I created a video a while back about asking great questions. If your questions don’t reflect what you really want to know, you can walk in circles not really getting anywhere.
The compliment to that is to be careful what you listen to. If the source of your answers is tainted, not knowledgeable, unreliable, or not helpful, you know to give less weight to that response.
As we’re all here to grow in our modern animism practice, these really are the best two tools that you have. All points of view are valid. Not all points of view are wise or correct. Let’s look at how to tell the difference.
Objective vs. Subjective
If are evaluating subective statements, feel free to discard them. “Subjective” means it’s an opinion. So if someone says to me, “you should really let your lawn grow so that the wildlife have a place to live,” that’s an opinion.
Should is always an opinion. I can take it or leave it. I don’t have to feel offended or judged. It’s just someone else’s observations of their inner world.
I don’t have to live there. They do. So, I am completely free to be a sovereign person and walk away from that. Or I can embrace it if it works in my world too.
Who Is the Authority?
We all have white coat syndrome to one degree or another. We give more weight to the person we feel has the authority to speak. In animism, everyone has authority and YOU are the ultimate authority. That’s sovereignty.
That said, the person who is closest to the problem may have more wisdom than you. It’s not always true. Sometimes being close to the problem gives us blinders. This is just something to consider.
For example, someone asked me about animism. I gave a position that contradicted anthropologists – people who study animist cultures. Who is the authority? Someone who is looking at it from a scientific, outside perspective? Or someone who was reared in the west by an animist parent who didn’t have their language and spirituality destroyed by conquerors?
It would depend on the question, wouldn’t it? If it was a scientific question about data, the anthropologist might be more accurate. If it was a question about values or meaning, I’d probably pay more attention to the person with a foot in that culture.
Don’t be fooled by the resume! Sometimes the “authority” is the child or person with no experience. People who “know” can be tainted by their experience and knowledge. They may miss or dismiss ideas because they are innovative. Always consider option C.
Is It True?
I have just recently become aware that there is a modern animism movement. A lot of people who didn’t grow up in animism are positioning themselves as authorities in this and are cashing in. They are saying things that are second or thirdhand “truths.”
I urge you to investigate this deeply before believing what they say and following them. We live in a world where if someone says something long, loud, and poetically enough, it becomes the truth because we don’t think for ourselves. We don’t investigate for ourselves. We want to follow rather than exercise our own sovereignty.
If you want a meaningful animist practice, my suggestion is to find out if something is true before you accept it. Otherwise, you may end up poorer in the pocket and spirit.
It Is True Now?
Is it “opposites attract” or ‘”birds of a feather flock together”? Either could be true. If we’re talking about magnets, opposites do attract. If we are talking about birds, this is also true. So, you can hear something that is true, but perhaps not in this particular instance. To know for sure, you have to zoom out and see it in context. Sometimes generalizations work. Sometimes they don’t.
For example, there is a lot of talk about planting trees right now. Deforestation due to natural and unnatural causes is a big deal. So lots of people are advocating tree planting. This is generally a good idea. However, it might be good specifically.
To know for sure, you need more information. What trees? Where? How many? How will they be cared for? If you plant trees and that require care and have no one to tend them, it’s not an effective idea. If you plant water loving trees in an arid environment, it’s not an effective idea. If the grown trees roots will ruin the asphalt or grow into your septic system, that might not be a great idea. Details matter.
So what was true, may not be true for this time. It may not be true in this specific incidence. It may not be true for you. Or it could be true, but not effective. Mind the details.
A lot of spiritual fads have come and gone. There was the New Age, then Buddhism (or maybe it was the other way around). Animism could be the next fad. Not because it’s not a useful spiritual path, but because it’s not being understood. If you are viewing it and applying it through a mainstream lens, you’re not understanding it. So, you may discard it as not useful without ever really knowing what it is.
So develop your ability to evaluate what is true. You are the final authority in your life. It’s up to you to make it meaningful one.