Animism and Shamanism

Animism is a belief that all things have a spirit and/or a soul. This includes animals, plants, mountains, stars, the moon and the sun. Now, for you and I this is a little hard to believe. I know trees are alive, but the thought they may have a spirit or soul is a little baffling to me, nonetheless I am intrigued and want to learn more.

Examples of early animism through art can be found in cave paintings. They are often telling stories about accomplishment, like how the big bison was defeated by man. Comparing this to modern day would be like passing your driving test and writing an Instagram post about it- both a symbol of accomplishment and wanting to share  it.

They created many a story sing simple tools and creativity. This just shows that wen the world lacked computers and visual inspiration, people still had that creative outlook and wanted to share their story visually. I think this is an amazing concept and just shows that you don’t need to spend £2000 on equipment to tell a story.

Aside from cave paintings, another form of appreciation for animism are Totem Poles. Some totem poles represent stories or important events, where others represent particular characteristics from their tribes. They’re made out of wood and are carved into symbolic blocks which nobody can argue aren’t spectacular. At the time it would have taken a lot of craftsmanship and time so produce just one section of a totem pole whereas today we could make it with a machine, but it would not hold anywhere near the significance nor craft they would have done then.

Shamanism is ancient healing tradition which focuses on the connection to nature. It’s a phenomenon centred on the Shaman, an individual believed to achieve a higher power through activities such as trance or an ‘ecstatic religious experience’. Shamans believe that they have the power to heal those whom are sick, speak to the ‘otherworld’ and guide lost spirits to the otherworld. It’s something I would very much like to see.


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