05-04-2002, 04:02 PM #1
This was taken from one of those weird ass TOOL (the band) websites. LOL
Animism (from Latin anima, "breath" or "soul"), belief in spiritual beings. Among biologists and psychologists, animism refers to the view that the human mind is a nonmaterial entity that nevertheless interacts with the body via the brain and nervous system. As a philosophical theory, animism, usually called panpsychism, is the doctrine that all objects in the world have an inner or psychological being. The 18th-century German physician and chemist Georg Ernst Stahl coined the word animism to describe his theory that the soul is the vital principle responsible for organic development. Since the late 19th century, however, the term has been mainly associated with anthropology and the British anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, who described the origin of religion and primitive beliefs in terms of animism.
In Primitive Culture (1871) Tylor defined animism as the general belief in spiritual beings and considered it "a minimum definition of religion." He asserted that all religions, from the simplest to the most complex, involve some form of animism. According to Tylor, primitive peoples, defined as those without written traditions, believe that spirits or souls are the cause of life in human beings; they picture souls as phantoms, resembling vapors or shadows, which can transmigrate from person to person, from the dead to the living, and from and into plants, animals, and lifeless objects. In deriving his theory, Tylor assumed that an animistic philosophy developed in an attempt to explain the causes of sleep, dreams, trances, and death; the difference between a living body and a dead one; and the nature of the images that one sees in dreams and trances.
Tylor's theories were criticized by the British anthropologist Robert R. Marett, who claimed that primitives could not have been so intellectual and that religion must have had a more emotional, intuitional origin. He rejected Tylor's theory that all objects were regarded as being alive. Marett thought that primitive peoples must have recognized some lifeless objects and probably regarded only those objects that had unusual qualities or behaved in some seemingly unpredictable or mysterious way as being alive. He held, moreover, that the ancient concept of aliveness was not sophisticated enough to include the notion of a soul or spirit residing in the object. Primitive peoples treated the objects they considered animate as if these things had life, feeling, and a will of their own, but did not make a distinction between the body of an object and a soul that could enter or leave it. Marett called this view "animatism" or "preanimism," and he claimed that animism had to arise out of animatism, which may even continue to exist alongside more highly developed animistic beliefs.
The belief of animism is probably one of man's oldest beliefs, with its origin most likely dating to the Paleolithic age. From its earliest beginnings it was a belief that a soul or spirit existed in every object, even if it was inanimate. In a future state this soul or spirit would exist as part of an immaterial soul. The spirit, therefore, was thought to be universal.
There has been sharp divisions of thought as to the original concept of animism held by primitive peoples. An British anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor in his "Primitive Culture" (1871) defined animism "as a general belief in spiritual beings and considered it 'a minimum definition of religion.'" He stated all religions from the simplest to the most complexed shared some sort of animistic belief. According to him primitive peoples, defined as those without a written tradition, believed the spirits or souls caused life in human beings. They pictured these souls as vapors or shadows going from one body to another. The souls not only passed between human beings but into, plants, animals and inanimate objects as well.
Tylor reasoned primitive man arrived at his animistic belief to help him explain the causes of sleep, dreams, and death. There naturally aroused a need to distinguish between an individual who was awake and one who was asleep, or an individual who lived and one who did not. Also there was a need to give a reason for the pictures some saw when they slept. The spirits were the early man's explanations.
Tylor was criticized by another British anthropologist Robert Ranulph Marett (1866-1943) who was convinced that primitive man had not developed the intellectual to form even such simplistic explanations as Tylor proposed. Marett suggested early religion was more emotional and intuitional in origin. He theorized that early man recognized some inanimate objects because they had some particular characteristic or behaved in some unusual way which mysteriously made them seem alive. He believed early man treated all animate objects as having a life and will of their own, but they never distinguished the soul as separate from the body, and could enter or leave the body. Marett conceded early man possessed the belief of animism, but it developed from the idea that some objects seemed to be alive like man.
