What is Animism?


Hello friends, how are you? My name is Arith Härger and today I’m going to scratch the surface of animism One of my patrons, Mr. Curtis Herold asked me to talk about the importance of the tribe and the tribal spiritual perspectives in the construction of worldviews that led to the concept of the divine and subsequently to the construction of religions So I thought it would be useful to speak a bit about Animism which not only is the basis for any religious construction but it’s a growing subject in the formation of neo-pagan movements with a tribal focus with a focus on Family structures and Relations thus animism serves as the basis of the reconstruction of the pagan mentalities and cultures from the historical periods before the conversion to Christianity, involving both religious social and ethical aspects as well as the customs and worldviews of the tribal peoples of the past But before we start this video, I think it’s very important to understand the term animism Animism is an academic term created to help describing the traditional spirituality/religious beliefs that everything has a soul Animism is considered to be the root of every religion, but this term alone greatly diminishes the actual early spiritual perceptions of the past Animism, or rather the basic notions of spirituality, is the belief that through a network of spiritual entities everything is connected and communication with the spiritual reality is possible through the awareness of that connection and this means humanity once upon a time was aware that our well-being Was intimately tied with the land itself Our well-being didn’t just depended on taking advantage of the natural resources to ensure survival But it also depended on a mutual spiritual relationship with the spiritual entities of the land itself This is crucial to understand what Animism is all about it’s about the fact that humans are a fundamental element of nature without the human component or its awareness of the spiritual reality there is neither physical nor spiritual balance with the network If a link is broken the entire foundations of what surrounds us falls down There is the need to be in contact or in concordance with the rest of the spiritual entities Otherwise, there is great suffering in the environment we inhabit a relationship between humans and nature – nature spirits- is needed and must be preserved We must take care of the land so it can take care of us if that Relationship is broken we suffer and when we suffer we are vulnerable to more suffering once we had this perception of being connected with the land and this was the basis of spiritualities with a world-accepting view that is, a perception that this world matters and everything living in it, and we are an important component in the relationship every spiritual entity has to contribute to the well-being of the land and to give continuation to life itself when we progressively started to construct our own religions in which Praising divine entities was more important than taking care of the relationship with the spiritual We started to walk a dangerous path that would lead to terrible suffering When we started to live our lives more preoccupied with an afterlife and its supreme divine entity We started to act solely to please thatdivine entity and to gain access to that afterlife we started to conduct all our efforts into saving our soul to live eternally in some place beyond our reality and so we started to be individualistic solely concerned with having a life elsewhere We have built world-denying views because this world started to be unimportant What was important was the life after this world so we stopped caring about this world and about the relationship with the network of spiritual entities and here we are today polluting the world Massively destroying it because our collective consciousness Changed into a panorama more concerned with the life after death in some other plane this selfish religious perception led us to unconsciously disregard the world around us and we began to use it solely for our well-being without giving anything in return We created a virus that consumes nature and as such we consume ourselves We have manipulated the land and we have established supremacy over the land Because we have put our individualism on top of every relationship in fact there is no relationship in individualism, except of course a relationship with ourselves alone and that’s why Animism is an important perception within the tribe mutual help Every member of the community is needed for the well-being of the community It’s not about one single individual but the importance of each individual in a broader panorama The tribe is the representation of the network of spiritual entities in a smaller scale This sense of reciprocal spiritual relationship amongst the tribe and with the land itself is the basis of paganism Paganism without the human construction of deities that represent the hierarchical structure of a society paganism in the sense of being a world-accepting view paganism isn’t about worshipping many gods or Simply just being some religion outside the three main Near Eastern monotheism’s No… The basis of paganism is animism therefore what makes a spirituality pagan in nature is having world-accepting views and a sense of relationship of mutual help between the human component and the spiritual and now we must start to speak about Animism if we talk about Animism in an academic sense with an anthropological and archaeological approach Animism is the belief that everything possesses a soul that is also applied to nonliving objects and natural phenomenon that also have a soul and therefore possess supernatural or magical power animism is the belief that personal spiritual beings and impersonal spiritual forces have power over us and we are aware of such forces that influence us, and as such we also possess the power to manipulate those powers those forces as I have said in other videos, in ancient cultures the relationship with the spiritual world was maintained through the continuous acts of offering and receiving People offered all sorts of objects to the gods, land