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Author Topic: Animism and fluffiness  (Read 16188 times)
gayars
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« Reply #30: September 05, 2007, 03:19:07 pm »

I am a big believer in grounding the energy in all kinds of equipment, though. I managed to keep our washing machine limping along for months with grounding and crystals (and swearing and kicking). But it needed to be fixed, no amount of magickal intent could change reality on that one.

Yeah, I kept my bf's car running on a trip recently.  He kept asking what I was doing everytime I sent energy into it LOL.

I know that a certain Goddess is helping with my car, and I keep sending energy into it too but it will eventually need some WORK.

Gina
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« Reply #31: September 05, 2007, 03:23:45 pm »


I know that a certain Goddess is helping with my car, and I keep sending energy into it too but it will eventually need some WORK.

Yep ours too, but she'll get it now - just really wasn't a good place for her to die.
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« Reply #32: September 05, 2007, 04:03:07 pm »

Garnet, I can truly appreciate the need to introduce the computer.  I am quite certain a lot of my manmade objects are animated by now, like my computer, my car, my tv, but thank goodness, I dont think the toilet paper is animated!  Cheesy

When the Celt was teaching me to drive I was having a hard time getting the rhythm and sense of the strength of the engine and such right, so he pointed out that I was an animist and I should talk to the car.

After spending a few minutes talking with the car, I told him it talked to him a whole lot more readily ....  (It does.)
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« Reply #33: September 05, 2007, 04:27:09 pm »

After spending a few minutes talking with the car, I told him it talked to him a whole lot more readily ....  (It does.)

heehee...he's a car whisperer Wink
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« Reply #34: September 05, 2007, 04:35:13 pm »

When the Celt was teaching me to drive I was having a hard time getting the rhythm and sense of the strength of the engine and such right, so he pointed out that I was an animist and I should talk to the car.

After spending a few minutes talking with the car, I told him it talked to him a whole lot more readily ....  (It does.)

Well, maybe since he is a car whisperer, according to Rose Wink maybe he would be willing to come talk to my car hehe.

Gina
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« Reply #35: September 05, 2007, 05:25:29 pm »

Okay, I am an animist.

The belief that souls occupy all "physical entities" isn't "fluffy" in any sense that I know of (unless we are talking about skeptics who feel that the concept of a "soul" itself is laughable). I do admit to being a bit surprised at how many people are willing to apply the label "animist" to themselves. But then most of my experiences with the term "animist" has been in the context of scholarship about pre-Christian belief systems (most often used as a blanket term today for polytheistic African belief). In that sense "animism" is often a quasi-pejorative label affixed to "primitive" religions. I personally feel that "polytheist" would be more accurate umbrella term, since most "animist" religions also venerate spirits, gods, and other powers that are not given physical existence.

Of course "animist" could certainly be reclaimed much in the same sense that "pagan" or "heathen" (or "witch") is, but the term animism is still very much used to describe active thriving religions that aren't "rebirthed" (so to speak) in the manner of faiths under the "Pagan/Heathen" umbrella by scholars and journalists. So there will always be a bit of confusion when the term is presented I suspect.

But I do ramble on... sorry about that.

Cheers!
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« Reply #36: September 05, 2007, 05:34:48 pm »

What I tend to see as the "fluffy" animism is when you make a big to-do about "asking" each leaf and rock if it wants to be part of your magical working, but rather than actually listening for an answer, you asume that every leaf and rock would consider it such an honor that asking is only a formality. Doubly fluffy if you then blatantly disregard the potential preferences of the living and non-living objects around you when you are not doing overtly "spiritual" things.
I'm glad you mentioned that.  I was viewing the original question in context of the contingent of Paganism that thinks "being rationalist" requires sneering at anything outside their personal experience.  So I was hearing, "Ha-ha, she thinks she can talk to rocks," offered in much the same spirit as "Ha-ha, she thinks magic is real".

Just goes to show how successful I've been in disassociating myself from certain Pagan idiocies (but not, obviously, from others) - used to be, the sort of attitude you describe was an ongoing irritation for me, but I'd forgotten about it.

