Religion Vs. Rewilding
Do hunter-gatherers have religion? That question makes about as much sense as asking if hunter-gatherers had language, science or art. Of course they did. Although their religions looked vastly different than the religions (and science & art) that we see today in civilization.
Like any cultural descriptor, the word religion evokes all kinds of emotions and images. When I think of the word religion I see a cross. I see big buildings and cathedrals. I see a man with a long white beard sitting in a throne in the clouds, looking down at us with a scrutinizing eye. I remember going to church as a child and never really understanding just what the fuck people did there. I hated singing the songs in church because I couldn’t read them out of the bible because I couldn’t read. So I would rock back and forth in the pews and fidget around like a lion in a cage until my mom would ask me to sit still. The words the preacher said made no sense and sounded totally boring. Not to mention the stink of the mold in the old churches. Eventually I would get a headache and begin to hate life. I never believed in god. I never had an incline to stay at church. I stopped going to church at eleven because I wanted to play video games.
As with everything civilization creates, the more recent the more destructive. Science, the latest, greatest Religion follows suit. Science supposedly separates itself from religion by allegedly basing itself on observations of the natural world and not mythology, made sense. I loved Science. In school, I always did well in Science. I didn’t learn until later that the institution of Science also bases itself in the same mythological roots as any other civilized religion. Sciences that actually project a more accurate perception of reality (the ones that point to a living world) get put in the little box of “quantum physics” or if they can’t measure it with machines they call it “pseudo science” and place them high on the shelf where we can forget about it!
Funding for Science (which really means investing in building more machines that can measure things we don’t trust our own senses to measure for their inherent subjectivity) only goes into projects that lead to furthering civilization. Though Science masquerades as “objective inquiry,” you can only fund scientific projects that somehow further the progression of civilization and therefore, the extraction of more “resources” and more interesting ways of killing people. Science refers to the funded exploration of the world through the belief that the world has no life, that it all exists for our taking.
Now a few sciences like quantum physics reveals some of the gaps in previous scientific thought. For those who believe in the mythology of Science, we can use these gaps to change more peoples minds. You can similarly find verses in the bible to support rewilding and dismantling civilization. Of course mainstream Christians justify the devouring of the earth through the bible; the very first chapter describes humans as above animals and the earth. Of course mainstream Scientists use this same myth to torture monkeys and build atom bombs. Trying to rewild the institution of organized religion proves just as difficult as trying to change the institution of Science; they came about through civilization. We cannot rewild civilization since it never had wildness to begin with. Religion and Science just describe words that civilization has twisted for its own purposes. We can rewild these things.
In order to rewild religion we have to see what myths civilization uses to domesticate it members. Salvation and sky-based gods (or GOD) come only exist in civilized cultures, or in cultures already assimilated into civilization. In civilized religions, we must struggle in this life so that God will award us with eternal bliss in the afterlife. I can’t think of a better way of convincing a slave-class from not revolting (…Um, aside from more modernly convincing people that a slave-class no longer exists).
Animism refers to the religions of indigenous peoples around the world. In a general sense it means ‘all religions that believe everything has a spirit, even inanimate objects.’ Using a blanket term to describe thousands of religions sounds rather obnoxious to me, though it does say something about the evolutionary value of religion; it would make sense that in order to survive in the long-run people who treat everything in the world as sacred. What more a sacred way of living in the world than ‘seeing’ a spirit in everything. Hunter-gatherers to not tread on this lightly. If you don’t truly value life, even inanimate objects, than you will not respect them.
From an animist perspective, Gods live among us not above us. They live as our parents, not ‘rulers’ in the same sense that we see hierarchy. They make up an extension of our family. Some gods live as our parents, “father sun,” while some live as our siblings; “sister corn.” Living in this world, in this time, experiencing this world, not disassociating yourself from it or living in an afterlife.
The literalism that which modern civilized people experience mythology looks astounding. Most Christians actually believe that Adam and Eve lived as real people. The same way that scientists worship “facts” (or even perceiving theories as laws). This probably stems from speaking English for a few thousand years, a language with no built-in metaphor, layering of archetypes or fluidity.
I generally refer to these two perceptions as “animist religions” and “civilized religions.” But “civilized religions” does little to explain just how religion and Science share the same mythology. We need a blanket term for religions that do not see things as animate, but inanimate. A word like Inanimism. If animism refers to the belief that all things have a spirit, than inanimism refers to the belief that either only humans have spirits or nothing at all.
