If, like me, some of your most important relationships have been with birds – or with trees or flowers, amphibians or reptiles, insects or stones, or particular places – you may well have been following recent debates about new animism with great interest. This blog has been set up as a space for musing upon the broad theme of dialogue with sentient worlds, and thinking about the interface between animist spirituality, natural history, and cultural politics, in a postmodern Western context.
I take animism to refer to a sense or belief that the teeming complexity of nature -understood as a matrix of interdependent communities of beings amongst whom humankind exists as a problematic member species- is pervaded by ‘spirit’ (animism in the ‘old’ sense refers to an en-souled world) and/or mind and consciousness, by multiple intelligences, and by relationships of many kinds.
What, then, might respectful relationship mean? What happens when we humans relate ‘spiritually’ to other-than-human beings? What mutual obligations might be entailed? How are we to talk and write about such intimate experiences? How might they inform the rest of our lives? How does an engagement with other-than-human persons, and with the living land, relate to concerns for human social justice?
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Here are some links to previous posts:
Responses to the natural world on my/our doorstep (and beyond): A Right Royal Visit, There’s Toads About, Yellow Bird’s Nest, Late Snow, Praising Limestone, Ground Nesting at Midsummer, Alienated Nature, Representing Invasive Species, Humankind and Ashkind/Shadow over the Ash
A Rare Sunny Walk
On the relationship between animism and natural history: Animists, Naturalists and Spirituality, Peregrine Dreams-1, In the Wake of a Sparrowhawk, also Befriending Beech Trees,
Birds and other People,
Humankind and Ashkind/Shadow over the Ash
and The Personhood of Trees.
On poems and stories about relationship with ‘the natural world’: Two Corvid Stories, Ted Hughes’ Crow and the Battle of the Birds, and Ted Hughes, Shaman of the Tribe? also Notes from the Tuning Fork, Ted Hughes and the Calder Valley, Part-1. also Part -2 and Part 3, and Part 4.
On significant ‘spiritual’/magical/extra-ordinary encounters or relationships with other-than-human beings: Peregrine Dreams – 2, Equinox Greetings, Roe Deer Rite and The Common Kingfisher, a Personal Story, Birds and Me, Two Personal Stories
On various aspects of animism: Animal Rites and Animism and the Moment of Death and Remembering How I Became an Animist. Posts on Animist Ethics, include Note on Animist Ethics, Respecting Other (Human) People, and Those Cruel Wars, Part 1 and Part 2. See also Changing Men?
Responses to books: see Natural Magic, on Nigel Pennick’s book of that name, Relational Magic on Susan Greenwood’s ‘Anthropology of Magic’, Double Death on Deborah Bird Rose’s ‘Wild Dog Dreaming’, The Bioregional Economy, a U.K View on Molly Scott Cato’s Bioregion book, and the self explanatory Handbook of Contemporary Animism, First Impressions.
The Animist Blog Carnival – is a linked discussion of themes chosen by contributors, published simultaneously at the beginning of each month. I hosted the August 2013 ‘issue’ on Birds, and the February 2014 ‘issue’ on Animist Ethics.
The photograph of a Bee Orchid was taken at Conwy R.S.P.B reserve, in July 2012. Bee Orchids not only mimic the appearance of a female bee, but emit pheremones in order to lure male bees into ‘pseudocopulation’ as a method of pollination. The species’ northward spread is being monitored in relation to climate change.All photographs are my own unless otherwise stated.
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