Urban Animist

Anima is an archaic Latin word for soul, life, or rage. Animism is an umbrella term for various beliefs in which non-human spiritual beings exist alongside humanity. To some, there is not only the human soul, animals, plants, stone and geographical features (mountains, caves, bodies of water, etc), and places or specific locations, all have spirits or souls, as well as souls not tethered to bodies of mass. Some forms of animism ascribe souls to abstracts such as words, language, songs, names, emotions, and metaphors for human experience. Throughout history, many forms of animism have been heavily apotropaic; focusing on placating, appeasing, or banishing angry or malevolent spirits. Soul, life, and rage- anima seems to be a perfect fit for a root word.

The first use of the word animism in English is attributed to Sir Edward Tyler in his 1871 anthropological text “Primitive Culture”. By his definition, animism is a primitive belief in natural objects, other than humans, having souls. While he viewed animism as childish and primitive, he cannot deny that forms of animism are found the world over. Many to this day are still animists, though not all agree with his initial definition.

I am one of a growing number of persons who defines as an urban animist. We do not believe that spirits/spiritual life is only found in pristine wilderness. To define what is natural by what is untouched by man is inherently not animism. Humanity is a unique, but equal part of nature, we and our inventions are natural. We do not view urban communities as separate from or devoid of nature. Urban places and the unique cultures therein are made of and full of spirits of their own. Urban animism is a highly individualistic belief structure and/or praxis based around ones own urban locale and spirits.

I am an urban animist. After this post, please note that when I refer to urban animism, I will be referring to only my own beliefs and practices.