Animism is the recognition that all things in life have agency and that no one thing has more inherent importance than anything else. Viewing things from an animistic lens means understanding that everything plays a part within the interconnected system it occupies—not for any moral goal or purpose, but simply because it exists. Things deserve respect for what they are, and through this we foster a spiritual relationship with the world around us.

The nature of animism means there’s no clear-cut division between the sacred and the profane in Norse Pagan worldview. The divine is part of this world the same way colors, sounds, and physical matter are; as a property of existence, rather than a condition to achieve or a presence to earn. (Because of this, there’s no such thing as “sin” in Norse Paganism, since actions don’t draw you closer or further away from divinity. You can read more about this in the Differences Between Christianity & Heathenry.)

Some view animism as the belief that all things have a “soul” or “spiritual essence” to them, but this greatly depends on the subjective definition of these words. Regardless, many Norse Heathens agree we can experience the metaphysical components to the world around us, which produces the shared lore in Norse Pagan Heathenry: We can form connections with our departed ancestors. We can perceive landvætter (“land-spirits”) within the land, trolls within large rocks and boulders, nisse and husvætter (“house-spirits”) dwelling in living spaces, Jötunn as embodiments of the wilderness, and the Aesir—our gods—as manifestations of the natural world and humankind. And on top of that, we can interact with these things of our own accord.

Heathens like to engage in participating with these things the same way we like engaging with each other; these relationships foster a sense of connection and add a ceremonial component to our participation in the natural world. But how this is done is different for everyone. There’s no singular “correct” way to approach divinity, not even with the gods.