Sunday, June 13, 2010

One animist's view on addictions

In writing about coffee the other day and mentioning my previous addiction(s) to it, I suddenly realized that addiction is another good subject for Pagan Values Month. In particular, I am writing about addiction from the point of view of someone who believes in animism.

What is animism? Good question. I could never remember what that weird word means until I eventually discovered that it's a word for something I believe in.

An animist believes that every thing has a soul. Everything. Your pet cat, the tree in your backyard, the fruits and veggies that wind up on your plate, the plate get the idea. Each and every single thing has a soul, whether it's something that's obviously alive or is an inanimate object. So even my cute little computer that I'm using to type this up has a soul, and is alive in its own way.

When you believe in animism, "substance abuse" takes on a whole new meaning. Now that I believe in animism, that phrase means that to abuse a substance is to abuse and hurt its spirit. I also believe that the phrase "substance abuse" can be applied to any addiction, whether it's to an obviously deadly thing like tobacco or to a rather benign drink like coffee. So in its way, an addiction to coffee is just as bad as an addiction to tobacco, even if it isn't going to kill you in the long run, because it hurts the spirit of coffee.

I know that this whole thing about hurting the spirit of coffee may sound strange, but then again I know that animism is a rather unusual belief. But this is Pagan Values Month, and even though animism isn't something that every Pagan believes in I wanted to write about it.

Other animists might see things differently and disagree with me, though. So I want to ask, are there any people reading this blog who believe in animism, and if so, what are your thoughts on this subject?


gregchaos said...

Hi Sarita,

As an animist, I respond to your request. So much an animist, in fact, that the belief permeates an entire book of mine, one chapter of which was devoted to the subject. The book outlines a Universe that self-organizes from the bottom up, filled with intelligence and design but in no need of an Intelligent Designer outside the systemn.

Thought I would share a couple paragraphs from the earlier chapter on Consciousness, which were included to help soften the reader up for material to follow.

"Simply because we human beings pick up our perception of the world around us through the tools to hand, it does not follow that they are therefore the only tools through which the world may be experienced. We can hardly guess at what other vessels consciousness might inhabit, complex or simple. For all we know, the tree might be tickled by the ripple of a breeze; the volcano excited by its own eruption; the thundercloud proud of its lightning; the mountain sublime in its majesty.

Volcanoes, mountains, oceans and many other phenomena were regarded by ancient mankind as possessing accessible cognitive consciousness - though probably not as we know it. A worshipful respect for trees, particularly the oak, was extensive throughout most of Europe before Christianity arrived. Across the globe, specific trees were often singled out for special respect, forming the focus of sacred activity.

It was a widespread practice, throughout the world, to assign a spiritual personality to geological constructs such as mountains, rivers and natural springs; and to meteorological phenomena such as seasonal winds, thunderclouds and hurricanes. Were our human ancestors being deluded and misguided for those tens of thousands of years, or were they just following "gut instincts" - instincts that have been lost to us in a culture that finds factory-made baby formula preferable to mothers' milk?"

The book is titled Sun of gOd, by me, Gregory Sams - all easily Googled.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I think that's a very interesting idea and one that is not addressed in addictions literature. It made me think of tobacco -- used non-addictively in a ceremonial context, tobacco is a spiritual substance. But tobacco addiction robs it of its spiritual nature which is an abuse of tobacco's soul, as you say.

Anne Johnson said...

This is a difficult one for me. I don't drink any coffee at all, but I am crazy about tea. In some cultures, drinking tea is a religious ceremony. It seems to me that, as I brew my cup every day, I thank Tea for its uplift. I'm fairly certain that coffee, cocoa, and tobacco were sacred to the peoples of ancient America -- so, in my opinion, which means nothing, their use in moderation represents symbiosis.

Judy said...

I believe everything has energy which it shares with everything is part of the whole...hhmmm...I suppose some would call that energy a soul...not quite the I guess I'm not an animist...