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Information about Animism

Published on March 9, 2014

Author: patrickpascual3557


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ANIMISM… • Animism (from Latin anima, “breath” or “soul”), belief in spiritual beings. Among biologists and psychologists, animism refers to the view that the human mind is a nonmaterial entity that nevertheless interacts with the body via the brain and nervous system. As a philosophical theory, animism, usually called Panpsychism, is the doctrine that all objects in the world have an inner or psychological being. The 18th-century German physician and chemist Georg Ernst Stahl coined the word animism to describe his theory that the soul is the vital principle responsible for organic development. Since the late 19th century. •

ANIMISM IN NATURE.. • Virtually all animate creatures were thought of as human, with some, as it happened, taking the form of people. Thus, native peoples undertook every action with respect for the spirit of the land, the forest, the animals taken for game, the plants harvested for food, and so forth. Peoples of the Great Plains, for example, felt it was a privilege to live in dwellings covered with the skin of the buffalo and thus to partake of the spirit of the animal that provided nearly all their food. Before peoples of the Pacific Northwest built a house, they asked permission of the earth to disturb the ground, so they could make the house. They would offer prayers to the red cedar if they needed a log for the house. To take animals or trees without making these supplications, or to take more than was needed, was to act irreverently. Such action put the relationship between human beings and the rest of nature in a state of imbalance that could lead only to problems. European American settlers found this all-pervasive animism and deep spiritual interconnectedness with the world nearly impossible to understand.

GOD: POLYTHEISM & ANIMISM • In polytheism, there are many holy beings, each manifesting some particular divine attribute or caring for some particular aspect of nature or of human affairs. Polytheism was the most common form of religion in the ancient world and was well developed in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, and elsewhere. It tends, however, to develop into a form of religion that has a unitary conception of the divine, either through philosophical criticism or through one of the deities in the polytheistic pantheon (assemblage of gods) acquiring an overwhelming superiority over the others (see Mythology). The gods of a pantheon were usually conceived in some family relationship, which ensured from the beginning a sense of their unity. Polytheism probably developed out of a more primitive form of religion (still practiced in many parts of the world) called animism, the belief in a multitude of spiritual forces, localized and limited in their powers, some friendly and some hostile. In animism the sense of Holy Being is diffused throughout the environment.

• A procession in Elmina, Ghana, carries an Ashanti chief’s stools to him as part of a traditional ceremony. The Ashanti people are known for their carved wooden stools, which customarily served domestic and sacred roles. According to legend, Osei Tutu, the founder of the Ashanti Kingdom, was designated his people’s leader when a golden stool floated down from the heavens and landed in his

Religious Traditions in Zambia Young Zambians paint their faces green, the color of plants, as part of Mpika , the traditional feast of farming. Although many Zambians practice Christianity, some of them combine it with traditional belief systems such as animism. Animistic groups believe that all things in nature have souls, and that spirits are linked with areas of land, forces of nature, and objects such as trees or rocks. Worshipers believe that through ritualistic dancing and drumming, they can contact the spirits of dead ancestors or natural entities such as the wind, the sun, and the star..

DEMONS OR EVIL SPIRITS • The belief in evil spirits and their ability to influence the lives of people dates from prehistoric times. Many early people believed that spirits occupied all elements of nature. Evil spirits or demons were the spirits of ancestors who brought harm to living people. Societies that practiced ancestor worship sought to influence the actions of both good and bad spirits (see Religion: Primitive Religions). Some ancient societies, including those in Egypt and Babylonia (now Iraq), believed that such spirits were responsible for the functions of the body and that demons caused specific


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