It is insignificant how men and women gained the belief that a spirit or soul resides in all objects it is historically evident that they did. Trees and plants were worshiped as totems or because of their usefulness and beauty. In many cultures certain trees and plants have been feared. In some ancient cultures "trees were generally regarded as maternal deities or forest spirits, to be respected even when their lives were sacrificed for human use (pagan woodcutters never felled a tree without first begging its forgiveness). Female tree spirits live on in myth and folklore as dryads, the Greek version of the tree-worshiping druid priestesses."
Plants and trees have been considered sacred by themselves because, as some have thought, they are home to certain spirits. Both the soma plant of India and the coca shrub of Peru are worshiped for the intoxicating properties of the products made from them. Field crops, thought to harbor spirits of infertility, has been honored by ancient tribesmen and peasants throughout Europe. Traces of these cults can still be found.
The above describes nature worshipers among which many occultists are numbered. They view life as being in everything, and everything, even man, supporting life. Life is sacred -- all life. "One of the foremost characteristics of Neo-Paganism (or occultism) is the return to the ancient idea that there is no distinction between the spiritual and material, sacred and secular." Everything is still one as it was to primitive man.
Animism may also be the unconscious fabrication of a spirit manifestation by the medium. It is not a fraud as the medium actually believes that he is channeling a spirit. It usually happens when the medium is put under pressure to attend a request or works in a spiritualistic circle where spirit phenomena are expected to occur. The spirit of the medium then fabricates a manifestation and it is interesting to notice that the medium´s body undergoes all the usual changes that happen in an actual spirit communication, such as altered breathing, contortions, and such procedures.
Soul - the vital, immaterial life principle, generally conceived as existing within human beings and sometimes within all living things, inanimate objects, and the universe as a whole. In more primitive religions (forms of ANIMISM and SPIRITISM), the soul is thought to control both motor and mental processes; death, the cessation of these processes, is thus viewed as caused by the departure of the soul. PANTHEISM denies the individuation of human souls, and MATERIALISM declares the soul nonexistent. A widespread concept in religion is that of immortality, which usually postulates the existence of a soul that lives apart from the body after death. Dualistic concepts posit a God-given soul distinct from, and antagonistic to, an inferior, earth-bound body. For many Western philosophers the term soul is indefinable. Others consider soul synonymous with mind.
AN AMERICAN REVIVAL
The heartland of the North American continent is experiencing a profound revival. Recent years have seen a small but significant rebirth of practical animism in the north-central plains, and an amazing prophecy is unfolding on the prairie. The participants believe that the spirit of a place is a function of geography, ecology, and history, and that the land shapes the inhabitant as surely as the inhabitant shapes the land. The long-hidden secrets of the grandfathers are revealed; their carefully hidden knowledge passed on. An ancient body of practical knowledge is once again available to real people everywhere. The hopes and dreams of a few worthy people long dead now have new life.
Animism is a body of knowledge founded upon the belief that the things around us are infused with more than mere existence. Animists believe that the hills, valleys, waterways, and rocks are spiritual beings, as are the plants and animals. Further, they believe that there are other, less obvious spiritual beings not commonly associated with the phenomena of everyday experience.
Beyond these basic beliefs, animism comprises a practical system of knowledge designed to be of benefit to the possessor. This system of knowledge usually involves techniques for entering into beneficial arrangements between the practitioner and the spiritual beings that are accessible to them.
There are almost as many different bodies of practical knowledge as there are practitioners of animism; particularly so given the current resurgence of popularity animism now enjoys. The practice of animism has not always been such a Babel of systems as it is today.
The aboriginal Americans who lived on the northern plains developed a mature and coherent system of practical animism. The world view of these early Americans was inextricably entwined with their animist beliefs and methods. They sought to live in harmony with the world, in both the practical and the spiritual sense. Their body of animist knowledge was the treasured thread that bound their lives together and gave each one meaning. This knowledge was passed from generation to generation, its practitioners valued members of society, and its tools revered as the very soul of the group.
