "early Sunda", "real Sunda", or "original Sunda") is a religious belief system of traditional Sundanese. It venerates the power of nature and the spirit of ancestors (animism and dynamism).The followers of this belief system can be found in some villages in western Java, such as Kanekes, Lebak, Banten; Ciptagelar Kasepuhan Banten Kidul, Cisolok, Sukabumi; Kampung Naga; and Cigugur, Kuningan Regency. In Carita Parahyangan this faith is called Jatisunda. Its practitioners assert that Sunda Wiwitan has been part of their way of life since ancient times, before the arrival of Hinduism and Islam.

The sacred book of Sunda Wiwitan is called Sanghyang siksakanda ng karesian, it is a didactic text of religious and moral guidance, rules and lessons. The text is identified as Kropak 630 by National Library of Indonesia. According to a kokolot (elder) of Cikeusik village, the people of Kanekes are not adherents to Hindu or Buddhist faiths; they follow an animistic system of belief that venerates and worships the spirits of ancestors. However, over the course of time Sunda Wiwitan has been influenced by and incorporated Hindu, and to some extent, Islamic elements.

Sámi shamanism

Traditional Sámi spiritual practices and beliefs are based on a type of animism, polytheism, and what anthropologists may consider shamanism. The religious traditions can vary considerably from region to region within Sápmi.

Traditional Sámi religion is generally considered to be Animism. The Sámi belief that all significant natural objects (such as animals, plants, rocks, etc.) possess a soul, and from a polytheistic perspective, traditional Sámi beliefs include a multitude of spirits. Sámi traditional beliefs and practices commonly emphasizes veneration of the dead and of animal spirits. The relationship with the local animals that sustain the people, such as the reindeer, are very important to the kin-group.

Tai folk religion

The Tai folk religion, known in Lao and Thai as Satsana Phi (Lao: ສາສະໜາຜີ; Thai: ศาสนาผี, /sàːt.sa.nǎː.pʰǐː/, "religion of spirits"), is a form of animist religious beliefs traditionally and historically practiced by groups of ethnic Tai peoples.

Tai folk animist traditions are practiced by the Lao, Tai Ahom, Lao Isan and Thais of Thailand. These religions are pantheistic and polytheistic and their practice involves classes of shamans.

Among the Lao, the Lao Loum and Lao Lom are predominantly Buddhist, while the Lao Theung and Lao Sung are predominantly folk religious. Tai folk animist traditions have also been incorporated into Laotian Buddhism.

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