Seven Awesome Benefits of Animism

benefits of animism

Contemplating adopting an animist practice, but want to know the benefits of animism? Each person’s practice will vary widely so the benefits are different from person to person. But I am happy to share the benefits that I experience.

Animism Gives You a Deep Connection to the Land

People belong to a place. The land acts as our home and provides us with the means to survive. So, we honor and care for her. We’re deeply rooted to her.

Animism Reduces or Eliminates Loneliness

When you know in your bones that the love of thousands reverberates through your bones, you can’t feel lonely. They are with you with every step you take. They speak to keep you safe and guide your path. You’re always deeply cared for. So many modern people feel alienated from their families, cultures, and countrymen. With animism, you always know that you belong.

Animism is all about living in relationship with everything else. You can’t do it without this. So you be disconnected be animist.

Animism Gives You a Purpose

Every cloud, ant, rock, waterway, person, baboon, and tulip has a part to play in the cycle of life. Some feed others. Some are decomposers to keep nutrients cycling around. Some are teachers or healers. Everyone has a role. So do you. You’re important. So shine. You don’t have to drive a fancy car, look like Barbie, or have a million dollars. You’re already enough as you are.

Animism Reduces Fear

We know that uncertainty is part of the natural cycle of things. Every day ends in night. Sometimes typhoons and mudslides happen. Trickster stirs things up. That’s part of the mystery and surprise that keeps us from getting stagnant. And it all ends in death. When you accept that you are part of this cycle, there is nothing to fear.

Animism Promotes Cooperation

We know that we’re all connected, so we tend to be more pro-social, helpful, conservation oriented, responsible, and act with an awareness of future generations. We tend to be more kind. Our choices affect our ancestors, descendants, neighbors, and ourselves.

Animism Makes You Wildly Resourceful

With all the help available from the Otherworld as well as our brothers and sisters in the physical world, we are wildly resourceful. We are absolutely magical when manifesting solutions to problems. We use herbs, incantations, crystals, bones, and all sorts of things to help us heal, create change, or sustain things.

Animism May Make You Happier

Gratitude is an essential ingredient of lasting happiness. Gratitude flows easily because you’re aware of all your blessings. They abound daily. Today it’s raining. We need this water to live. It’s late January, but I can already see buds from flowers that will be emerging in a few weeks. So I am grateful for the life that is preparing to return. I was delighted by a bright red cardinal who perched on a branch and posed for me. So much beauty and abundance every day shows us that we are provided and cared for.

I could go on and on about the benefits of animism, but the bottom line for me is that it creates a sense of aliveness. I facilitate past life regression and see that so many people die without ever having lived. Animism makes every moment pop with aliveness. You belong to your family, land, the Earth, sky, and eternity. Try it and see.

 

Why Is Autumn So Hard?

autumn

I work as a therapist, and I can tell you that lots of people are asking “Why is autumn so hard?” right now. Autumn is a time of slowing down and letting go. If you look around, all the leaves are dying. The Earth is yielding up the last of her treasures in preparation for going dormant and resting.

In doing so, she’s showing us what we ought to be doing. “As within, so without.” So, if this time feels really hard, it’s probably a sign that we haven’t been doing a great job of flowing with Nature. So why not do that now?

Slow Down

Autumn can be hard if we’re not conserving energy. Summer is a yang or active time of year. As we downshift into autumn, our energy production slows so our output needs to slow too. Look around at Nature and you will see the plants and animals slowing down. Follow suit. Sleep more. Lounge more.

Eat less and change what you eat to reflect your local food choices and body chemistry.

Continue to meditate or do yoga or qigong to cultivate that slowing down energy. The mind and body need to rest. We are cyclical beings. Autumn is for slowing down.

Letting Go Throughout the Year

There are many times within the wheel of life when the energy favors letting go. The full moon is one of the quickest because it happens every 29 days. Each month the energy cycles and changes. The full moon shines the light on your wants and needs and shows you what is not in balance. If everything is hunky-dory, it probably feels smooth.

If it’s not, the pressure ratchets up to provoke you to make changes. When you make it a practice to go within, tune into the moon, and let the moon’s energy help you change, the seasonal changes aren’t so rough. Miss one? No big deal. It will happen again in another month, so if you cultivate a regular full moon practice, you will never get to autumn with a lot of baggage again.

