Animism sounds like a word related to animals. But actually, the word comes from the Latin word, anima that means “soul” or “breath.” Animism is a religion where people believe in an unseen world of spirits. Humans are only a small part of their world. They believe there is no division between the physical and spiritual world. Therefore, spirits can live in any physical thing and control it. That includes animals, trees, rocks, and lakes, or other things in nature.
Animists believe it is possible to communicate with the spirit world through a special person, sometimes called a Shaman. Shamans use magic to try to talk with the spirits. Animists live in fear of angering the spirit world. Animists believe that gods and spirits are not good, perfect, and holy. They can even be evil. So, they try to please the gods and spirits by doing rituals and giving gifts. They want to protect themselves and their families. If someone is sick in their family or village, they call upon a shaman to help cure the sick person with special magic. They think the sick person or their family has somehow made a spirit or god angry with them. Sometimes, they wear special bracelets and necklaces to scare away evil spirits, or act as a protection against the spirit world. Children wear these special bracelets or necklaces also, because their parents want to protect them from being sick or getting hurt.
Animists live a life of fear, because they do not know that there is an all-powerful God who loves them. Those who love and follow Jesus do not need to fear. We know that God is perfect and holy and in control of every part of our lives.