Thursday, July 30, 2009

Book Review: The Arrogance of Humanism

The Arrogance of Humanism, by David Ehrenfeld

The goal of the Christian religion is the salvation of the soul—without the body. My goal is also salvation, but since I believe that our spirits and our animal bodies are inseparable, my goal is the salvation of humanity in the flesh . . . for at least a little while longer. All my art and magic is for this.

Ironically, it is the humanistic paradigm that may finally be the undoing of our species. No one understands and articulates this better than David Ehrenfeld. His book, The Arrogance of Humanism, written in 1978, is a darkly realistic assessment of the damage done by humanism as a religious force, acting through numerous institutions of culture, over centuries of time.

The foundation of humanist religion is the primacy of humanity in Creation and the belief that everything that exists can and should be offered for our use. It includes a belief in the inevitability of our success as a species and faith in the ultimate value of reason, science and technology. Our unique characteristic intelligence will save us, humanists insist, from any damage we may do or mistakes we may make.

Ehrenfeld explores these and other false assumptions, separates out the myths and realities of humanism, delves a bit deeper into the issues of scientific rationalism and the taint of humanism on efforts to “conserve” the planet, and finally offers his sad assessment of our possible future: nothing short of a miracle will save us from ourselves. Mr. Ehrenfeld is currently a professor of Biology at Rutgers University. I wonder what he is thinking about now, and how he has managed to live with his dark vision these past 30 years?

The blindness and denial of humanists and other dominator followers has only increased in recent years, but I believe in miracles. I believe in the power of magic and art and in humanity’s ability to love. There is still a chance for salvation. Who knows what this spontaneous new wave of animism might accomplish? The delicately balanced environmental systems, through whose grace we live, are fragile but paradoxically strong. As Mr. Ehrenfeld clearly states, we cannot predict how systems will react to change. A butterfly beats its wings in Japan to transform the weather in Chicago. Why couldn’t a rag-tag bunch of pink-skinned and traditional animists seep their magic into the cultural soil and enrich it?

I urge you to read The Arrogance of Humanism yourselves. It’s gone from most library shelves, but readily available through used book outlets. Let me end with some interesting quotes:

. . . people are spending too much time and causing too much damage by pretending that our efforts in politics, economics, and technology usually have the effects we intend them to have . . . [I firmly believe that cultural transformation and the solution to our problems lie in what we call art, magic, or religion rather than in these other fields of endeavor.]

In effect, we still believe that the force of gravity exists in order to make it easier for us to sit down.

. . . deep within ourselves we know that our omnipotence is a sham, our knowledge and control of the future is weak and limited, our inventions and discoveries work, if they work at all in ways that we do not expect, our planning is meaningless, our systems are running amok—in short, that the humanistic assumptions upon which our societies are grounded lack validity.

“Desert-makers” is truly as appropriate a title for humans as “tool users.”

Why is it that we seem incapable of appreciating our own cleverness and recognizing our limitations at the same time?

Ehrenfeld begins and ends with quotes from the Bible, which I appreciate as a religious person. He quotes Isaiah, scolding the humans for their arrogance, saying,

It was your skill and your science that led you astray. And you thought to yourself, “I am, and there is none but me.”

Best wishes,
Puny Human

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A New Animist Manifesto

We, the kind and loving animist human children of our glorious mother Earth, do hereby declare our existence, our worth, and our difference from the dominators and their followers.

We believe that all material being is alive, intelligent, and imbued with spirit.

We renounce greed and the lust for power and we no longer accept any justification for greed and the lust for power on the part of our leaders, our churches, our nations, our neighbors, or our gods. We renounce any gods who encourage greed and the lust for power in humans, and we renounce those gods who are willing to act as ultimate justifiers for human violence.

We, the animist children of Earth, do hereby declare that the future belongs to the loving and the kind and not to bullies and criminals. We declare the right of our children’s children to survive in the flesh and inherit a habitable Earth. We believe it is possible for humanity to thrive on this planet for many more thousands of years, so we will resist the apocalypse of the monotheists, and seek a balanced world of peace and abundance.

