Handbook of Contemporary Animism, 30



Animistic Plant Ontologies & Ethics

Matthew Hall


p. 385 convergence of theory in modern biology, with understandings in archaic animism

"a substantial body of pioneering research in the plant sciences ... demonstrates a remarkable convergence with indigenous animist knowledges of plant ontology. Such convergence prompts a discussion of animist-based models for a human-plant ethics -- embedding our knowledge of plant behaviour into into behaviour towards them."

p. 386 "worship of cereals"

[quoted from Frazer 1922:429] "in ... the plant, as in the body of a man, there is ... the soul of a plant ...; and

on this ... plant-soul is based the whole worship of cereals." {It would be more valid to assert that : on the transsubstantiation of wheat into God is based, through the soul of the Son of God, the whole of Christian worship.}

{As is well-known to (and often experienced by) occultists, plant have guardian-spirits, both a major spirit responsible for the entire plant-species, and numerous minor spirits responsible for individual plants. These spirits are of far greater importance than are the mere souls of plants : so that the religious significance (and worship) of plants must reside not in their mere souls, but rather in the divine spirits which control those souls.}

Frazer 1922 = James George Frazer : The Golden Bough. abridged edn. London : Macmillan.

p. 386 souls, human & botanic

"the nature of the human soul ... "is the cause of ... thought in the individual ...;

{Wrong! /Psukhe/ (/alma/) 'soul' is, in Classical (and most other) metaphysics, generally regarded as distinct from the /noos/ (/mens/) 'mind', which latter is the cause of thought.}

... the personal ... volition ..." (Tylor 1920:429)."

{Wrong! /Psukhe/ (/Alma/) 'soul' is, in Classical (and most other) metaphysics, generally regarded as distinct from the volition : thus, [not the psukhe, but] "the practical intellect ... processes ... intentions, exercising choice" ("A&IPs&PhM").}

""... tree spirits" necessitated ... the "tree soul" (ibid.:476)."

"A&IPs&PhM" = "Arabic and Islamic Psychology and Philosophy of Mind". http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arabic-islamic-mind

{This misdescription of the soul is likely intentional, a falsification demanded and required by the agency of the Imperial government (in the United Kingdom) devoted to slandering traditional and foreign philosophies and religions in order justify governmental policies of deliberate of oppression of occupied ("colonial") territories.}

p. 386 the "soul" of a plant

"in the fibers of the plant, as in the body of a man, there is

a certain vital element, which is so far independent of the plant that it may for a time be completely separated from it without fatal effects ... .

{This phainomenon would be analogous to projection of the astral body by humans.}

This vital yet separable element is what,

for the want of a better word,

{why not employ such a term as "astral body" (anna-maya kaya) or "subtle body" (suks.ma kaya)?}

we must call the soul of a plant ... . (Frazer [1890] 1922:414)"

p. 386 sentience in plants

"Trees have souls, feel pain, and even hold conversation, and this is ... extended to ... shrubs, and some skilled humans have had the knowledge of plant language" (Gilmore 1919:83-4)."

Gilmore 1919 = George William Gilmore : Animism; or, Thought-Currents of Primitive Peoples. Boston (MA) : Marshal Jones Co.

p. 387 to challenge the assumptions of capitalistic epistemology

"Animist "views" ... directly challenge the {ploutokrateia-promoted materialist} observer's established epistemological frameworks (Wittgenstein 1979)."

Wittgenstein 1979 = Ludwig Wittgenstein (transl by A. C. Miles ) : Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough. Atlantic Highlands (NJ) : Humanities Pr.

{Recent commentaries on these Remarks include :-

Alastair M. Walter : Metaphysics, Magic & Frazer : a Clarification of Wittgenstein's 'Remarks on Frazer's "Golden Bough"'. M.A. thesis, Univ of Wales at Lampeter, 2005.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (transl by Stephan Palmi) : The Mythology in Our Language : Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough. HAU Bks (impr of Univ of Chicago Pr), forthcoming 2016.}

p. 387 able to travel out of one's own material body, and to entre bodies of other living beings

"Tylor's ... discussion of ... souls ... in influenced by his understanding of a broadly "Hindu" philosophy. ...

Thus, describing the "soul", Tylor states : "It is a thin unsubstantial human image ... able to enter into, possess, and act in the bodies of other men, of animals, and even of things" (Tylor 1920:429)."

