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Author Topic: Animism and fluffiness  (Read 17005 times)
Tj
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« Reply #60: September 07, 2007, 02:14:34 am »

I'm puzzled too! I brought up the other context as a simple curiosity, to note only that most references to "animism" and "animists" I had found had been in the anthropological context (and that I had some qualms about the term in that context and so used different terminology). It wasn't meant to be a big thing, but it all sort of snowballed once the confusion over whether I was confusing polytheism with animism started.

My complete apologies if I hijacked this thread! It was never my intention.

I just have a couple of questions regarding the discussion here. It's been bugging me for a while. Well, actually it can be reduced down to once question i.e.: What makes something a DEITY. This may be a weird question to ask, but it can be confusing. In the western world, these days "Deity" or God/Goddess usually means a being or spirit with great power. Usually has to be Omni-Something. Preferably all the Omni-'s. (omni potent, Omniscience etc.). But this may or may not be true with other religions. I realise this is just a pointless discussion on semantics that does not matter in reality, but I am curious.

Specifically, if I am an animist (which I am, and a very strong one at that), how would my believes differ from someone who is a polythiest, say for example my grandfather (A Hindu). I have had religious discussions with him where he refers to the "Fire God", and I just refer to the "Fire Spirit". What is the real difference here? or is it just essentially what you prefer to call it. I hope this question is not very confusing, I tried my best to put it in a nice way, I am not always successful.


Also how would you define Daoism: pick a -theism (A-, Poly-, Pan- etc. ). Just out of curiosity. Since it most closely is Pantheism, but it can also be Monotheism, since "Dao" can (in a twisted sort of way) be considered a Diety. I know, I don't like to think of it that way either, but I would just like to know what others think.

-Tj
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« Reply #61: September 07, 2007, 08:50:12 am »

What makes something a DEITY. This may be a weird question to ask, but it can be confusing. In the western world, these days "Deity" or God/Goddess usually means a being or spirit with great power. Usually has to be Omni-Something.

Not a weird questions at all! It is a "fuzzy" line as to when something venerated officially becomes a "deity". Some deities were once revered ancestors, some deities were once the animating spirit of a certain lake or tree that grew to a point where it was venerated as a "god/dess". It is a subtle process, and when a spirit/soul/ancestor crosses the "god line" is usually up to the culture in question to determine. Certainly there is some disagreement between scholars and religious practitioners over what is or isn't a deity. Are the Orisha "gods"? Some say yes, and some say they are simply "spirits" (or the equivalent to "saints" in the Catholic tradition). I personally believe that such beings fit the broad criteria to be called "deities", though perhaps not in the omni-everything style that some envision the Christian/Jewish/Muslim God. But you'll find conflicting opinions concerning these questions, and no doubt someone on this board will offer an alternative opinion.

Quote
I have had religious discussions with him where he refers to the "Fire God", and I just refer to the "Fire Spirit". What is the real difference here? or is it just essentially what you prefer to call it.

It is very possible that you and your grandfather are both right. As a certain bard said once, there are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in our philosophies.

As for Taoism, it certainly started in a polytheistic society/world, and many adherents of Taoism are still polytheists (in that they venerate and give offerings to a variety of gods and spirits), but the teachings of the Tao Te Ching are also seen as a life-philosophy that can apply to a pantheistic view of the world (especially with its emphasis on the unity of all things). So I'll simply say that there are a whole lot of Taoists that would certainly be considered polytheists, but that nothing applies to everyone and you can follow the teachings of the Tao Te Ching and have a non-polytheistic view of the spiritual world.

Just my thoughts.
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« Reply #62: September 07, 2007, 10:11:52 am »

I just have a couple of questions regarding the discussion here.

Those are both big enough questions that you might just want to start a new thread for each of them so they don't get lost in this one.  Smiley  You might also get more responses that way as people not interested in animism aren't likely to see them here.
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« Reply #63: September 07, 2007, 11:32:52 am »


Thanks for the clarification. It makes an interesting read.

The thing is, I do think there's a big difference still. "Polytheistic" calls to mind a far broader group of religions that animistic would be very unlikely to refer to, such as Egyptian, Greek and Roman religions and Hinduism. The animism as a central part of the religions usually referred to as such very clearly distinguishes them from the above-mentioned, and while of course it IS reductionist, so is any one-word description or a religion. Polytheistic is no less reductionist than animism.

Also, I would strongly recommend against telling people involved in voudou or santeria that they're polytheistic. They are traditions that are strongly catholic-based, and would mostly be very offended at the suggestion that their spirits are deities equal to the Christian God. Calling them polytheistic is not only reductionist, it's factually incorrect and offensive to the people involved.

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« Reply #64: September 08, 2007, 06:15:43 pm »


As for Taoism, it certainly started in a polytheistic society/world, and many adherents of Taoism are still polytheists (in that they venerate and give offerings to a variety of gods and spirits), but the teachings of the Tao Te Ching are also seen as a life-philosophy that can apply to a pantheistic view of the world (especially with its emphasis on the unity of all things). So I'll simply say that there are a whole lot of Taoists that would certainly be considered polytheists, but that nothing applies to everyone and you can follow the teachings of the Tao Te Ching and have a non-polytheistic view of the spiritual world.


