Animist restoration

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Animist restoration is a process that's growing out of my opinions on neo-druidism. Current theses of animist restoration include the following:

  1. We are animals, not merely rational minds.
  2. Animals live in an ecosystem full of plants, minerals, and other animals.
  3. Technology gets us what we want but not what the ecosystem needs.
  4. Nature is the playing field of all technology.
  5. Technology can damage nature.
  6. If our ecosystem is damaged, we will suffer.
  7. The first intuition is that we must relate somehow to our ecosystem.
  8. At its most gracious, civilization renders humanity caretakers or guardians of an external environment.
  9. This is wrong. We are very small and the universe is very large. We cannot control it.
  10. The second intuition is that nature is constantly relating to us.
    (In practical terms, external forces act on us. In anthropomorphic terms, nature knows who we are.)
  11. Nature doesn't need our praise; it needs us to listen.
  12. Rather than seek to worship nature, we should seek further intuitions.
  13. We are bad at listening. Sometimes we are too busy telling our own story.
  14. It's not always better to do something than to do nothing.
  15. So, instead of jumping to impose our own structure on nature, we should stop ourselves and let nature impose itself on us.
  16. This begins with ordinary mindfulness.
  17. This process is called "animist restoration" because the goal is greater than just improved relationships with other people; it's a return to the animism of those who converse with the Earth rather than consume it.
  18. I recognize that human nature causes people to forget animism. There is little chance that all humanity can be restored. But the sacred practices can be reaffirmed on an individual or karass level.
  19. All things that have settled in a place people that place. I will use "people" to refer to things that people a place, and "humans" to refer to us.
  20. Non-human people do not consider themselves inferior to us; quite the opposite. Sometimes other species even try to outwit us.
  21. We should not be ashamed that we try to control the places we live and people we live with, because we share this trait in common with most, if not all, species.
  22. But good people live together, with neither overpopulation nor endangerment.
  23. We are not the only species with technology. Natural selection brings forward many wonderful technologies, and some not so wonderful. All people must work together to counteract harmful technologies.
  24. Sometimes people, including humans, must be killed to keep the ecosystem healthy. (A hypothetical example: If someone among us gained the ability to clone themselves every 30 seconds, they would cover the earth in their flesh in less than a day. We would have to kill that human and all of their offspring to stop them from ruining the ecosystem.)
  25. And sometimes people, including humans, must be killed because of our selfish interests.
  26. But killing is wrong and it is always a mitzvah to do less of it.
  27. In the same way, ruining the livelihoods of people, to the extent that people can feel pain, stress, and boredom, is wrong, and it is always a mitzvah to do less of it.
  28. In all things mindfulness is greater than mindlessness.
  29. Living a normal life in modern society, you are instructed to be mindless of many things: unfortunate truths, historical parallels, irreverence towards rightly sacred ideals.
  30. Most of all it is bad to be versed only in present events and names, as if the past never happened.
  31. There is no mindfulness in memorizing popular culture, names of movie stars, current events and legends. Only when these are employed for a greater purpose are they useful.
  32. Now it is true that those who control politics are powerful people, but bad politics is caused by bad religion.
  33. So it is more important to understand good and bad religion than it is to distinguish between good and bad politics.
  34. Now it is true that those who control business are powerful people, but bad business is caused by bad religion.
  35. So it is more important to understand good and bad religion than it is to distinguish between good and bad business.
  36. You cannot save the world; you can only save yourself.
  37. You can save yourself by saving your friends. You can save yourself by saving your enemies.
  38. Theses 39-95 are reserved for future conclusions.

People, rationally considered

Animism does not depart from an atheist or rational worldview in any way. Rather, animist restoration is an effort to change our perception of the world-as-it-is, namely, to expand the category of "people" to include the vast numbers of non-human people.

Many religions have unseen and unknown forces working on the world: gods or spirits whom we have to respect and worship. In new animism, though, we don't need to worry about gods that are far away or nonexistent. Only the people who are talking to us are relevant. Whether you want to ritualize your conversation to make it easier for you to hear, or if it makes more sense to you to be creative and shun the solidified forms of religion, is an individual choice.

There are three kinds of people: natural people, artificial people, and unseen people. The opinions of the last of these, in our society at least, should necessarily be handled with skepticism. But we should always be judging the opinions of others relative to our own. If a human being wants to kill me, I shouldn't simply submit to being killed, unless if I want to. But respect must be paid as well. Does the image of an ancestor represent a person, or is the image itself a real person in the room? Do we ignore what the image says to us, or do we allow ourselves to think about it?

Paying respect

The greatest peril of life lies in the fact that human food consists entirely of souls. All the creatures that we have to kill to eat, all those that we have to strike down and destroy to make clothes for ourselves, have souls, like we have, souls that do not perish with the body and which must therefore be propitiated lest they should avenge themselves on us for taking away their bodies.
Buster Kailek, Inuit elder. Quoted in Rasmussen 1929:55-6

Looked at one way this can be seen as mere superstition. But let's approach it from the other angle. Early animists must have lived in a world of equals-- but what could possibly justify taking the lives of one's equals? The rituals of the shaman, or druid, should have been developed in order to endow each taking of life with the proper respect and the understanding of codependence. If these beliefs became tangled up with magical thinking, or if some cultures were not as mindful as they should have been, it only makes sense to reinstate the proper intent.

Sources of inspiration

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