Is animism what you make it?

Discussion in 'Animism' started by beyoung623, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. beyoung623

    beyoung623 Guest

    I am new to animism as a spiritual practice. I can't say I know much about it yet, only that it's what comes closest to my idea of my spirituality and connection with the world. And that must be enough for now, because I just want to learn more and more. I'm looking for a community to whom I can come with questions and experiences. Anything someone think I should know for the first leg of this journey?
  2. themnax

    themnax Senior Member

    "animism" is a word, made up by humans. has nothing to do really with any of the diverse and distinct perspectives, swept together for arbitrary convenience, nor realities of the spirit behind them.

    truth is not hiding behind a tree. communities are for emotional support, but they are also places to hide from what is not hidden, though it may remain unseen.

    eyes open, and empecible self honesty, and a kind of sincere resiliance to self injury in its persuit.
  3. beyoung623

    beyoung623 Guest

    Hi, can I ask you a question? You may know what to do, you seem like a mentor type. What does someone do if their spirit animal is being threatened by others and those who are threatening it are your superiors in a work setting? Because having anxiety sure doesn't help.
  4. windy

    windy Member

    Your "spirit animal" can't be threatened by others. Maybe you feel threatened by others?
  5. beyoung623

    beyoung623 Guest

    That makes sense. But I work at a children's science museum, and one of my superiors catches and keeps insects on display, basically letting them starve to death for the pleasure of the guests. Spider is my spirit animal. He catches a lot of spiders. When he does, I let them go. The other day he caught a beautiful black widow and two days later she was still sitting on his desk. Alive, thankfully.

    I find myself being very protective of spiders if I can save them, and that my anxiety rises drastically when I see someone disturbing their nature. I do not know how to go about dealing with this, as I cannot save every spider/animal. I don't know how to calm my spirit down and pray to the earth for guidance and calmness.
  6. windy

    windy Member

    ahhh, now I understand.

    My old boss had a problem with skunks at the store I worked in. He used to catch them in a cage specially made for catching skunks. He would then take them to the river and drown them in the cage. After he started doing this, for 3 or 4 yrs in a row skunks would get underneath the store building and spray. Weird huh. None of the other stores had this problem. The inside of the store reeked for months. Made us all feel sick. He then had an oil spill in the basement that shut the store down for awhile and now has a rat problem. This is all true. This man ended up with prostate cancer, then the "flesh eating disease", and has just had major heart surgery. There is a way of paying for your actions whether in this life or the next.

    I can see why you are so upset. If I worked in a place where they were hurting the physical embodiment of my spirit helper I would quit. Find another job.

    Just know that what you put out into the world you get back. I cringe to think how your boss will pay for his actions. But this is the way of the universe.

    You could also do some journey work with your spider helper and find some answers in this way. :) If you are not familiar with journey work there are some good books out there on the subject. The books I started out with were books by Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman.
  7. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    I don't know where you are located, but if there is a Lakota (I use Lakota to refer to any of the main Sioux tribes: Lakota, dakota, or Nakota) or similar group of people that gather into a sweat lodge community--you might seek them out and see how it fits, If you are in the US, you might find them through a local tribal organization or tribal social services. Many of the Lakota do not mind sharing their traditions with others, because the teachings were given to them for all people. But my advice is to learn from them, and not bring so much of your previous experiences to them, unless you too have a fair amount of NDN blood. Learn from them first, and only share experieces that happen within their ceremonies, for example, if you do a vision quest, then after a time you can start to bring more of your own experiences in. Also they are very sensitive about mixing medicines---so if you do Harner's spirit journeying (like Windy talked about) which, as I recall is a Siberian technique, don't try to integrate into their traditions, or seek help about it with them----over time you may realize that they do the same thing, though in their own slightly different way. But they are very sensitive to white man bastardizing their ways, and plastic shamans cheapening it----and with good reason, their true ways have been tainted so much by white man that they too have a hard time knowing what is right----and spirit gave them these ways for a reason. They will also teach you that working with spirit is a very serious matter, and dangerous when done incorrectly.

    White men can go to their church and pray, and it doesn't make much difference how they do it, or if they make mistakes. But they pray to spirit, not interact directly with spirit. The Lakota go into the sweat lodge, or a house ceremony, or a yuwipi, and they are dealing directly with spirit---so there is no messing around. Everything has a cost---to them, it is not a game, or something you can make up.

    But you can always see if there is a fit there for you----their ceremonies are very powerful. If you wanted to learn more about that---Ed Mcgaa's book, Mother Earth SPirituality is a good introduction, but there are numerous books about and by various medicine men, starting with Black Elk, Some other good ones are Fool's Crow, and Lame Deer.

    I have found Harner's techniques and some others to be pretty amazing, and that was how I got into animism. (It's actually a much longer story than that---I've always searched for spiritual meaning, but had trouble with any institutional setting, and dogma. My wife is a Filipina, and her grandparents were healers. I witnessed some very strange things with her family, a few years later as I was exploring atheism, I found the book on Shamanism by Eliades----suddenly everything that happened to me in the Philippines suddenly made sense---so I began to experiment starting with Harner's books---just to see----it was mind blowing). I have been part of a lodge community for a number of years now, and most of my ceremony and ritual follows that. But sometimes, when I need to---I will still do a spirit journey---just don't tell them about it...
  8. windy

    windy Member

    Wonderful advice. I also started out with the Lakota teachings. I've read Black Elk Speaks, The Sacred Pipe, Mother Earth Spirituality but hard as I may try cannot find anything on Lame Deer. Maybe ebay or kijiji. :)
  9. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    I thought I saw Lame Deer at barnes & Noble within the past year or two. They have a few other books too. I bought Crow Dog and Lame Deer at a used bookstore. Another good book if you find it is the one by, and about, Wallace Black Elk----son of Black Elk. I am good friends with the daughter of Wallace and her son. Her son, Kari Black Elk is following in his grandfather and great grandfather's path, has had visions, and is beoming a medicine man of the 7th generation. They have both taught me quite a bit. They are also related to both Crow Dog and Lame Deer, as well as David Swallow who is somewhat known as a medicine man, and also an oglala chief.
  10. windy

    windy Member

  11. swoosh

    swoosh Member

    i think you should be proactive and work or do something in your community. from their stand on the outskirts of society and look into it. were animals its not a belief its fact
  12. Isadoran

