What traditions/practices do you follow as an animist?

Discussion in 'Animism' started by Mountain Valley Wolf, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    I know there was a thread similar to this a few years ago, but I thought I would start a new one.

    I was gently nudged by spirit into these ways all of my life. I had a lot of questions about my protestant Christian upbringing, even before I was in my teens. I spent many years exploring many different belief systems, and cultures. I sensed in my teens that organized religion, whether from the East or the West, just didn't fit right with me. Starting in my late teens, I moved to Asia, where I confirmed that organized religion, regardless of the continent or culture, was not for me.

    Of course, then there was the 1980's, and my search for spiritual meaning gave way to the search for material wealth. Like many other baby boomers, I did not settle for anything less than a 6-digit income, a Rolex, and many of the other symbols of the time. Naturally, hubris followed, a little later for me than 1987, as I still lived in Asia.

    The life challenges that were placed before me following that hubris made me fall back onto my Christian upbringing, and then without answers or resolution to my prayers, to question whether there was any kind of reality outside of our physical reality. On the other hand, through all of this I witnessed numerous things that told me that there is more to this world than just physical reality. These things were outside of the Christian world view. In fact some of these experiences, actually confirmed my problems with Christianity.

    But these things were just too crazy, and I had no cultural or rational context to understand them. (These were not events that happened within me, but around me. For example, one such event was the healing of my stepdaughter by, what we would call, a witchdoctor.)

    I returned to America, and over time the experiences, and their implications gave way to my rational side which questioned whether anything supernatural could really exist. For some reason, though, I continued my search for spiritual meaning that I had more or less dropped since the 1980's.

    One evening, while sitting in a Starbucks reading the classic on Shamanism by the well known anthropolgist, Eliades, everything suddenly fit together. It still seemed too crazy for the rational side of me to accept---but now I understood the things I had witnessed. I started exploring everything legitimate I could find on the subject of shamanism. I even decided to experiment with it, by replicating some ritual methods for inducing a shamanistic state of consciousness. I was pretty amazed at the results. It was far more powerful than the meditating I had done as a teenager. I bought one of Michael Harner’s drumming CD’s and his book on the Way of the Shaman.

    I tried to rationalize what I was experiencing---I am a big fan of Carl Jung, and I rationalized that I was somehow opening up my ego, which to Jung is a filter, and allowing my conscious mind to enter into the realm of the subconscious, and was therefore coming face to face with specific archetypes. (I still believe there is truth to this, and that the spirit journey is therefore different from meditation and other spiritual experiences, which I believe represents an opening of the ego to allow specific subconscious content to enter the conscious mind).

    I continued to experience synchronicities, and when I needed help---I was able to get results that went beyond coincidence and synchronicity. But I still questioned and had trouble believing what was happening. An existential leap of faith was not good enough for me, and my rational side drove me to continually search for proof, even though it was happening right in front of me. That is until one night sitting up on a hill, in front of a medicine wheel, with a drum, I was given physical proof that, yes, this world is far stranger than our physical reality understands it to be. This proof was a physical object, which I can hold, and look at----a freshly severed squirrel tail. Why a squirrel tail---I don’t know. But I knew immediately what it meant---“Stop questioning---you now have the proof.”

    I was up there alone, I was there for no more than about 15 minutes. I did not do drugs, nor drink. I didn’t black out. Nothing crazy happened---but on the ground, where nothing but dirt existed, I looked away from it, and a moment later a severed squirrel tail appeared---with the end still wet with blood. In fact, there weren’t even any trees nearby, which meant there were no squirrels close by. I don’t expect people to believe this. I would have trouble believing it---but then, it wasn’t meant for others. It was meant for me.

    But the problem with being an animist, particularly if you are white and brought up in Western society, is that our religious traditions have destroyed all they could of these ancient ways. For the longest time, I felt alone in these ways. I had my totem spirit, and it had introduced me to several other spirits who have helped me and provided advice (And it feels very strange to write such things----as if I am writing some new age crap---but it isn’t, it is a very personal experience that I can induce at will through drumming).