Resist Apocalypse!
Love will prevail!

This is what new animists believe:
  • Animists believe that all material being is imbued with spirit, and all spirit is manifest. We believe that all of Creation is alive and intelligent.
  • Animists believe that our animal bodies are good and that life in the flesh on the Earth is good. We rejoice and are glad in it.
  • Regarding the gods, we may be pantheists, polytheists, agnostics or atheists, but we are rarely monotheists and never humanists.

This is what new animists know:
  • Dominators have ruled the Earth for thousands of years and they are driving us to the edge of extinction.
  • Dominators are the elite, wealthy, and powerful criminal class of every time and place. They have worn many faces, and over the millennia dominators have assumed the roles of warrior kings and priests, emperors and royal families, corporations, nation-states, and churches.
  • Dominators have used many weapons to terrorize and control other people and take everything they can get their hands on, including weapons of physical violence and weapons of mental and spiritual control. Weapons of mental and spiritual control include church doctrines, threats of hell and damnation, marginalization and ridicule, pathologizing, and demeaning, as well as the control of cultures and social institutions, and the control of mythologies, the sciences, and what is acceptable as possible and real.
  • Today’s dominators have claimed a monopoly on justified violence in a corporate trust of churches, states, parties, economies, media and other powerful institutions that claim loyalty to and garner ultimate justification from a variety of monotheistic gods.
  • The dominators have wiped out all but a remnant of the ancient tribal animists, but animists old and new may yet rise up and reclaim our garden planet Earth. Gathering our friends and families, we are walking home to Eden together. We shun the glittering toys and material comforts that are crumbs fallen from the tables of the dominators. There is another reality. Look toward the light! The Green God lifts his lamp by the garden gate!

This is what new animists value:
  • We value life in all of its forms, human and nonhuman, lived in the flesh on the Earth.
  • We value traditional things like hard work and deep pleasures, home and family, lifelong learning, courage, creativity, and right relationship.
  • We value kindness and helpfulness and other gentle and useful characteristics.
  • We value nourishing food, clean air and water, safe communities and other things that sustain our bodies and souls.
  • We value time spent in nature, time with family and friends and gods, time to be as well as time to do.
  • We value human children and nonhuman children.
  • We do not value money, the possession of large quantities of things, power over others, physical perfection, competitive success, or celebrity.
This is what new animists practice:
  • We consider ourselves friends and kinfolk with all Earth beings, such as plants and animals, geologic forms, water, clouds, fire, and air, therefore, we take care of our nonhuman friends.
  • We are grateful that the plants and animals sustain us with their bodies and their lives. We practice gratitude with great passion.
  • We practice right relationship with the four expressions of Creation: ourselves, other humans, all our nonhuman kinfolk, and our gods. We reach out to grow ever closer to one another. We practice living together in peace.
  • We practice a radical love that seeks to love even those who hurt us and feed even our enemies.
  • We practice sacred sex.
  • We are co-creators of the Earth plane. Side by side with our Creator, we work to manifest a planet of peace and abundance. We practice a variety of arts and crafts and express ourselves through the act of creation.
  • We wish all the world well, so we practice healing one another and nurturing good health in ourselves.
  • We work, enjoying the effort of obtaining sustenance and serving one another. We work to make wonderful material things. We work so that all may eat. We work to make our dreams come true. We work to express ourselves and to build the muscles of body and spirit. Work is great! Play is great! Doing nothing is also great.
  • We practice lifelong learning. Then we take the power that knowledge brings and use it in the service of a million more years of loving human kindness.
  • We practice magic, and we will work this magic with all of our strength to transform the dominator reality into an animist reality. We work the magic in everything we do. We vote animist. We write animist. We eat animist. Through the power of our magic, we will live the animist reality into existence.

This is what we believe, know, value, and practice. This is who we are.
Long live the kinfolk of Earth! Love will prevail!