    Isadoran Member

    When I was 16 I concluded that we are all part of a larger fabric of being and that everything contained some sort of conscience and although we are all woven into the same fabric we all contain individualism. I shared that feeling with a co worker who was Tanzanian. She told me that was animism. I hear a lot of people speak of Native American animists but there are many other cultures besides them who believe in it.
  13. themnax

    themnax Senior Member

    well you see, most of these names and terms, like animism and totems, and all that sort of thing, i'm sorry to be the one to say, but they come from people who have never been educated in and by an indigenous culture traditions. and because i haven't either, i don't really feel there's a whole lot more i can say about it myself.

    all i know is what i've seen by living with my eyes open. not getting distracted by all these attempts to generalize things, that each came into being in their own ways in each place that they did.

    there isn't some one true church of animism. there's nothing like that. it doesn't work that way. you can purify yourself and go on a vision quest. or what is meant to be will come to you.

    or you can make friends with people who know the old ways of where you live, or who know people who do, or something like that. in the old time i think that is what you were supposed to do. it was education. just like going to school. and i can't do that because i haven't had that kind of education myself.

    the closest i have, is going for long walks by myself. and when i was really young, i met these spirit people. it won't do you any good to tell you who mine are either. the ones who are for you, you'll find, or they'll find you, when you are able to see what you are looking at, without all these preconceived generalizations.
  14. Spectacles

    Spectacles My life is a tapestry Lifetime Supporter

    I have a book by Lame Deer called "Lame Deer Seeker of Visions" a quick look on Amazon has the paper edition still in print. I got my copy from a library I was working at back in the 70's. They had a few copies and were discarding one so I asked if I could have it. I am sure if Amazon has it you could order it from some bookstore. Best wishes. :2thumbsup:
  15. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake Hip Forums Supporter HipForums Supporter

    I believe that spiders are actually arachnids, not insects.

    The life cycle of all creatures though is one of birth and death. We cant really change that, but of course you dont have to kill spiders yourself. And maybe thats all you can do about this issue.

    A good read. And it is still available.

    Also check out

    "The Book of the Hopi" by Frank Waters.

    The reason I recommend this is that the Hopi have a very developed set of myths and stories which seem to me as complex and developed as anything in the big religions. It is fascinating stuff.
  16. themnax

    themnax Senior Member

    perhaps it is what the traditions you are taught make it.

    you know it takes more then one person to survive.
    well to do so very well or for very long.

    so you have culture which is how people sharing their existence in the larger sense figure out how to be able to keep living in a place or an area generation after generation.

    so learning to be nice to the spirits of a place is also a way of learning how to live in and with that place.

    so it isn't just what you feel like you want it to be, or how you want it to be, as one individual person, but how people get along to make continuing to be a thing that is. and that means relationships with the spiritness off all the all kinds of things you have to interact with to do so.

    so that is where this comes from. so in each place each culture is different according to that place. or that is how it starts out. though now we have our artifacts of great sophistication and we have all moved around and intermixed all the places and people have been pushed out of the places where their cultures came from, or told by people from other places that they're doing it wrong.

    people from other places who by then have forgotten were their own culture came from and how and why it came into existence.

    but every place, if you go far enough back, that is the way, how, in each place each culture came to be, and each place, had its own culture because of its culture coming into being in that place.

    so i don't like terms like animism or totemism or tribalism, because they are made up by people who ether don't understand this, or anyway used by people who have read these people and think they understand something they don't, like its all the same which it isn't.
  17. Anaximenes

    Anaximenes Senior Member

    Interesting in the probabilistic sphere if ever improvable Canniness, it is the completed presence of all stages of the System (like a system of coin denominations) which allows the Idea to be uncovered for involving all the earlier evolved stages. Really the observation is involution of break down into the ever more distant past- appearing to instrumental fulfilling of subjectivity. And the structure, objectively requires only itself surpassed of the existing stage at a 'gap' to the higher 'stage' .

    Structure itself is improbable for subjectively having perceived all kinds of these imaginary forms within: like a field of directions pointing out an isomorphism of numbers, or an isotropic exhaustion of geometry. Which way of explaining is just the subjective, and really living quantity. It eventually dies in Quality in order to justify the lack of the Gap animating a newly organized form.

    But that is also revolutionary, and wholly a human form of Reality upon the Noetic Being in the nothing of un-createdness.

    As such, being uncreated, rather caused; one only lays claim to the self-making . Do we find the ideas of another for the subject'/object uncannily now in un-probably anything else but acceptable. It is possible also to have to refuse the whole Past and start anticipating another universal system.:2thumbsup:
  18. LoneDeranger

    LoneDeranger Trying to pay attention.

    I read this book and it changed my thinking about many things. It's an important work.

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