moonvoice: (calm - waterhouses)
[personal profile] moonvoice
Alright, I'll admit it, I've forgotten to keep up with the questions of the week. Here's one though, courtesy of [personal profile] tsukikokoro:

*

Have you been involved in religious or spiritual activities before animism/shamanism? Or, alternatively, do you combine animism with spiritualities not traditionally associated with animism; such as monotheistic practices?

What drew you from other spiritual practices to animism, and/or, what draws you to combine animist practices with other belief-systems now?
paleo: Dire Wolf skull (Default)
[personal profile] paleo
Animists hold the belief that all things contain individual spirits or souls. Even though this extends beyond the beings scientifically classified as living, most modern animists tend to hone in on animals and plants. Most also work with mineral beings, especially crystals and stones. And probably a majority pay honor to the beings of landscapes and weather. A good number also work with place spirits, even some human-created ones such as houses, temples, cemeteries, stores, and campgrounds.

One class of beings that are widely overlooked are items that were fashioned by human hands or human machines. Two notable exceptions to this rule are sacred tools and the works of crafters and artists. This is due to the fact that both sacred tools and art are used and/or created with specific focus and intent. Thus these objects contain a very strong field of energy that is already used to interacting with humans.

I would like to take a moment to explain a few definitions I use for easier communication. The term I use for the spirits of human-created objects is "artifact spirit". The truest definition of artifact simply means "anything altered or created by humans". I prefer this rather than man-made because, while the objects may be man-made, sometimes the spirits in them aren't (but sometimes they are).

I use the term "awakened" to mean the certain state a spirit can achieve where it is at least somewhat self aware and self determining and able to interact with (and possibly communicate) with humans. All objects are ensouled, but for various reasons they can become dormant or never awaken in the first place. Some objects find a need to enter a dormant state very similar to sleep. They may decide to "sleep" as little as a few hours to as long as a few centuries. Sometimes artifact spirits enter dormancy after a trauma.

It may seem odd to imagine non-organic beings experienced experiencing trauma but, in my experience, they can. Especially if they are used to being surrounded by respect and love and then suddenly encounter callousness or violence. A hypothetical situation would be a cherished wedding ring stolen from the finger of a murder victim and pawned. After being exposed to the fear and death of its owner and going from a status of treasure to junk it may shut down. Hopefully, it will catch the eye of a buyer who will once again turn it into a symbol of love and happy memories which may convince it to awaken again.

Artifacts that were created to be disposable often never awaken. Why would, for example, a plastic spork, wish to awaken when it was created impersonally to be identical to millions, used once, and then sent to a landfill? It is possible to help the spork awaken although it would be hesitant to do so once it begins comprehending its usual life cycle and will probably choose to go back into dormancy. (Please don't awaken disposable objects as an experiment unless you will be keeping them for some period of time. Awakening something and just throwing it away is a very cruel thing to do. I did it to an empty coke bottle and only realized the callousness of the action after I had tossed it in the dumpster, for which I still feel bad about.)

An artifact spirit may awaken on its own or a person may initiate the process. It is completely unnecessary for a person to be an animist or have a belief in ensouled objects for them to cause an artifact spirit to awaken. One of the most common ways for an artifact to awaken is for intent, focus, and strong emotion to be placed on it. It is extremely common for children's plushies and toys to awaken. Many people often name their cars, boats, firearms, and computers. This personification is at least a subconscious acknowledgement of the spirit inside the object and a strong bond often forms between said object and its owner.

Technology is *very* easy to awaken and often they are "born" awakened. This is due to many reasons. Computers, phones, gaming consoles, and other tech are often literally an extension of ourselves. Sometimes we even partially merge together temporarily (or in the case of some technophiles, permanently). Technology is also getting closer and closer to mimicking human intelligence and most of society is anxious for the day this finally happens. Thus, many people are already starting to view computers as children to be taught. Of all of the objects that surround us in our daily lives, technological objects evoke the strongest emotional responses, good and bad.

