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Forums -> Other Paths -> Animism

By: / Novice
Post # 1
This thread refers to types/ characteristics that pagan or shamanic religions may have and how to seperate one from another.

For example my current area of interest which is sami shamanism and Finnish Paganism is :Polytheistic, Animistic.

Animism is often connected to shamanistic religions and even more often misunderstood. So I ve decided to make this post in order to offer better knowledge regarding: Animism , Totetism/Fetishism , Spiritism, Polytheism, Pantheism.

Animism is a belief that can be very commonly found in old religions. Animism is defined as the belief that everything in nature has a soul. Now at this point there are two different beliefs that form animism:

  • This soul has the ability to exit the body and be independent from it.
  • Or

  • This soul doesn't need a body in order to survive or move.
  • The first belief leads to spiritism which is defined as the worship of the dead (Like for instance in Finnish paganism where people believe that they draw their spirituality and power from the dead). Spiritism is the worship of ancestors, important people who have passed , the underworld or heaven and quite commonly the guardian or keep of the underworld or heaven. In spiritism people see the dead as continuing their existance in another world or changing their form on this one (have another body, human or animal, become guardian spirits or being reborned) Very often animists especially in various forms of shamanism (eg sami shamanism) people perform rituals and offer gifts and prayers to the dead in order to live peacefully with the spiritual world.

    The second belief of animism leads to fetishism/totetism. Religions that include the aspect of totetism (often shamanism) have the belief that everything in nature is equal with the human being and therefore greatly respected. Totetism is the worship of a visible object such as a wooden statue as a spiritual object. Since in the second form of animism it is believed that a sould does not require a body in order to survive tthis kind of animists believe that it is possible to inhabit an object. Therefore the present of totems is very common in such religions.

    However it is possible to meet both beliefs in a single religion.

    In addition to that it is also possible to meet both animism and pantheism in a single religion as well.

    However it is not very often since animists usually focus on the individuality of every soul while pantheism views all souls as parts of a single unit. Usually animistic religions are polytheistic (acknowledge several Gods or dieties).

    *Many people confuse pantheism with polytheism but they are very different, almost oposite. Since in pantheism there is usually only one dominant God while polytheism acknowledges several dominant dieties.

    Moreover Animism is connected to shamanism since shamanism is a practice that focuses on the soul and most of the times if not always includes aspect of animism.

    Thank you for reading

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    Re: Animism
    By: / Beginner
    Post # 2
    Hi there, Fox, fantastic post and very clearly put, just wanted to ask if you'd ever seen the documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule? In my opinion, it lends a lot of weight to animism as a belief, maybe not insofar as inanimate objects such as rocks, but it does explain that the molecule DMT, which is released in the brain both at the moment of death and also during sleep, is present in absolutely every living thing. It's an interesting watch, and another little tie between modern science and spirituality :)
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    Re: Animism
    By: / Novice
    Post # 3

    I m not sure if I ve watched this documentary. The most recent documentary about spirituality and modern science that I can recall was the one that claimed there is a hormone activated in a relaxed state (such as meditation) that activates feeling of presence that people usually percieve as God. But since you mention it I will look it up.

    However animism is a belief found in many cultures and religions and it's not science related. It focuses on the soul of everything living rather than its physical or biologica atributes.

    I am glad you liked my post

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    Re: Animism
    Post # 4
    Great post, i love learning new ways and beliefs.
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    Re: Animism
    By: / Novice
    Post # 5

    Thank you I hope it was helpful.

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    Re: Animism
    By: / Beginner
    Post # 6
    Yes, Animistic people are quite like the Shaman. As an Animistic, I like the way you explained the religion.
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    Re: Animism
    By: / Novice
    Post # 7

    Animism is a concept not a religion. Shamanistic religion can have animistic characteristics. However animism is not exactly a path in my opinion.

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