Mercury retrograde happens three times per year. This isn’t really about letting go, but revising, redoing, revisiting. The message of Mercury in retrograde is “Are you sure? Check again.” When you slow down and correct along the way, you avoid big mistakes and massive changes. You can use this time too to release and let go.

Fall gives you three whole months to focus on letting go. It’s a time of loss and grief. So feel your feelings. Things that you’ve stuffed down have a tendency to blow up right now either emotionally or as dis-ease. Give those feelings an outlet. You don’t want to carry the seeds of dis-ease within you.

In Nature, there is no free lunch. It’s a “pay me now or pay me later” type of system.  If you wait until fall to practice letting go, it can pile up and feel overwhelming because Nature collects with interest. You could blow up, burn bridges, and make drastic changes when a detour would have worked much better six months or a year ago.

Autumn doesn’t have to be hard. Living life as it happens is a lot easier. If it’s not easy now, do what you need to do to create balance and harmony. Then resolve to be more fully present in the wheel of life tomorrow.

How to Celebrate Ancestor Day

ancestor day

Ancestor Day kicks off on October 31. It happens when the veil between worlds is the thinnest and it’s easiest to speak with the souls of the departed. You can contact those whom you miss, and hide from those who weren’t the best in life.

Be warned. All spirits of the Otherworld can come through- not just the humans. This includes ghosts, faeries, demons, or whatever creatures you believe in. If you are scared, you can leave out food to placate them, stay indoors, or disguise yourself so they won’t know you.

If you are new to modern animism and want to get into the holy day spirit, I’ve gathered our posts about ancestors to help you understand what it’s all about. You can take any ideas here that work for you to create your own observance. The key is to make it meaningful to you. Enjoy!

Why We Tell Our Ancestors’ Stories – helps you understand the value of keeping your family stories alive. Shows you how to do this.

Calling to the Ancestors Song– this is a song that you can sing at your ancestor altar, for Ancestor Day, when someone dies, or anytime you want to connect to your ancestors.

Could Ancestor Deficit Disorder Be the Cause of First World Problems? – takes a look at the spiritual cost of divorce from the ancestors

Let’s Have a Dumb Supper – a Dumb (silent) Supper is one way to observe the holy day

Creating an Ancestor Veneration Practice  – if you want to keep your ancestors in your life all year round, here is how to do that.

Creating a Relationship With the Dead

Keening, Mourning and the Grief Process – this article looks at the process between dying and becoming an ancestor

Has Your Partner Met Your Ancestors?

Can Ancestors Cause Natural Disasters? – Ancestors are people. They can be nice or nasty. They can get upset when they aren’t respected. Here are some things to think about.

Chuseok, the Korean Ancestor Day Observance – here’s Ancestor Day done Korean style. Feel free to take ideas from this holy day for your celebration.

Ancestor Day falls halfway between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice. Like many other holy days, it’s also a harvest festival. You can celebrate with the foods of the season like pumpkins, squash, apples, hazelnuts, and grains.

Like all eight of the holy days, Ancestor Day is a solar holiday. The sun’s light is all important as it’s life giving. So, you may wish to celebrate outside with a bonfire, or at least a candle, to light the darkness. Some say the bonfires are lit to keep the bad spirits away. Candles show your loved ones the way back home.

Also like all of the holy days, Ancestor Day is a doorway to a change of energies and seasons. It’s liminal space that is neither this nor that. To mark this, you could explore things that are not your normal nature. Beware of tricksters and spirits though as they are doing the same thing!

Ancestor Day is also divination time. It’s time to use whatever methods you know to see what the future holds. Since the veil between worlds is thin, the spirits can more easily help with this. It’s also a time to ask the spirit world for protection through the winter and the year to come.

In some cultures, Ancestor Day also marks the new year. Since the wheel of the year is a circle, there is really no beginning and no end. Consequently some cultures make the Winter Solstice the new year. Some observe it in the spring.

If this is your new year, you could make it a party just as you would the secular new year. Dancing and music are always appropriate. Decorating with the colors of nature, either around the house or on your altar is typical. Holy days are always good days to get outside, take a walk, contemplate, and breathe. Storytelling is also a common theme for parties.