I've already mentioned artwork, but I feel it is worth expanding on. Artistic objects and tech objects, in my mind, tie as the best artifacts for an animist to work with if they are just starting to explore the idea of communicating with artifact spirits. Art, by its nature, communicates with humans. Artists and artwork reflects the archetypes of Creator and Creation which are two of the most powerful archetypes to evoke. Art is always born out of emotion and meant to be an object of communication (even if the artist keeps the piece of art, it is still a form of communication from themself to themself). Thus, the spirits of objects of art are nearly always born awakened with a sense of purpose and a knowledge of how to communicate to humans (or at least a select group of humans).

A very good way to experience and understand the various ways artifacts may be awakened, what personalities they develop, and how they choose to communicate with (or ignore) humans is to visit various museums. Art museums are obvious choices that tie in with my last example, but don't limit yourself to that. I once challenged myself to open up to the spirits that might be found in a military history museum despite my ambivalence towards the topic. I was very surprised by what I felt and what greeted me. I ended up talking to a tank, a rifle, and even a WWII canteen. I met many more spirits who were kind but not interested in talking. And, yes, I met a few who were snobby or even malicious. I encountered many different personalities among those artifact spirits. Pride, sorrow, victorious joy, weariness, boastfulness, love, and hate. I was especially touched at those who still had a connection to the humans they worked with and wanted their stories to be remembered (the canteen was one of these).

I've also sprit-walked (my term for entering a light trance at a place to communicate with the spirits that might be there) in a few different museums holding Native American artifacts. These artifact spirits, in my experience tend to be more reserved and many of them give a message of "I won't talk, but you're welcome to sit with me quietly". Some do wish to share their stories, but some are resentful both of being in the museum and especially of the fate of the peoples they originally lived with. And sadly, quite a few of those artifact spirits had gone dormant. Perhaps it is a form of mourning. Perhaps through ignorance or malice they had been disrespected. Perhaps some of them felt that being in a museum display is a form of captivity that they don't want to experience. I also feel that some of the objects were completely empty of souls, and my theory is that they left to follow the souls of the people they first lived with.

I wish to leave this section on how artifact spirits awaken with something that ties in very well with the topic, something to contemplate. It is a clip from one of my favorite movies, "American Beauty". In it one of the characters, Ricky, shares with his friend a film he made of a plastic bag being blown around by wind. This moment that he filmed had caused a sort of spiritual understanding in him. Whether that understanding was purely pantheistic or also included animism is up for interpretation. In my opinion, what he says leaves it open enough for both to be argued validly.

The reason why I include it here is because it is a very moving and poignant example of a communication between a person and an object that is normally ignored. The focus Ricky gave the plastic bag, the emotions it stirred in him, and the fact that he felt it important enough to immortalize on film would, in my experience, all but guarantee that either the bag was already awakened for some reason, or that it awakened at the moment both it and Ricky decided to communicate with each other.

The theme of "American Beauty" is about reexamining life on your own terms, and while it is full of amazing moments, this scene especially touched me as an animist. I'm by no means perfect when it comes to recognizing and respecting all the artifact spirits around me, but Ricky and the plastic bag opened me up to become much more receptive to the idea. If you have a moment to watch the clip, perhaps it will do the same for you.

epsilon_pegasi: (spirit: eternal serpent)
[personal profile] epsilon_pegasi
Is anyone here working with synthetic and man-made totems? I've been getting strong feelings about Road (general, not a specific road), having worked with a lot of roadkill and car accident victims as a psychopomp it's been a presence in my life for a while now, but lately I've been receiving a stronger pull towards working with Road itself more closely. I'm not really sure how to approach it though? I've worked with animals, plants, rocks, rivers... but never something created by humans, so I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to form a relationship with Road as a totem.
moonvoice: (totem - emu)
[personal profile] moonvoice
It's been wonderful seeing an uptake in activity here again. :) *waves to newcomers*

*

Here's today's Question of the Week, from the excellent [personal profile] faolchu_rua:

What specific teachers / guides / energies / insert word of your choice here, have been most significant to you over the years, and why? Have there been any surprises? Or any teachers or guides that you didn't expect to have?
moonvoice: (calm - woodland path)
[personal profile] moonvoice
This question was offered up by the awesome [personal profile] tsukikokoro.

*

What, if any, texts do you rely on for spiritual guidance? Have those texts changed over time? Are there any you're interested in exploring in the future?