spirits, ancestors. Well, the general spiritual reality People were not offering the objects. What they were offering was the spiritual entity residing in the objects For instance a person would create pottery or forge a weapon and those objects would contain the spiritual essence of the person Part of the soul of the person which was imbued in the object Our mind, strength, vitality, our will and everything Non-physical that defines us would be placed in the object that was offered to the spirits This is why the material culture was highly important in ancient pagan societies Objects didn’t have the same importance they have today Now we are Concerned with the usefulness of the object or just a brand and we seldom use any actual object in religious purposes In the past objects were important in a spiritual perspective because they contained the essence of the soul part of ourselves Which is why in many ancient burials a lot of the material culture was buried with people This is also part of paganism, the importance of the material, the objects, what is real, what is made by us in this world and can be offered to the spirits that cannot make physical things of their own people offer their own essence placed within the objects This is Animism. Everything has spiritual essence and/or spiritual entity And now I’m going to tell you something and you will never look at ancient statues the same way again Just a quick example so you might understand how the animistic spiritual perception goes There is a reason why many ancient statues are missing a nose or arms The likely scenario is that because such parts of a statue of a human figure are much more ample Much more external than the rest of the volume of the body they are easily broken due to the Elements or carelessness from the part of archeologists, which happens. I’ve broken a few things But this is a short-sighted view only focused on the rational To ancient societies animism was still present in their religions, which means if objects contained a soul- and therefore have supernatural and magical power, a spiritual entity could also inhabit a statue in fact the earliest creations of statues of wooden anthropomorphic figures, or little animal totems Well, some material that contains a clear representation of a living thing Was precisely so that the spirit of that thing could live in the object made to resemble its image Contacting with the objects was contacting with the spiritual entity living in it People were not worshiping the image. They were worshipping this spiritual entity living in it So ancient statues are missing limbs because they were purposely broken The left arm was to give to offer and the right arm was to receive in turn if the statue loses its limbs the spiritual entity can no longer act through the statue; can no longer receive or give people from outside a specific culture would break the limbs of the statues of another culture to stop it from offering and receiving blessings Statues serve to have the spiritual entity be that divine, land spirit or ancestor. Served to have it on the physical world to act in a physical way But how do you kill the statue? How do you completely take out the spirit in it? You broke its nose to prevent it from breathing. This doesn’t just happen in statues. This also happens in representations of figures in flat surfaces without relief – limbs and noses and sometimes eyes purposely removed by making holes in the surface So the next time you see an ancient statue missing a nose, you know it was purposely broken to prevent it from being alive – to prevent it from breathing and this is exactly where I want to get the Latin term “animus” means “the rational” soul, intelligence, consciousness and mental powers “anima” means soul, living being, the mind, and breath The archaic terms of every culture to describe the soul almost all of their linguistic roots simply mean breathing or breath in most mythologies the myths of creation start with the breath either, of the world itself or the breath of the Cosmos or the breath of some deity – the breath gives life I have spoken about this before for the Norse mythology. The term Önd was… was the Norse word for both spirit and breath Önd was what gave life and animated the body in the myth of- Odin, Vili and Vé or Óðinn, Hœnir and Lóðurr when they found the first human being – a log – a piece of wood, and gave önd Gave it breath, and so they animated the body The cosmic being Ymir literally means “screamer” unleashing breath with great violence thus creating the cosmos and all living things the gods are the descendants of Ymir; Ymir is the ancestor of the gods Galdr – singing incantations – is exactly that Unleashing the önd, one’s breath to give life to something To project one’s soul and imbue something with power, with life, with magical power incantations the Old Norse peoples often said “one’s breath is one’s soul” We have been given life through the breathing of nature and being part of nature- We also have the same capacity to give life, to a certain extent, with our breath, with our singing words Galdr – to imbue something with life and purpose On another video I have compared Önd with the Inuit Silla in Inuit mythology Sila is the breath and the spirit. Silla is the breath of life and it’s also the deity with the same name Which is the god of the sky and the wind; the personification of the breath of the world that gives life “Silap Inua” – possessor of spirit Silla is also this substance of which all souls are made of It’s in living tribal spiritualities animistic in nature, that we find parallels with ancient mythological accounts that contain traces of Animism So now you might better understand the ancient animistic belief that spiritual entities could inhabit objects just like objects with representations of the spiritual entity people wanted to have contact with hence, the reason why noses were purposely broken in ancient statues to prevent it from breathing. No breath, no life. Because breath is the divine spark It’s the element of nature that gives life This is why in shamanism particularly in cultures- cultural traditions of the Arctic regions