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Author Topic: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities  (Read 16490 times)

Maponos

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #45 on: October 12, 2014, 08:01:21 pm »
Quote from: NightQueen;162053
And some call it a religion, at this point it's rather splitting hairs.  My point is there are non-theistic religions. God doesn't equal religion.


Well, I follow the English definition of religion so we'll have to disagree:

Quote
the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods


Quote
I know quite a few people who practice magic who consider themselves atheists.  Would you not consider magic supernatural?


It depends- are they working with spirits or are they extending their own will? Either way, it does because I believe that one can ascend to deity status if their actions are great enough in life.
 
Quote from: Darkhawk;162054
"Supernatural" is as far as I'm concerned one of those fancy words for "shit that doesn't exist".

The gods are not supernatural.  They're right there, not removed into imaginaryland.

 
And what does supernatural mean to you?

Darkhawk

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #46 on: October 12, 2014, 08:31:55 pm »
Quote from: Maponos;162056
And what does supernatural mean to you?

 
When I said it was a fancy word for "shit that doesn't exist", was that in some way unclear?
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NightQueen

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #47 on: October 12, 2014, 08:44:03 pm »
Quote from: Maponos;162056
Well, I follow the English definition of religion so we'll have to disagree:


Religion
noun
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects:
the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices:
a world council of religions.

Notice god doesn't come up at all in that definition.


Quote from:
It depends- are they working with spirits or are they extending their own will? Either way, it does because I believe that one can ascend to deity status if their actions are great enough in life.


So, basically it doesn't matter what atheists believe because in your opinion they're wrong?
 
 
Quote from:
And what does supernatural mean to you?


I actually don't really like the term supernatural either, it implies magic is not well...natural.  I think magic is very natural.  And to be perfectly honest I don't really care either way whether gods do or do not exist.  I don't interact with them.

Redfaery

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #48 on: October 13, 2014, 02:34:32 pm »
Quote from: Maponos;162046
It's rather debatable, I think. I know of a lot of Buddhists who swear up and down they follow a philosophy and not a religion.

Sure, it's a philosophy that preaches rebirth, has guardian deities, revealed scripture, heaven and hell, karma....

There are plenty of non-religious Buddhists. They have every right to define their own practice. But there are also lots of Buddhists who are tired of having to argue with people over whether their faith is a "real" religion.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

dsaly1969

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #49 on: December 22, 2014, 02:51:35 pm »
Quote from: broomstick;60948
I'm very skeptical on sunjects like gods, the paranormal, etc. To be honest, I do not really believe in any Pagan deities. I don't believe in any gods/goddesses really. I don't know if this would make me a Pantheist or what, but I have been drawn to the Pagan religion for the past year but am still learing. Is it possible to be a Pagan without the belief in any deities? Deos anyone share these beliefs? Also, if I didn't believe in any deities, would that simply make it a philosophy?

 
I went the route from a more "traditional" pagan through the route of Wicca, CAW, Druidry, and Asatru to a "neoanimist" for many of the same reasons as I never felt a connection with the deities of ancient pantheons. Mine is an ecospirituality. As a neoanimist I try to respect and honor the "personhood" (it is this focus rather than "everything has a spirit" which makes it neoanimism) of all beings of the larger community of life including animals, plants, rocks, trees, clouds, mountains, streams, rivers, oceans, insects, sun, moon, stars, etc. as well as other humans.

This is an extension of how many of us relate to our pets - as "otherpersons" not "objects". Then you extend this out to wider and wider circles depending on how you learn to extend your definition of "life" (I include rocks, fire, the Sun, etc.). Think about what is life at the subatomic level. In other words, I have a relationship with the moon itself and not "the goddess of the moon" or with the river and not the "spirit of the river". There is no dualistic go-between concept.

I believe that life is interrelated and interdependent. This also includes actions and consequences. Recognition of how past actions affect current circumstances leads to ancestral veneration.

In neoanimism focus is more upon developing relationship and living "in the flow" through more informal communication and votive offerings to show respect rather than trying to manipulate the environment through "magick" or "spells" (if one is properly in the flow then one does not need to manipulate things). Therefore there is more spontaneity and less formal ritual and ceremony.