The preceeding is "an" animist manifesto, not "the" manifesto. Having worked in a vaccum these past few years, I was not aware of Graham Harvey's manifesto when I was writing this one, but his is wonderful and may be accessed by searching "animist manifesto" online. Harvey's manifesto focuses more on the personhood of nonhumans and our relationship with them, while mine is meant to raise awareness of dominator control and the possibility of cultural transformation. With many similarities and also many differences, both statements seek to inspire others to follow an animist path. Our mutual goal? The salvation of humankind and nonhumankind, in the flesh, on this beautiful earth.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Am a Pink-Skinned Animist: Part Two

I have been identifying myself as a new kind of animist for the past several years, but until recently I thought that I was alone in it. Then, I set up shop here online and was amazed to find kinfolk. Bioregional Animism, on tribe and through their blog, have done excellent work helping like-minded people connect with one another. I recently read the book Healing Beyond the Body in which author Larry Dossey refers to the “new animism.” Just yesterday I started a book by Graham Harvey, and he also refers to a “new animism.” And of course, Glen’s wonderful blog New Animism Info, is a digest of related blogs and websites, that caught my attention recently as well. All fine, fine things.

The fact that we are all independently coming up with this term reflects a growing cohort of animists rising up from the lifeways of the Dominator Culture. Where are we coming from? It could be that growing numbers of neo-pagans, polytheists, and revivalists of tribal religions are increasing in their awareness of the living world and finding a new identity in the word “animism.” Meanwhile, environmentalists, naturists, and other countercultural groups have become skeptical of the predominant world view, leading them to an open-minded search for new ways to understand the nonhumans and the meaning of a life lived in the body on the earth. Increasing communication between traditional animists and dominator people has also opened up new dialogs and raised awareness of animist possibilities.

But all of those are reasons that make sense. To hell with making sense! Here is what I believe: I believe that the trees and the other nohumans are pissed off and miserable about the wreck that humans are making of the earth. If we keep going like we have been, we’ll drag the whole carefully balanced Gaia-system down to dominator hell with us! So, they are desperately trying to reach out and get our attention. They are talking to us. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Now, here we are, pink-skinned children of dominator cultures, hearing the voices of trees and watching the rocks looking back at us. What are we to do with this? The tribal animisms are not ours to claim. We must discover and enter fully into our own animist reality, and if the human species is to have any hope of fleshly salvation, we must work with the nonhumans to transform the dominator world in which we live into an animist reality. Yes, we do have a choice. And this is the project that has me so obsessed!

Making sense can hold us up, get in our way. I’m afraid of the academicians, even ones as sympathetic as Harvey, who write about the new animism using erudite language and footnotes, leaning heavily on studies of other, older animist cultures. It’s not about “relational ontology,” is it, this being awakened in the middle of the night by the stars? Speaking of respect for “persons” shows great concern for correct language, but it bogs me down in disclaimers and creates an inevitable distancing from my tree friends. Persons? I don’t call my lovers persons! I call them Sweetie! Honey! Beloved! The whole academic enterprise seeks acceptance from the dominator community, hoping to “prove” its contentions. It’s great as far as it goes. It may even be necessary and I humbly thank those who would honor animism old and new with their research, but its not my path.

If I sound defensive, be patient with me, please. It hasn’t been easy for folks like me, especially those of us who grew up in the 40s and 50s and 60s. We’ve struggled hard, swimming against the current of science, technology, monotheism, and public education, mired in the muck of the mundane dominator life, enduring ridicule and fearing for our own sanity. In fact, it seems to me that the sign of an authentic animist experience in a dominator slave like myself is the fear of insanity, because trees don’t talk and everybody knows it. To survive, we shut down and numb out. Or we join a fringe group where we can be accepted . . . new age crystal healers, anyone? . . . and even there, our experiences are labeled “trance-induced” or “metaphoric.” My own mother, a dedicated scientific-rationalist, scolded me so incessantly for “making things up” that I stopped trusting my own experience at all. Is the traffic light red or green? Am I hungry? Am I alive or is it all a dream? By the time I was eight years old, I no longer knew what was real and I became easy prey for those who would control me with their certainty. So, I’ve earned my years and my identity: I am a pink-skinned animist! This experience belongs to me, and no one can catalog it or dismiss it.

