Generally speaking, we can separate animistic cultures from religious cultures (as in those which have a historical and cultural basis in an organized religion) by separating the so-called civilized from the indigenous cultures. (In this case, by using the term civilized, I do not wish to imply that it is superior by any means. As a civilized culture it is simply based on institutions and has evolved from planter communities that developed into City States.) Civilized cultures, are based on an understanding of the universe rooted in planter culture ethics such as a group ethic and a concept of duality. Western culture, which today is defining global culture, is particularly dualistic in nature. Indigenous (animistic) cultures, on the other hand, are based more heavily on hunter gatherer ethics, which sees the universe as a multiplicity rather than a duality, and there is a stronger tribalistic individualism as opposed to a group ethic. This is true even when the indigenous culture has a long history of planter traditions, even as long as those of the fertile crescent, such as those commonly found in tropical islands. This is, of course, a bit of a generalization. For example, the civilized cultures of China and Japan, are largely grounded in animistic belief systems (Taoism and Shintoism respectively), and have maintained a more multiplistic zeitgeist. On the other hand, European and American cultures appear to have a more individualistic ethic, probably rooted in the Germanic and Celtic indigenous cultures, and later, in the case of North America, a hunter-gatherer-like revival of individualism among the pioneer traditions. Though I would also argue that Western individualism, is more of a veiled group ethic based on elitism, and industrial age greed, and consumerism, and therefore still represents a post-planter culture ethic. Time and again, in Hip Forums and elsewhere, I have expressed my beliefs that duality is a destructive and divisive force that has played out through man's history. Good and evil; man and woman; in-group, out-group; us and them; black and white; God, Devil----these dualistic concepts have started wars, engendered prejudices, oppressed women and ethnic and religious groups, fueled totalitarian control, and have wreaked social havoc in just about any way you can imagine. But I also think that things are changing. I think that there is a gradual rediscovery of the hunter-gatherer multiplistic ethic taking place. Take for example the Deconstructionist Movement, and the Post-Modern attempts to attack and break down binary opposites. The ultimate psychological implications of the modern rise of the feminine is another example. Women's lib may seem like simply a struggle for equal rights and equal pay, but inevitably in the longer term it will have major social implications as masculine forces such as rationalism and objectivism lose ground to the more feminine forces of intuition and subjectivism. Then there is the example of the search for spiritual meaning in the West. It started with renewed interest in Eastern Philosophy, and then grew to include a revival of animistic belief systems. In fact, I see the rise of a multiplistic ethic as a key part of the resolution of the Post-Modern Crisis. But the dualistic ethic is so deeply programmed into our way of thinking that we have a hard time seeing the world any other way. The argument goes that you can't have good without evil. You can't have hot without cold. You can't even have up without down. This dualistic argument is true, but it implies that life is nothing but polarized opposites. Yes, there are good forces and bad forces in our physical world, but there are also kind of good, and kind of bad forces, there are forces that are good for some and bad for others, or visa versa, and there are even those that are neither good nor bad. An animist understands that there is a multiplicity of forces in the universe. His/her world is not one of opposing opposites, where good must win over evil, but rather a world of multiple forces where the ideal is to have a balance. This is why, for example, the Taoist yin-yang symbol, which we immediately understand as a symbol of opposing forces, is in fact, a symbol of two complementary forces in a continuous dance. It is not just a yin opposing a yang, because in the head of the yang, is an eye of yin, and in the head of the yin, is an eye of yang. http://www.hipforums.com/newforums/images/icons/icon32.gif The yin-yang symbol, is far more closer to the Native American medicine wheel of 4 colors, than any dualistic understanding we place upon it in the West. I parodied Western duality in a post on my Facebook page this evening: "Western thought and philosophy, which began to take its earliest shape sometime after the rise of civilization in the early planter cultures, is thoroughly dependent upon duality. It is so strongly programmed into our way of thinking, that we find it difficult to conceive of a world in any other terms. But why should we? After all the world is dualistic. You cannot have a West without an East. ...oh, and a North. ...and a South. ...well--an earth below and a sky above. ...oh, and a center too... Wait a minute--that's not a duality..."