Because we identify with our egos and forget our essential oneness with the larger community of life, we create unnecessary sufferings in our lives and the lives of others. We can cultivate the spiritual dimension in life by experiencing our interdependent connections to humanity, nature, and our inner values. This can be done through Ethical Mindfulness which is a practice whereby one tries to be consciously aware of the potential implications of one's actions upon others and the larger environment by understanding the interdependent context of one's actions and consequences (the Ethical Manifold). As a meditative exercise, Ethical Mindfulness can help one develop wisdom and compassion. We should treat all people as having an inherent capacity for fairness, kindness, and living ethically. It is by acting in a way that encourages the finest characteristics in others that we bring out the best in ourselves. When we put into practice ethical principles such as love, justice, honesty, and forgiveness, we can experience greater harmony within ourselves and in our relationships.

Here's some good resources:

http://animisminternational.org/

http://www.bioregionalanimism.com/


carillion

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #50 on: December 22, 2014, 04:19:22 pm »
Quote from: dsaly1969;168031
I went the route from a more "traditional" pagan through the route of Wicca, CAW, Druidry, and Asatru to a "neoanimist" for many of the same reasons as I never felt a connection with the deities of ancient pantheons. Mine is an ecospirituality. As a neoanimist I try to respect and honor the "personhood" (it is this focus rather than "everything has a spirit" which makes it neoanimism) of all beings of the larger community of life including animals, plants, rocks, trees, clouds, mountains, streams, rivers, oceans, insects, sun, moon, stars, etc. as well as other humans.

This is an extension of how many of us relate to our pets - as "otherpersons" not "objects". Then you extend this out to wider and wider circles depending on how you learn to extend your definition of "life" (I include rocks, fire, the Sun, etc.). Think about what is life at the subatomic level. In other words, I have a relationship with the moon itself and not "the goddess of the moon" or with the river and not the "spirit of the river". There is no dualistic go-between concept.

I believe that life is interrelated and interdependent. This also includes actions and consequences. Recognition of how past actions affect current circumstances leads to ancestral veneration.

In neoanimism focus is more upon developing relationship and living "in the flow" through more informal communication and votive offerings to show respect rather than trying to manipulate the environment through "magick" or "spells" (if one is properly in the flow then one does not need to manipulate things). Therefore there is more spontaneity and less formal ritual and ceremony.

Because we identify with our egos and forget our essential oneness with the larger community of life, we create unnecessary sufferings in our lives and the lives of others. We can cultivate the spiritual dimension in life by experiencing our interdependent connections to humanity, nature, and our inner values. This can be done through Ethical Mindfulness which is a practice whereby one tries to be consciously aware of the potential implications of one's actions upon others and the larger environment by understanding the interdependent context of one's actions and consequences (the Ethical Manifold). As a meditative exercise, Ethical Mindfulness can help one develop wisdom and compassion. We should treat all people as having an inherent capacity for fairness, kindness, and living ethically. It is by acting in a way that encourages the finest characteristics in others that we bring out the best in ourselves. When we put into practice ethical principles such as love, justice, honesty, and forgiveness, we can experience greater harmony within ourselves and in our relationships.

Here's some good resources:

http://animisminternational.org/

http://www.bioregionalanimism.com/


I will admit that I'm only seeing the 'neo' part of 'neoanimism' in so far as new jargon and add-on concept bells and whistles on primitive animism . I might also add I don't think for the better. But just a couple of questions so as to clarify and slow a rush to judgement.

You wrote "As a neoanimist I try to respect and honor the "personhood" (it is this focus rather than "everything has a spirit" which makes it neoanimism) of all beings of the larger community of life including animals, plants, rocks, trees, clouds, mountains, streams, rivers, oceans, insects, sun, moon, stars, etc. as well as other humans. "

Isn't anthropormophizing all things pretty humanocentric and reductive of the autonomy and originality of the beings/objects being so treated? This seems quite disrespectful . Everything has it's own qualities and attributes that owes nothing to humans or to human personification. Why would anyone do such a thing?

You wrote "I believe that life is interrelated and interdependent. This also includes actions and consequences. Recognition of how past actions affect current circumstances leads to ancestral veneration"

In what way does the perceived inter-relatedness of things lead to ancestor veneration? Whose ancestors? The rock that is millions of years old? The ancestor of the violet or the sloth?
I can see where chronology comes into play with actions and consequences, but if everything is interelated, how does that translate to ancestor veneration - I mean,how do you choose? Going by what you have written ( and I appreciate it's a condensing of a larger area) , one must take on board the actions and consequences to those actions of horse stepping on an ant colony in Tierra del Fuego  because everthing...is interrelated and interconnected.
If this is not the case, how do you choose a deliniation point , the point at which you are not involved - or is that even possible? One cannot be responsible for the entire past of the cosmos. At least, I can't imagine it.