It is believed that when a person is born It will only possess a soul when the baby draws its first breath the first breath of a newborn is when the soul enters the body in Arctic shamanic perceptions You might be asking if animism is a religion or a culture? Well in truth, it’s both at once. In a tribal sense the relationship with religion and culture is inseparable The spiritualistic religion is a fundamental part of the culture of a tribe and the tribe’s way of life the actions of the member of the tribe practically concerning everything are highly conditioned by the spiritual beliefs and perceptions of the world Religions such as Christianity for instance, have a set of dogmas to be believed and people are restricted to those dogmas and act according to the imposing rules of the religion while in a spiritual religion animistic in nature people act in conformity with the beliefs of the spiritual world and how it might affect it and subsequently effects the tribe The animistic perception of the world is that all life is spiritual and the spiritual world has a direct influence upon everything in life. It controls life itself Spiritual beings are everywhere and may shape everything that happens In a certain way the physical world – the material reality – is submissive to the spiritual reality So to acquire spiritual power one must be in contact with the spiritual world Spiritual power can only be found in the spiritual reality out of the material world Such spiritual knowledge is gained through the interaction with the spiritual to obtain secret knowledge and magic Therefore in this sense animism is also the basis of sorcery The hidden secrets are obtained beyond the physical Mind that we are talking about the term “soul” not as in the spiritual essence released after death But soul in a wider sense of consciousness This is important to understand in Animism. It’s not about the usual perception of a ghost-like entity But the everlasting consciousness; a formless essence residing in everything That’s the soul – it’s consciousness since everything has a conscious and indeed recently scientists revealed that the cosmos itself seems to be a conscious entity Usually in cultures Animistic in nature, there is the belief in rebirth and reincarnation Whether the conscious will inhabit another human being, or an animal, or a tree, or even a cosmic matter Scientifically speaking this notion isn’t far from the truth Since absolutely everything in the universe is created from the same space dust, the same cosmic matter We are all organisms- Made from the dust of stars and proto cosmic matter and all matter is recycled and reused once it’s destroyed to create new life and the conscious, the spirit is the true-self, is what resides inside a matter Animism is regarded as the primitive origins of religions, but primitive doesn’t mean it’s obsolete and nonsensical Animism better explains the spiritual in a scientific perspective There are clear parallels that can be created whilst religion with divine figures- is considered the advanced process of animism, but starts to show failures towards answering questions about- the natural world, the cosmos and life itself Religion, be that polytheistic or monotheistic, is the spiritual process that comes after animism religion with some basic notions of animism It tries to create a general understanding of the spiritual that fits into the hierarchical structure of a society religion is created to serve the human society and it often creates a clear boundary between humanity and the divine while animism integrates humanity into nature and subsequently into the divine as everything is part of the same spiritual network for many generations in the academic world a clear boundary between religion and Animism was created and it’s still quite common to notice that separation in many academic works many ancient societies Believed in genius loci, the spirit of a place. They believed the river contained its own spiritual entity and a mountain, the forest, a rock, a stream, everything The earliest gods were spirits of place These beliefs never truly disappeared in ancient pagan societies People worshipped the general pantheon of gods in their temples, shrines and altars and at the same time they praised the spirits of place In the academic field the cult of the spirits of place is seen as “low worship” So it’s Animism while the cult of the Gods is seen as “high worship” So polytheism in its full sense – religion But in truth in ancient pagan societies these two realities were not divided This division is created in the academic field Because in general the world is under the influence of the three main Near Eastern monotheisms Judaism, Christianity and Islam Those religions are absolutely detached from the animistic past because of this- this factor, such religions created a collective consciousness that we all share That makes us create this division between animism and religion because to such monotheisms animism is primitive and religion is sophistication this mindset cannot be applied to ancient pagan cultures because within Pre-christian religions, it’s actually very difficult- Difficult finding this division. There was a fully-integrated combination of deities, fairy-like beings, and ancestral worship even nowadays World religions still have clear traces of animism still attached to them animism has never been destroyed or replaced it has been here all the time within the- Persistent belief in spiritual entities such as fairies, elves, trolls, Giants, familiar spirits, etc. in the pagan past there wasn’t animism and religion Animism was part of religion Here’s something to think about: we often like to label everything within a pre-christian culture as paganism But it’s not paganism. It’s the survival aspects of Animism If a religion has in it a cult of the ancestors or a belief in fairy-like beings It is a strong signal that that religion evolved from an earlier animistic version of itself The gods are generally deified spirits of the land animal spirits, celestial bodies, forces of nature snd ancestors such as kings, heroes and other mortals of great renown immortalized in