Worshipping and Appeasing Nature Spirits in Animism - Experiential Online Animism Class
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Worshipping and Appeasing Nature Spirits in Animism

Worshipping and Appeasing Nature Spirits in Animism

Whenever I see definitions of animism written by Christians or anthropologists, the meaning always includes this idea that we engage in worshipping and appeasing nature spirits. (sigh) This is what happens when outsiders define you. This doesn’t come close to capturing what we really do.

Nature isn’t separate to the animist. When we look outside, we see our tree brothers and our cloud sisters. While we may not be able to see our tree spirit brothers or our nuckelavee spirit sisters, we know that they are there too.

Sometimes the invisible world includes the spirits that inhabit a thing, but is separate from the thing, as with the tree spirit. Sometimes they are nonphysical beings, as with the nuckelavee. Either way, we acknowledge and honor them because they are a part of our environment, culture, and heritage. It’s a way of showing respect and living in harmony with them.

animism

Animism is totally and completely a relational spiritual path. We seek to respect and live in harmony with everything, whether it’s nature is kindly and supportive of us or not. 

 

Since those who don’t see the world in this way don’t understand that, it can seem superstitious or just plain silly. 

 

Most of us move through the world this way because we have had some direct experience of the supernatural (which is really just natural) world. It’s not something we were taught or choose to believe. It’s something we live.

 

The world is alive. When the river swells in the spring with the snow thaws and spring rains, it has an energy that you can feel and smell. It’s not like the same river feels in the hot days of summer. 

When black clouds roll in with angry thunder and wind that rips trees from their roots, that’s not the same energy as the gentle, warm rains.

Everything has power. Everything has energy. We all share this planet, and some energy is helpful most of the time. Some energy is threatening most of the time. Some is contrary. That’s the way Nature rolls. When we honor the energy for what it is, it’s a nod to that same energy within ourselves. 

We don’t worship monkeys, tulips, or spites because they aren’t greater than us. They are our equals. We don’t appease them because we don’t feel that they are out to get us. We do respect them, notice them, and work with them. 

Laura
lauragilesp@gmail.com

Laura grew up with animism. She is a co-founder of Pan Society, a licensed clinical social worker, author of Angel Whispering: How to Talk to Your Spiritual Guides and How To Be A Panist: A Guide to Creating a Modern Animist Lifestyle. She also facilitates spiritual pilgrimages. For more information about Laura Giles, see her websites at http://www.lauragiles.org

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