Animism (from Latin animus, -i ”soul, life”) is the worldview that non-human entities, including animals, plants, and often even inanimate objects or phenomena, possess a spiritual essence.
Although each culture has its own different mythologies and rituals, “animism” is said to describe the most common, foundational thread of indigenous peoples’ “spiritual” or “supernatural” perspectives. The animistic perspective is so fundamental, mundane, everyday and taken-for-granted that most animistic indigenous people do not even have a word in their languages that corresponds to “animism” (or even “religion”); the term is an anthropological construct rather than one designated by the people themselves.
Animism encompasses the belief that there is no separation between the spiritual and physical (or material) world, and souls or spiritsexist, not only in humans, but also in some other animals, plants, rocks, geographic features such as mountains or rivers, or other entities of the natural environment, including thunder, wind, and shadows.
In many animistic world views the human being is often regarded as on a roughly equal footing with other animals, plants, and natural forces. Therefore, it is morally imperative to treat these agents with respect. In this world view, humans are considered a part of nature, rather than superior to, or separate from it.