Second post for the Pagan Blog Project, only 3 months late! Whoo!
Lately, I’ve been considering my own personal views on the world. How things relate, how I relate to them, etc etc. While thinking of what I hold to be ‘truth’, at least at the present moment, I’ve redefined mentally and related more to the ideas that have evolved within me. One of these is animism.
In our Trad, we are panentheistic (which I will probably do another post on later) as well as animists. It’s take a while for me to begin to move into the realm of animism, if part because I was not necessarily exposed to the feelings of reverence for things in every day life while I was growing up. I came from a background of loose Christians, the Easter/Christmas variety, although my mother did read to me from a picture bible every night when I was very young. My family never recycled and we rarely gardened, although mum has picked a bit up later in life, although she doesn’t always possess the greenest of thumbs (she has managed to keep the African violets from our great aunt alive though, if for anything because my great aunt, who has more sass than 3 old biddies put together, would heckle her roundly if she let them die!). I grew up learning to fish with my mom’s long term boyfriend/might as well be my step dad, and he also taught me archery and took me hunting. I never had a good shot, and so I didn’t take it. I was raised to never cause undo suffering- don’t hunt for sport but meat instead, know how to cleanly deal with fish, always take care of the animals in your life. Yet, like many modern Americans (perhaps in other places too, but I can only speak for general southern suburbia) this did not extend to the plant life, or the other objects around me. Of course, we never littered or left things behind at fishing sites (in fact, we’d pick up some things if we had room) but there was no feeling of being connected. We did a tiny bit of what should have been our part, although it was much more than many people I know. I often wish I listened to my grandmother more, for she was full of knowledge about the trees, the birds, the woods. She loved to hunt ginseng and mushrooms and could tell you what birds were singing and what trees were everywhere. She was a southern woman who could kill and prepare a chicken just as well as cut the head off a snake that was near where the children played. I dearly miss her.
All this background diatribe is mostly to show how I grew up, and how I bet many others grew up as well. When I moved to my path of Witchcraft, it took quite a while for my mindset to start to change. Last year was the first time I had a real garden, and I loved it, but I still messed things up. I still didn’t relate to the plants as well as I should have, still didn’t feel them as fellow spirits. I think I am finally starting to get to the point where I am understanding the sacredness of each thing in nature, the rocks to the tree canopy. This, however, still did not necessarily translate into full animism right away. I still faced one large question- how do we relate to things outside of nature?
While some definitions of animism explicitly state that it is the natural world that contains souls, and mentions nothing of things made from man, I don’t feel that this is adequate. I’m finally starting to look at how I relate to objects. My favorite coffee mugs, for instance, have a story of how they came into my life. The books I love and read have their own energies and lives, even if I only know part of them. Hell, even my computer has a life of its own, as I pour so much of my time into it, albeit sometimes more than I should.
Perhaps we can think of our relation to man made objects in more than just a semi disdain that they are ‘not natural’. Perhaps the key to placing them into the puzzle of the animism picture is realizing the relations we have to them. It is how we interact with another person that we begin to know their souls, and so it is how we interact with the objects around us that we start to understand theirs. It isn’t necessary to worship the coffee cup, but we can realize as we hold it tight with its steaming hot contents, that maybe it’s not just a feeling of familiarity when we hold it in the mornings, but a familiarity mixed with love.
Sorry if this isn’t the most academic of posts, but I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately, and sometimes I end up just running in the stream mode. Also about to leave for class.