Animism & Astrological Vision

Birth of a Star - Courtesy NASA

Birth of a Star – Courtesy NASA

This is not an article on Animistic astrology per se, but rather a study in two very different ways of seeing. As I write this, bees are in danger of extinction, the radiation from the Fukiyama nuclear facilities is several times higher than previously thought, the polar bears will be extinct in the wild in a couple of decades and the oceans will be too acidic to support plankton, at the base of the food chain, by the end of this century. There are reasons that things have become so dire

Animism is a term coined in the 19th Century to refer to what were considered the most primitive religions. Apparently, it stretched  credulity beyond reason to imagine that everything, animate or inanimate has spirit or soul, depending on the culture. The Abrahamic religions in particular helped create a rift between between ourselves and the rest of creation that inevitably becomes *other.* God is transcendent and ineffable and distinct from creation.

In other words, there is an implied or clearly stated disconnect between creator and creation.  In effect then, only the creator and perhaps those who obey him are holy. As many of us return to our indigenous roots, we are confronted with a world view that has been denied by science since the enlightenment and has, in fact, rarely occurred even to many astrologers raised in the cultures historically dominated by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. StoneHenge_2527967b

It doesn’t present a problem in Hinduism wherein a river is a living, holy entity. The most immediate changes of perception and action when one begins to view everything as energy, imbued with spirit.  The great irony here is that the most primitive form of religion practises what twentieth century science has demonstrated to be fact. However, because of the social context in which these revelations occurred implicitly deny it, not a great deal has changed in how we view the cosmos.

As a consequence, we are destroying our home. It is a very dark irony that such a materialistic society would have such a weak sense of physicality when it comes to the natural world. Theistic culture and it’s natural opposite, atheistic culture makes the unthinkable acceptable.

It allows poachers to see elephants only as a source of ivory or encourages a super power to decimate the resources of other lands and cultures with apparent impunity. These cultures operate in the context of nature being something to exploit at will because the divine doesn’t live here anyway ! Animistic  cultures can of course have their own demons, both literally and figuratively. It is hard to describe the full extent to which the current inhabitants of New Guinea would differ from the ancient Celts except to say a very great deal..

Some will prefer the term ‘Pantheist’ to Animism, but there is also an essential animism. Druidic culture was highly evolved and perhaps the most egalitarian in the world. It stood in very stark contrast to the martial, authoritarian and hierarchical world of Imperial Rome.  Women and men could own land, go to battle or be a part of the priesthood. Hindus often refer to the Druids as the Brahmins of Europe.

Both have an unshakable belief in Reincarnation, the sanctity of all life and most specifically for our immediate purpose, they are extraordinarily skilled in the arts of divination. It is crucial to note that this belief was quite different from the Pythagorean – Platonic Doctrine of the Transmigration of Souls who saw physical bodies resembled prisons of the soul.

Animism and Pantheism see all that lives as being essentially sacred The Celts and many other groups across the Indo European works use the term Shaman, but a Hindu may choose to call herself a Shaman of Shiva or use a term consistent with Tantra. The Druids had a plethora divinatory methods, but I’m most interested in how animists were likely to practise astrology.

We do know this was one of the forms of divination and that is was considered one and the same as astronomy. Druids have been identified as wizards and soothsayers since the Christian conquest, In fact,  in Celtic society they formed an intellectual class comprised of philosophers, judges, educators, historians, doctors, seers, astronomers, and astrologers.


Samhain Fires & Full Moon

The word “Druidae” is Celtic in origin.  Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, 23/24-79 A.D.) believed it to be “a cognate with the Greek word “drus,” meaning “an oak.” “Dru-wid” combines the word roots “oak” and “knowledge” (“wid” means “to know” or “to see” – as in the Sanskrit “vid”) …  Druid was a title given to learned men and women possessing “oak knowledge” (or “oak wisdom”). (See Chris Witcombe’ Earth Mysteries at the Britannia website.

Herodotus also mentions the great skills of  Celtic augery. When Animistic or Pantheist cultures consider the planets, luminaries and stars, they do so by first recognizing the spirit of heavenly bodies. They are alive and made of the same stuff as we are. They do not however artificially separate what is above from what is below.

It would be silly to point to a single cause of the state we find ourselves in, but it is very difficult indeed to imagine that those with the vision of  Animists could have possibly allowed what we have done to our Earth. Whether we like to to think so or not, our critics can dismiss us as perpetrators of Intelligent Design because we live in a cosmos rich with meaning, purpose and  consciousness

This video serves as a brief but decent introduction to Shamanism. Thankfully, there is now an abundance of reliable information available in print.

4 thoughts on “Animism & Astrological Vision

  1. Thank you so much for this article. It is just like post-modern society to dismiss the wisdom of our ancestors. “In the past, they believed….., but now we know….” Such arrogance is really an odd Western post-Enlightenment notion, I think. All other cultures throughout history have always believed and accepted that our ancestors were our superiors.

    Of course, as we do not have the wisdom and knowledge of our forebears, we do the best that we can, I think.

    Oh dear, I am going off on a soapbox. Thank you again for this wonderful article.

  2. I´m happy that you wrote this important article: true astrologers must able to see all the sky and not only the one we see from a window. Keep on with the good job, Peter!

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