My Advice for the Beginner Animists
I don’t do a lot of social media, mainstream media, or social anything really. I rarely poke my head out of my hole to see what others are doing or talking about. I tend to live in the apparent world versus the virtual one. So I was really surprised to see that there are so many beginner animists out there who are looking for advice on how to get started. If this is you, read on. Here’s my advice for beginner animists.
Ditch the Expert Advice
I know that westerners are indoctrinated from toddlerhood to follow the expert and stuff our heads with data. You won’t find the heart of animism that way, in my opinion. Just be the animal that you are. Animals are natural. Animism is a nature based spiritual path.
Trust your instincts. Feel your feelings. Be in the moment. Pay attention. Make mistakes. Observe. Adjust, and you will find your way.
Animism is personal. Your animist path won’t look like anyone else’s. It won’t look like that of your ancestors either. And it shouldn’t. It’s your holistic expression of your life, and no one can tell you how to do that.
Since animism has no dogma, you can do anything. But this isn’t the same type of “anything goes” attitude that comes with hippie dippie anarchy. Animism is relational. Your choices have consequences for you and everything else. So, you have to be self aware. You have to be other aware. If you don’t trust yourself, you may find yourself paralyzed by the responsibility. Or you could go around wreaking havoc and not knowing it.
This is why Pan Society’s path starts with sovereignty. It’s about knowing who you are, what you want, and how you bless the world with your presence. If you’re not sure about those things, start there. You’re the center of your universe. Make it a good, strong one.
Get Out in Nature
Nature is the ultimate teacher. Let her teach by getting out there. Feel the sweat on your skin when the sun is beating down hottest in the summer. Let the winter wind whip at you. Watch as the ants carry loads much bigger than they are. Notice how water runs in streams and rivulets, carried by gravity. Hear the poetry in the songs of birds. Watch as everything supports and impacts everything else. You’ll get surprising bursts of inspiration that you could never read from a book.
Record your thoughts in a journal. Words need to be expressed. Writing them down brings them out into the world where they can be examined, challenged, shared, and reviewed. It helps you to become clear and see patterns. Do you write savagely during a full moon? Do the stars bring out the poet in you? Is food your muse? Maybe herbs and medicine inspire you. Notice what draws your attention. Let that teach you about yourself and the thing you are pondering.
If you’re coming from the mainstream society, there is a lot to learn. A whole lot is outside of your comfort zone. It’s cool. Practice. This is how things become comfortable. Practice making altars. Practice talking to your ancestors. If rituals feel strange, go to moon circles. They are often open to the public. Get used to the flow. Once you think you’ve got it, do a mini ritual of your own. If you find something doesn’t work for you, it’s okay. If you’ve done it, you know. Move on to the next thing.
Don’t Take It Too Seriously
The quickest way to learn something is to play. That’s how kids do it. They don’t stress over getting it right, reading 25 pages per day, or mentally rehearsing how to do it. They just keep attempting until they’re doing it. Think about how you learned to jump rope or ride a bike. It was easy right? So is this. Nothing can be more natural. Let your right brain lead. That’s what’s missing from other spiritual paths that you found unsatisfying. If you don’t let that free here, you may not connect with animism either.
Let Go of What You Know
When I was first in Egypt, our American liaison told us a story about when she was there on an 18 month long fellowship. Every time she would see something new or different, she’d say to her driver, “In America….” then talk about how orderly traffic is in America or how people wait in an orderly line for their turn. Finally after a couple of days of this, the driver looked at her and said, “This is not your America….”
Animism is not Christianity, Wicca, or a whole lot of other things. If you want to know what it is, you have to see it through its own lens. Be here. Let go of what you know. That won’t work here.
If you do these things, you will go far fast. You’re part of Nature, so everything you need to learn is inside of you. Listen. If you need help hearing the voice of your soul, need some reassurance, or someone to shine a light for you, let us know. We’re here to help.