The term and idea of anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, feelings, intentions, or actions to non-human entities. The word is derived from ánthrōpos (“human”) and morphē (“form”). Sources say that the term was first used in 1753, to reference religious heresy.
This means the term is a relatively recent (in the greater context of humanity) invention, to claim it is heretical when humans notice intelligence, emotions, behaviours in non-human entities such as the elements, animals, plants, the weather / seasons, and abstract concepts. The concept is a delegitimization of animism. It claims heresy because euro-centric societal institutions wanted to centre humans (white humans) serving a singular, sterile, and authoritative (white male) god, and that the concept that humans are the only conscious and sentient beings this white male god created and sanctioned, and everything else — plants, animals, rocks— are “beneath” humans. And that those who believed in animism are “primitive” and need “saving”.
What is truly heretical to me is how human-centric and disconnected to the Land this claim is. How did we humans survive all these centuries prior to 1753? By intellectualizing and dismissing the Land, and thus creating separation? No, we have survived because we understood we are part of the land.
Notice how institutions can be used as a colonialistic weapon to indoctrinate new dogmas and hierarchies as well as to instill a sense of fear if you don’t subscribe. Notice how the rationalizing of our inner and subtle perceptions of the Land is a mechanism to cut us off from intuition and the cross-cultural ancient ways of animism, healing, and magick.
I said this before, and say this again: when I hear the plants, when I communicate with ancestors or other spirits, when I read nature omens, I am not speaking in metaphor. I am not personifying. I am not engaged in poetic anthropomorphism. My work is literal. To clutch tightly to concepts of anthropomorphism and personification is the real heresy, and is a symptom of how we have lost our way with the Land and ourselves.
The way back is to begin acknowledging the Land’s being-ness. Her sentience. Her language. The way back to our (your) magick and the healing of the collective is the re-membrance of what we have dismembered through the notion that humans are centric to life.
founder, spirit communicator + shamanic intuitive
THOUGHTS ON ANTHROPOMORPHISM first appeared in my online journal, UNSEEN. Sign up for your FREE copy HERE.