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Catholic Dictionary




A form of religious belief and practice that attributes the human qualities of mind, will, and emotions to material objects or to nonhuman living creatures. These objects, considered as animated and endowed with a mana, can in certain circumstances enter into direct relation with human beings in their personal and social activities. Since the power attributed to the objects is extraordinary and even superhuman, they are invoked to obtain favors and are propitiated to prevent evils. Ritual ceremonies, appeasing or placating these hidden forces, are an essential part of animism. (Etym. Latin anima, soul, principle of life, life.)