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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

Increasing numbers of Pagans are identifying themselves as animists or naming their worldview as animism. Some Pagans use the term animism to refer to one strand within their Paganism, while others identify it as the most appropriate label for everything they do.

GRAHAM HARVEY, "Animist Paganism", Handbook of Contemporary Paganism

Animism is far from primitive, nor is it about pre-modernity because animism does not serve as a precursor to modernity. Rather animism is one of the many vitally present and contemporary other-than-modern ways of being human.

GRAHAM HARVEY, Animism: Respecting the Living World

For an urban people the British remain remarkably well disposed towards farmers. This is surprising since the only time most of us encounter them is in a traffic queue behind a crawling slurry wagon on the morning we are late for work.

GRAHAM HARVEY, The Killing of the Countryside

Magic is often lampooned, usually by those who know little about those who practice it, how it works, how its successes and failures can be explained, and how it relateds to religion or science. Apart from those Christians who associate magic with their devil, this denigration is a hangover from when magic was considered a primitive phase of human cultural evolution. According to this prejudice, a primitive belief in magic was followed by the growth of religions and then, quite recently, by progress towards proper scientific experimentation and rationality. In this context, saying that you work magic is like admitting to superstition.

GRAHAM HARVEY, What Do Pagans Believe?

The old usage constructed animists as people who did not or could not distinguish correctly between objects and subjects, or between things and persons. This new animism names worldviews and lifeways in which people seek to know how they might respectfully and properly engage with other persons. Knowing that people, human and other-than-human, can be deceitful and devious, and that there are tricksters and anti-social persons in the world, means that it is important to look out for masks, illusions, deceptions, tricks of perception and false claims. Knowing that relationships and reality are fraught with ambiguity means that it is important to attend to stories and their endless ramifications rather than seek the difinitive closure of creeds or conclusions. Knowing that some people might want to eat us means that it is wise to be cautious as well as constructive in our respectful encounters with other persons.

GRAHAM HARVEY, preface, Animism: Respecting the Living World

Animism is worth considering (a) because it exists, (b) because it addresses contemporary issues and debates, and (c) because it clarifies, in various ways, the argument that the project of modernity is ill-conceived and dangerously performed.

GRAHAM HARVEY, preface, Animism: Respecting the Living World


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