Long term relationships between a group of real people and various useful spiritual beings were cultivated and maintained unto hoary tradition. For a people to lose their core of animist knowledge meant the end of their group viability. Similarly, if a people were destroyed, their animist knowledge could be lost forever; the methods and relationships forgotten and neglected, the tools decaying in some dusty museum.
There came a time when the aboriginal practitioners of northern plains animism foresaw a wrenching change that would threaten the very treasure that made them whole. The aboriginal seers knew the coming of the Europeans threatened to destroy their people along with the ancient knowledge they had preserved for so long.
Early on, they made plans to secure their knowledge, methods, relationships and tools for a future generation of real people. They had faith that the land and its spiritual inhabitants would survive the depredations of the seemingly crazed displaced Europeans. They knew that one day these gentle but persistent spirits would reshape the new inhabitants, just as it had reshaped their ancestors so long ago.
The secrets were hidden, cached in the places that were familiar to them, using some old methods and some new ones devised for the urgent purpose at hand. Thus a significant body of aboriginal American knowledge was put to rest in the northern plains, with the hope that it would once again be found by the new real people of the coming age.
At least one modern practitioner of the animist system has found a rich trove of aboriginal American knowledge. Deliberately stored by the ancient inhabitants of a beautiful river valley in northwest Iowa, this knowledge has been found and is now available for practical use once again. The secrets of the past are revealed.
This new age shaman is the descendant of the European usurpers, and his family has lived in the area for several generations. His name is David Huckleberry, and he is following the gentle urgings of the knowledge he has inherited. His task is not an easy one; integrating the ancient practices into today's culture.
In the old days, when Dave's rediscovered knowledge was enjoying its golden age, practical animists had an institutionalized niche in society. The aboriginal cultures of the northern plains valued them highly, and depended heavily upon their services. Those who have studied them and their history in the European manner have called them shamans, witch doctors, seers, curers, augurs and sorcerers.
In today's world, especially as it is encountered in rural Iowa, there is no societal role for these types of persons. Even when the current relative resurgence of animist beliefs is considered, the real practitioner is left without a workplace or a clientele. The ancient knowledge can only be truly practical in its application when these elements are present.
Dave has spent many years trying to overcome the modern bias against practical animism and its practitioners. He has successfully reestablished a respectable and useful niche for himself and his talents, in obedience to the urging of his ancient teachers.
Practical animism has existed in every part of the globe that has been inhabited by human beings. It has been a feature of human behavior since time immemorial. Because it is largely a function of the relationship between people and the land they occupy, its practice reaches a certain maturity among those people who live in close association with a particular place or range of places over relatively long periods of time. Even nomadic people can have a well developed system of practical animism; they simply become familiar with a greater range of places than more localized people.
Invaders and other usurpers of land, however, are almost never wholly successful in bringing their animist systems along with them to their new homes or ranges. Animism is inextricably linked to the place or places where it is practiced. The new inhabitants of the land must eventually deal with the local animist beings; only certain highly skilled practitioners could move such beings from place to place. Yet the fact remains that animist societies can sometimes leave their rich heritage behind for others when faced with doom and destruction.
PRACTICAL MEANS USEFUL
The characteristic that sets a body of practical animism apart from mere belief in animist precepts is its usefulness. In short, practical animism can be used to benefit men and women. These benefits are available to the practitioners, and vary according to the geographic location or range of their familiarity. Similarly, the skills, learning and tools at the disposal of the practitioners also enter into the calculus.
Experienced practitioners with rich bodies of knowledge and the right tools can accomplish amazing things indeed. Furthermore, some bodies of animist knowledge permit the practitioners to use their skills and tools to help their clientele; certain bodies of animist knowledge actually require its practitioners to do so. This is exactly the case with Dave. The ancient knowledge he has found puts him at your service.
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