The expanse of time in which humans have lived in villages, towns, and urban complexes constitutes a mere 5% of human history.
The first dramatic increase in human population, which took place over a period of several thousand years and is designated as the Agricultural Revolution, rearranged people, their domestic animals, and the location and concentration of permanent settlements into a vertical hierarchy of social power and inequality. This new arrangement was to overtake and eliminate the ‘flat earth’ equality of nomadic hunting and gathering peoples, who saw themselves as subject to nature’s laws, not man’s. Ironically, the ideals of the Enlightment, which are the foundation of Western Democracy, hark back to the natural equality of pre-social humans.
Animism has been incorrectly identified as a religion, or the original religion, a misunderstanding on the part of modern religious humans, who project their supernatural concepts, such as “soul” “spirits” “angels” or “demons” onto the practices of so-called primitive people. Animism is a way of perceiving existence directly, without the interference of concepts that divide matter and energy into dead words. Movement connects things; color, shape and texture connect things. Space unites the things of the Earth and the Sky; it doesn’t isolate them. Every object, living or non-living (a modern distinction) participates in the emergence of nature’s unity. This attitude is much closer to science than it is to religion. Religion is a cultural product of social man and was modeled on developing social structures, and not the other way around.
Common definitions of animism, such as the following, are not only incorrect, they miss the point entirely: Early humans experienced the energy inherent all things.
- the attribution of a Soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena.
- the belief in a supernatural power that organizes and animates the material universe
The very recent advent of petroleum products, their use in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and nearly every area of human production and consumption, has fueled an almost incomprehensible rate of increase in human population. This is not evolution, this is cultural activity that has altered the global environment so radically that thousands of species, including our own, must adapt instantaneously. It’s not going well.