It is the idea that all things, including people, animals, geographic features, natural phenomena and inanimate objects, have a spirit that connects them to one another. Animism definition
It is an anthropological construct used to identify common traits of spirituality among different belief systems.
In most cases, animism is not considered a religion in itself, but rather a feature of various practices and beliefs.
This term was first coined in 1871, and is considered a key feature in many ancient religions, especially indigenous tribal cultures.
Currently, it can be identified in different ways in the main religions of the modern world.
origin of animism
Historians believe that animism is central to human spirituality, dating back to the Paleolithic period and the hominids that existed at that time. Animism definition
Historically, attempts have been made to define human spiritual experience by philosophers and religious leaders. Around 400 BC, Pythagoras discussed the connection and union between the individual soul and the divine soul, indicating a belief in an encompassing “soul” of humans and objects.
He is believed to have honed these beliefs while studying with ancient Egyptians, whose reverence for life in nature and personification of death indicate strong animistic beliefs.
Aristotle defined living beings as things that have a spirit in On the Soul , published in 350 BC
The idea of an animus mundi , or a world soul, is derived from these ancient philosophers, and was the subject of philosophical and then scientific thought for centuries before being clearly defined in the late nineteenth century.
Although many thinkers wanted to identify the connection between the natural and supernatural worlds, the modern definition of animism was not coined until 1871, when Edward Burnett Tylor used it in his book, Primitive Culture , to define the most ancient religious practices. Animism definition
Animism within religions
As a result of Tyler’s work, animism is commonly associated with primitive cultures, but elements of animism can be observed in the major organized religions of the world.
The Shinto , for example, is the traditional religion of Japan practiced by over 112 million people. At its core is a belief in spirits, known as kami , who inhabit all things, a belief that links modern Shinto to ancient animistic practices .
In Australian indigenous tribal communities, there is a strong totemist tradition . The totem, usually a plant or an animal, possesses supernatural powers and is considered reverence as an emblem or symbol of the tribal community.
There are often taboos about touching, eating, or hurting the totem pole. The source of the totem spirit is the living entity, the plant or animal, not an inanimate object. Animism definition
In contrast, the Inuit, Eskimo people from the arctic region of Alaska to Greenland, believe that spirits can possess any entity, animate, inanimate, living or dead.
The belief in spirituality is much broader and more holistic, as the spirit is not dependent on the plant or animal, it is the entity that depends on the spirit that inhabits it.