If you don’t want to invite your dead in to party, you could go to them. A trip to the cemetery to tend the graves and update them on the latest news is a great plan.

Although this tends to be the largest and liveliest celebration of the animist year, people also tend to remember that it is a holy day and keep it spiritual.

Why We Tell Our Ancestors’ Stories on October 31

ancestors stories
Ancestor Day begins on the evening of October 31. Are you looking for something meaningful to do for Ancestor Day? Telling our ancestors’ stories is a great way to connect. Here’s how to get started.
 

Write it Down

To get started, we’re going to write everything down. This my require some research, so if you start now, you should have plenty of time.
 
 
Begin by writing your name at the top of a piece of paper, then writing four columns. One is for each of your family lines. So there will be one for your mother, her mother, her mother’s mother, and so one. Then one for your mother’s father, his father, his father, and so on. The next one is for your father’s mother, her mother, and so on. The last one is for your father’s father, his father, and so on. Go for as far back as you have names.
 
 
Once you have the names, fill in what you know about them. Ask your elders. Check Ancestry.com. You might get lucky and find that someone in your family tree has done a lot of work for you. Who knows? This may become a whole album instead of a piece of paper!
 
 
Be sure to include factual stuff like important dates and places, but also see if you can find things that are of personal significance like you know that your grandfather grew peaches or that he worked as a musician. You want to include positive things and negative things. These are all a part of your story too. These things illuminate where you came from.
 
 
If you people struggled through the Great Depression, genocide, or slavery, you know that you have great strength within. That might also suggest that there is some intergenerational healing to be done. It’s all good. It’s all part of who you are.

Tell Their Stories

Now that you have gathered the stories, tell their stories on Ancestor Day. Say their names. Give gratitude. Send love.
 
 
It’s informative to give factual stories, but you want to be careful about speaking ill of the dead. If you have people who have not yet crossed over, you could attract their anger if you slander them. We want everyone to rest in peace, so it’s a good idea to be respectful and speak in love – just like you would in life.
 
 
If you’re hanging on to old hurts, it might be a good time to offer forgiveness. If you can’t yet, you can ask your ancestors for help. In fact, you can ask your ancestors for help with anything that you need. The door is open for all comers to hear you, not just those who are well in spirit, so you want to be careful about listening to any advice however.
 

Make an Offering

When you are asking for help, or even just visiting with the dead, it’s always a good idea to make an offering. This is a way of engaging with the law of reciprocity and keeping things in balance. When you receive, you also give. An appropriate offering could be food, a prayer, songs, wine, flowers, or anything that feels right for you. If you know your family liked something in particular, that would make a great offering.
 

Why We Tell Our Stories

So, what’s the purpose of this? Why do we do it?
 
 
The first reason is to keep our connection to the dead alive. We have a past and a future. The living stand in the middle, as the bridge to the past or the ancestors. We are the link to the next generations that are coming. When we tell their stories, they provide an anchor that stabilizes our family tree. Our stories tell us where we came from. They ground us to the land and to other people. They give us a way to belong.
 
 
Lots of people feel lonely and adrift. Many people in the USA came from somewhere else. So it’s very easy to feel disconnected from our roots. This is a way of finding them again. Telling your ancestors’ stories a way to hear the voices of those who came before sing within you.
 
 
It’s also a way to link us to the spiritual support of our ancestors. Many cultures believe that we have more than one part to the soul. There is the part that helps the living. It stays around for a while, then returns to Nature. (Some say it’s stays around for seven generations. Some say it’s until their names are no longer remembered). If we don’t speak their names, that connection is lost and we lose the support of those people.
 
 
The number of soul part varies from culture to culture. In some it’s three. Some say four or five. Most have another part that continues to incarnate in the family line. It’s important to live well so that your energy enlivens and “cleans” the family line so that the descendants will have an easier time of things. This also means you since part of your soul returns to the same family line. Your ancestors are motivated to help you because they benefit too.
 
 
Most cultures also have a soul part that reincarnates outside the family line to give you strengths and challenges that are outside your current family and culture. You can see how this would help accelerate growth.
 