{This is a description of a facility of not the atman ('self', "soul"), but rather of the projected suks.ma kaya ('subtle body'). Was Tylor misrepraesenting the facts out of negligent ignorance, or out of deliberate malevolence?}

p. 388 the Dreaming-universe is source of the Waking-universe

"In Australian Aboriginal cultures, the Dreaming beings who walked the earth and created the local landscapes are ancestral to all components of the natural world and "from them it is possible, and indeed imperative, to trace kinship among the things of the world" (D. Rose 1996:29).

The Dreaming stories provide basic ancestral genealogies that "for Indigenous peoples typically

do not confine themselves to the human" (Whitt et al. 2003:4)."

{just as dreams themselves are not confined to experience by humans, but rather are experienced by (at least) all mammals}

Rose 1996 = Deborah Bird Rose : Nourishing Terrains : Australian Aboriginal Views of Landscape and Wilderness. Canberra : Australian Heritage Commission.

Whitt et al. 2003 = Laurie Ann Whitt; Mere Roberts; Waerte Norman; & Vicki Grieves : "Indigenous Perspectives". In :- Dale Jamieson (ed.) : A Companion to Environmental Philosophy. Oxford : Blackwell. pp. 3-20.

p. 388 kinship among species of plants and of animals

"The basis of plants personhood is ... the recognition of a shared kinship between plants, animals, humans ... and so on, which forms a part of what Salmo`n (2000) calls a "kincentric ecology"."

{This "kinship" is expressed in mythic genealogies, which is [not identical with affiliation among species indicated by the geological and biochemical records, but] based on information acquired from deities encountred in dreams.}

Salmo`n 2000 = E. Salmo`n : "Kincentric Ecology : Indigenous Perceptions of the ... Relationship". ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS 10.5:1327-32.

pp. 388-9 origin of a plant, in its dream-world aspect, out of self-transmutation of an anthropoid into a botanoid in such a dreaming-experience

p. 388

"In the Flinders Ranges of Southern Australia the Iga tree owes its existence ... to

the Dreaming beings

{the divinities who abide in the region of the dream-world corresponding to the stated region in the waking-world}

who traveled south from Queensland, to find a woman in the country of the Adnyamathanha. In the act of digging for ngarndi, they were startled ... and transformed into Iga trees (Tunbridge 1988)."

p. 389

"In one Gunwinggu Dreaming story, the Pandanus trees are a transformed human couple, Namalbi and Ngalmadbi,

who left their camp after a quarrel with their family ... (Berndt & Berndt 1989).

{evidently a cautionary story, intended as a social warning against quarreling (especially with kin)}

The Gunwinggu tell another

story of Mananda, an old man

{"The earlier form of the name was Mananda`n, and ... in Welsh in the form Manawydan" (LI, s.v. "Mananna`n", p. 329a).}

from South Goulbourn Island. He was unable to walk very far, so ...

he would sit and remain in one spot ... .

{"Manawyddan ... and they seated themselves joyfully on the grass." ("EM":LFB, p. 331)."}

Sitting there, ... he "just sat there so long that he became a long yam" (ibid.:62)."

Tunbridge 1988 = Dorothy Tunbridge : Flinders Ranges Dreaming. Canberra : Aboriginal Studies Pr AIAS.

Berndt & Berndt 1989 = Ronald M. Berndt & Catherine H. Berndt : The Speaking Land : Myth and Story in Aboriginal Australia. Ringwood (Victoria) : Penguin.

LI = Da`ithi` O`` hO`ga`in : The Lore of Ireland. Boydell Pr, 2006.

"EM":LFB = "Escape of the Mouse". http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/lfb/li/lifb31.htm In :-

Andrew Lang : Lilac Fairy Book. 1910. https://books.google.com/books?id=FhvXGHBA1dEC&pg=PA331&lpg=PA331&dq=

pp. 390-1 intelligent awareness & memory in plants

p. 390

"a substantial body of evidence in the botanical sciences ... demonstates that plants are active, responsive, autonomous and intelligent organisms. ... this evidence ... is important to consider here because it provides the appropriate context in which Western minds should situate an understanding of human-plant relationships in animist cultures. ...

p. 391

Plants are sensory organisms with a detailed, and active, awareness of their environments. ... Plants are aware of, and actively respond to, a range of environmental factors, including touch ... and ... stimulation ... . Having gathered sensory information, from both above and below ground, plants are able to employ it in their life history strategies. ... Such active awareness of the environment often involves processing information gleaned from previous experiences (... Ripoll et al. 2009), a form of plant memory (Trewavas 2003)."

Ripoll et al. 2009 = C. Ripoll; L. LeSceller; M. C. Verdus; V. Norris; M. Tafforeau; & M. Thellier : "Memorization ... in Plants". In :- F. Balus^ka (ed.) : Plant-Environment Interactions from Behavioural Perspective. Berlin : Springer. pp. 267-85.