I agree with Jason, Taoism seems to be two things - a philosophy which is about going along with the way of nature and a polytheistic religion.  The religious aspects are complex since when Buddhism came to China the religious Taoists seem to have adopted many Buddhist concepts, so later Taoist works talk about a deity of some sort whereas Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu do not mention that concept.  Then there are modern Taoists, some of whom seem to make a pretty good living out of it.
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« Reply #65: September 08, 2007, 06:37:23 pm »

I agree with Jason, Taoism seems to be two things - a philosophy which is about going along with the way of nature and a polytheistic religion.  The religious aspects are complex since when Buddhism came to China the religious Taoists seem to have adopted many Buddhist concepts, so later Taoist works talk about a deity of some sort whereas Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu do not mention that concept.  Then there are modern Taoists, some of whom seem to make a pretty good living out of it.

Well I am talking about what I like to call the "Original Daoism" or rather what Master Lao, and Master Chuang intended or followed, that is essentially what most people call "philosophical Daoism". But to them, and to me to some extent, it is also very spiritual and not just a philosophy. Most of the older Masters did not differentiate between science and philosophy, or religion and philosophy. In fact most "scientist" at one period were called "philosopher". Like Aristotle for example.

Also how the hell do you make a living out of Daoism? I am (it seems) a follower of "The Way". I was so, LONG before i had even heard of the Dao, or anything to do with it. I just figured it out for myself, the only way to learn Daoist philosophy, through experience, and LOTS of reading and thinking. Of course that very statement is very "Un-Daolike" of me, but whatever.
Anyways, first of all it is SUPER hard to find and hold a corporate job, or even worse a retail job. Since it is all about "how you look". I hate the lies, in retail, I just cannot deal with it. It is very unnatural, if you know what I mean, I am probably being a bit vague here, but most of you probably know what I am talking about to some extent.

Anyways, the only other way I can see of making money, is have like a "School". Like the have for many forms of Buddhism, and meditation etc. I would love to do it, of course, but most of the Daoist teachings would agree with me when I say, you can't really teach Daoism. You really can't, believe me I have tried to explain my way of thinking to my mother a million times, she DOES NOT GET IT. And my mother of all people, someone who supposedly understands me quite well otherwise. Anyways just my thoughts on the subject.

-Tj
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« Reply #66: September 08, 2007, 06:42:50 pm »

Anyways, the only other way I can see of making money, is have like a "School". Like the have for many forms of Buddhism, and meditation etc. I would love to do it, of course, but most of the Daoist teachings would agree with me when I say, you can't really teach Daoism. You really can't, believe me I have tried to explain my way of thinking to my mother a million times, she DOES NOT GET IT. And my mother of all people, someone who supposedly understands me quite well otherwise. Anyways just my thoughts on the subject.

:-) Rough translation of the first three lines of the Tao Te Ching

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth

Seems to pretty much cover the whole inexplicable deal rather well. Though of course I still TRY to explain it Cheesy , just never seems to work!
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« Reply #67: September 08, 2007, 07:18:43 pm »

So my question is, animism isnt necessarily a fluffy bunny category, is it?

Not directly related to the question of does animism = fluffy bunnyism, but interesting for the discussion of fluffiness:

http://community.livejournal.com/academicpagans/40594.html
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« Reply #68: September 09, 2007, 05:49:16 am »


Also how the hell do you make a living out of Daoism? I am (it seems) a follower of "The Way".

Umm...maybe you shouldn't make a living out of Daoism?
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« Reply #69: September 09, 2007, 10:18:05 am »

Okay, I am an animist.  Probably pretty clear, from a lot of my posts.  Now, I am on this one list that I rarely interact on, because they tend to be snobbish, and elitist basically.  A lot of them, anyway, not all. The only reason I stay on is because they do give some good info sometimes, mainly from the historical perspective of how modern witchcraft developed etc.  I do go through long stretches of not interacting at all on the list or even reading, because life happens, and frankly the attitudes of some of the people on there act like unless you believe EXACTLY like they do, you are a fluffy bunny.  Let us just say, flame wars are common on that list.  Cheesy
Gina

I don't think I could add anything that others haven't already said.  I guess it all depends on someone's definition of a Fluffy Bunny. I try not to use the term myself, because really, I think it is too subjective a term. I'm sure I do lots of things others would scoff at - LOL.

I know when young people start out just about everyone goes through that "ooh wouldn't it be cool to hold a seance in a graveyard" time - but is it fluff or a learning experience?  Who am I to say? One thing I know is that people starting out are often more open to ideas!  Not so into the right way / wrong way stuff - unless they have done too little reading and concider themselves an expert at age 12! (Which can happen)

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« Reply #70: September 09, 2007, 10:35:17 am »

High Priestesses of Egoland

Oh, now THAT is a great phrase!  Serving notice that I might have to find ways to pop that into everyday conversation for a while now!  Wink
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« Reply #71: September 09, 2007, 11:03:47 am »

Oh, now THAT is a great phrase!  Serving notice that I might have to find ways to pop that into everyday conversation for a while now!  Wink

Feel free to use as desired!  Smiley   
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« Reply #72: September 10, 2007, 06:18:31 pm »

Umm...maybe you shouldn't make a living out of Daoism?

I agree, but poke around on Google for a bit and you will find people who do.  I'm may sound bitter - had a bad experience once.
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« Reply #73: September 10, 2007, 06:22:19 pm »

I agree, but poke around on Google for a bit and you will find people who do.  I'm may sound bitter - had a bad experience once.

Poke around enough and you can find almost anything.
People are... strange - it's just that some of us are strange in good ways Wink
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« Reply #74: February 15, 2008, 08:28:19 am »

heehee...he's a car whisperer Wink
Cheesy There must be lots of closet animists out there!
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