*

As always, feel free to answer here, in your own journal, or both! Discussion is welcome and encouraged. :)
moonvoice: (wildspeak - teczejazi)
[personal profile] moonvoice
I'm hoping to revive this community by offering a question once a week, and sometimes topics or articles of discussion. Also, the profile page has been revised and is more open and welcoming than it was. There is now only one rule, and that will only be changed at a time when this community becomes active enough to require it.

This week's question for discussion (feel free to answer here and on your own journal, if you like!)

How does your spirituality manifest these days?

Things change, after all. How different is it now compared to when you first realised you were an animist? Do you find your practices are more active than ever, or do you find, instead, that things have become dormant, or have you changed faiths, or changed the way you practice?

Is your spirituality helping you, or is it more of a dormant tool? Is it something you want to get back to, or do you sometimes feel you have too much of it! :)

*

My own answer. )

Looking forward to your answers!
moonvoice: (calm - moon-flower)
[personal profile] moonvoice
Hi folks, and welcome (or welcome back) to [community profile] the_animist

Here's some quick questions to get everyone started off and familiar with each other.

Are you an animist? And if so, what sort of animist are you? Do you believe that everything has a soul or spirit, or just some things? Do you go as far as believing that individual words or names have souls, or do you restrict it to 'animal/plant/mineral?'

Has your beliefs in animism changed over time, or have you expanded or contracted your view of animism because of experiences or different encounters with theory or philosophy? Do you know many other animists in person or on the internet, or is it something that you experience in a more solitary way, or a bit of both?
[identity profile] compatriots.livejournal.com
My immediate family attends a Baptist church. They are unaware of my differing spiritual beliefs, and were I not sick right now I would be preparing to leave for day three of the church's mission conference with them. Earlier today I picked up one of the little booklets that has information about the attending missionaries and began to flip through it, and a page titled "What is animism?" caught my attention. Here is a link to the article online.

Any thoughts? I'm a newbie to the animist community admittedly, but have yet to run into anyone who views life as "everything in the universe as warring against each other to become the deity or king of the hill." Granted this article is talking about cultures where animism is the dominant belief, and beliefs are certainly different between cultures. Not that everything in my universe is happy dancing through fields of flowers with other spirits, but I'm not concerned with tricking them in order to fight my way to the top of whatever spiritual mountain.

I am just mildly curious if any of you had this warring view on life, or anything to say. Being stuck at home has left me bored and itching for something to talk about, hah, so forgive the lack of pressing questions or serious thoughts in this post.

- Teagan
[identity profile] moonvoice.livejournal.com
x-posted to my own journal.

One of the things that's hard to find in contemporary shamanic practices (especially if you're not a Core shamanist), is a sense of community. Whether that be online, or in person.

finding communities when you're a non-Core shamanist )

Prophecy

Sep. 14th, 2009 02:26 am
[identity profile] paleo.livejournal.com
I have prophecies on the brain. I blame it on the 2012 craze and the fact that every third movie coming out this summer is post-apocalyptic. It all feels like some sort of pre-millennial redux circa year 2000 where folks stocked up on canned goods and awaited a visit from Jesus, Satan, or UFOs. But sometimes I wonder...is there something, even the teensiest bit of something, to this who prophecy business?
I think part of the appeal of prophecies is that many people are comforted by being told exactly How Things Are. To many, believing that the end is nigh is more tolerable than being totally uncertain about what the future holds. I also note that when Westerners turn to prophecy, they tend to favor very dogmatic interpretations. They prefer being told and believing that This, This, and then This will happen. While I'm sure there were prophets who laid things out like that, when I research the older sources of prophecy I am struck by the sense that things are more open to interpretation. Prophecy seems to be like divination on a mega-scale. As someone who practices divination, I know that it is very rare for the cards or the spirits or the runes to smack you in the face with exact information. In divination you learn the flow of the tools you work with and how to sense patterns to interpret the information given. That information can be surprisingly useful and accurate, but there is always a measure of guessing and room for subjectivity. Maybe prophecies are like that.
On the other hand Westerners (even Western occultists and pagans) place high value on free will. Even when we lay out the cards or cast the runes for someone, it is good form to remind them that this is the direction things are going at the moment but there is always the opportunity to change direction. Prophecies are kind of a different animal in that they tend to say "there WILL be war" or "God IS coming" or "the world IS ending". These events will happen no matter what we do. Though I do note that many prophecies seem to imply that choice is still very importantant, that how we react to these events will determine if we survive or not, or if the coming world cycle will be more like a heaven or a hell.
In my rather neutral study of prophecy I haven't found any single dogmatic set of predictions I feel like latching on to. However, I have found some things that make me go "hmmmm". There seems to be a some common issues that are nearly universal. The idea that Earth has ages and that all ages end. The idea that our current age has to dip into a sort of hellish state before it can swing back to a better state. The idea that people will be given a choice on how to react to it and that choice will determine if humanity survives or not. I also find it interesting that within a century's time (roughly starting in 1950's and ending around 2050) many different culture's age cycles are due to end or turn into the next one.

