A little while ago, I began work on a very long complicated article on animism and soul mechanics, but I’ve decided it would get very technical and thus conducive to creating brain ache. I’ve thus decided to present a shorter simpler form, because I know many people would find it hard to get inspired by something that involves a lengthy explanation of soul types, how they form, which ones can grow and which don’t, which linger and which don’t, what each contains, etc. etc., plus a look at indigenous animistic worldviews and science, such as integrated information theory. All of that is interesting, but a worldview isn’t intellectual. It is experienced, felt, and engaged with. Animism has remained an anthropological term without really making the core of it accessible, because it has been buried under jargon. Then again, Animism,, known by that term, is a academic model developed by the British anthropologist Sir Edward Tylor in his book “Primitive Culture”, which was published in 1871. It is vitally important to highlight the origin of the term, because, at its very root, it does not signify any cultural or linguistic paradigm. One could argue that, because of this, there is no such thing as a standalone “animist” or “animism” in the strictest sense of the word. Without a cultural and linguistic context giving name and form to things, animism is a shell, a broad, simplistic, and sterile theoretical outline without substance or nuance. Simply put, culture and language are necessary to define and give form to an animistic worldview.
So yes, no lengthy explanations, no copious referencing, quite simply, animism 101 as I see and live it; using dialectal Proto-Germanic terminology. Wunskī miz spodi!1
- Ferhwa “life force” is the ubiquitous nourishing force. It can be found in the forms of air, warmth, light, electricity, and information. In and of itself, it’s entirely passive.
- Andô “breath, soul, spirit”, contained within the līkahamô “physical form” of every living thing, is the active mover of ferhwa. It can absorb one or more of its forms, contain it, possibly transform it, and release it. The related term andî “animism” quite simply designates this as the core concept, the measuring and qualification of breath, soul, spirit.
- Bisinnaz “consciousness” is the awareness of ferhwa and how the andô and līkahamô perceive and interact with it. Stored bisinniz becomes gahugdiz “memory” that informs future actions, including feelings of anticipation, fear, happiness, etc.. This is easy to see in animals and plants responding to their environment; maximising their intake of air, light, information, etc. for the purpose of survival. On the other hand, a stone, which could be argued to be a separated part of the Earth’s greater līkahamô, can still absorb, contain, and release heat, but whether it is conscious is not directly obvious. When you pick up a stone, the ferhwa that it contains, and is releasing, does cause an interaction between its andô and yours, leading to…
- Wehtiz2 “thing, spirit, wight” is a manifestation of transferred ferhwa caused by direct interaction between two or more andaniz. A wehtiz’s līkahamô can be a more passive form of andô, such as stones, but also contained locations, like a room or house. Basically, anything of which the bisinnis is not directly obvious. For example, a room’s atmosphere is completely non-physical, but it can be influenced by actions that take place within that demarcated space; a quite literal process of absorption, transformation, and release that others can pick up on.
- Aihter3 “spirit master” is a wehtiz-like entity that forms on a large scale; a unified gestalt linked to a collective: a grove, a forest, a stream, a river, a lake, a piece of shoreline, a sea, a hill, a mountain, but also social or man-made concepts like a family, group of people sharing an activity, a demographic, a village, a town, a neighbourhood in a city, all the way to an entire nation or even species. When an aihter has become fixed and given a līkahamô through anthropomorphisation or symbolic representation, they could be considered to be a single or multiple divinity. As an example, the many Matronæ, river deities, or well, any god really, exactly fit this concept.
Woo! I managed in 506 words (just the explanation plus footnotes, minus the intro and this bit), but, in essence, that is the synopsis of my animistic worldview. There are, of course, many many many many nuances and layers, but that is it, in all it’s (I hope) fairly simple glory.
- “Wish me luck!” ↩
- The word derives from *weganą “to move, carry” plus a result suffix *-þiz. It’s identical to *wehtiz “weight”, being the perception of mass obtained when moving or carrying a given item. In this same vein, a wehtiz contains the perception of fehrwa; warmth, electricity, information, etc.. Consider, for example, a painting or book, which contains information that, in combination with your consciousness and memory, evokes physical, mental, or emotional reactions. ↩
- Literally “owner”, and somewhat cognate with genius loci, though it can extend past this in various ways. ↩