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  • Writer's pictureAutistic Animist

Thoughts from an Autistic Animist

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

Thanks for your interest in my blog on neurodiversity, magic, and the life in between! I wanted to open things up with some introduction, definitions, how I relate to the terms in the title and warming up my blogging fingers. Here are some of my initial thoughts regarding autism, animism, and how I relate to each.


Please keep in mind that each autistic person is different and their experiences are unique. And animism likewise means many things to many people. Additionally note that the term "animist" is just one of many labels (one I happen to like!) for a way of understanding and relating to the world. Others might use terms like pagan, heathen, or even culture-specific terminology like Druid.


I have identified with many of these other terms as well in different contexts, and I use "animist" somewhat broadly to include a range of practices, traditions, and cosmologies. Not every educator or author I refer to identifies as "animist", though all have informed my own practice of animism. Everything I write here is simply my own experience and synthesis of what I've learned, and there is likewise no requirement to agree with my definitions for you to read and enjoy my ramblings.


What does it mean to me to be Autistic?

This is of course an enormous topic and one which I fully anticipate exploring, one way or another, throughout the lifetime of this blog. But for starters: to be autistic, to me, is to experience and move through the world with a neurology that differs from the majority. This difference touches all areas of life and brings with it unique challenges, gifts, and often a pervasive awareness of difference.

To be autistic, to me, is to experience and move through the world with a neurology that differs from the majority. This difference touches all areas of life and brings with it unique challenges, gifts, and often a pervasive awareness of difference.

It's this pervasive awareness of difference which is why I feel, strongly, that it's important for people like me to write blogs like this, even if we don't always know what to say or how to say it. I was autistic before I ever heard the term "autistic". I was autistic long before it first occurred to me I might be, which was well after my first exposure to the concept. I was autistic regardless of how well I masked, my academic performance, my relationship status, my employment or lack thereof, my level of ability or disability, and whether or not any other living soul ever recognized it.


I am autistic, always have been, and always will be. I consider it a blessing, and I also believe it to be at the root of some of the worst trauma I have experienced in my life. I sit with this conflict.


What does it mean to me to be an Animist?

Having spent some words above exploring what it means to me to be autistic, I'd now like to turn to the second term in the title of this blog: Animist. What do I mean when I say that I am a lifelong animist? How does this relate to other, related terminology like pagan, heathen, Druid, etc.? And how does it relate to being autistic?


Animism, to me, is the experience that All Things have a sacred life force, a unique Nature, and that interrelationship among All is at the core of my worldview and spirituality.

Animism, to me, is the experience that All Things have a sacred life force, a unique Nature, and that interrelationship among All is at the core of my worldview and spirituality.

Consequently, my relationship to myself (my autistic self) is influenced by and influences my relationship to all of reality, both seen and unseen. My experiences as an autistic person have primed me to recognize that just because my experience of the world (or the majority's experience of the world) is one way does not mean that that one way is "the" one reality. Animism is simply the acknowledgment, from my perspective, that there are as many experiences of reality as there are experiencers of reality--and that there are a lot more "experiencers" than modern convention acknowledges.


I have related to the world in this way for as long as I have been in this body, just the same as I have been autistic all this time as well. I emphasize this point because I think it is common to encounter gatekeeping (real or perceived, internal or external) when first approaching autistic communities, animist or pagan communities, and others. But for many of us, I believe, the animist way of relating to the world is as innate as being autistic, and we don't "become" animists any more than we "become" autistic. It is a process of discovering the language for what we have always known to be true, and finding community with the assistance of that shared language.


So all of that being said, I just want to make one final note about terminology which is a reminder that there are as many ways of being autistic as there autistic people; and likewise, as many was of being an animist as there are animists. I hope you find this space welcoming and my writing valuable or meaningful in some way in your own exploration. I wish you the self-love to recognize the truth in yourself you already know, the places where your soul says "yes!" and "no!" to what I write, and the courage to honor your own lived experience.


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