The particular feature that used to irk me the most was when such folks made a big fuss about "leaving something in exchange", but with nary a thought to whether the "something" they were leaving was of any sort of value to the tree from which they'd taken leaf/flower/twig/etc.

In my experience, "animist" is an incorrect description of these folks.  They don't just "assume it would be an honor"; they don't really believe the object can accept or decline - their asking, and their offering-in exchange, are done as a matter of "proper form", not because they give any real credence to its function.  At the most sincere end of the spectrum, to believe that the tree has a spirit, but not believe that spirit is/can be aware and volitional, is semi-animistic at best.

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I'm an animist, and I believe that all natural objects and some man-made ones have an indwelling spirit which you can potentially communicate/interact with. A hard-line animist would include all man-made things, but while I can discern a soul in my old Victorian woodstove, my partner's guitar, and many other hand-crafted or well used cherished things, I can not discern any indwelling spirit in a plastic fork or a roll of toilet paper. Perhaps those things do have an indwelling spirit, but it is so remote as to be irrelevant to any practical application I am aware of.
That might be me - though whether it's "hard-line animism" or just the intersection of my animism and my technopaganism, I'm not sure.  It seems to me that the distinction here might have to do with the transitory nature of the object, and the way that transitoriness is innately part of its nature.  I could, probably, "wake up" a plastic fork if I saw a reason to do so, but I fancy it'd be easier to do with a metal fork (however dollar-store, mega-mass-production), because "disposable" isn't imbued in its being.  Similarly, a single leaf doesn't have a lot of "spirit-stuff" independent of the tree it grew on.  (Or, one of my fingernail clippings - its discrete identity as fingernail clipping forever overwhelmed by its relationship to me, so much so that there are magical implications here for animist and non-animist alike.)

Or, perhaps I'm talking about the distinction between having a discrete, aware, volitional spirit ("awake", in my lexicon), and merely having the potential to become so.

I'm throwing that out speculatively, rather than disagreeing; "so remote as to be irrelevant to practical application" I concur with heartily.

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« Reply #37: September 06, 2007, 02:59:13 am »

In that sense "animism" is often a quasi-pejorative label affixed to "primitive" religions. I personally feel that "polytheist" would be more accurate umbrella term, since most "animist" religions also venerate spirits, gods, and other powers that are not given physical existence.


I fail to see how 'polytheist' would be a *more* accurate term.  Not all polytheists are animists, for starters.  Not all animists are polytheists.  The two words describe different beliefs.  A single individual may subscribe to both, but does not *necessarily* do so.
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« Reply #38: September 06, 2007, 09:57:13 am »

I fail to see how 'polytheist' would be a *more* accurate term.  Not all polytheists are animists, for starters.  Not all animists are polytheists.  The two words describe different beliefs.  A single individual may subscribe to both, but does not *necessarily* do so.

If we are talking about pre-Christian tribal and indigenous cultures (which I was), to describe what they do as "animism" is greatly reductive of their cultures and faiths (in my opinion). I admit that "polytheism" has its limits as well, but I feel it is less pejorative as an umbrella term since all it does is acknowledge that a religious group under that banner recognizes the numinous as "multiple". Animism in its commonly understood restrictive meaning is only a descriptor of one aspect of these faiths. It is like labeling Catholics as "transubstantiationists" instead of monotheists.

In surviving pre-Christian religions that are labeled with "animism" it isn't merely rocks, plants, and other objects that are numinous, but the ancestors, and the gods/spirits. Respected religious scholar Jordan Paper (who has studied, practiced, and lived among African, Native American, and Chinese polytheists) considers the term so "vague" as to be useless in describing these faiths.

Now if you or other individuals want to establish yourselves as animists in the reductive sense, or to use it as a descriptor for an aspect of your religious life, that is fine. I'm sure you can indeed be an "animist" without being a polytheist if you insist that is the case. I'm not here to tell anyone what they can and can't label themselves' with. But the vast majority of people currently labeled as "animists" by scholars and journalists are indeed polytheistic, which was my (perhaps muddled) initial point.

Cheers!
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« Reply #39: September 06, 2007, 10:00:54 am »

The reason I ask is I got up my nerve to post an answer on this list.  Stupid, I know, and it was an animist response, and one of them basically equated animism with fluffy bunny territory.

