It’s easy to distinguish animism from paganism. Paganism is a farmer’s religion (“pagan” means “of the country”). There were no farmers here until about ten thousand years ago. Before that, the religion of humanity was animism (and it still is among tribal peoples). It’s not, in fact, a religion in the way most people think of religion. It’s based on no “religious” belief. Rather, it embodies a worldview: the world is a sacred place, and humans belong in that sacred place. The religions of our culture (the “major” religions) perceive the world to be a place of illusion and evil–not a sacred place, but rather a place to to be escaped from in order to reach some “better” place that is our true home. At the same time, the religions of our culture perceive humans to be fundamentally flawed, so that if the world were a sacred place, humans wouldn’t belong in it. In the view of our culture’s religions, humans are miserable creatures living in a miserable place. When people ask me to explain animism, I tell them that if they’re really interested, they should read The Story Of B. I wrote that book to explain animism.

ID: 400
posted: 02 May 1999
updated: 02 May 1999