Animism Facts, Origin, Beliefs and Definition

Animism Facts, Origin, Beliefs and Definition

Humans have long since found peace in religion and beliefs. Even in the prehistoric eras, there is evidence that suggests about human belief systems. Animism is one such belief system which has long existed on Earth and still. Several of today’s religion like Hinduism and Buddhism have similarities with Animism. Learn more about Animism Facts, Origin, Beliefs and Definition in this article

Animism Definition

Animism is a belief in spirits & spirits. This is the principle of religious beliefs that first appeared among primitive humans. Animistic believes that every object on this earth has a soul that it must be respected so that the spirit does not disturb humans, but instead help humans from evil spirits as well as in their daily lives.

The word “Animism” is derived from the Latin word, “anima”, which means spirit or life. As per Animism, everything including plants, trees, mountains, wood, rivers and animals, everything has a soul and that everything is alive.

Animism Origin

Animism is often termed as the oldest belief system on earth. Although, it is not confirmed when exactly Animism originated but It is believed to have originated in the Paleolithic Age and hence also termed as the oldest religion/ belief.

Animism became known to the world when anthropologist Edward Tyler published his book, Primitive Culture, in 1871.

Followers of Animism

About 4% of the population follow Animism, i.e., about 232 million followers. Most of its followers live in Asia, Africa and, Latin America. Some of the countries where Animism is practiced are Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Combodia, Philippines, Nigeria, Angola, South Sudan, Haiti, Laos, Jamaica, Cuba, Lesotho, Kenya, Sierra Leone, etc.

Animism Beliefs

Animism had neither prophets / advocates nor any texts that give the rules and doctrines, Animism is entirely based on beliefs. In fact, followers of Animism don’t consider Animism as a religion at all. Following are some of the terms, beliefs and faiths associated with Animism, all of which revolve around Animistic belief that “Everything has a spirit”.

  • Animistic also believe that the spirit of a dead person can enter the body of an animal and is believed to be taking revenge on the person who is a mortal enemy in his lifetime.
  • They believe that the spirit continues to exist even after death. They believe that spirits must be taken care of lest they become angry and agitated.
  • Animists can also see sickness and illnesses associated with spirits.
  • Some faiths of Animism include
    Badimo: Ancestor worship
    Chondogyo: God lives in everyone.
    Kirant: People worship nature and ancestors.
    Spiritualism: Connecting with Spirits.
    Voodoo: Spirit worship
  • Fetishism is a belief that inanimate objects can also possess a soul or a spirit. Some objects like a necklace or a stone can be extremely personal to an individual or a family. They can even seek power and strength from that object. The object cannot be shown to any other person.
  • Totemism is a belief that an inanimate object can be the ancestor to a clan or a group. This further leads to the belief that each clan, family or group has their own history, symbols and characteristics.
  • Animism followers believe that one needs permission from the spirits before cutting down a tree, hunting, building a house, or for getting married. That one should flatter the spirits in order to get the permission. The spirits will show a sign that will serve as proof of their permission, else one cannot go against their will.

More Information and Facts on Animism

  1. Animism is often considered similar to pantheism. Animism believes in the spiritual nature of everything, however, pantheism doesn’t believe in the spiritual nature of inanimate objects.
  2. Animism and Dynamism are said to be interconnected. In general, Animism can be interpreted as a belief in life (spirit). While dynamism comes from the word dynamos which means power or strength, so dynamism is a belief that presupposes certain things or creatures as the god. This belief is also called preanimism. Both the beliefs are about the “inner being”.


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