quotations about animism
All creatures are merely veils under which God hides Himself and deals with us.
MARTIN LUTHER, Watchwords for the Warfare of Life
Animists are people who recognize that the world is full of persons, only some of whom are human.
GRAHAM HARVEY, preface, Animism: Respecting the Living World
I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.
WALT WHITMAN, "Song of Myself", Leaves of Grass
We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.
CARL SAGAN, Cosmos
Equally confused is the common lay definition that the animist believes there is "spirit" in everything. On that basis, animism is often deposited into the box of dualistic faiths without further consideration. For such spirits are not thought of as breath; here spirit and soul are conflated and the spirit of a mountain, a waterfall, a tree, is imagined to be a discarnate soul, resident in -- but separable from -- the physical form. While the dualist of a monotheistic tradition may consider the immaterial soul to be found only in human beings, and occasionally more recently in other mammals, the animist is assumed to believe that same concept of soul present in a much wider selection of bodies within nature, perhaps every body. To someone looking at animist ideas from outside, such beliefs may seem close to the immature response of a little child still wondering at how the world around him might respond. Yet such a view of animism is childish; it equates to the notion of Yahweh as an old man on a cloud. It is religious metaphysics drawn with fat, colourful crayons. Such a cartoon begins with an entirely erroneous understanding of spirit.
EMMA RESTALL ORR, The Wakeful World: Animism, Mind and the Self in Nature
So we will share this road we walk,
And mind our mouths and beware our talk,
'Till peace we find, tell you what I'll do,
All the things I own I will share with you,
And if I feel tomorrow like I feel today,
We'll take what we want and give the rest away,
Strangers on this road we are on,
We are not two, we are One.
THE KINKS, "Strangers"
Animism is by many regarded as the earliest form which religion took, and as the root from which was derived all religious beliefs which the world has known, and was also the earliest basis of all that is dignified by the name of culture.
GEORGE WILLIAM GILMORE, Animism: Or, Thought Currents of Primitive Peoples
Every purely natural object is a conductor of divinity, and we have but to expose ourselves in a clean condition to any of these conductors, to be fed and nourished by them. Only in this way can we procure our daily spirit bread.
JOHN MUIR, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.
ALBERT EINSTEIN, letter to Robert Marcus, a distraught father who asked Einstein for some comforting words after the death of his young son, Feb. 12, 1950
Modern materialists and religious extremists alike lack the spiritual animistic reverence for non-human beings that every culture once understood as a given.
ZEENA SCHRECK, Beatdom, #11
Once the idea of a supernaturalistic creation is fully overcome, the idea returns that the universe must be self-organizing and therefore composed of self-moving parts. Also, insofar as dualistic assumptions are fully overcome and human experience is accepted as fully natural, it begins to seem probable that something analogous to our experience and self-movement is a feature of every level of nature.
DAVID RAY GRIFFIN, God and Religion in the Postmodern World: Essays in Postmodern Theology
Everything that has ever lived, plant or animal, dates its beginning from the same primordial twitch. At some point in an unimaginably distant past, some little bag of chemicals fidgeted to life. It absorbed some nutrients, gently pulsed, had a brief existence. This much may have happened many times before. But this ancestral packet did something additional and extraordinary. It cleaved itself and produced an heir. A tiny bundle of genetic material passed from one living entity to another, and has never stopped moving since. It was the moment of creation for us all.
BILL BRYSON, A Short History of Nearly Everything
God writes His Gospel not in the Bible alone, but in trees and flowers and clouds and stars.
MARTIN LUTHER, Watchwords for the Warfare of Life
All living things are individual instruments through which the Mind of the Universe thinks, speaks and acts. We are all interrelated in a common accord, a common purpose, and a common good. We are members of a vast cosmic orchestra, in which each living instrument is essential to the complementary and harmonious playing of the whole.
J. ALLEN BOONE, Kinship With All Life
Our beliefs are rooted deep in our earth, no matter what you have done to it and how much of it you have paved over. And if you leave all that concrete unwatched for a year or two, our plants, the native Indian plants, will pierce that concrete and push up through it.
JOHN LAME DEER, Seeker of Visions
We have the ability to look back and try and awaken the part of ourselves that has been buried by domestication: the civilizing process. We can see that there is something about the nomadic gatherer-hunter existence that just worked. We can see that this was broken down by sedentism, domestication, surplus, and those breakdowns would solidify further with horticulture, the creation of states, agriculture and even more so with industrialism and technological modernity. Something about these steps took away our autonomy. They made us dependent. Supposedly we were freed from the barbarism of self-determination toward the new Freedom of work and a world of stuff. We sold egalitarianism for plastic.
KEVIN TUCKER, Against Civilization
Anything that has a shape will crumble away. Anything in a flock will disband. We are all like bees, alone in this world, buzzing and searching with no place to rest. So we offer this prayer: "Delusions are as various as reflections of the moon on a rippling sea. Beings so easily become caught in a net of confused pain. May I develop compassion boundless as the sky, so that all may rest in the clear light of their own awareness."
BARDO THODOL, The Tibetan Book of the Dead
The distinction between life and lifeless is a human construct. Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4000 million years ago. Remember our childhood as minerals, as lava, as rocks? Rocks contain the potentiality to weave themselves into such stuff as this. We are the rocks dancing. Why do we look down on them with such a condescending air? It is they that are an immortal part of us.
JOHN SEED, Thinking Like a Mountain
The nomadic gatherer-hunters live in an entirely sacred world. Their spirituality reaches as far as all of their relations. They know the animals and plants that surround them and not only the ones of immediate importance. They speak with what we would call "inanimate objects," but they can speak the same language. They know how to see beyond themselves and are not limited to the human languages that we hold so dearly. Their existence is grounded in place, they wander freely, but they are always home, welcome and fearless.
KEVIN TUCKER, Against Civilization
[The] animistic perspective has a long and distinguished philosophical pedigree. For some eminent philosophers such as Spinoza and Leibniz, and more recently Alfred North Whitehead, it was inconceivable that sentience (subjective consciousness) could ever emerge or evolve from wholly insentient (objective, physical) matter, for to propose this would be to believe in a fundamental division or inconsistency within the very fabric of reality itself. Therefore each of these philosophers considered matter to be intrinsically sentient. The new animism that they espoused simply recognizes that the material world around us has always been a dimension of sensation and feelings--albeit sensations that may be very different from our own--and that each entity must be treated with respect for its own kind of experience.
STEPHAN HARDING, Animate Earth: Science, Intuition, and Gaia