Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

For the Files: "Bioregional Animism in 5 Mins." Video

DruidCarol & I have been organizing a "Pagan Ways Discussion Series" for our small Anchorage pagan community. Many of us have been noticing how much time we spend DO-ing (organizing, planning, executing...) & how little time we spend just being together, understanding one another, being people-creatures & sharing our lives. So, we decided it was time to create an outlet for some of the understanding & sharing. We have other thoughts for less formal social time too, but... baby steps.

Our synopsis of the series looks something like this:
"The goal of this new meetup series is to spend more time together sharing & discussing our individual beliefs, values, traditions, ceremonies, etc. Each event in this series will feature short presentations by two community members who have similar &/or complimentary belief systems. These talks will be followed by a generous, moderated discussion period, allowing for free-flow of ideas, questions & new discoveries."
Of course, Carol & I will be the guinea pigs for the first discussion. Druidry & animism will work nicely together as a discussion pairing. We think. We hope. We figured by going first we can provide a model & hopefully inspire some others to sign on. 

I am really looking forward to finding out more about the people around me -- our family has reached its two-year anniversary with this community, yet I cannot say I know very much about anyone else's personal practice. I think we suffer from the same phenomenon my L.D.S. friends & acquaintances have complained about -- always busy, busy, busy with this activity, committee, event planning & never, ever finding the time to talk, to nurture, to listen. I don't know about anyone else, but I really don't want to follow that path.

What does this have to do with "Bioregional Animism in 5 minutes"? 

Recently I was reminded of the video by a post over at Naturalistic Pantheist Musings. Always so nice to re-discover! In the process of writing up my "tradition summary" for the event announcement, I realized that it would make a nice supplement to my introduction. This beautiful video has been around for a few years now. I wander across it from time to time & always think to myself, "You really should bookmark that or something...It has been several days since I wrote up my introduction to animism, but the video tab remains open because I keep hoping to save it somewhere this time... I believe I will just stash it here, "for the files."

Bioregional animism in 5 min.

Also for the files, my speaker's summary, which is largely a re-worked & abbreviated version of my "What is animism?" essay: 

"Derived from the Latin word anima, which means "life," "soul" or "breath," animism recognizes Spirits & a Spirit World inherent in our physical world. Animists attribute a soul to life-forms, inanimate objects & natural phenomena. Animism does not demand complex theologies, execution of rote ceremony, or intricate cosmologies to explain the universe. Some might view animism as primal, unstructured, or even primitive. To some extent, these are accurate descriptors, but animism is also organic, intrinsic & grounded.
Animism is rooted in a very basic, instinctual reverence for, understanding of & connectivity within our world. It is the process of being at home on this planet, embracing being part of a greater, interdependent network & participating in rich, reverential relationships with other sentient beings. Animists tend to celebrate these relationships with spontaneous, intuitive ceremonies, or 'worshipful acts' rather than formal rituals or rites.
Animism is present in many pagan belief systems (notably, various indigenous tribal traditions, Voudou & Shinto) & some animists employ techniques used in Shamanry. But, animism by nature is not a religion. This makes it very compatible with (& frequently inherent in) many new pagan traditions as well as a variety of "theisms" (i.e., polytheism, pantheism, etc.) Yet, animism can also be employed as an independent praxis.
At its most basic, animism is a mode of thought which can be manifested through a conscious life-style, or "lifeway." Since animistic thinking & lifeways can be extended to interpret, understand & ultimately interface with that which the practitioner values as sacred, animism can naturally be used to develop a spiritual practice.
Animism, (some prefer "new animism" or "bioregional animism") lacking formal structure, hierarchy or pedagogy, requires a great deal of independence & trust in one's own creative & intuitive abilities. It is not well suited for seekers interested in formal training, a pedigree or a written tradition. But, if you are comfortable with improv ceremony, feel a spiritual connection to all things & wish to enrich your relationships with the other than human world, animism might be a rewarding practice for you.

Note: Other animists may differ in their interpretation, approach, usage of the term & its meanings. Some prefer to focus on the naturalistic "personhood" within our world, rather than "spirithood." These variations are completely natural. Animism is about relationships & relationships are very individual & very personal."

It might need revision. Feedback anyone?


Chas S. Clifton said...

Thanks, I would like to share this post with a few people.

Moma Fauna said...

My pleasure.

When I first saw this video, I had all these "buts..." After shifting to a more purely animist practice, I return to this video & think, "Oh, yes. That makes so much sense now." I can see why it did not in the beginning, however. I remember balking at the rejection of the term "religion" (one which took so much effort for me to accept as non-religious person becoming Wiccan that I was reluctant to give it up in the aftermath). I also recall really struggling with the unstructured-ness (again, Wicca's influence, I suspect). But, I find now that the video is a pretty apt synopsis of my practice/system, at least academically.

I made a few changes to the speaker summary before posting it to our community forum. I have added those changes above. It wasn't much except to add some examples of pagan systems/practices that employ animism (mostly for people to have a point of reference) & to mention the "naturalistic" approach to animism which isn't my way personally, (I am more of a literal animist), but I felt it would be helpful to illustrate that animism has a variety of personal approaches.

Hopefully our community discussions & perhaps even this post will be useful to some other folks out there. Writings on animism & it's related subject matter are so difficult to come by, particularly on the internet. Maybe it because all the animists are busy being in relationship. ;)

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