stephan beyer

Animism is the view that human beings on the earth live – whether they know it or not – in community with persons who are not human beings. These other-than-human persons may include animals, plants, trees, rocks, clouds, thunder, and stars. The phrase other-than-human persons was coined by anthropologist Irving Hallowell to describe the world of the Ojibwe, in which humans, animals, fish, birds, and plants – and some rocks, trees and storms – are all inter-relational, intentional, conscious, and communicative beings. Ethnographer Thomas Blackburn reached similar conclusions for the Chumash, whose cosmos, he said, is composed of an “interacting community of sentient creatures.” Cultural ecologist David Abram speaks of “the intuition that every form one perceives … is an experiencing form, an entity with its own predilections and sensations.”


excerpt from Singing to the Plants by Stephan V. Beyer