(from animus, or anima, mind or soul), originally means
the doctrine of spiritual beings.
It is often extended to include the belief that personalized,
supernatural beings (or souls) endowed with reason, intelligence
and volition inhabit ordinary objects as well as animate
beings, and govern their existence (pantheism or animatism).
More simply, the belief is that "everything is alive", "everything
is conscious" or "everything has a soul".
It has been further extended to mean a belief that the world
is a community of living persons, only some of whom are
human. It also refers to the culture or philosophy which
these types of Animists live by, that is, to attempt to
relate respectfully with the persons (human, rock, plant,
animal, bird, ancestral, etc.) who are also members of the
wider community of life
Animism is commonly described as the most primitive form
of religion. Others do not see it as a religion at all.
They argue that Animism is in the first instance an explanation
of phenomena rather than an attitude of mind toward the
cause of them, a philosophy rather than a religion. The
term may, however, be conveniently used to describe a form
of religion in which people endeavour to set up relations
between themselves and the unseen powers, conceived as spirits.