"Because we identify with our egos and forget our essential oneness with the larger community of life, we create unnecessary sufferings in our lives and the lives of others."

Do we?  You should be able to back statements like that up. It doesn't really *mean* anything when you parse it out and try and take it to some kind of real life conclusion. But then I admit, I've never been a fan of the psychoanalytic model, myself.

You write "We can cultivate the spiritual dimension in life by experiencing our interdependent connections to humanity, nature, and our inner values. This can be done through Ethical Mindfulness which is a practice whereby one tries to be consciously aware of the potential implications of one's actions upon others and the larger environment by understanding the interdependent context of one's actions and consequences (the Ethical Manifold). "

Again, isn't actually saying anything. Basically it's " your actions may have consequences so think before you act" . And it's all so vague. If the term 'mindfulness' is just another way of saying people should think about their actions and be cognizant that one's behavior has the capacity to effect others, well.Who doesn't know this?
I would say it's more a question of whether one *cares* or not. And that cannot be realized by instituting some system of  thinking about things. This has to do with the fundamentals of human emotion, thought and action. It is not something that can be achieved simply by giving observation and conseration a new name like 'mindfulness'.

You write "As a meditative exercise, Ethical Mindfulness can help one develop wisdom and compassion. We should treat all people as having an inherent capacity for fairness, kindness, and living ethically. It is by acting in a way that encourages the finest characteristics in others that we bring out the best in ourselves. When we put into practice ethical principles such as love, justice, honesty, and forgiveness, we can experience greater harmony within ourselves and in our relationships."

As if. I'm sorry, but you are writing from and about some kind of human level playing field where *everyone* has the same opportunities, capacities,abilities and desires and it's just...not...true.

As it stands, this seems to be a vague collection of new-age pop psychology jargon that actually says very little and does animism a huge disservice. I think the cosmos is much more complex, beautiful , mysterious,dangerous and so many other descriptors for so amazing it's hard to conceive. The kind of reductive way of thinking about things you propose seems...sort of sad.

But! I could have missed some essential element in your philosophy and be totally wrong-footed on this. If so, please say on.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2014, 04:21:08 pm by carillion »

dsaly1969

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #51 on: December 22, 2014, 06:06:06 pm »
Quote from: carillion;168039
Isn't anthropormophizing all things pretty humanocentric and reductive of the autonomy and originality of the beings/objects being so treated? .


No, it expands the concept of personhood to nonhumans, not "anthropomorphizing" them by insisting that they are actually "humanlike".

Considering that most pagans "anthropomorphize" their understanding of the Universe into "Gods and Goddesses" of ancient pantheons, your allegations seems completely ironic.

I refer you to the writings of Graham Harvey and Daniel Quinn for further details. You might also benefit from perusing the websites of Animism International and Bioregional Animism as perhaps they will explain it in ways much clearer than my meager attempt.

carillion

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #52 on: December 22, 2014, 06:58:10 pm »
Quote from: dsaly1969;168044
No, it expands the concept of personhood to nonhumans, not "anthropomorphizing" them by insisting that they are actually "humanlike".

Considering that most pagans "anthropomorphize" their understanding of the Universe into "Gods and Goddesses" of ancient pantheons, your allegations seems completely ironic.

I refer you to the writings of Graham Harvey and Daniel Quinn for further details. You might also benefit from perusing the websites of Animism International and Bioregional Animism as perhaps they will explain it in ways much clearer than my meager attempt.


And why bestow the concept of 'personhood' on those beings/objects which are *not* 'persons' but unique concatenations of materials/evolution and have their own individual identity, characteristics and niche? What's so great about people that other things/entities somehow *need* such a thing as 'person hood'. Now that kind of attribution is egocentric.

I and many others do not believe in deity(ies) therefore any accusations of irony, intentional or not, has no merit in this conversation.

I have studied animism in it's many forms for many years and need no references, thanks anyway.

Thing is, I don't find what you are describing is animism so much as some mix of ideas that has animism superadded to it for some reason . I'm not seeing where the rather thin 'philosophy' it is couched in either clarifies or enhances animism as it has been known and practised. That is what I am trying to figure out.

Megatherium

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #53 on: December 22, 2014, 07:26:29 pm »
Quote from: carillion;168048
And why bestow the concept of 'personhood' on those beings/objects which are *not* 'persons' but unique concatenations of materials/evolution and have their own individual identity, characteristics and niche? What's so great about people that other things/entities somehow *need* such a thing as 'person hood'. Now that kind of attribution is egocentric.