Let’s keep exploring our animist experiences in this blog. I invite you to share yours. Let’s talk particularly about the experience of animism in a dominator culture, in the here and now of cars, computers, and bad food. I want to be absolutely clear, though, that I write about my own experience and my own gods. I express my own conclusions and beliefs. On the other hand, I don’t deny you your experiences or gods or conclusions and I would find delight and rest in knowing that we have a great deal in common. I suspect now that there are many of us new animists in the world, hiding in shame in our pink skins, holing up among the neo-pagans and the anthropologists. Isn’t it time we found each other? Maybe someday we can meet at last and worship our Creator together, and dance as kinfolk with the trees, and cleanse ourselves naked together in living water.

I Am a Pink-Skinned Animist: Part One

(Note: Part one was written just before I went online to find animist kinfolk.)

I can understand why the brown and red and yellow and black and tan animists don’t want the pink people (commonly called “white people”) to come horning in on their good thing. Pink-skinned people are, after all, the ones responsible for the majority of the carnage against humans and nonhumans, physical and spiritual, ever since the rise of the dominators began. Pink people are the ones who got us all kicked out of Eden.

Dominators have taken over the entire world now, and there are dominators of all colors, but mostly they are pink. There are also animists of all colors living in isolated pockets, holding off genocide for another day, but there are no pink-skinned animists anywhere in the world, are there? Who would want a pink-skinned animist? My own people reject me and no one would trust me among the remnant of the indigenous animists, and I don’t blame them.

Thirty-five hundred years ago, my ancestors were slaves in the land of Egypt, one of the first human communities to fall to dominator control. Later, dispersed from their homes and sent to wander the earth, the families of my ancestors settled here and there throughout the “civilized” world. They assimilated to the local cultures, all of which were subject to the growing hoard of “white” Christian dominators. My ancestors uprooted and moved again and again through the millennia, from one dominator city to the next, never resting, desperately holding on to their books as if they could build homes in their pages.

Finally, they traveled to the North American continent, where a dishonorable history of brutality against animist people was well under way, and they mixed with the other pink-skinned people until my family became a tiny part of the 21st century monotheistic, capitalist, rationalist, Dominator Culture in the nation state of the USA. All ties to any land have long since been broken. My family is thoroughly urbanized, their minds fully enslaved. I am no longer one of them.

So, I live alone, with no human family. Even my ancestors pity me, because I’m so lonely. I’m pink-skinned, but I am an animist. I grew up a slave to the dominators, with pavement underneath my feet, but the pavement is not my home. I have no home. I’m without land to call home, and yet every tree in the neighborhood names me sister.

What am I supposed to do about this? I don’t want to die alone. I don’t want to die without a bit of dirt to be buried in. I dream that there are other human beings like me, and that someday I’ll find another pink-skinned or any-color-skinned person who was born like I was into spiritual slavery in the 21st century monotheistic, capitalist, rationalist Dominator Culture in the nation state of the USA, who can hear the voices of the trees and see into the watery eyes of the cloud people. Just one more puny human to be my brother or sister. That’s why I decided to write this blog. I’m looking for you! Come over to my house. Let's dance!

Midlife in dominatorland

I know, I’ve got plenty of plastic food to eat and tainted water to drink. I’ve got polluted air to breath, so I shouldn’t be whining. I’m here, ain’t I? Bombs aren’t falling from the sky. But hey, I find it a royal pain in the ass to grow older in this dominator world.

Things move too fast! I want them to move more slowly.

Change is continuous, relentless, exhausting.

Too much change, too fast, so that the kids at school and I don’t understand one another. We speak different languages. We come from different worlds, though separated by only a few years.

One is compelled at midlife to pretend that one is still young, so I dye my hair. I wear current fashions. I drag myself on unwanted adventures, when my desire is simply to be still and do the same things carefully, every day.

My rapidly dwindling life force is spent doing the work of the dominator chieftains, spinning my time into gold for their coffers.

