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The Handbook of Contemporary Animism – Graham Harvey

 The Old Ways are NOT a religion, they have no dogma nor creed, no official sacred texts or scriptures, they are not even a belief system – in fact their is no requirement for ‘belief’ at all.

The Old Ways are also not JUST a spirituality; although as something that re-aligns us to that which is far greater than ourselves, spirituality plays an important role, more on that which is greater than us can be found in Deity & The Sacred. 

The Old Ways are truly (w)holistic – we are ‘mind, body and spirit’ but you cannot separate these entities out from each other – even the simplest of activities such as eating is not just a bodily function; yes it satiates our hunger and keeps us alive but it also has great effect on our mental state, and where a meal is shared with like-minds it also satisfies a spiritual need within us.

Everything is interlinked, everything is connected and intertwined, it is impossible to take one element in isolation. It is a concept that is so alien to Westernised Capitalist cultures & minds that it can be almost impossible to explain. It is an understanding that can only be gained through close relationship with the land and all the living things that exist upon it, through developing a full understanding & relationship with the ‘Land Beneath Our Feet‘ and learning to work with ‘The Rhythm of Life‘. Everything is recognised as having the life-force flowing through it & therefore being sentient; this is called animism.

Earth, Sea and Sky

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Revealing the Green Man
Revealing the Green Man – Mark Olly
  • The Old Ways are an understanding – of the world(s) in which we live and our relationship to them, where we fit in and the role that we play (our purpose) and of life itself.
  • The Old Ways are a knowing – of the fundamental nature of reality and existence, how it ‘all hangs together’, life itself and the Otherworlds that surround us.
  • The Old Ways are a connection – with the Earth Herself, the Sea (Water) and the Sky (Air) all of nature, the elements and energies that flow all around & through all things, with life itself.
  • The Old Ways are experiential, when we have experienced something we ‘know’ it and when we know something, there is no longer any need to have a ‘belief’. 

The Old Ways are Animistic

 – animism is:

  • The understanding that the life-force (Spirit – Nwyfre; a Middle Welsh word meaning ‘vigor’ – the source of life & consciousness) is within everything – plants, animals, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena
  • Understanding that the life-force is a numinous (having a spiritual quality) energy, an active principle forming part of any living thing, that permeates everything and links the whole together. Western capitalist cultures are the only ones who do not have a word for this, it is known as  qì or ch’i in Chinese Culture, khí in Vietnamese culture, gi in Korean culture & ki in Japanese culture. As the universal spiritual force it is known as ‘The Great Spirit/Mystery’ among American First Nation cultures (Wakan Tanka among the Sioux, and Gitche Manitou in Algonquian)
  • As a result of this everything is sacred​ and some individual elements i.e. Mountains or Streams/Rivers may have an energy that is viewed as a Deity – places such as Uluru (Ayers Rock) is sacred to the local Pitjantjatjara tribe that live there and is believed to have been formed by ancestral beings during Dreamtime; Tibetan natives call ‘Mount Everest’ Chomolungma, meaning “Goddess Mother of Mountains”; The river Severn is known in Welsh as ‘Hafren’ which in old English equates to Sabren (Latin: Sabrina) who is the Goddess of the river. 
  • The connection with the life-force is through ‘The Land on which We Stand’ and all the elements of nature which are born out of this land – as the life-force flows into and through things it entwines with their unique form and creates quiddity (the inherent nature or essence of someone or something).

The Old Ways are our indigenous cultural heritage – a total way of living that encompasses ALL aspects of our way of life.

It is a world-view that is still as relevant for us today as it has always been – perhaps even more so now, given the mess that us humans have made of the world.

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The Wakeful World
The Wakeful World – Emma Restall Orr

Find out More about…..

Old (Shamanic) Ways

Deity & The SacredAnnwn & The Otherworld


Spirit of Place

Brythonic Deities

Sacred Celebrations