“The color of the sky, the rush of waves--every aspect of the earthly sensuous [can] draw us into a relationship fed with curiosity and spiced with danger.” So says David Abram in The Spell of the Sensuous, his exploration of animism, oral traditions, and the philosophy of phenomenology.
He urges us “to wander and bask in the scents drifting up from the nightriver...it’s the unfathomable otherness of things--the strange perspective of an orb-weaving spider spinning the cosmos out of her abdomen; the outrageously different sentience of a humpback whale or an albatross; the complex intelligence of an old-growth forest dank with mushrooms…that makes any attentive relation with such beings a genuine form of magic”
This mystic unity with the natural world resonated in all areas of society:
Self-identity among animists is based on relationships with others. Instead of focusing on the "individual," persons are viewed through social relationships (one among many), some of which are with non-humans.
Rupert Sheldrake asks “If nature is alive, if the universe is more like an organism than a machine, then there must be self-organizing systems with minds at all levels, including the earth, the solar system, and the galaxy--and ultimately the entire cosmos.”
“Our direct experience of nonhuman nature can lead us beyond our limited selves to a direct connection with the more-than-human world and the more-than-human consciousness that underlies it.”
Neil Price gives a visceral description of animism in Children of Ash & Elm: A History of the Vikings:
“The Vikings…shared their world with…a whole host of beings, spirits, and creatures….The Vikings didn’t believe in these things…they knew them.”
The same is true of many oral cultures embedded in the natural world.
I strive to recreate this sacred animism in my stories, to give my readers a chance to know the magical, living world surrounding us.