Animism is Putting Googly Eyes on Everything

Animism is Putting Googly Eyes on Everything March 3, 2023

Goodnight moon by
Margaret Wise Brown

“Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon.”

From a very young age, many of us were exposed to the concept of animism and didn’t even realize it.  Do you remember Goodnight Moon?

“Goodnight stars. Goodnight air. Goodnight noises everywhere.”

It was a simple bedtime story where a guardian teaches their child to wish the world a goodnight before falling asleep. This idea teaches reverence to everything including endings and by that inference, beginnings. So what is it? What is Animism? The two definitions in the Oxford dictionary are as follows:
 1. the attribution of a soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena.
2. the belief in a supernatural power that organizes and animates the material universe.

It seems simple enough, but how does this concept get put into action? To demonstrate animism in our everyday lives, I submit you you this visual: put googly eyes on everything. Seriously. Imagine walking into your house and every object turns to look at you. “Hello door. Hello home. Hello kitchen. Hello phone”…

Drawing of Cecil Williamson by Gemma Gary

Many of us as practitioners fall into the category of animists because of how we see spirit in all things. But I think this idea sometimes gets lost in modern witchcraft. It was said that Cecil Williamson, the founder of the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, was a devout animist. He would physically great the sun every day and he talked to all his household appliances. Gemma Gary explains that after his death, his daughters had a terrible time getting anything in his home to work. To this day it’s believed they only worked for him because he was attentive and friendly to all the spirits residing in his home. 

Art sourced from Canva

I live at a crossroads and by a massive oak tree. This tree is so large, two of me could hug it from either side and our fingers still wouldn’t touch. The roots have spread so far that edges of the sidewalk are lifting and misshapen. This tree has a great spirit. It has seen at least a century if not two of my landscape evolve and change. It has seen people live and die. It has seen earth torn up and buildings plopped down. It has seen fights, lovers, and all sorts of crossersby. It’s been a home to animals and has had conversations with the earth beneath my feet long before any of us were born. This tree is a guardian and and pillar of my land. Its spirit carries great power and strength. Making offerings to the spirit of this tree is a way I give it thanks.

Art sourced from Canva

Have you ever had a lock that was stuck, the key wouldn’t turn, or a door was jammed, and after talking to it, pleading with it, and maybe even threatening it, it finally opens on the 27th try? Sure there’s a rational explanation that you eventually forced it open, but the animist in me sees the door, the lock, and the key as having spirit, and that spirit can be worked with.

Art sourced from Canva


Imagine that as a witch we do money and prosperity magic while considering money and wealth to be its own spirit. Many of us have made prosperity charms or bowls which might include a few coins/dollars, herbs that carry the virtue of money like bay leaves or basil. This is an offering of sympathetic representations to the spirit of wealth. It’s a sacrifice of small spirits to a larger one. Many have put together money bowls without ever thinking about what they are doing from an animistic perspective. 

I’m a practitioner, I work a lot with the natural world. I grow a garden on my patio and prefer to forage locally for my plant allies. When I’m casting a spell with herbs, I’m not slapping together a recipe out of a cookbook. I’m working with the spirit of these plants. When I take a clove of garlic and hold it over an ill persons body, I’m not just using an ingredient. I’m working with the spirit of that garlic to coax out the illness within and carry it for me. I’m trafficking with a spirit. 

Art sourced from Canva

When I stick thorns in a lemon with a transgressors taglock inside, I’m not just going through the motions of sympathetic magic. I’m contracting with  the spirits of those thorns and the way they prick into the lemon encapsulating my target. I’m contracting with the lemon to use its acidic and sour nature to sour my targets life. In return I offer dragons blood smoke to feed the spirits. Have you ever thought about the fact that the incense we light isn’t just another layer of a spell, but an offering to contract with the spirit allies helping us? 

Art sourced from Canva

I grew up with a very Wiccan baseline for my practice which includes the four elements on my altar. As I got further away from that practice, I got deeper into the concept of spirit contracts and what that looks like in animism. I found myself rewiring my brain around this different equation of magic. No longer did I see a framework of quarters and dual deities, but instead a coming together of spirits who I have gathered to all work together for my desired outcome. 

Example: A spell to protect a beloved pet.

Items needed:

Your pets dog tag 

A cauldron 

Witches black salt

Rose thorns


A flammable fluid (90% rubbing alcohol)

Dragons blood incense

In the cauldron place a scoop of black salt and douse with the flammable liquid. Mix well and light aflame. As it’s burning light the dragons blood incense and say: 

I offer up the spirits called before me today the sweet offering and suffumigation of dragons blood, the crimson sap of the tree of Dracaena. Life’s blood rise and give grateful tidings.

Then toss the rosemary and thorns into the flames, hold the dog tag in your dominant hand, and say:

Spirits of rosemary and thorn of rose, I conjure you forth in a flame of defense! Element of fire protect (pets name) from all unnatural influences or outside physical harm. Defend them from illness. Keep them warm when they feel cold. Comfort them when I cannot. Black witches salt burn aflame and rise around to protect my precious (pets name).

Pass the dog tag through the flame as safely as possible. It’s important you feel the heat as a way of making the spirit tangible but there’s no need to be unsafe. Let the flame die out as the liquid will burn through in a matter of minutes. Then put your pet’s collar on them. 

Do you see how that animist approach changes how we view our rites and workings? I now burn certain scented candles in my home because I know my house spirits enjoys them. When I clean or straighten up, I’m cleaning not just for myself, but for the spirits of my home. Do you know what I use? Pine Sol and Lemon Pledge, MORE SPIRITS who I work with the appease my home. 

So next time you open up your spice rack, imagine every jar has googly eyes on it, each with their own virtue and voice. Next time you light incense, remember, it’s not just because the book said to light it. It’s an offering to the spirits aiding your work. Next time you cook, be aware of your mood and demeanor so you don’t accidentally put sad or angry spirit into your dish. 

As animists, we are living in a living world and it takes a cunning eye to see just how alive everything around us truly is.

From the Crossroads of Texas,

Marshall WSL

About Marshall WSL
Marshall is a practicing traditional which living in Texas. Be sure to catch them on their podcast, Southern Bramble: a Podcast of Crooked Ways. You can read more about the author here.
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