It seems that we are undergoing a shift towards spirituality vs. religion. In that shift, many are looking towards magic, ritual, and a Harry Potter type of spirituality with no rules. That may seem to be what Pan Society offers. We don’t have dogma. There is no Ten Commandments. You can do what you like. This can seem perfect, but let me tell you why modern animism is not for everybody.
What is Modern Animism?
First let me lay the groundwork. We call Pan Society “modern animism” to differentiate it from the contemporary tribal animism that has existed in an uninterrupted state for millennia. If they are the country mice, we are the city mice. We are most likely urban dwellers, consumers of technology, cut off from our ancestors, and living in isolated communities. We don’t have community traditions or networks. Our roots connecting us to Nature aren’t dead, but they need nurturing. We are united by the shared the belief that everything is alive, sacred, and One.
We Are Not Looking Back
Some animists look to reconnect by going back to the past. They want the religion of their ancestors. Sometimes it’s to reclaim what was stolen from them. Sometimes it’s to feel more authentic, special, or powerful. There is nothing wrong with any of that. Pan Society recognizes that the river only flows in one direction. It doesn’t go back. As modern animists, we live in the present moment with modern beliefs, lifestyles, politics, and problems. We accept that the past happened and are living in the now. This is not to say that the past doesn’t matter. It’s most holistic. The past, present, and future matter, and we’re looking ahead.
We Believe in Sovereignty
Many people are attracted to animism for the freedom. They want to be able to take what they want, do what they want, and have no borders or boundaries. That’s more Wild Child or Rebel energy. Pan Society is a bit different. We do believe in freedom, but it’s bounded by responsibility. So, you can choose your own path, but it’s contained by the right use of power. We don’t take from others (including plant, animal, human, mineral, or spiritual “people”) to have what we want. They are sovereign, and we respect their sovereignty as we express our own.
We Believe in Connection
Intimacy is hard! It requires vulnerability and honesty. Quite often, it requires forgiveness. Nobody wants to risk being hurt, so it’s often easier to be superficial, hang back, and withhold your truth. Unfortunately, you can’t engage much from there. So modern animism is risky. The reward is that we live in relationship with the world around us. By letting our roots spread out into the many realms (plant, animal, human, spirit, and mineral), we have a much stronger foundation. We’re bend more easily during the tough times and feel less alone.
We Clean Up Our Mess
I can’t say that this is universally true of modern animists, but when you are aware of your connections, you’re more likely to clean up after yourself. I am mostly talking about emotional baggage, but also the physical space around you. If I am tweaked by something, that shows me where I still need healing. That’s a sovereignty issue. That’s for me to deal with. So, I clean it up. If it’s intergenerational, my family benefits too. My community benefits. Everyone benefits! So, we leave the world a better place than when we found it.
We Take Our Time
Being authentic means looking at hard, deep stuff. Most people want what’s easy, quick, and fun. Modern animism is a lifestyle. It takes a long time to reprogram ourselves out of the commercial, me-me-me, image driven values of modern society. It takes a long time to develop a relationship with the land, animals, ourselves, our people, and the rest of creation. Healing is a process. So, it’s not about immediate gratification or goals. It’s about the experience.
We Are Holistic
Some spiritual not religious folks focus on the wow factor of crystals, tarot cards, or meditation. They like the flash and tricks of being able to do something unique. That becomes the focus of their spirituality.
Or some like to keep their spirituality more philosophical or intellectual. It’s not something that they do. It’s something that they think.
That’s cool, but at Pan Society, we’re in it for the big picture. There is more to animism than rituals or talking to the dead. In fact, your version of it may not include any of that. It’s more about removing the barriers between mind, body, and spirit. It’s about showing the sacredness of life in your speech, relationships, eating, play – everything. Spirit isn’t in one thing. It’s in everything.
The bottom line is modern animism might look like too much work for some people. It could be too hard. If so, it’s okay if it’s not for you. Your path is the right path. It may lead here some day, and it may not. However you choose to lead your life is just fine. Be you.