Are you an animist?

Pagan Animism: Exploring Gods, Beliefs, and Practices

Have you ever considered the possibility that your pagan rituals and beliefs may have more in common with animism than you originally thought? Your practices may be connected to this belief system in ways that you haven’t even realized. As pagans, many of us also embrace an animist worldview — but what does this mean?

Join us as we explore the relationship between Animism and Paganism in greater depth: What does Animism mean? How does it influence our spirituality? And why is understanding its importance important for Pagans today? So whether you are new to Paganism or looking to deepen your practice further, read on as we take a closer look at animism and why it matters so deeply.

Defining Animism – What It Is & How It Works

​Is Animism A Religion?

While the concept of animism is often perceived as a kind of Paganism, it’s actually much more than that. It’s a spiritual belief system that is deeply embedded in nature, recognizing the sentience of all living things and honoring the spirit within them. Animism has at its core the notion of interconnectedness between humanity, the universe, and all living things – including plants, animals, minerals, and even man-made objects.

In practice, animism involves rituals such as prayer and offerings to show reverence for nature’s power and to ask for guidance or protection. The belief in animism can be found in diverse cultures around the world, where its wisdom has been woven into traditions since ancient times. Indeed, if recognized by contemporary societies, it may well be one of the oldest belief systems still practiced today.

Nature Spirituality Quotes
Nature Spirituality Quotes

Pantheism vs. Animism

Pantheism and Animism may both be pagan beliefs, but their core principles couldn’t be more different. While Animism sees a spiritual essence or “life force” within animals, plants, and objects, Pantheism is the belief that all physical phenomena are manifestations of a single all-encompassing metaphysical reality.

See also: Do our tools have spirits?

Pagan Animism – Can The Two Coexist?

Who Are The Gods of Paganism?

Each pagan belief system has its own unique pantheon of gods. From the renowned deities of Greek mythology to the mighty gods of the Norse, every Pagan religion boasts a set of beliefs unique to that culture.

Hellenic pagans may worship one or more of the Greek gods. These may be Olympians such as Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Ares, Athena, or even a lesser-known deity or titan. Norse pagans may work with deities such as Odin, Thor, or Freya. Eclectic pagans, on the other hand, may choose a polytheistic path, selecting one or more deities or entities from different cultures to work with based on their varying practices.

Pagan 101 Lesson
Pagan 101

Conversely, some pagans and Wiccans work specifically with the spirits of nature and the elements. These beliefs and practices align rather well with the core elements of Animism, so it’s no surprise that many pagans may choose to practice these belief systems side-by-side.

Are Animism and Paganism the same thing?

Animism and paganism may have some similarities, but they are not exactly the same. Animism is an ancient belief system that sees the world as alive with spiritual presence. Those who practice animism give reverence to objects and creatures in their environment as inhabited by spiritual forces, often revering natural elements such as trees and rivers. Paganism has its roots in animistic traditions, but it has grown into a unique set of beliefs that emphasize the interconnectedness between deities, nature, and humanity.

Whereas animism looks to physical objects for spiritual guidance, pagan practices center around honoring divine energies through ritual and ceremony. One could say that paganism grew out of animistic ideology — both aim to explore the mysteries of life with profound awe and respect — but ultimately they should be thought of as distinct yet related paths.

Elemental Begins and Spirits
Elemental Beings and Spirits

Can I Practice Animism And Paganism Together?

Yes, but this comes down to your personal beliefs.

The two are not mutually exclusive. Many pagans practice Animism in addition to whatever their personal path may be. Some Norse pagans identify heavily with animist values, viewing their relationship with nature as an integral part of their practice and core beliefs.

Animism is unique in that it does not require adherents to recognize any particular deities or gods, allowing for an individual spiritual journey as opposed to strict religious guidelines. This means you can believe in and practice animism in addition to your pagan path, so long as it doesn’t conflict with that path’s core values and beliefs.

Whether or not you’re a practicing pagan or an animist yourself, take time today to consider the spirit in all things around you. How would you embrace the world knowing that each element in your surroundings is not only full of life, but power, knowledge, and even sentience? What would you change about your practice?

Grab your Book of Mirrors!

Now that you know about animism, it’s time to grab your journal and figure out what you believe. Do you believe that the world is alive around us? That even man-made objects can have a spiritual life force? Answer these questions and any others that come to mind in your journal.

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