The reason I brought this topic up here is that many traditional shamanic cultures placed a high value on prophecy. In some cultures, shamans were expected to also be prophets. However, today it seems that neopagans aren't that interested in exploring the possibilities and study of prophecy. Perhaps this is because neopagans tend to value free will, or perhaps that want to distance themselves from a practice that has been taken up more strongly by New Age traditions.
So dear community, I am interested in any and all thoughts you may have on prophecy. Things I am particularly wondering are: Does ancient prophecy have any relevance to modern shamanists? Does modern prophecy exist and in what manner? Is prophecy (whether on a small scale or a large scale) a tradition that modern shamanists should look into and/or revive? If so, in what manner? And how the heck does prophecy work anyways?
[identity profile] lupabitch.livejournal.com
A few new reviews up on books with various degrees of relation to shamanism and animism...

The Animal in You by Roy Feinson - an animal-based personality test in book form
Rainbow Medicine by Wolf Moondance - I'm not sure how much more New Agey you can get in five words. Maybe if there'd been "dolphin" thrown in there.
Drawing Down the Spirits by Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera - finally, a book on possession and other spirit work aimed at a neopagan audience!
[identity profile] lupabitch.livejournal.com
Two new book reviews related to shamanism--click on the links to see what I had to say!

Spirit Animals by Victoria Covell

Soul Retrieval by Sandra Ingerman - August BBBR

(X-posted a few places)
[identity profile] lupabitch.livejournal.com
....and another book review as I play catch-up. Click the link for the full review:

Seeing in the Dark: Claim Your Own Shamanic Power Now and in the Coming Age by Colleen Deatsman and Paul Bowersox - Another core shamanism 101 book?
[identity profile] lupabitch.livejournal.com
Have a book review; click the link to read the full review:

Beyond 2012: A Shaman’s Call to Personal Change and the Transformation of Global Consciousness by James Endredy - finally, a 2012 book I can take seriously! And it's from one of my favorite shamanic authors, too.
[identity profile] lupabitch.livejournal.com
Another review of potential interest--click the link to read:

Toltec Dreaming by Ken Eagle Feather - it's derived from Castaneda; what did you think I thought of it?
[identity profile] lupabitch.livejournal.com
It's been a while since I've torn apart something in a review...click the link to see what happened:

The Hawaiian Oracle: Animal Spirit Guides From the Land of Light by Rima A. Morrell
[identity profile] deathofone.livejournal.com
Hello hello.

My name's Azure. I don't follow any specific path, I just do what feel right to me. At the basic level, I consider myself an animist and agnostic. My spirituality is heavy on involvement with animals, spirits, nature, meditation/journeying, etc. The typical things like that. I consider myself as always learning and evolving my personal path. I've realized that I would really like to branch out a bit more with who I know exploring similar things.

Otherwise, I'm 23 years old and unable to work -- mostly due to PTSD and something called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which gives me chronic pain. I'm still working on getting accepted by the government as disabled. I draw and write when I can though.

(x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] totemists . I believe it's a lot of the same people in both groups, sorry!)
[identity profile] lupabitch.livejournal.com
Catching up on book reviews--click the link to see what I had to say about this one!

Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World by Diana L. Paxson

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The Animist

November 2012

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