    I often wondered about returning to the Philippines, for example, to hook up again with either the Bontoc or Igorot mountain tribes. This time I understood their own traditions from a whole new perspective. But I knew that was unlikely. Here in the US, too many shamanic groups and organizations seemed to be too gimmicky, or ‘new-age-like’ for me. In time though, I did hook up with people---mainly Lakota.

    Today I sweat with several lodge communities, and walk the Red Road based on the Lakota traditions. I am very good friends with quite a few significant medicine people or the descendants of some well known medicine people. Some of these descendants are on their way to becoming significant medicine people themselves. I attend Sun Dance, house ceremonies, hanblechiya (Vision Quest), and so forth. I have experienced a lot of power in these ways.

    I don’t talk too much about my spirit journey experiences with my Indian friends, because they mostly have involved Harner’s methods which are primarily based on Siberian techniques. Many indigenous people are sensitive to their own ceremonies being lumped together with other peoples. And they tend to be very protective of the more powerful aspects of their beliefs---for good reason. To copy them, or try to change the ceremonies, only bastardizes and demeans them. The power it represents is not meant to be taken lightly, nor is it to be used by someone who is unqualified. Qualification does not come easy. The Lakota may not describe, or understand, the spirit journey in the exact same way as a Tungusic shaman. But the differences are not all that great and the parallels are significant. It is easy to see how all these traditions have passed down from that archaic spirituality at the dawn of man’s existence.

    However, I also feel that these ancient spirits are trying to reconnect with people. I see us in a period of, what the ancient Greeks called, ‘kairos,’ a time of spiritual change, or a metamorphosis of the Gods.

    That is my case. I am curious about other people. How did you come to be an animist? What traditions do you follow? What techniques do you use, and have you found them to be powerful? Are you all alone out there as an animist, or do you connect with others?
  2. LoneDeranger

    LoneDeranger Trying to pay attention.

    I've been exploring paths in this area. I spend a lot of time outdoors and am (very) slowly learning some of Nature's ways and the ways of her creatures. I read books about aboriginal lifestyles and spirituality. I seek to gain a deeper understanding of the way of things and to live in harmony with my environment.
  3. paperairplane

    paperairplane Banned

    my idiotic understand is thus;

    confucius is the evil spirit in popular unorganized animistic practice, thought to represent false government, and varying degrees of fascism, dysfunction, artificial conflict, rampant delusion, reccurence of tramautic past, and most of all slavery or extreme injustice, unnattractiveness and infertility, confucius and confucian philosophy

    it comes from within you and not even your family but you specifically, its between you and the universe, moreso the universe is your family and guide than your genetic family or those who look like you

    of course nothing is completely black and white, but the more the universe begins to resemble you in the sense of a follower, the more you have fallen, the more you have lost, but it can be returned, for the entire universe to follow you is death but there is life to death and a life after death, everything is infinite, there is always an endless amount to gain or to lose, and boundless peace coming from neutrality, and ascending and ascending ever complexifying dualities, true flight comes from finding the place where duality is immediately made whole
  4. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    Yes---I think I have spoken about Confucius on this forum here and there, in somewhat harsh terms. It's not that he is evil exactly, just that he seeks perfection and a return to the Golden Age through institutional objectivism. I think that within his writings, there are hidden gems that provide a little insight into the shamanism of the Ancient Chinese that grew out of the overall Ural-Altaic traditions. In particular his views of the Golden Age. Animists should at least appreciate that.

    But he is for the animist, an objectivistic rationalist. In this sense he is the opposite of Lao Tzu who would fit more with the philosophy and experience of the animist.