I think what we really need to do is define the fluff in the bunniness, so to speak. Animism isn't fluffy in and of itself.

I tend to be a rather timid and gentle person. I am also a pacifist. Many elitists would choose to call me a fluff bunny because of this. However, should the need arise (as it does from time to time in life) I can be as fierce as any warrior-spirited person. Let someone threaten my children or my saftey and woe to them. I will stick up for myself if cornered, but mostly I will avoid any confrontations. My husband says he knows he's stepped in it when I yell back. A rare occurance. Wink

In my book, a fluff bunny is someone who puts on a particular Path becaue "it's cool" and all his/her friends are doing it. No depth, no understanding and certainly no commitment. If you are an animist, and truely believe what you are doing, and do it consistently whether anyone is watching or not, then you are in no way being "fluffy".

I find that those who call names generally are not totally secure in their own beliefs and need to knock others down to feel better about themselves. So let those who need/want to, call me fluffy, it's none of my business what other people think of me. Smiley
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« Reply #40: September 06, 2007, 10:28:16 am »

But the vast majority of people currently labeled as "animists" by scholars and journalists are indeed polytheistic, which was my (perhaps muddled) initial point.

But polytheist means multiple gods (from Greek polutheos, polytheistic : polu-, poly- + theos, god;). What does that have to do with believing that all things are living and have spirits. One can believe in only one god and still be an animist. Just as one can believe in multiple individual gods but not be animistic.
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« Reply #41: September 06, 2007, 10:35:09 am »


Of course "animist" could certainly be reclaimed much in the same sense that "pagan" or "heathen" (or "witch") is, but the term animism is still very much used to describe active thriving religions that aren't "rebirthed" (so to speak) in the manner of faiths under the "Pagan/Heathen" umbrella by scholars and journalists. So there will always be a bit of confusion when the term is presented I suspect.


There's often confusion around a lot of words when the person hearing it isn't referencing it to mean exactly the same thing as the person using it.
I'm not sure animist has any need to be 'reclaimed' though.

(Witch is a good word Wink )
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« Reply #42: September 06, 2007, 10:39:17 am »


The thing is, polytheism and animism are completely different phenomena. You can't "more accurately" use polytheistic to refer to animism, because they're not nearly the same thing. Animism refers to the belief that things have a spirit. Polytheism refers to the belief in multiple Gods. In my case, I'm definitely a polytheist - I believe there are a great many Gods - but I'm kind of on the fence when it comes to animism (that is, it feels funny rationally, but considering I talk to just about everything, I realize that I probably do believe in it on a gut level). Even when I start leaning towards believing in animism, that's totally unrelated to polytheism, since the spirit of my computer is not a God.

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« Reply #43: September 06, 2007, 11:08:37 am »

But polytheist means multiple gods (from Greek polutheos, polytheistic : polu-, poly- + theos, god;). What does that have to do with believing that all things are living and have spirits.

I think that people are missing my point. I'm saying that for most people labeled as "animists" in the world today, the term is reductive when describing their religious lives. I say that polytheism is a better definition for those groups labeled as "animists" because it is (slightly) more accurate an umbrella term. The "divine spark" the "theos" or the "numinous" is understood as multiple in these cultures and transcends the reductive definition of animism ("religions that attribute souls to non-human entities").

I have never said one couldn't be a animist without being a polytheist. I was also not referring to people who self-consciously label themselves as "animists".
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« Reply #44: September 06, 2007, 11:14:12 am »

The thing is, polytheism and animism are completely different phenomena. You can't "more accurately" use polytheistic to refer to animism, because they're not nearly the same thing. Animism refers to the belief that things have a spirit. Polytheism refers to the belief in multiple Gods.

I was saying that the term polytheism was "more accurate" (again, in my opinion) for a majority of tribal and indigenous pre-Christian faiths that are currently labeled as "animists". I wasn't saying that animism and polytheism are the same phenomena. Nor was I castigating self-described animists for denying their intrinsic "polytheistic" natures. I was talking of a certain way the term is used and understood outside the modern Pagan/Heathen spectrum, and what my own personal opinion of that usage was.
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