Animism: The Demonic Idolatrous Worship of Creation

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.” (Psalm 115:4-7)

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:25)

What is Animism? 

Let’s go to Wikipedia:

“Animism (from Latin anima, “breath, spirit, life”) is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even words—as animated and alive.”

Animists believe that all things have a spirit or soul, and that “Each being is considered a spirit that can offer help or harm to humans. As such, spirits must either be worshiped or appeased. Animists offer sacrifices, prayers, dances, or other forms of devotion to these spirits in hopes of blessing areas of life (crops, health, fertility, etc.) or for protection from harm.

A Hindu woman worshipping the pipal (peepal) tree.
Perhaps this is can be considered a form of animism. This is a shrine called a spirit house to the supposed protective spirit (really a demonic spirit) of a place. They are usually found in the Southeast Asian countries of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In Southeast Asia, spirit houses are connected to the various traditional animistic rituals involving spirits. They would give food offerings at the spirit houses.

Animism has been practiced since ancient times and is often mentioned in the Bible. The Israelites, for example, were commanded to not follow the practices of the nations around them who followed other gods. The Egyptians who enslaved Israel prior to their wilderness journey followed many deities as animists. In Daniel, the people worshiped ‘the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone'” (Daniel 5:4) (source).

The New-Age movement is generally animistic

The new-age movement, which is one of the biggest lies of the enemy, incorporates animism. One former new-ager who turned Christian said:

“I was moving towards this belief in the last 2 years of my New Age life. I recall a reading by a clairvoyant friend of mine in her home (side note: I had met her at Quaker House meetings). I was seated in a chair while she gave the reading. She took me back to a previous life (supposedly) and asked me what I saw. I “saw” myself outside with a lot of rocks and trees around. I picked up a rock (in my mind) and she asked me what I felt or saw. I told her, “I feel that the rock is alive.” This stayed with me as a haunting thought until I was born again in Christ.” 

“Discover the Power of Practical Animism” is the name of an online seminar given by the New Age Shift Network held in 2019. Astrology, mediums, psychics, or the regular New Age and occult practices are usually promoted by new-agers, but now some new-agers are even getting involved in Animism, perhaps the most open form of Paganism. Interestingly, the teacher behind the seminar was a marriage and family therapist whose “doctoral research in psychology focused on the use of shamanic healing practices by clinical mental health professionals” (source).

The following is an example of how new-agers believe in animist concepts. The excerpt is from a page promoting the seminar:

“Find out why reconnecting with elemental energies and the Earth can help you remedy cultural hurts and feel a deeper sense of belonging now.

Some kinds of people you can relate with as an animist include plants, animals, fungi… mountains, metals, fire… bodies of water, spirits of wind and weather… deities, human ancestors, star people, nature spirits… and others who we don’t have words for in English.

Our more ancient ancestors maintained conscious dialogues with these and other beautiful beings upon whom their lives depended. Having lost or forgotten these relationships can be part of any longing for connectedness you might feel — and it’s a direct cause of the ecological devastation that we face.

…..Earth reconnection is nourishing for your spirit, an essential part of our humanity, and it’s a medicine that’s learnable.”

Notice he states he can relate with “plants, animals, fungi”etc. as “kinds of people.”

Animism is more prevalent in certain parts of the world

Animist and Buddhist icons in a park in Vientiane, Laos. It has been reported that “Converts to Christianity in Laos are facing eviction from their village because of their beliefs, according to a US rights group.

Authorities in Huay village, Savannakhet province, accused the Protestant converts of conducting worship in their homes and said they must recant or be expelled…”

Animism is found in the mixture of major world religions with indigenous beliefs. For example, Tibetan Buddhism is Buddhism merged with Bon, indigenous animistic religions in Tibet. You can find this everywhere — Russia, Asia, South America, in the African continent. In Indian-origin religions, namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, all have the animistic aspects of nature worship. Shinto is an animistic tradition. The Kalash people of northern Pakistan follow an ancient animistic religion. Korean shamanism, called Mu or Muism, is animist. The traditional religions of Africa are too. The traditional Berber religion and the pre-Islamic Arab religion are/were animistic. Some Neopagan groups, including Eco-pagans, describe themselves as animists, meaning that they respect the diverse community of living beings and spirits with whom humans share the world and cosmos. As mentioned earlier, the New Age movement is generally animistic. The various indigenous shamanistic folk religions of the Philippines are animistic.

Let’s take a look at the Blaan people, who are one of the indigenous peoples of Southern Mindanao in the Philippines:

“The Blaans are traditionally animists who worship the spirits living in trees, rivers and mountains. Their belief system includes the use of charms to protect them from these spirits. Just one of these small objects, hidden in their clothing or homes, might equal the value of a carabao or a revolver.