What purpose do I have in this insane culture? Who will listen to me, now that I am able to give good counsel? Who will acknowledge my life when I’m gone? To what family do I belong? I don’t even know my own name!

There are too many things. I can’t keep track of them all.

There are too many distractions and stimulations.

And too much noise! I can’t hear the voice of my gods above the clatter and bang of the machines, the insistent chatter of the advertisements, the blaring of the mind-control machines. Be quiet, you bastards! Let me grow older in peace!

My nerves are frayed.

I can’t learn anything deeply, because there is always something new to annoy me. We are masters only in the thinnest of things. We live on the surface. But as I age, I wish with all my heart to go deep.

I want to stay here and rest deeply in this place, not move from town to town and house to house.

I want to eat the same foods every day, changing only with the seasons. There are fifty-thousand items on the supermarket shelves.

I want to master the skills I already have, spending long hours with my pencils and my pens. I don't want to learn to use cell phones and ipods and softwares and techno-toys. Yeah, yeah, I know I wouldn’t be talking to you now if it wasn’t for blogging software, but I’d trade it in an instant for having you here at my kitchen table.

I want to nap in the afternoons, take long walks along the creek in the mornings.

I want to be gentle and loving with my body. I want to take my time.

We are supposed to love change in this dominator culture and seek it eagerly, love speed, love possessions, quantity, complexity, novelty, youthfulness, energy, danger, adventure, change, change, noise and change, or we are disparaged as wimps and losers. Tough shit. It’s time for me to slow down and go deep.

It’s a royal pain in the ass growing older in this dominator world. I have nothing to complain about, but I’m claiming the right of a midlife woman to complain anyway. I’m tired and I want to slow down.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Critique of Humanism

The original definition of Humanism distinguished classical studies from religious studies in Renaissance Europe. The more recent and commonly used definition describes a philosophy focused on humanity. Morality and meaning are based on rational thought, and supernatural existence or authority is soundly rejected. Supernatural in this case, is an academic term that means greater-than-human, nonhuman, or nonordinary.

Many forward-thinking and liberal religions and non-religious viewpoints identify with Humanism. Adherents hope to rescue humanity from superstition and irrational church- or book-based authorities, but I believe that Humanism has tossed out the baby with the bathwater. In their attempt to deliver us from the Dominator gods and their social ills, Humanists have denied the existence of gods altogether, and limited themselves to a murky and abstract agnosticism or a frank atheism.**

I see Humanism as a kind of hubris, an overweening pride, the tragedy of a puny human who challenges the gods for supremacy. Humanism is anthropocentric. It assumes that human rational intelligence is the prime, and perhaps the only, example of intelligent life in the universe, making humans the ultimate arbiter of morality and meaning.

But I do not trust human reason as the ultimate arbiter of anything! After all, it made perfect sense to the Nazis to eliminate the Jewish drain on their genetic superiority. It appears rational to today’s businessmen to raze old growth forests to raise cattle for Mac-burgers. Reason alone doesn’t cut it for me . . . or for Hindus who refer to mind as maya, the great illusion . . . or for Taoists, who would empty the mind to become a vessel for Tao . . . or for psychologists who study the strange convolutions of memory . . .

I’m not suggesting that we eliminate reason from our thinking or revert to a blind adherence to biblical authority, or to any book’s authority for that matter.* Instead, I propose that we listen both to reason and to love, that we see with our bodies’ eyes and with our spirits’ eyes, that we open our minds to the rational and the nonrational—and the nonrational teaches us that there is more than can be seen.

Our culture’s bias against the nonrational is evident. What remains hidden is that we have been given a false choice with regard to diety. We must choose between one of the Dominator mono-gods or no god at all. If we reject the jealousy, violence, and greed of the mono-gods, then our false choice strands us, like the Humanists, in a soulless universe. Then, our only source of meaning and morality is in our own flawed and suspect minds. Now, wait just a cotton pickin' minute! There are lots of gods out there! Choose whom you will serve and follow!

