Animism Definitions / Contaminated by Christian Beliefs

 A variety of definitions of Animism: What is Spirit?

… The belief that a spiritual element or vital principle animates living bodies and can persist after death, either as a ghost or by inhabiting material objects. Animism was introduced into anthropology by Edward Burnett Tylor ( 1832–1917 ) in an attempt to explain the origins of religion, but the concept was widely criticized by later anthropologists who challenged either Tylor’s particular evolutionary schema (such as R. R. Marrett ) or evolutionary schemas in general (such as Franz Boas and his students). The term is also often used to describe…
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3 rev. ed.) 

… . The belief, widespread among primitive peoples, that certain material objects, e.g. trees and stones, are possessed by spirits which are the cause of their movements and characteristic qualities. Echoes of animism are found in the OT, e.g. Jacob ‘s treatment of the stone at Bethel as if it were Divine ( Gen. 28: 22 ). Anti-Christian writers have sometimes held all worship of a personal god, particularly if connected with special holy places, to be a survival of primitive animism; while the Christian need not deny that in early times animistic ideas…

… . The belief that perhaps all appearances, but certainly living appearances, are animated by spirits (are made vital by an anima , Lat., ‘spirit’). Tylor introduced the term as part of his explanation of the origin of religions, and for decades his view dominated the anthropology of religion . Now, at most, animism would be, either a recognition of soul-beliefs in particular societies, or a casual synonym for pre-literate societies and their…

A Dictionary of Asian Mythology 

Animism is the belief that all things are given life—that is, animated—by spirits. The word often refers specifically to the idea that aspects of nature—rivers, mountain, trees, and so forth—were originally parts of immortal beings. Animism plays an important role in many creation stories in Asia and elsewhere ( see, for example, Chinese Cosmogony , Bön , Korean Mythology , Phi…
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology (2 ed.) 
… [Ge] A belief that events in the world are mobilized by the activities of…

 A Dictionary of Creation Myths  

Animism as a concept was first articulated by Sir Edward Taylor in his anthropological work, Primitive Culture ( 1871 ). The term animism is derived from the Latin word for soul, and the concept assumes the existence of a universal soul or spiritual power that is reflected in the existence of the spiritual aspect of all living things, especially in the existence of souls in human beings. Any creation myth that stresses the spiritual or godly essence of each element of the creation might be called animistic ( see also Chinese Creation ; Okanagan…

The Oxford Companion to World Mythology 

Animism is the belief that all things are given life—that is, animated—by spirits. The word often refers specifically to the idea that aspects of nature—rivers, mountain, trees, and so forth—were originally parts of immortal beings and thus suffused with the spirit world. Animism plays an important role in many creation stories in Asia , Native North America, and elsewhere. ( see, e.g., Bon , Korean mythology , Phi , Tiamat , Corn Mother…

World Encyclopedia 

… Belief that within every animal, plant, or inanimate object dwells an individual spirit capable of governing its existence and influencing human affairs. Natural objects and phenomena are regarded as possessing life, consciousness, and a spirit. In animism, the spirits of dead animals live on, and (if the animals have been killed improperly) can inflict harm. These beliefs are widespread among tribal peoples and were once thought to represent the beginnings of organized…

interests, have sought formal recognition as animists. At the same time, animism has sometimes been adopted as a term of self-identification in New Age, neo-pagan, or environmentalist movements. Without addressing those appropriations of the term, this entry concentrates on the history, rationale, and consequences of animism as a theory of religion. History of Animism During the nineteenth century, European social scientists developed different terms – fetishism, totemism, and animism – for the original religion of humanity, but each term carried the same… 

A Dictionary of Psychology (4 ed.) 

…is a form of animism called anthropomorphism . 2. The doctrine that the soul is the vital principle ( anima mundi ) on which all organic development depends, propounded most influentially by the German physician Georg Ernst Stahl ( 1660–1734 ) in his book Theoria Medica Vera in 1707 . 3. A doctrine promoted by the Greek philosophers Pythagoras ( ?580–?500 bc ) and Plato ( ?427–?347 bc ) according to which an immaterial force organizes and animates the material world. animist n. One whose thinking is characterized by animism. animistic …

One obvious defect of these “specialty” definitions is that the term SPIRIT is not defined, despite being vital to the definitions provided for animism.  

Note that for SPIRIT the references are EuroCHRISTIAN. This points to a misunderstanding of ANIMISM by Christian “observers” who INTERPRETED indigenous expressions as European concepts. Try grafting these notions of spirit onto shamanistic-type practices! Totally bizarre results…

But! If we remove the religious term “spirit” and its supernatural connotations, and replace it with “energy” which refers to real physical phenomena, we will achieve a more objective understanding of the practices of early humans.

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3 rev. ed.) 

… . In Christian theology the word denotes: (1) The intelligent and immaterial part of man or the human soul in general, whether united with the body in life or separated from it in death, and esp. that aspect of it which is concerned with religious truth and action and is directly susceptible to Divine influence. (2) An order of being which is superhuman in the sense that it is not subject to the limits of time, space, and a bodily frame. In this sense God Himself is said in Scripture to be spirit (in contrast with ‘flesh’, i.e. humanity). (3) One of the…

The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (3 ed.)

…The notion of a Geist is that of a spirit that breathes through things, and in Hegel the highest level of spirit, distinguished from the individual spirit and the social or political spirit, is the absolute spirit to whose realization world history is directed. See also absolute idealism…

A Dictionary of the Bible (2 ed.)

… The Hebrew ruach means wind (Exod. 10: 13) or breath (Gen. 6: 17) or divine power (Ezek. 37: 9 f.) All imply something awesome. In the NT the Greek pneuma has a width of meaning—the spirit would come as fire and * judgement (Matt. 3: 11 f.), its coming on the * disciples at * Pentecost resembled fire (Acts 2: 3) but the sound was like wind (Greek, pneuma ). Prefaced by the adjective ‘holy’, the reference is to the divine Spirit, or Spirit of God. As such it is not mentioned very much in the synoptic gospels, since in Christian belief this Spirit 

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (19 ed.)

…is the doctrine that the spirit exists as distinct from matter, or as the only reality. Spirit writing Writing supposedly produced by the spirit of a dead person, either via a medium or using a planchette or ouija board. It is also known as ‘automatic writing’. Astral spirits See under astral . Free spirit See under free . High spirits See under high . Holy Spirit See holy ghost . If the spirit moves me If I feel so inclined. The expression derives from quaker use. Lords Spiritual See under lord . Proof spirit See under proof . Raise…
Spirit and ethics is this: What is the relationship between the so-called divine Spirit and the human spirit? In brief, where does inspiration lie? Deuteronomy 34:9 in the New International Version (NIV), for instance, contains the words, “[Joshua] was filled with the spirit,” though a footnote reads, “or, Spirit.” Is ruach a life-force (“spirit”) or a divine, charismatic gift of the Holy Spirit? In the New Testament, Paul includes “holy spirit” in a list of virtues that describe his life’s work: “in patience, in kindness, in holy spirit, in…
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3 ed.) 
… . In Christian theology the word denotes: 1 The intelligent and immaterial part of a person or the human soul in general, whether united with the body in life or separated from it in death, and especially that aspect of it which is concerned with religious truth and action and is directly susceptible to Divine influence. 2 An order of being which is superhuman in the sense that it is not subject to the limits of time, space, and a bodily frame. 3 One of the creatures belonging to this order, whether good or evil, i.e. angels or demons. 4 The Third…
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