Coming to know Christ doesn’t necessarily rid new Blaan believers of their deeprooted belief in these charms. Instead, they try to combine the two, resulting in a continuous struggle between the two spirit worlds, rather than in a victorious Christian life.

Two years ago, Ding Rogue realized this problem and began to confront believers who were still clinging to their old ways. He sometimes stops a church service to say, “There’s bad spirit in here, over on this side. You have no business bringing charms into this church. You should get rid of them.” Sometimes he can point out the very person. “It’s like the Holy Spirit is whispering in my ear, “he says, “telling me ‘that’s the one.’”

As a result, believers often give up their charms to be burned. This great act of sacrifice and faith opens the way for God’s Spirit to work in even greater ways in the lives of the Blaan people.

(The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare, pgs. 447-448)

Interestingly, inanimate objects can become vehicles for satanic power. Yes, there is such a thing as demonic attachments or focalization in certain objects. One example is pagan idols, which are not merely artistic pieces of deadwood or stone. Demons are behind all idols (Deut. 32:17; Psalms 106:36-38; 1 Cor. 10:19-20), so it wouldn’t be farfetched to believe demons can inhabit objects such as trees that people worship. It would be wise to discard all idols if you have them in your possession.

Animism is especially prevalent in West Africa. It’s not so common in other parts of Africa. Most West Africans were animists before Islam and Christianity came. Some, like the Dogon, and various tribes in Ivory Coast are diehard animists.

Apparently, the teacher of this seminar had training in the West African religion of Yoruba. A recommendation on the same page states:

“Through four extended visits to our home in Nigeria, I’ve overseen his initiations to Ifa, Orisha, the ancestral medium society (Egungun), and Osugbo Society (devotees of Onile, the Earth).”

The “orishas” are spirits/gods that are invoked in rituals. Due to the environmental movement and increasing reverence for “ancient” beliefs (or those perceived to be), Animism is very appealing. It’s a natural consequence of the growing Paganism and syncretism, the blending of various beliefs.  

The Biblical condemnation of animism

Animism is viewed by many anthropologists and non-Christian theologians to be the “oldest religion.” However, people initially worshiped the one true God of the Bible starting in the garden of Eden (Genesis 1). Because of sin and man’s fallen nature, people started to drift away to false gods and rejected the true God that Animism came about.

One website correctly opines:

“The New Testament also includes accounts of people who worshiped idols and other inanimate objects. In 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 the apostle Paul teaches, ‘Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one.’ For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.’ Though many offered food to inanimate objects as animists, Christians were to understand that these objects did not really have a spirit or exist as a god.”

Another website explains rightly:

“The Bible states unequivocally that there is one God and everything else, from the angels in heaven to the grains of sand on the beach, was created by Him (Genesis 1:1). Any religion that teaches there is more than one god is teaching a lie. ‘Before Me there was no god formed, and there will be none after Me; (Isaiah 43:10). ‘I am the Lord and there is no other; besides Me there is no god’ (Isaiah 45:5). The worship of false gods, who are really not gods at all, is a sin God especially hates because it robs Him of the glory that is rightfully His. A check of any Bible concordance on the subject of idolatry will show how many times God forbade the worship of false gods.

In addition, the Bible strictly forbids the practices of the animists. ‘A man or a woman who is a medium or a wizard shall be put to death; they shall be stoned with stones, their blood shall be upon them’ (Leviticus 20:27). The practice of animism opens a door for demons to enter into the lives of people who are deceived by the lie that is animism. The Bible condemns those who practice spiritism in very strong terms: abominations to God, stone them to death, the fire shall burn them (Deuteronomy 18; Leviticus 20; Isaiah 47).

As with all false religion, animism is simply another scheme of Satan, the father of lies. Yet many throughout the world are being deceived by the ‘adversary, the devil, [who] walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Peter 5:8)”.

You may also want to read:

The Demons Behind the Idols

Monism – New-Age Lie

If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can receive Him into your heart, and He can deliver you from darkness and sin and have your name written in His Book of Life.

If you are sincere, you can say this simple prayer to the Father (it doesn’t have to be word for word):

“God, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been living for myself and that is wrong. Please forgive me of all of my sins just as I forgive others. I need You in my life; I want You in my life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross, I believe in my heart Jesus is Lord and was raised from the dead and I long to receive the forgiveness you have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now, Lord. Take up residence in my heart and be my king, my Lord, and my Savior. From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to please myself, but I will follow You all the days of my life. Those days are in Your hands. I ask this in the Lord and GOD Jesus’ precious and holy name. Amen.

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