In seeking the supernatural, that is, the nonhuman, let’s look beyond the mono-gods and burst the Dominator limitations. Why not trust our own experience of the nonhuman? Do you see the laughing, ferney, fairy dust that sucks the shoes off horses? Can you hear the trees talk? Trust your experience! After all, if the trees are talking to us and we really start to listen, we might learn a thing or two about humans and gods that the Humanists don’t know.
Best wishes,

* A google search can give you more information about Humanism today. Wikipedia has a solid overview. And Seth’s Blog has two posts related to Humanism that are, as usual, insightful and thought-provoking. (His blog is temporarily offline but I expect it to reappear shortly. Then, you have to dig through his May postings to find: Beyond Humanism and The Shallowness of Secular Society.)

** Perhaps one reason that biblical inerrancy has caught hold of the contemporary imagination is that the book is a symbol of rational truth, and reason has become so powerful that even the supernaturalists are uncomfortable without rational explanations.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Charlie and me

This is a picture of me and Charlie hanging out in the woods the other day. From now on, I'll be posting my cartoons on Charlie's blog (Charlie and the Gods of Love). Thanks to Jack for helping me get the scanner working. M'wah!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Do animists believe in gods?

Good question. My answer is: yes . . . and no, not necessarily. Animism is not a religion, per se, but a belief that underlies most religions, that is, the belief that at least some material being is permeated with spirit. People who identify as animists, however, both historically and today, believe that spirit permeates all beings, not just certain kinds of beings like humans and their gods and pets.

But this belief in spirit does not define what kinds of god-beings exist and animistic thinking runs the gamut on the matter. One may be animist and believe in a monogod, in many gods, or in greater-than-humans but not gods.

Indigenous or tribal Animists have historically focused on local deities and the life-force of their home-place, as well as nature spirits, ancestral beings, totems and nonhuman guides. Our animists ancestors had the good sense to leave whatever lay beyond their sensory experience alone. They were not abstract thinkers, and their animist beliefs were not theoretical. If they believed in talking trees, it is because the trees spoke to them. If they believed in intelligent animals, it is because animals taught them medicine or showed them the way to good water and nourishing food. And if they believed in a god or spirit, it is because that god or spirit affected their lives in concrete ways. As for that which is beyond our ken, if they considered it at all, they considered it Mystery and left it well enough alone.

Monotheistic big “G” Gods were not part of any traditional animist cultures of which I am aware. The so-called “Great Spirit” of the North American Indians, so quickly embraced by the invading Europeans as corresponding to their own monogod, was a creator or father-sky god. He was more like the Creator of my pantheon than the one-and-only monogod of the Christians.* Some folks believe that the Indian Great Spirit corresponds to an abstract life force, or the Spirit-That-Animates-All-Things of which today’s agnostics are so fond, but I would suggest that the animating spirit was so fundamental to American Indian thinking as to be taken for granted. The concept would not need articulation in the form of a god. Animism was apparent to American Indians in the same way that the linear progression of time is apparent in our culture today.

Monotheism, although a choice for today’s animist, is an unlikely choice. Belief in the spirit and intelligence of all being makes possible the existence of intelligent beings at all levels, both lesser and greater than human. If a rock is alive, how great must the mountain be! How great the galaxy! If one may talk to bear or deer, it’s just as likely to talk with Sun or Moon, or with some greater-than-human being like my Charlie or the Place Beings of the Australian indigenous folks or the Athena of the Greeks. The animists of my acquaintance are polytheists of one kind or another, believing in small “g” gods, but not in a one-and-only big “G” God. Or they are not “theists” at all, but see and communicate with other kinds of greater-than-human beings.

I don't think one can be animist and humanist at the same time, without a belief in any gods or intelligent nonhumans. How could the universe be pulsing with life and still find itself intelligence-impoverished, with puny humanity as its highest and most sublime expression? Besides, when you are open to the voices of the nonhumans, the greater-than-humans will speak to you. This leaves humanists who say they have an animist vision in an uncomfortable and untenable position. Either the humanism will have to go, or the voices will have to go, leaving them in a quietly lonely world.
Best wishes,

* My opinion here. I have no references for you.