worship Deities are not separated from Animism; They are born from it This is why it’s so important to understand animism because The great majority of pagan deities were once human ancestors mortal beings, people whose actions stood out and so they continued to be praised after death the cult of the ancestors The gods were real and are our direct descendants This continues to happen nowadays. I’ve met people that were healed by a medical doctor, and once he died- People continued to praise the medical doctor and it became a cult Within certain families and it’s carried out through the generations Christians praise Saints. Most were pagan gods that were Christianized, of course But many saints were real people Christians hate to admit this and most of their real-life Saints were terrible people but animism was also this and many of the ancient pagan gods were real people whose deeds were phenomenal Shamans, healers, warriors, craftsmen, seers and so on Here’s an important question: Is animism the same thing as paganism? Animism is not synonym with paganism paganism is religion and within each pagan religion there are clear cultural traditions shared by the people to whom those cultural traditions belong to And there is the worship of deities there are clear religious structures and there is also traces of Animism in it which creates similarities with other cultural traditions on the other hand Every animistic cult is different since one tribe can revere a specific spiritual entity, while another tribe can intensify its beliefs and rituals around the type of specific element of nature Animistic traditional practices involve both avoiding and appeasing the spirits instead of seeking them or worshipping them animism is more about the respect for the spirits and the- Consolidation with the spirits to avoid harm or their negative involvement in human affairs but it’s also about seeking certain spiritual entities to acquire knowledge and deep understanding of other realities beyond the physical sphere That can help in the material world Animism is Animism and in it shamanism, totemism, fetishism, the cult of the Ancestors the relationship with the spirits are spiritual realities paganism comes from animism and contains animistic elements but it’s already a transformation to adapt the spiritual to the human reality While animism is the human that adapts to the spiritual Animism is culture, religion and a philosophy. It is a way of life and a way of thinking Animism is the personal relationship we have with nature and with the nonhuman spirits that inhabit nature and are part of it it is a relation of mutual respect and to give value to all things and all beings visible and invisible Within a balanced ecosystem all life serves a purpose Animism is the spiritual action of building An awareness and relationship with the spirits of plants, trees, animals, insects, the elements forces and spirits of the Dead When you live within nature you are part of it Whether you accept it or not, you are not separated from it it becomes extremely important to be aware of our surroundings because our survival depends on the knowledge we have and respectful treatment towards the land itself it’s not only about the survival as in the continuation of the species but also preserving mental and physical health maintaining a healthy balance with the surroundings and with other human beings Animism is the original spirituality So I rephrase what I’ve said earlier: animism is not religion animism is the primordial foundation of every religion we have come to a point in history that it’s really hard to take it seriously, all this stuff about gods and Spiritual beings of nature, elves, fairies, trolls and Giants and whatnot Certainly, it’s good- entertainment to read the folk tales Tucked in our beds with a nice cup of tea but we fail to see the bigger picture here and it’s not entirely our fault These stories are the remnants of a beautiful past when we were very much entwined with nature until certain religions completely changed our societies and led us further astray from our own nature I see nowadays, things are changing and People want to be in contact with nature once again, but still in our minds nature is beautiful And sometimes serves a purpose and no more than that To really return to our roots and to understand our cultural heritage We must first change our world perceptions and interiorize That the spiritual element we so fervently seek In human- made structures, Holy books, and physical representations of the divine isn’t there at all the spiritual isn’t in a detached reality from our world a world that certain religions deny and offer us salvation from it so we can achieve Redemption and be accepted in some otherworldly reality There is a hollow feeling inside most of us a cold sense of detachment from the world around us precisely because we have been taught to- Detach ourselves from this world and seek a reality elsewhere far from our physical grasp The spiritual is here under every root and stone, within every tree and animal in the wind and in the earth We must accept this world and seek the spiritual in it, not somewhere else This is your reality! While you strive to be in contact with the spiritual in a reality far from your inner self You will continue to be consumed by an overwhelming sense of emptiness and loneliness You are not truly lonely Whether you accept it or not You are also a spiritual being Belonging to a network of spiritual entities that have a real impact on the same ecosystem You live in your actions in this world are real and will affect you and everything else because you are part of this world and not a detached creature that needs salvation to gain a ticket to enter a heavenly realm All right, my dear friends. I hope you have enjoyed this video and I’m sorry I had to relocate thrice But there was a great thunderstorm coming and I can’t afford a new camera Also, there are some hunters out there and I cannot afford a new life So thank you so much for watching. See you on the next video and as always tack för idag!
(Thank you for today!)

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