 
So telling your ancestors’ stories is really a way of telling your own story. It’s a way of being present with the past, present, and future. Learning your ancestors’ stories connects you to a place, events, and other people. When you see the big picture, it can help put your life into perspective.
 
Keep in mind that as a modern animist, you can celebrate Ancestor Day any way that you like. Or don’t observe it at all. If this seems valuable to you, please use it this Ancestor Day and write a comment below to tell us how it goes!
 

VIDEO: Calling to the Ancestors Song

calling to the ancestors
If you’re new to animism you might be wondering what to do at your ancestor altar. Maybe you wonder what you’re going to do for this upcoming Ancestor Day.
Today I have a song for you for calling to the ancestors. You can use it on Ancestor Day, at your altar in the mornings, when somebody has died, or just when you want to reach out to the other side.

The Beat

The beat is a polka, so one, two, three, one, two three. It’s designed to be sung anywhere and any time. You don’t need an instrument. As long as you can clap and stomp, you have your rhythm. You stomp on the one and clap on two and three.
If you want to use an instrument, a drum is great. You can also use finger cymbals, a tambourine, sticks, shakers or anything at all.

The Lyrics

The lyrics are as follows. You start the call with:
Ancestor, ancestor calling to you
Ancestor, ancestor hear me true
After that you can say whatever is on your heart. In my culture, the mourning songs are all improvised. There’s not a set thing to say. I know most people don’t like winging it -especially if it’s something new. They want a template. So you can use this:
Ancestor, ancestor calling to you
Ancestor, ancestor hear me true
Thank you thank you for all you do
Sending gratitude.
Most of us can honestly say that. So you can use that to get you started until the feeling gets flowing and you can find your own way to express your truth.
Just be sure to also match the tempo, pitch, and mood to the words. So if you are feeling joyous, it might be fast and happy. If you are feeling mournful, it might be slow and sad.
Group Version
This song can be used for a group too. To start, designate someone to be the group leader. The leader taps out the rhythm. The rhythm is going to be the
same in the entire time.
Then the leader is going to create the melody or tune. This will also be the same the whole time. If you are soloing, you can change it all you like. It doesn’t matter, but with a group, the only way you can improvise and keep everyone together is to keep the same melody all the way through.
So the leader calls in the ancestors singing the words listed above. Everyone else is humming along in the background and clapping and stomping.
The leader then sings her own words until she’s expressed her sentiments. When she’s done, she joins the group in humming and the singer passes to the next person in the circle.
Be sure to give everyone a chance to get over their shyness, get in touch with their feelings, and find the words to sing. It may take a while. The whole process can induce trance, which is great for reaching a space of catharsis, so make sure you give yourselves time for things to unfold.
Don’t worry about your singing voice! This is not a competition. Nobody is judging you. It’s not about how beautifully you sing, but calling to the ancestors and speaking your truth.

Celebrating Father’s Day When Your Dad Isn’t The Greatest Guy

father's day

Today is Father’s Day. Some of us are making joyous memories with our families. Some of us are trying to forget the wounds of our childhood and wishing we had different fathers. So how do you celebrate Father’s Day if your dad isn’t the greatest guy? Well, if you want to transform your past, read on. I will tell you how embracing the holistic spirituality of animism can do just that.

There is a reason why the Jewish god felt so strongly about honoring our parents that he made it a commandment. Asians, Africans, Polynesians, Native Americans, and other animist people also practice ancestor reverence – even today. Why? It’s because of Oneness.

Your people live within you. Their strengths are your strengths. Their trials are your trials. When they do something that hurts you, it’s their way of living out their fears and traumas. Think about where they came from.

In America, our settlers came here fleeing religious and political persecution, starvation, oppression, genocide, and war. Some were exiled as punishment for their crimes. Others were brought here as captives during the slave trade. This country is awash in fear. It shows up in our grasping for money, property, resources, love, sex, food, attention, and excitement. It shows up as violence, rape, addiction, and mental illness. That’s not just cultural. It’s ancestral.

Unfortunately, if you turn your back on your not-so-nice father, you turn your back on healing your ancestral line. If you don’t take responsibility for what’s happened, who will? If you don’t do something to change the dynamic, that energy will continue to live on through your children and their children.