Let Animist Kinfolk Come Together

The time has come for new animists to come together as kin. Because we are few and far between, it’s not always possible to find fellow animists in our own hometowns. The internet gives us the chance to come together.

I have always lived in an animist reality. The nonhuman world has been alive to me since childhood, ensouled and intelligent. Seeking like-minded people in my youth, the closest I could come to shared experience was with the neo-pagans. For the most part, however, the pagans I met seemed content with staying on the surface. Rituals and pleasures, good times and good friends are all fine things, but they were not enough for me. The neo-pagans I knew looked to other people’s traditions for guidance. They seemed reluctant to trust their own experiences or to enter the frightening depths of the here and now. Not all neo-pagans, of course, but the ones I met.

They also looked at me askance whenever I raised my hands in shameless spiritual joy. I remember after one outdoor ritual, everyone was huddled in protective spaces against the weather. Then, one lone dancer emerged from his tent into the chilly rain to skip naked across an open field.

“Look at him,” said a man standing next to me under the awning, disdain curling his lip. “What a showoff!”

We watched the dancer for a moment in silence, then I said, “Maybe he’s just in love with the rain.”

“Maybe he’s just an asshole who doesn’t know enough to keep his pants on.”

“Or maybe he’s filled with the holy spirit,” I suggested.

“Holy Spirit, my ass. Hey,” my neighbor under the awning gave me a suspicious look. “Are you a Kee-ristian?” He moved away from me and I watched the dancer spin, arms open wide, and wished with all my heart that I had the courage to join him.

The Kee-ristians were the next stop on my journey. The Holy Spirit was beating against my chest from the inside like the wings of a caged bird. The voice of my gods were growing louder and more insistent, and I could hear every living thing now, singing with green voices to the Creator. At least the Christians weren’t afraid of the Holy Spirit, I thought, and I spent five years in an evangelical church and felt understood, because they, too, heard the voice of a beloved god.

But the loving Jesus god of the Christians has long since been perverted and turned to the service of the Dominators. How could I stay in the church? I was saddened by the punishing politics that followed their joyful worship. They hated the animal body and I loved the animal body and our human life on earth, so I left the Christians and went into the woods.

And there, at last, in the woods, I found my gods and my friends in loving profusion. Animism is not a religion for me or a tradition, not a practice or an idea. Animism is my reality. Rocks and trees that speak are not poetry to me; cloud people and tree people are not metaphors. They are real. I hear them. I see them watching me. They are alive, ensouled and bursting with intelligence.

The trees took me in and made me one of their own. Together with the tree people, I formed a circle deep in the woods, and experienced a connection with the divine so deep that it was erotic, transforming, and terrifying in its intensity. I had come home in my spiritual life, but I was still lonely for human kin.

I started reading “groups” on facebook and blogging here. Through the internet, I’ve found a few people who share my experience. People who, like me, find in animism the best description of the reality in which we live. Perhaps you are also a new animist? Then, we are kinfolk, my friends and we should be together.

The best resource I’ve found to date is the New Animism Info blog. The best of the blogs that identify as animist are brought together here. Not blogs that represent one of the updated ancient religions or indigenous traditions (as wonderful as they are and with due respect given), but animists who speak from personal experience in the here and now. We are the new animists. We live in a world the New Animism Info blog calls “colonial” and I call “Dominator,” but we see past the lies of the Dominators to the animist reality, and we are ready to share our vision and come home to Eden.

Through writing, music, art, and magic, we can call the animist reality into new life. We can sing the rocks awake. We can paint and dance and dream and live the animist reality into rebirth.

It is possible. Come on! Let’s get together! If you blog then enable your comments liberally. Create e-mail accounts you can safely share. Take a chance and write to one another. Check out New Animism Info. Speak your truth to others. Read your poetry out loud to me. I want to hear your voice.

Hey, remember that lonely dancer in the rain? Soon after the ritual, we found one another and we found that we were kin. We’ve been married twelve years. He taught me to stand, a naked and unashamed animal, in my living world. Stand naked together, now, friends. Do not be unashamed!