Animism, Afterlife, and why they are both part of the constant All
Animism is the belief that humans are not the only beings with spirit and awareness. Lots of people also believe that animals have spirit and awareness. I do, which is why I’m a vegetarian and why I really enjoy having pets. I also believe that other living things, such as plants and trees, have an importance and awareness, as do rocks, features like lakes and oceans, beaches, and so on. I get sad/angry when people cut down trees, because I’m a sap. (Hah, ‘sap’.) That’s one of the reasons I’m a Pagan, because I have a quiet reverence for the living world around me. I don’t have a constant awareness of the spirits and life all around me – because I think my head would implode – but sometimes it feels like everything is alive.
I didn’t give a lot of thought to the afterlife before I lost someone close to me, and it was suddenly very important to know where they were. I realised that they were in the colour and swirl of all the living things around me, that they were everywhere. The mass and energy of the universe is constant, which is very reassuring when you’ve lost someone, because in some ways they haven’t gone anywhere at all.
The reason I link my beliefs in both animism and the [lack of] afterlife, apart from the alliteration, in part due to SCIENCE. For one thing, matter and energy are the same thing (E=mc2). Secondly, like Carl Sagan said, we are made of star stuff. All the atoms that are part of us was once part of the stars, and we’ll all become part of the land, sea and sky when we die. We’ll swirl like Dust in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, mixed up with everything else.
We are matter, but we are also energy; everything is matter and energy. We are all part of the same things – we are all connected. We’re not separate and different from the world; we’re a part of everything. (Again: it’s not every day I can feel the interconnectedness of the entire universe, because there are bills to pay, relatives to phone, medication to take, etc. but it’s wonderful when I can. It’s like the universe patiently waving its arms at you, waiting for you to cotton on to how incredible everything is.)
I’m an animist because I can feel spirits of the trees, but I’m also an animist because we are all made of star stuff.