Animism is a lifeway (or way of life if you prefer!) and it would be a mistake to give the impression that its all about "thinking about the world". Sometimes that's what "-ism" suggests.
Every now and again I'm going to add information, discussions and links that are about ways of living animism or doing animism ...
This will be in addition to the bits about shamans (people employed by animists because of some of more spiky bits of reality) and the ethnography (introducing and discussing particular local ways of living animism ... and so on).
For now, here are some links to the websites of some friends whose animism is expressed in particular kinds of work with other people (not all of them human). Some are environmental educators, others are shamans ... Or do I mean that they're all shamanic environmental educators? or any other combination of related terms!? Certainly, what they do says and shows what the world is really like ... Eventually, I'll move these links around and put them in other places. Or maybe I'll leave them here and add them to other parts of the site too!
So, take a look at:
Robert Wallis's important publications don't seem to have their own website yet (Robert?!) - but Robert's work website is here.
Brian Bates is justly famous for his books and other demonstrations of the vitality of a British (Saxon) indigenous religious tradition.
The bioregional animism blog site has some good stuff (and I'm not only saying that because I'm quoted a lot - though that's a great honour [thanks!]).
Some time ago, last spring in fact, I was out in the woods,sitting on a fallen tree trunk, and I fell into wondering what the birds were singing about (or is that "signing" as I typed first, and perhaps I was right to do so). Partly this was inspired by being provided with the means to test a magical technique I'd read about that reputedly allows one to understand the language of birds ... Partly it was inspired by thinking about Charles Hartshorne's question "Do Birds Enjoy Singing?" (see Chapter 14 of Animism).
Maybe that technique or those thoughts, or maybe a light trance or even a fantasy, lead me to think I understood something while sitting among the trees.
First I heard (thought, realised, imagined?) a kind of reprimand: "It's not about you"
and I understood that whatever the birds were on about, it wasn't me, or humans - not even about the annoyance of the traffic noise that carries even into the heart of the wood. I felt good about that, kind of. The birds are just talking to each other.
But then I heard, "It isn't without you"
and I realised that, of course, when I moved at least one bird would say "that mad human is moving again, take care" or something. And, more widely, that because of the traffic noise, the birds won't be able to hear as much bird song as they could if we weren't so noisy. My Tasmanian friend, Doug Ezzy, tells me that birds adjust their volume and pitch in urban environments so as to contest our engine noise interference in their conversations. We'd been talking (emailing anyway) about hedgehogs and wombats (as we do) and he'd said that when asked recently why he liked wombats he said that he'd worked out that wombats aren't anthropocentric. So I told him about sitting on a log, listening to the birds, realizing that while they aren't always talking about us (humans, animists and other-than-animists alike), they aren't in a separate world from us, nor we from them. We are always communicating, back and forward, sometimes at cross purposes, sometimes expressing contempt, sometimes pausing to listen, sometimes finding ourselves with something in common to talk about, sometimes expressing mutual respect and care and concern ...
There is only one world. We live in it together.
Living animism is a quest to find appropriate means of expressing respect, communicating mutuality ... It is contested by consumerist anthropocentrism. You don't have to wander about in a daze wondering what the birds are signing about. But you might take a bit of care not to kill the hedgehogs, badgers, wombats ...
Yesterday (23 Feb 2008) I saw three badgers in a ditch. Needlessly killed and insultingly flung aside.
See my Imbolc 2008 page for an unapologetic rant about this (and more photos).
Funny how we call the modern condition "globalisation" but seem careless of our living in this globe. We seem to think we're aliens making no impact on the world or its inhabitants.
last updated 24 Feb 2008