A movement known as “new animism” is gaining ground around the world. Its followers believe that everything in nature has a soul. Among them are environmental activists who hope that people will adopt more ecologically sustainable practices if they understand that humans have obligations toward the natural world, including mountains and rivers.

The word animism was first coined by an early anthropologist, Edward Burnett Tylor, in 1870, writes Wesleyan University anthropologist Justine Buck Quijada. Since then, it has come to describe practices that recognize that places, animals and plants have power over people – such as what can be done near a glacier or how to represent the will of mountains in political negotiations.

This week we also liked articles about COVID-19 tests, writer’s block and the lack of ethnic diversity on the U.K.‘s coins and cash.

Kalpana Jain

Senior Religion + Ethics Editor

Shamans from the organization Tengeri conduct an offering ritual in 2013 to Bukhe Bator, the spirit master of the Selenga River, Republic of Buryatia, Russian Federation. Roberto Quijada

‘Animism’ recognizes how animals, places and plants have power over humans – and it’s finding renewed interest around the world

Justine Buck Quijada, Wesleyan University

Animism describes religions in which humans are connected to the landscape around them but do not dominate it.

Something people today have in common with civilizations past: a love of music. peepo/E+ via Getty Images

Who invented music? The search for stone flutes, clay whistles and the dawn of song

Laura Dallman, University of Florida

For thousands of years, music has been an essential part of the human experience.

About 4.5 billion bank notes and more than 27 billion coins featuring the queen’s image are now circulating in the U.K. Daniel Harvey Gonzalez/In Pictures via Getty Images

Putting King Charles III on British currency bucks a global trend to honor diverse national heroes on coins and bills

Harcourt Fuller, Georgia State University

The new money – featuring the visage of King Charles III – will start rolling out by December 2022.

The Conversation Quiz 🧠

  • Here’s the first question of this week’s edition:

    What was a major factor in many Indigenous communities in the U.S. losing their languages?

    1. A. Boarding schools
    2. B. Elders refusing to teach children
    3. C. A philosophy of “leaving the past in the past”
    4. D. The Pony Express

    Test your knowledge