animism shmaninism!
November 20, 2017 7:55 PM   Subscribe

I've been reading a lovely but very heady book about animism. What are some other books (or other types of media) that explore animism themes further, and perhaps more directly?

I'm really really loving learning about animism -- panpsychism, paying attention to the wakeful and energetic basis to things, challenging the apartness of consciousness and inner thought. Animism has helped me understand the pieces of Buddhism and Quakerism that resonated with me over years of on-off spiritual practice, and also provided this great invitation to spend more time around trees and birds and explore with greater presence and kindness. I'm into it!

My main problem is that I'm having trouble finding texts that feel as direct and playful as animism itself... I think what I'm looking for is something closer to poetry and analysis woven together. I'm also open to suggestions that are not strictly animist but might scratch the same itch -- for example, I just purchased a used copy of Ursula K. Le Guin's translation of the Tao Te Ching that will be here at the end of the week.

Thank you!
posted by elephantsvanish to Religion & Philosophy (3 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You might enjoy Mushishi, either the anime or the manga. It's atmospheric, poetic, and philosophical—one of the most profound things I've ever had the pleasure of watching. And it's beautiful (visually and sonically).

Mushishi is about Japanese animistic spirits, more or less. Thematically it focuses on balance and deep understanding, on the mushi as ambiguous and complicated energetic expressions of life and the natural world. The stories revolve around Ginko, a travelling wise man who helps humans when their lives become entangled with those of the mushi in strange, unexpected ways. The series thinks deeply about the human condition, paradoxes, and nature, and expresses itself very poetically and elliptically.

Here's a synopsis:
"Mushi": the most basic forms of life in the world. They exist without any goals or purposes aside from simply "being." They are beyond the shackles of the words "good" and "evil." Mushi can exist in countless forms and are capable of mimicking things from the natural world such as plants, diseases, and even phenomena like rainbows. So what are Mushi and why do they exist? This is the question that a "Mushishi," Ginko, ponders constantly. Mushishi are those who research Mushi in hopes of understanding their place in the world's hierarchy of life.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 8:27 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There is a pretty good reading list at the bottom of this blog post. I think you might like David Abram's Spell of the Sensuous or Stephen Buhner's Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm or Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass.
posted by hungrytiger at 8:42 PM on November 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

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