I and many others do not believe in deity(ies) therefore any accusations of irony, intentional or not, has no merit in this conversation.

I have studied animism in it's many forms for many years and need no references, thanks anyway.

Thing is, I don't find what you are describing is animism so much as some mix of ideas that has animism superadded to it for some reason . I'm not seeing where the rather thin 'philosophy' it is couched in either clarifies or enhances animism as it has been known and practised. That is what I am trying to figure out.


I am curious to know how you perceive animism to "have been known and practiced", and why the philosophy articulated by dsaly seems to be perceived by you as having flaws.  Is it simply that you find adding "mindfulness" to animism to be unnecessary?
 
Or, given that you seem to disagree with the notion of "non-human persons" what is your perception of how the non-human world was perceived by cultures in  which "animism" was/is a major component of that culture's worldview?

I am quite interested in animism myself, and many times that I have seen the term used, it is in conjunction with "non-human persons". I do not have the expertise to evaluate to what extent dsaly's or your ideas regarding animism are accurately reflective of animistic cultures and I am genuinely interested in another perspective on animism.

So, how do you perceive animism to differ from the philosophical ideas articulated by dsaly above?
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dsaly1969

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #54 on: December 22, 2014, 07:51:37 pm »
Quote from: Megatherium;168050
I am curious to know how you perceive animism to "have been known and practiced", and why the philosophy articulated by dsaly seems to be perceived by you as having flaws.  Is it simply that you find adding "mindfulness" to animism to be unnecessary?


Especially given that "animism" is purely an artificial anthropological construct for convenience sake (my first Master's degree was in cultural anthropology) and that no culture or indigenous group uses "animism" as a term for their own spiritual path or lifeway.

carillion

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #55 on: December 22, 2014, 08:14:28 pm »
Quote from: Megatherium;168050
I am curious to know how you perceive animism to "have been known and practiced", and why the philosophy articulated by dsaly seems to be perceived by you as having flaws.  Is it simply that you find adding "mindfulness" to animism to be unnecessary?
 
Or, given that you seem to disagree with the notion of "non-human persons" what is your perception of how the non-human world was perceived by cultures in  which "animism" was/is a major component of that culture's worldview?

I am quite interested in animism myself, and many times that I have seen the term used, it is in conjunction with "non-human persons". I do not have the expertise to evaluate to what extent dsaly's or your ideas regarding animism are accurately reflective of animistic cultures and I am genuinely interested in another perspective on animism.

So, how do you perceive animism to differ from the philosophical ideas articulated by dsaly above?


In the youtube video that was posted, it was stated that the term non-human person should be bestowed upon things in nature to give them 'value, worth and dignity'. Ergo, only humans have inherent 'value, worth and dignity' and in order to preserve and respect other aspects of nature we should paint them over as 'persons'.

Irony was mentioned earlier and the one piece of glaring irony here is that this film was was calling upon this new nomenclature for nature because of the damage *humans* have done to the ecology of this planet.

But it makes sense in this way : no wonder we screwed up the environment if we thought only things with the designation of 'person' had value, worth and dignity' and were worth caring about. To use this as a ralling cry for preserving and restoring is both ironic and a little repugnant.

If there is one thread one can follow through many animistic societies it's that 'things other than humans' had to be respected for what they inherently were, not what attributes humans decided they *should* possess. That way led to danger and disrespect.  It's the *opposite* of the mindset one should seek to possess in order to meld seemlessly into one's natural surroundings according to many animist societies , primitive and modern.

The term 'mindfulness' doesn't really mean anything new. Being self-aware and also aware of our surroundings is something we learn from a very early age .Whether we continue to evaluate and re-evaluate our thoughts and actions is up to each individual.

There is a difference between adding to a body of knowledge and practise in a novel way that expands it and gutting the orginal ideas but leaving the name intact and sticking the term 'neo' infront of it.  

From what I read of what was posted, there is nothing 'new' here that is additive to animism. It just seems to be a conglomeration of ecological awareness, bio-diversity and 'awarding' natural entities/phenomenon with some kind of honorary 'personhood' in order to give it 'value'.

A rose is a rose is a rose. And that has 'worth, dignity and value' enough.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2014, 08:18:14 pm by carillion »

carillion

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #56 on: December 22, 2014, 08:20:58 pm »
Quote from: dsaly1969;168052
Especially given that "animism" is purely an artificial anthropological construct for convenience sake (my first Master's degree was in cultural anthropology) and that no culture or indigenous group uses "animism" as a term for their own spiritual path or lifeway.