Trewavas 2003 = A. J. Trewavas : "Aspects of Plant Intelligence". ANNALS OF BOTANY 92:1-20.

p. 391 plant-societies : deliberate release of VOCs by plants

"researchers describe plants as "social organisms", whose interactions with other plants of the same species can form the basis of "plant societies" (Balus^ka & Mancuso 2009)."

"A well-researched form of "plant socializing" involves the sharing of information about attacks by herbivores, through the release of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) (Dicke & Bruin 2001). ...

Plants which have been attacked can also release VOCs which communicate with, and attract, predatory enemies of the attacking herbivores (D'Alessandro et al. 2009).

More socially, plants which have been attacked can release VOCs which reduce the herbivore damage incurred by their ... kin ... (Karban 2009)."

Balus^ka & Mancuso 2009 = F. Balus^ka & F. Mancuso : "Plant Neurobiology : from Sensory Biology, via Plant Communication, to Social Plant Behaviour". COGNITIVE PROCESSING 10 (Suppl 1):S3-S7.

Dicke & Bruin 2001 = M. J. Dicke & J. Bruin : "Chemical Information Exchange between ... Plants". BIOCHEMICAL SYSTEMATICS AND ECOLOGY 29:979-1113.

D'Alessandro et al. 2009 = M. D'Alessandro; V. Brunner; G. von Me'rey; & T. C. Turlings : "Strong Attraction of the Parasitoid ... towards Minor Volatile Compounds of Maize". J OF CHEMICAL ECOLOGY 32:2733-48.

Karban 2009 = R. Karban : "Self Recognition Affects Plant Communication ...". ECOLOGY LETTERS 12:502-6.

{Such terms as /enemies/ and /attacked/ would not, however, tend to apply to plants' relationships with humans; where plants display a neutral telepathic response to ongoing human activities where intendedly respectful toward the plants. And, as in the case where divinities governing animal-game species may appear to humans in dreams so as to encourage or guide them in hunting those animals; so likewise divinities governing medicinal plant-species may appear in order encourage and guide mortal herbalists in culling herbs of those species.}

p. 392 cognition in plants

"As well as being sensitive and communicative, plants display a remarkable ability to ... assess the prevailing environmental responses ... . ... The plant perceives the rapidly changing resource levels and enacts the most ... developmental responses.

Trewavas (2003) has labelled this a a part of plant intelligence, while other researchers have termed this plant cognition (Balus^ka & Mancuso 2009). ... Increasingly, it is being recognized as involving a system-like process of "information acquisition, storage, processing, and the making of decisions" (Balus^ka & Mancuso 2009:S3). ...

Within the field of plant neurobiology it is believed that computation of information is achieved by a "plant neurobiological" apparatus which involves ... a kind of "command centre" (Balus^ka et al. 2006 {not in bibliography}) analogous to the brains of animals (Balus^ka & Mancuso 2009). Such neurobiological systems in plants are believed to allow ... decision-making in plant behaviour".

pp. 392-3 necessity for ethical behaviour by humans toward plants

p. 392

"Increasingly, plant science {botany} is recognizing plants as active, communicative, cognitive and autonomous organisms, and scientific evidence also suggests that

plants and animals are phylogentically closely related, based upon shared developmental traits

{Having evolved (with divine assistance) parallelly with chorophyll-plants, chordate animals retain as yet such as mechanism as the pineal-gland, which is a photosensitive physiology-controlling organ analogous with leaves in seaweeds, in trees, etc.}

which are absent in fungi and other organisms (Stiller 2007).

{Instead of being evolved from chlorophyll-plants, fungi are believed to be developed from slime-molds, which are multinucleate sorts of huge amoibai.}

p. 393

This scientific position is remarkable for a study of animism, because it increasingly resembles the animist recognition of plants as persons ... -- as organisms which are relational, volitional and mentally aware (M. Hall 2011) ... . In both Western science and indigenous animisms, plants are recognized as active, autonomous agencies, whose purpose is

not to fulfill any end or purpose of any external agents but entirely to maintain their own functioning integrity" (Lee 2005:64)." {According to shamanic gnosis, however, plants and animals alike are little but robots controlled by external spirit-guardians.}

{Certainly, the function of mortal humans is primarily to assist immortal deities in maintaining the functioning integrity of universewide telepathic networks -- and all manner of other intelligent entities have much the same purpose; but ordinary unintelligent organisms may have little function beyond their own nearly insignificant selves.}

Stiller 2007 = J. W. Stiller : "Plastid Endosymbiosis, Genome Evolution and the Origin of Green Plants". TRENDS IN PLANT SCIENCE 12:391-6.