    His impact is far reaching. The Japanese do not discuss Confucius much or attribute much of their culture to him. But before World War II, the Japanese saw his teachings as a model for education. Education in Japan today, is based on Confucianist principals, and it gave them the power to create the world-leading country they were in the 1980's. But this was because the Japanese, through their education, became very good innovators. The Japanese could take a box and make a much better box, unfortunately, they could not think out of the box. Once they had done everything they could with the creativity of the West, there was not much more for them. In the 1970's and 80's the West stopped creating and focused on profits. Plant investment stopped, cost cutting went out the window, and the West stopped creating. In the late 1980's that changed, but the Japanese, suffering from an education that teaches them to memorize and copy, rather than think, did not do too well once they ran out of things to innovate.

    The Japanese are by nature very spontaneous and creative. You can see it in the early art, and the traditions that have been passed down from their past. But the more infuence Chinese culture began to have on them, the more Confucian philosophy began to gain hold, the less spontaneous the Japanese became. If you read Basho, Issa, or any other of the old haiku poets, you can find an incredible nature-based spontaneity that springs from the heart. But read the haiku of today, and for the most part, compared to the old masters, it is dry.

    The Japanese are known for their sense of nature. In the traditional Japanese home, one should find a very special corner in the main room where a refined simplistic piece of Japanese art is placed that signifies the season, and nature within that season. But this little corner is fast disappearing in modern houses. You can spend a whole year in Tokyo, and the only sense of the season you'll have is whether to wear a coat, or to plan on where to escape the muggy heat, as soon as you get the chance. Objectivistic rationalism dries up that sense of nature. Do you think a Maoist Chinese had much appreciation for natural beauty?

    But Confucius meant well. He sought to recreate the Golden Age as close as mortals can. And he too, was a product of his time.
  5. themnax

    themnax Senior Member

    i wasn't raised in any tradition. hard as that might be to believe, i mean any at all. not just not any indiginous one, but not any of any kind.

    except, how to walk quiet out in the woods and not scare everything else away.

    then, one day, walking alone out in the woods, i met who and what i did.

    that's a bit of a simplification, an omission of details, but that's what that is.
  6. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    That's cool-----it is amazing what is in those woods. If it wasn't for Mother Nature, I'd probably be an atheist.
  7. Liet108

    Liet108 Guest

    For me, what brought me to animism was a variety of personal experiences. What I follow is a mix of Judeo/Christian angeology, belief in the fae, and Shinto beliefs.
  8. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    That's cool-----have you seen my numerous posts under shintoism? I forget the exact name of the thread but it is in this section on animism. I spent many years in Japan and have a deep respect for Shinto. I can see it having a connection to ancient Taoism. They both went their separate ways but long long ago, but perhaps there was an ancestral Ural-Altaic belief system that they shared.
  9. Wombatso

    Wombatso Member

    I was raised Catholic and spent 11 years in their prisons. Umm, schools. At the young age of 7 turning 8 when in Grade 2, I was listening to my teacher waffle on about God and stuff and in my head, I kept hearing my mind saying; Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit! Hypocrite! Hypocrite! Hypocrite! - I decided then that it was all rubbish run by liars and thieves. I barely listened to any religion lesson from then on. When it came to Confirmation, I frustrated the teachers with my complete utter distaste for the whole affair and clearly stated that I didn't want to do it as it was stupid. Looking back at my behaviour, I was always naturally an animist. Everybody thought I was odd for I would take myself over and get ants to walk onto my hand and spoke to them. I'd sit on rocks, sit under trees, play with the grass, etc. That was where I felt at home. Where I felt safe. When I was Grade 5, I started drawing symbols on paper during class. My teacher asked what they were and I told him that I didn't know, I just wanted to draw them. I felt like I had to draw them. He asked me how I felt while drawing those symbols and I replied; Safe. I didn't actually know what I was naturally until I was in my late 20's. My spirituality started to move like a rocket was strapped to me. I am an animist. I have a lot of Native American influence but I'm also heavily naturally connected to Heathenism. Blessings to you and all.
  10. LoneDeranger

    LoneDeranger Trying to pay attention.

    Blessings back at you, Wombatso. :)

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