Using English terms for something doesn't make it an artificial construct - it makes understanding intelligble for those that speak English. In their own language (and as you have studied this you will know), societies have names and terms for their beliefs and at the very least, descriptors.

Megatherium

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #57 on: December 22, 2014, 08:23:37 pm »
Quote from: dsaly1969;168052
Especially given that "animism" is purely an artificial anthropological construct for convenience sake (my first Master's degree was in cultural anthropology) and that no culture or indigenous group uses "animism" as a term for their own spiritual path or lifeway.

 
Thank you. I think it is very easy for us to treat "animism" like it is a specific school of philosophy or religion with a potentially "right" way to interpret it. We should always keep in mind that it is a descriptive category invented by people to describe other cultures' spiritual/religious/philosophical traditions.

In that case, it is relatively meaningless to speak about whether something is "really" animism. We could, potentially talk about to what extent we have understood the traditional worldview of the Ojibwa, or Japanese, or other cultures that Westerners file under the heading "animistic".
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Megatherium

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #58 on: December 22, 2014, 08:48:01 pm »
Quote from: carillion;168055
Using English terms for something doesn't make it an artificial construct - it makes understanding intelligble for those that speak English. In their own language (and as you have studied this you will know), societies have names and terms for their beliefs and at the very least, descriptors.

 
But such societies do not use terms to describe "animism", they use them to describe their own world views. We may be able to recognize common elements to, for example, a traditional Ojibwa and Japanese worldview, but that does not mean there is an official, correct interpretation of "animism"-there are merely some common elements to the world views of a variety of cultures.

To try and articulate this further, I will look at the term "polytheism". We can describe many cultures as being polytheistic, but that does not mean there is one true worldview associated with the term. Japanese, Hindu, and pre-Christian Greek societies may all be described as being polytheistic with some degree of accuracy, but what exactly a Deity is and the role of such a being in the individual cultures has a great degree of variation. Just as "polytheism" is simply a generalized description of some common features of a wide variety of world views, so to is the term animism.
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Megatherium

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #59 on: December 22, 2014, 09:03:49 pm »
Quote from: carillion;168054
In the youtube video that was posted, it was stated that the term non-human person should be bestowed upon things in nature to give them 'value, worth and dignity'. Ergo, only humans have inherent 'value, worth and dignity' and in order to preserve and respect other aspects of nature we should paint them over as 'persons'.

Irony was mentioned earlier and the one piece of glaring irony here is that this film was was calling upon this new nomenclature for nature because of the damage *humans* have done to the ecology of this planet.

But it makes sense in this way : no wonder we screwed up the environment if we thought only things with the designation of 'person' had value, worth and dignity' and were worth caring about. To use this as a ralling cry for preserving and restoring is both ironic and a little repugnant.

If there is one thread one can follow through many animistic societies it's that 'things other than humans' had to be respected for what they inherently were, not what attributes humans decided they *should* possess. That way led to danger and disrespect.  It's the *opposite* of the mindset one should seek to possess in order to meld seemlessly into one's natural surroundings according to many animist societies , primitive and modern.

The term 'mindfulness' doesn't really mean anything new. Being self-aware and also aware of our surroundings is something we learn from a very early age .Whether we continue to evaluate and re-evaluate our thoughts and actions is up to each individual.

There is a difference between adding to a body of knowledge and practise in a novel way that expands it and gutting the orginal ideas but leaving the name intact and sticking the term 'neo' infront of it.  

From what I read of what was posted, there is nothing 'new' here that is additive to animism. It just seems to be a conglomeration of ecological awareness, bio-diversity and 'awarding' natural entities/phenomenon with some kind of honorary 'personhood' in order to give it 'value'.

A rose is a rose is a rose. And that has 'worth, dignity and value' enough.

 
So your objection is primarily the use of "person" to describe non-human beings, because this denigrates the intrinsic value of non-human beings by requiring they be anthromorphized in order to be recognized as being valuable to humans? Have I understood your point correctly?

As a further question, do,you consider the leaving of offerings to be an unwarranted anthromorphization of non-human beings? In my extremely poor wikipedia-level understanding of First Nation's cultures, the offering of tobacco to various non-human beings was quite common in some cultures. Given that such offerings to bear a striking resemblance to the gift-giving used by various human societies to create lasting social networks, do you see the human use of offerings for non-human beings to be an unwarranted anthromorphization of the objects receiving such offerings?
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