Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Animist Monday

Every aspect of my life is founded on the unshakeable belief in the sacredness of everything. I am, in the old-fashioned sense of the word - an animist.

 I wrote that and then wondered what I meant by 'the old-fashioned sense of the word'. It seems to me that there is an idea or a feeling amongst those who would perhaps describe themselves as Animist now (and I'm delighted to say that number is growing) that only the 'natural' world has Spirit - human creations do not; cars don't, houses don't, businesses don't. But to my mind, in order to be authentically animist, we need to concur with the notion that everything is made up of the same stuff, everything is connected, everything is containing of and contained in Spirit. Everything.

Wikipedia gives this rather lovely definition of what it is to be an animist - "Animism is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even words—as animated and alive." Amen to that! So I guess I'm an animist in the modern sense of the word too! 

When we perceive that the world is alive, every last bit of it, then we start to live in a constant conversation - a reciprocity between ourselves and everything that is not ourselves, understanding that 'they' all have their needs, their place, their ways of being which may or may not be harmonious with our own. 

So what is the conversation you would like to have - for example - with your job, your house, your garden? What about your conversation with money? Or the one with the food you eat? 

That's nettle and wild garlic soup thickened with lentils. I give back my gratitude and a song when I pick the nettles and wild garlic, having asked if it's ok to do so. The lentils are organic and from Europe, so I hope they were farmed kindly, but I don't know, so I offer them a blessing and of course my gratitude for their life sustaining presence in my bowl.

If you're talking to your house, are you going to stand there an complain about how ugly the paint is, or how horrible the neighbours are... or are you going to thank it most gratefully for keeping the rain off you as you sleep, for keeping you warm, protecting you from the elements, giving you a place to be, to call home, however humble or imperfect? 

If you're talking to your breakfast, does it matter if it was covered in chemicals and transported half way round the world to get to you? Do you need to apologise to your food for the way it has been treated? A conversation with our own bellies can be a life changing experience, beginning with gratitude for there being anything at all on the plate. 

How might a few moments in an animist mindset change your relationship to literally everything? 

This morning my lovely Treesister sister Tracy Shefras sent me this poem, she had been speaking with a Holly Tree and received these words -  

Be like a child
No Goal No Destination
Simply Present
No Agenda
Life will unfold itself
Into Spectacular Everyday Living
Surely it can’t get any better than That
Finding the Extraordinary in
A mop and bucket
A pair of garden shears
A bowl full of washing up
Surely the Mystery is veiled in The Mundane
The Rote
The Habitual
The Magnificent Present
No need to search for Anything
It's all right under your nose
Have fun just living Daily
Take a moment to gather the required Tools
To Perform
Your Own Personal
Height of Living
Quench Yourself First

There is so much beauty in engaging with the 'more than human world' ( a term created by David Abram I think), so much to gain, so very little to loose.

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