Lance Foster (hengruh) wrote,
Lance Foster

Starting On The Bioregional Animism Path

What IS Bioregional Animism? Do you know what your bioregion is? Do you know what animism is?

I'm serious...Do you know what your bioregion is?

=If you live in the U.S., start here. (Here's another system I've seen.)

=If you live elsewhere in the world, start here.

Bioregional animism, the philosophy and/or belief system that the world is alive and is full of spirits, merged with the knowledge of one's local ecosystems and dependence on them, has been part of the human worldview as long as there have been human beings, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of years old.

The thing I like about bioregional animism is that it focuses on one's own animals, plants, weather, etc. instead of neopagan and other sites that used a "sacred wheel of the year" and sacred trees and herbalism that have little or nothing to do with most bioregions in the U.S. ...In addition, animism doesn't say you have to worship a particular god/goddess, nor does it say you have to switch from the religion you already practice. Nor does it say you have to have any god or religion at all. It's just a matter of knowing and respecting your own ecosystem, and relating to other parts of the ecosystem like they are thinking and feeling creatures just like you!

To me, bioregional animism isn't so much a religion, as it is a philosophical and ethical system, based on ecological principles and the most ancient human beliefs: animism (the IDEA that everything is alive and has a spirit that can be communicated with) and shamanism (THE PRACTICE, active engagement with the living world and its spirits by shaman-practitioners). Shamanism is actually a particular practice, but given that there aren't really any satisfactory umbrella terms for these practices and approaches, I'll use it with caveats). Respect and understand your ecosystem/ecoregion and take care of it, and know everything is alive in some sense.

You can combine bioregional animism with almost any belief system: Christianity (of whatever kind), Paganism (of whatever kind), Traditional Religions (of whatever kind), Scientific or Agnostic or Atheistic worldviews.

To be clear, there are a lot of takes on bioregional animism, and a lot of variations in philosophical approaches, but my own view is, following from nature and ecosystems, diversity is good. Divergent thinking is necessary in the "ecosystem of ideas". I tend to be an oldschool kinda guy, based on my own life experiences and my Ioway tribal roots, combined with my fascination with natural history and tribal legends. Other approaches in bioregional animism are newer, postmodern or psychological approaches, reassessments by people like Graham Harvey. For more modern people who can't or don't literally believe in actual animal and mountain spirits like I was raised with, these newer psychological approaches based on Mind may be more satisfactory. Whatever floats your boat :-) You don't even have to decide on this stuff. Just focus on the PRACTICES, and make up your own mind if or when you feel like it.

So...How do you do it? DO you do it? How do you help someone grok (understand/see/get/comprehend/feel) bioregional animism? (such a word)

You don't really need to "do" anything. It's the Land that does it. Through talk, through good feelings, even through terror.

Ask questions when you are walking around with them in the outdoors away from "people stuff."

Ask, you talk to your dog right? Your dog is alive. How about a cat? Did you ever talk to a bird? What happened?

Did you ever see any faces in clouds? In rocks? In the leaves of trees?
Do you hear music and voices in the water? In the wind?

Did you ever go to a place that made you feel so relaxed and happy you just wanted to lay down and nap?
Did you ever go to a place that made you feel so uncomfortable, even scared, you got out of there right away?

Did you ever feel so connected to a place you felt moved to pour a little beer/water/etc on the ground, or leave some of your picnic lunch for the birds and animals?

It's already in us. The Land does the work. Don't tell anyone. Ask them what they hear, what they see, what they feel. WHEN the time is right.
Tags: bioregion, bioregional animism

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