In many cases, we’ve lived thousands of years without the proper tending of our ancestors. In animist societies, dis-ease is generally addressed as they arise. When people die unresolved, we engage in burial rituals that help the dead navigate the no man’s land between dying and crossing over so that they can serve as ancestors.

That isn’t happening now. So, the dead aren’t becoming ancestors. They are hungry ghosts. These hungry ghosts leave the shadow of their wounds within our ancestral line so that all who are born after them pick up their drama. So, your choice now is about one thing. Am I going to do the dirty work of cleaning this up, or will I leave it for someone else?

Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” Now you know.

If your father isn’t the greatest guy, you can do the most wonderful thing for him by cleaning up your ancestral line. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t believe in all the hoo doo, woo woo. What you clear in yourself ripples forward and backward in time. If he wants the healing for himself, all he has to do is accept it.

The implications of this truly go around the world. I have read that most Asians have Genghis Khan as an ancestor and most English people have Charlemagne as an ancestor. So imagine what could happen if a wound that started with one of those guys was cleansed and removed. Literally millions of people’s lives would change. This is how important ancestral tending is.

So, let me say this again explicitly. If someone doesn’t die in a healthy way and cross over, their wounds could impact millions of people.

I know some of you are sitting there with your arms crossed saying, “My father doesn’t deserve it.” Healing and forgiveness isn’t for him. It’s for you.

“Forgiveness” means to forego. So it’s about foregoing your need for justice, punishment, fairness, or making him pay. I understand the need for an apology or revenge. Don’t let this desire stand in the way of your wholeness. You can’t be whole when your father, who is a part of you, is standing in darkness.

So, are you ready to heal this wound? You can start by honoring your living people. This doesn’t mean you have to have a relationship with them. It just means that you release any negative emotion towards them. Forgive.

You can also begin to practice ancestor reverence. Your entire family line isn’t corrupted – even if it may seem like it. There are spirits there who want to help you. Get in touch with them. Ask for their help. Learn how to tend them. We all have resources beyond our wildest imaginings if we just reach out and ask for it.

If you want to learn more, check out the Pan Society blog, youtube channel, podcast, and Facebook group. Ask questions. That’s what we are here for. We want to heal the world, and we need your help. There’s been enough suffering. Isn’t it time to end it? Let’s do this together.

If you need additional help, we also have a mentoring program at www.Pansociety.org. Please join us.

Why We Celebrate Memorial Day

memorial day

It might not seem logical for Memorial Day to be something that animists observe. We already have two ancestor days – Ancestor Day and May Day. Is honoring our fallen soldiers a spiritual practice or a personal one? Is it appropriate to honor soldiers at all? If you have these thoughts, read on and see why you might choose to celebrate Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is not Ancestor Day

Ancestor Day is for remembering your dead ancestors. Memorial Day is for honoring those who died while serving their country during military combat. So Memorial Day is a way to reflect and give thanks for the sacrifice that others gave for your country. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with the politics or not. It’s about the loss of life and their willingness to do this so that others didn’t have to.

It’s an Honoring of the Warrior Archetype

Many archetypal energies are widely expressed in their shadow form. The Warrior is no different, so the Warrior can get a bad rap. The shadow Warrior is either a coward who runs from the fight or the warmonger who fights dirty, wins at any cost, and annihilates the opponent – forgetting all humanity. The healthy Warrior is one who fights appropriately, fights to resolve an issue, doesn’t take it personally, and never forgets that we are all related.

When we set aside a time to reflect on the positive aspects of the Warrior archetype, it can help us to connect with our own inner warrior. This can strengthen us whether we are soldiers or not.

It’s an Honoring of Our Soldiers

War is hell. I can’t imagine the terror that our people in uniform face in their daily working lives. They go away to see and experience horrible things, and then are expected to return to civilization and fit in as if none of that were real.

It’s an unrealistic expectation. There is no reciprocity. They care for us. We don’t care for them. Veterans are underserved. They don’t have adequate health or mental health care. They don’t have the respect that they are due. Mainstream society doesn’t have rituals to purify them before they come back to the community or deal with the things that they endure on our behalf.