Hall 2011 = Matthew Hall : Plants as Persons : a Philosophical Botany. Albany : State Univ of NY Pr.

Lee 2005 = Keekok Lee : "Is Nature Autonomous?" In :- Thomas Heyd (ed.) : Recognizing the Autonomy of Nature. NY : Columbia Univ Pr. pp. 54-74.

{The physiology of animals is in part parallel with that of chorophyll-plants, and in part parallel that of fungi -- for example, animals' inhaling of oxygen (a feature likewise of fungi, EB"F--S"; or rather of "most fungi", ThF, p. 146) and exhaling of carbon-dioxide (likewise of most fungi); and animals' having a pancreas secreting digestive enzymes (a feature of fungi but not of photosynthetic plants) -- as though animals were evolved parallelly with lichens (a symbiotic colony of algae and of fungi), though genetically from something like more alike to jellyfish.}

EB"F--S" = Encyclopaedia Britannica article "Fungus --- Saprotrophism". "fungi ... require free oxygen in order to live." http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/222357/fungus/57967/Nutrition

ThF = Michael John Carlile, Sarah C. Watkinson, G. W. Gooday : The Fungi. 2nd edn, Academic Pr (impr of Elsevier), London, 2001. https://books.google.com/books?id=cQf2YBxnle0C&pg=PA146&lpg=PA146&dq=

p. 393 singing to trees

"In Yanyuwa country, when the humans address songs directly

to the cycad trees, they are not "worshipping" them, they are singing in order to keep the trees healthy ... and to respectfully request that they continue to produce cycad fruits, which are staple of the traditional diet (Bradley et al. 2003:183).

{Any singing "to keep the plants healthy" would be directed, as a supplicatory prayer-anthem, to the spirit-guardian of the plant; and any petition to "respectfully request" fruit-production would likewise be directed to the spirit-guardian. These petitions are definitely formal worship-services.}

"trees can still understand human speech and the trees can be spoken to and addressed with prayer (Mauze 1998:239)."

{It may be possible to speak to one's house-plants, or to one's pets, informally. But formal (ritual or collective) prayer would be addressed, proprely, to a guardian-spirit (or guardian-angel) of the species.}

Bradley et al. 2003 = John Bradley & Nona Cameron : Forget About Flinders : an Indigenous Atlas of the Southwest Gulf of Carpentaria. Brisbane.

Mauze 1998 = Marie Mauzé : "Northwest Coast Trees : from Metaphors for Culture to Symbols in Culture". In :- Laura M. Rival (editrix) : The Social Life of Trees : Anthropological Perspectives on Tree Symbolism. Berg : Oxford. pp. 233-51.

{When guardian-spirits praesiding over tree-species observe humans singing or praying to those trees, these spirits are pleased and fulfill the requests.} {The singers are no more directing their songs to mere plants, than are Christian monks and nuns directing their chants to mere plaster idols -- though such lifeless idols (/eikones/ "icons") may be praesent in order to assist the angels to receive the prayers, just as aborigines' living plants may be praesent to assist reception of worship by their guardian-spirits.} {Note that Tylor and his imitators did not bring up the evident fact that Christian worship (recommended and subsidized by his own British Imperial government) is essentially identical with the "primitive" worship which he was compelled by the British Imperial government to decry as "absurd" -- a gross self-contradiction typical of the hypocritical (and deceitful) Imperial government.}

p. 394 bodies of other species must be eaten (as eucharist) in order to shew respect

"In many cultures, plants and animals must be killed and eaten in order to show respect (Fienup-Riordan 2001),

{The respect is shewn to the species spirit-guardian who induced the animal or plant to yield itself as food.}

because life "is for others as well as for itself" (D. Rose 2005a:296)."

{This life is willingly offered for the salvation of the world.}

Fienup-Riordan 2001 = Ann Fienup-Riordan : "Ecology from the Yup>ik Eskimo Point of View". In :- John Allan Grim (ed.) : Indigenous Traditions and Ecology. Cambridge (MA) : Harvard Univ Pr. pp. 541-58.

Rose 2005a = Deborah Bird Rose : "An Indigenous Philosophical Ecology : Situating the Human". AUSTRALIAN J OF ANTHROPOLOGY 16:294-305.

{"Animals offer their lives, their flesh to human beings in return for respect" ("WCII").}

"WCII" = Irving Goldman : "Winter Ceremonial II". http://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/hau4.3.032/1726


Graham Harvey (ed.) : Handbook of Contemporary Animism. Acumen Publ, Durham; ISD, Bristol, 2013.