Animism – by Toni

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    Mary Santangelo / Toni B []

    Some beliefs of the Strega – Animism

    What is animism? It is derived from the Latin word anima meaning breath or soul. This is probably one of the oldest beliefs known to mankind and probably dating back to pre-history. In its earliest form, it was believed that everything in existance was alive even if it was inanimate. The “spirit” more or less came from a more universal soul that ended up being called anima mundi (world soul). The world soul basically later became the Gaia theory in which some believed that the earth was a living being, therefore, having a spirit or soul all her own. In the same sense, the spirit or soul is an energy that animates every human being, connecting us to Mother Earth.

    Because of this connection, everything around us IS part of us, the interconnective web of life itself. We are not separate from it, but part of the whole. Because the Strega believed this, it was a way to share itself with nature – if we are part of it, than she (the Mother) can talk to us through her many parts via trees; grass; sun; moon; oceans, the wind, etc.

    They also believed that when a person died that obviously the soul didn’t, but was than transferred to other parts of the world soul, meaning the soul could enter an animal as well as another human being. The Druids believed in “transmigration” of the soul, meaning it would pass from one living thing to another (not necessarily human).

    In today’s Witchcraft, we have incorporated Reincarnation and karma. Reincarnation is an anglicized word of Latin derivation, meaning “reinfleshment,” the coming again into a human body of an excarnate soul.

    Although some traditionalist groups do not believe in this concept in a way it is basically close. Whether it is reincarnation, transmigration or the concept of animism, a soul is a soul and where is decides to transmigrate could be anybodies guess. There are times when I look into my cat’s eyes and see my Mothers face (who passed on years ago). Strange as that may sound – I always feel Mom came back for me to continue to take care of her as I did prior to her death, (I was her caretaker for 15 years).

    Karma is cause and effect. Call it what you will, but it is there. You do something, it has an effect. It is basically Newton’s law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It was Gardner who coined a “three-fold” law, but who’s to say how it will kick you in the butt if you do something that will cause a good or bad reaction.

    Although, Doreen Valiente did question The Law of Three, we can honestly say that the law of karmic return usually does not have a number attached to it. When we drop that pebble in the water, we really don’t know how much of a ripple we may cause. Therefore, our return may be more or less than threefold. Here is Doreen’s comment on The Law of Three.

    “Another teaching of Gerald’s which I have come to question is the belief known popularly as ‘The Law of Three’. This tells us that whatever you send out in Witchcraft, you get back threefold, for good or ill. Well, I don’t believe it. Why on earth should we assume that there is a special law of Karma, which applies only to Witches? For the Goddess’ sake, do we really kid ourselves that we are that important? Yet, so I am told, many people, especially in United States, take this as an article of faith. I have never seen it in any of the old books of magic, and I think Gerald invented it.” (Doreen Valiente, Pagan Federation Conference, Croyden, England, Nov. 1997, as quoted in Wiccan Wisdom Keepers, p. 34).

    At any rate, how can animism help you? 1. Be close to nature any chance you get, even if you have to create a nature reserve in your house with plants, small trees, shells, stones and your pets (if you have any). The old cliche of talking to your pets is not that far off. Those Divas (plant spirits) are within every plant. Talk to your pets, they are not just creatures you feed, they have feelings. 2. Sense the living things around you, enhance your senses, the ocean; the wind; the grass. They have been around longer than you have. They have secrets to tell. 3. Be thankful for the food you eat as it was alive at one time, even if it was vegetables. By getting close to nature in this way, the Strega became one with everything around her and in time became privy to nature’s mysteries.

    Many Blessings,



    All rights reserved, Mary Santangelo / Toni B []
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