The warrior/tribe relationship has got to be mended. Memorial Day is for seeing and remembering what our soldiers do. The way back to wholeness is to be become a community again. We all have to be a part of any choice to do war. We have to practice seeing the “enemy” and soldiers as our brothers. I am told that this is why the Vietnamese didn’t have the incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following that combat that western soldiers did.

What Can You Do?

  • Connect with your loss. Which relatives died while fighting? Light a candle for them. Say a prayer. Never forget their sacrifice or your people.
  • Tell the stories of their strength, courage, and sacrifice. True death comes with forgetting. As long as we tell their stories, they stay alive within us. Their stories are the stories of our history. As long as we acknowledge and remember our history, we can learn from it.
  • Visit a battlefield. The ghosts of so many still live here. The best way to help the unresolved dead is through love. They respond to energy. If you can be a light for the dead, do that.  Your brightness can help lift them out of darkness.
  • Show respect to our living soldiers. Even if you don’t like what they do, you can value their sacrifice.
  • Tend the dead. Maybe this means that you clean a grave. Maybe you do this by tending your ancestral altar. Do it in whatever way makes sense to you.

Aging in an Animist World

Aging in an Animist World

I was at a family function recently when a child said to me with the typical unfiltered honesty that only a child can muster, “I don’t like your grey hair. It makes you look old.” Ooh, snap! I could have taken this as an opportunity to be hurt or offended or to teach him about being polite. Instead I chose to give him a lesson in aging in an animist world and challenge his idea of what it meant to be “old.”

To him “old” was useless, slow, not fun, and ugly. I threw down the gauntlet that elders could be wise, beautiful, invaluable, and full of life. You see, the wheel of life starts with gestation. This is a dark, formless space of becoming that can’t be seen with the eyes because it takes place within. Birth happens when that becoming is complete and is brought out into the world. It’s the spring that brings for new life. We then move into maturation, and this is where modern society gets into trouble.

We like things that are cute like puppies, Bambi, and baby goats. They are full of energy, courage, and daring. They are cared for, desirable, and are ignorant enough to get away with making mistakes. When we get into adulthood and maturity, the fun stops. Work begins and life’s not sexy or interesting anymore. That is just a slow decline into infirmity and death. We have got to change that! That’s not in alignment with Nature at all.

In the wheel of life, maturity is where life’s juice begins to flow, not ends! We start to have enough knowledge and experience to make things happen. We have enough resources to give to others and begin to share life with others. When independence combines with stability, wisdom, support, and confidence, we can start companies, families, and projects that can change the world. We can grow our spiritual sides so that we feel we’re living a worthwhile life. Bambi might be cute, but you can’t do that as Bambi.

Being a mature adult is a responsibility. Children and elders stand closer to Death and therefore the spirit world. Adults have the responsibility to care for them. Babies are weak. They need nurturing to grow into adults. Elders are often physically weak and need support to connect that ancestral energy and wisdom that nurtures the younger generations. Someone has always tread a path before you. Wise elders can share of that wisdom to make that path easier.

When we try to stop the wheel of life by acting like we’re still children, we ruin the order of things. If you want to be healthy and happy, you have to be present with where you are. Every stage of life has something to teach us. We are depend upon each other as teachers to help us grow. So when we step out of our place, we not only impact our own growth, but that of our families and larger societies.

So, if you are like this child who thinks of “old” as something undesirable, I challenge you to embrace a new viewpoint when it comes to aging. We need elders to show us how to transition from doe-eye innocents to mature movers and shakers. Elders can help those movers and shakers then become the future elders. But this won’t happen if children don’t become adults and adults don’t become elders. We have a huge populations of adult children right now. I urge you to take a look at where you are in the wheel of life to see if that is where you really belong.

Creating a Relationship with the Dead

Creating a Relationship with the Dead

Fall is upon us. It’s time when the dead roam the earth more freely (because there is more darkness after the fall equinox). And on the upcoming three day period (Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day), contact with the dead is easier. So this is when the dead come back to visit – particularly those who are in the in between state who have not fully crossed over. (These are the scary, possibly unhealthy dead).

It’s the perfect time to cultivate relationship with the dead. It’s something we don’t do well in this country because we don’t really do death. So, how do you have a relationship with the dead? It’s a great question. Let’s look first at why you’d want a relationship with the dead. Read more