Further, he set his face against the Tantra system, and against the animistic superstitions which had been allowed to creep into life again.
While a large part of mythology has an animistic basis, it is possible to believe, e.g.
But these beliefs are far from being confined to the uncivilized; Greek philosophers like Porphyry, no less than the fathers of the Church, held that the world was pervaded with spirits; side by side with the belief in witchcraft, we can trace through the middle ages the survival of primitive animistic views; and in our own day even these beliefs subsist in unsuspected vigour among the peasantry of the more uneducated European countries.
But apart from considerations of this sort, it is probable that animals must, early in the history of animistic beliefs, 'have been regarded as possessing souls.
With the rise of species, deities and the cult of individual animals, the path towards anthropomorphization and polytheism is opened and the respect paid to animals tends to lose its strict animistic character.
But it is difficult in practice to distinguish the two phases of thought and no clear account of animatism can yet be given, largely on the ground that no people has yet been discovered which has not already developed to a greater or less extent an animistic philosophy.
The Maoris ate their enemies' hearts to gain their courage, but to whatever degree animistic beliefs may have once contributed to their cannibalism, it is certain that long before Captain Cook's visit religious sanction for the custom had long given place to mere gluttonous enjoyment.
This animistic tendency is a marked characteristic of primitive Man in every land.
Dreams are sometimes explained by savages as journeys performed by the sleeper, sometimes as visits paid by other persons, by animals or objects to him; hallucinations, possibly more frequent in the lower stages of culture, must have contributed to fortify this interpretation, and the animistic theory in general.
The Hova, during the 19th century, embraced Christianity, but retain, nevertheless, many of their old animistic beliefs; their original social organization in three classes, andriana or nobles, Nova or freemen, and andevo or slaves, has been modified by the French, who have abolished kingship and slavery.