07 November 2019

Animism - a Form of Respect for Nature.

Having been to Japan a year or two ago I've become aware of and impressed by many Japanese cultural characteristics. In particular I've liked their Shinto beliefs - especially the animistic aspects of it.

Mountain Ranunculus

Alpine Wahlenburgia

I've largely given up on the idea of religion but quite like the ideas involved in animism. I'm not into the idea of believing that 'god' exists in natural objects but rather that as a mark of a love of nature you freely gift a 'spirit' to a particular tree, rock, stream, mountain - any natural thing - as a token of respect and love.

A personal aspect of this respect can also be seen in the Japanese custom of bowing to one another and in India with their 'Namaste'.

I've just read Peter Hohllben's book on trees - his anthropomorphic style with trees thinking, talking and screaming was just too much for me but there was no denying his love of forests. He described the inter-connectedness of nature, its ephemeralism and, although he hardly mentioned it, we all share atoms or molecules with all of nature - we really are just one huge organism. And is there no death - as we perceive it?

Is there Death?

William Wordsworth, in 1798, after a year of wandering and communing with nature in the  Quantocks of Somerset walked with his sister, Dorothy, up the Wye Valley to near Tintern Abbey. When he returned he wrote

Five years have past; five summers, with the length 
Of five long winters! and again I hear 
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs 
With a soft inland murmur

and later in the poem

For I have learned 
To look on nature, not as in the hour 
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes 
The still sad music of humanity, 
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power 
To chasten and subdue.—And I have felt 
A presence that disturbs me with the joy 
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, 
And the round ocean and the living air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man: 
A motion and a spirit, that impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought, 
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still 
A lover of the meadows and the woods 
And mountains; and of all that we behold 
From this green earth; of all the mighty world 
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create, 
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise 
In nature and the language of the sense 
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, 
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul 
Of all my moral being.

He was a bit of an animist, I think.

Luschious Life after Death

Beautiful Life after Death

I love my photography and have put together a 'large' number of my photos of nature - sunrises and settings, scenery, weather moods, people, animals, fungi and trees etc. I've combined them into a sort of screen saver with some church music (Rachmaninov) - yes I still enjoy the music from churches. They are usually songs of praise - and for me now, praise of nature. Anyway in my dotage I intend to spend a bit of my time sitting with a glass of wine enjoying 'my' nature. Hopefully, Catherine will sit with me now and then, when she is having a rest from saving the planet.

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