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    Animism: Defining the World

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    Paulus

    Join date : 2009-08-20
    Location : Yorkshire

    Animism: Defining the World

    Post  Paulus on Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:37 am

    I was just going thru som of mi old notes and came across the following that I wrote on what people call "animism." It was an term which most Victorian and early 20th century religious historians, travellers and anthropologists used to define the apparent religious or spiritual affiliations that was found in traditional, aboriginal cultures all over the world. It was also the defining existential characteristic of indigenous British tribes (though archaeologists who don't gerrout much would argue the toss - but they can rightly be ignored). However, during the 20th century, animism seemed to fall into disuse as an ingredient worthy of discussion - almost that is was merely "an old-fashioned notion", which somehow faded into the cultural unconsious. But its renewal as a cultural psychological primer - or rather, a recognition of it as primary existential relationship we have with the cosmos - is long overdue. The peculiarity is that our animistic relationships ever faded, as both science and mysticism validate it very simply and effectively.

    Anyhow - I wonder what people think of this. I initially added the comment to a site on animism, but know it relates to our prehistoric inheritence, megalithic sites and, specifically, to the embedded cosmological patterns of the people who constructed stone circles, etc.

    Animism is, simply, a natural relationship with the cosmos - however large or small we may individually or culturally define it. It derives from the simplistic relationship individuals have with the natural world: an embedded, implicit psychological response to the world recognized as a part of us, not apart from us.

    As we walk and look upon the motions of a stream (for example), when we sit with it, there arises a simple feeling: a wonder, a curious musing, a relaxation, a fascination - these qualities relating to the sound of the water, it's reflection of sunlight, the tiny currents swirling, the mossy embankments that define its edges, etc. Each of these ingredients and more can, and do (with some folk) liberate subjective responses - subtle or otherwise - that give rise to an organic notion of that which we've experienced.

    The more we experience Nature, the greater the affinity that engages us, as more and more aspects of the Natural World give rise to similar animistic subjective events. None of these encounters are "religious", but instead gradually define a cartography of the cosmos that liberates ingredients such as quietude, fear, adoration, amazement, and all subjective facets of the experiential domain: from unconscious, to personal, to transpersonal and mystical. No aspect of the Natural World is devoid of the potential to elicit such feelings/encounters. As such, pre-industrial cultures have been deemed as having an animistic view of the world - but we must remember that this is the natural human condition. Because of this realism, old wells, trees, stones, stars, etc, through generations of tribal and social myths, became engendered with 'spirit'-forms: themselves merely names given to these natural reactions and encounters with the world.

    These factors, simply, give rise to what we term "an animistic" notion of the world. The parameters of animism needs to be redefined linguistically to enable it to be reconstituted organically into modern human culture. It's a simple thing to do on a one-to-one basis or on a small scale - but we need to utilise media that operate with larger communicative agility to re-embed our organic relationship with the world.

    Animism is seen in daily industrial life in differing ways: where people wash and tend to their cars as precious things; ladies wear their rings and jewelry, giving them properties of love and memory; people's houses defined as objects to protect - inanimate though all of these things are. Animism has never died, simply subsumed. It is very much alive and well, though operating in a socially unconscious reality.

    Whilst human beings live on this Earth, animism will merely redefine its objective quantification. It is embedded and preceeds all religious systems. Properly explored, mystical realism is the natural end-product of its resurgence.


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    phaeton

    Join date : 2013-09-22

    Re: Animism: Defining the World

    Post  phaeton on Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:00 pm

    I think the word means that everything is animate, or has a soul. So a door would be in a sense alive, and so would a tree ... probably stones and pebbles too, certainly rivers and perhaps lakes ... and the sun and the moon. There is a lovely film (was on VHS now on disc) called 'Dersu Uzala' about some industrial-urban culture Russians who encounter a Siberian hunter and the culture clash which ensues, it highlights the view moderns have of nature contrasted with the highly imaginative, subjective world of certain hunter-gatherer cultures.

    Dersu Uzala

    This old film might be on the Tube now?

    P
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    QDanT

    Join date : 2011-05-29
    Location : Earby used to be in Yorkshire

    Re: Animism: Defining the World

    Post  QDanT on Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:13 am

    Great Film downloaded it free a few years ago from a Russian Film archive not a Pirate site they were restoring old films and wanted to preserve the film heritage.
    But the Book is even better, I've read it a few times now and often pick it up and read a couple of pages at random before bedtime
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dersu_Uzala_%28book%29


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    phaeton

    Join date : 2013-09-22

    Re: Animism: Defining the World

    Post  phaeton on Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:23 am

    Dersu Utzala of the Nanai People, we have a great deal to learn from cultures which have preserved (until recently) a way of living little changed from Mesolithic times. If we want to understand how our distant ancestors thought and saw the world around them, a study of hunter-gatherer cultures may surely gain us some insight?

    Thanks,

    P
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    Paulus

    Join date : 2009-08-20
    Location : Yorkshire

    Re: Animism: Defining the World

    Post  Paulus on Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:31 pm

    I've never heard of the Dersu Uzala film before - but it looks right up my street. I'll definitely download & watch that when I get back outta the mountains. Cool 
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    Paulus

    Join date : 2009-08-20
    Location : Yorkshire

    Re: Animism: Defining the World

    Post  Paulus on Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:56 pm

    OMG!!! I've just seen that the director of Dersu Uzala is Akira Kurosawa!!! kisses  Jeeezzz.....I can't wait to watch that. His films, Ran and Throne of Blood are some of the best films ever made. spot-on 
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    phaeton

    Join date : 2013-09-22

    Re: Animism: Defining the World

    Post  phaeton on Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:48 am

    The Dersu Uzala film is brilliant, I haven't read the book (shame) but I think I ought to. It's one thing to read about shamans by authors like Mircea Eliade but the Dersu film gives you a celluloid peek at the animistic mindset. The folk who inhabited Britain during the Mesolithic period probably thought in a very similar way to Dersu which means that their outlook would have underpinned that of the henge builders, it is an exciting prospect: Stuart Piggott more or less hinted that in his 'From South Siberia to Salisbury Plain' paper of the early 1960s.

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