Many people conflate the Institution of Science, with the inquiry called science, that I generally use the term “tracking” (as in following tracks and sign) to refer to the animist form of inquiry. Similarly I hardly think of Animism as a “religion” in the institutional way we think of religions and see it more as a way of perceiving the world; “spiritual, not religious.” Tracking connects you to spirit, whereas civilized science dissociates people from spirit and gives you the world of “meat space.” The civilized have an easier time devouring the world when they can convince themselves it never had its own life. This shows us why a subjective science, one that does not see inanimate objects as inanimate objects but living spirits with their own lives, came about through millions of years of human evolution.
I have heard many people refer to the physical world as “meat space.” That at once you can split reality into two parts, a physical one and a spiritual one. I can only see one point in doing this, and that involves objectifying something in the physical world. If I can take the spirit out of something, it doesn’t feel as bad when I objectify it. I always feel highly offended when I hear the words meat space. I never really put my finger on it until Willem (who also takes offense to the words) said that it reminded him of the objectifying slang term “meat curtains” which refers to a womans vagina.
Meat, a piece of flesh that no longer resembles the animal it came from, quite literally has no more spirit, because the animal that it came from no longer lives. From an animists perspective of the world, flesh and spirit do not exist as a duality but as one. Meat still holds the spirit of the animal, and will become part of your spirit when you eat it, just as the flesh will become part of your flesh.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offered a 1 million dollar reward for the first scientist who can clone meat. Apparently meat grown in a petri dish has no nerve endings and no way to scream and obviously in PETA’s eyes, no soul, and therefore, growing meat in a petri dish and eating meat from a petri dish does not violate their animal ethics (excuse me while I turn away to vomit). Though the petri-meat may have the label “cruelty-free,” the world view and culture that would even think to invent such a thing can’t and never will stop abusing the planet. The complete disconnection from reality, the complete disconnect from taking responsibility and honoring the things that die for us to live, looks completely and utterly insane. I wish I could offer a 1 million dollar reward for the first person to bring me the head of the first scientist who clones meat.
How long before some perverted scientist clones a vagina to have sex with it? Does it count as rape if the vagina has no brain and mouth and cannot scream? If we say that cloned meat has no life, do we define having sex with a cloned vagina as necrophilia? Does a cloned vagina count as dead, or something else? This example shows exactly the kind of psychotic disassociation from reality that feeds science and projects the duality of flesh and spirit. You don’t learn to live in the world through objectifying it, you learn by subjecting yourself to its terms and courting it.
Though I even have a hard time using the term science as defined as “objective inquiry” because no such thing exists. If you remove variables, you will get false information because things do not have their own essences but define themselves through their environment and interactions. Even people could remove their own perceptions (which frame their inquiries and make them subjective) we would still receive false information because our perceptions define how we interact with the environment, which defines us. Even if we built a robot with no heart, it would still give us false information because the framing of no-heart still has subjectivity of “no-heart.” Things without hearts, or people who shield their own so they can feel nothing by building nukes and torturing labrats have the subjectivity of perceiving the world in a false light, or at least in one that does not serve life. Objectivity means seeing things objectively, apart from what gives them life. It sees them as inanimate.
If we take out our senses and experiences and perceptions as humans shaped by the environment, than we take out the very things that make us human. We take out the humanity rendering information useless to humans and only useful to machines. When we no longer trust our own bodies and senses and experiences as a measure for what we see as “real” than we don’t really have anything “real” at all.
For some, including myself, rewilding religion may look like walking away from any and all inanimist-religions and starting over with animism. Since I have never participated in a culture of civilized religion or Science, I find it easier to build something new than fix something old and falling apart that I don’t understand. For those who do have deep cultural ties to civilized, inanimist-religions, rewilding them will look like rewilding the English language; it will happen very slowly over time… and those who don’t change their perception will die. Animism shows us religions that stand the test of evolution. Civilization’s religions will die with it unless they fundamentally change through re-animating. You will need to act as a Re-Animator.
Religions, whether Science, science, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Scientology, Inanimism, or Animism dictate the majority of our choices as a culture. These religions give us reasons to justify the way we interact with the world. Civilization uses the perception of the world as dead to justify its destruction. Animism sees the world as alive and treats it accordingly. Weather you personally believe in spirits or not, in order to create a new way of life that does not destroy the planet, we need to at least pretend, with sincerity, as though everything has a spirit.
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