Gordon White’s sequel to his acclaimed Star.Ships is a book of adventure and encounter, of optimism and healing. Ani.Mystic: Encounters with a Living Cosmos is, explicitly, a magician’s book, a dreaming book, one which aims to fundamentally shift the discourse within the western magical tradition. Gordon explains, ‘the sole preoccupation of this book is exploring and uncovering animism as a dangerous category of European thought…’
Gordon begins by giving the standard definition of animism as ‘the belief that the world is made up of persons, only some of whom are humans,’ before taking us with him ‘to its farthest epistemological hinterlands.’ In dialogue with teachers of Indigenous knowledge, spirits, angels, star people, saints, plants, and beast masters and mothers, Gordon weaves a new story of trans-species collaboration and custodianship.
To get to that point, he interrogates and dismantles a series of constructs: materialist-naturalism, the notion of invasive species, the nature-culture divide and the binaries of domestic vs wild and forest vs garden, and the concept of ‘animism’ itself. We are then shown what it means to think with Deep Time, with Country and in Ceremony. Solutions and best practice are drawn from dialogue with the cultures he partakes in and the disciplines of magic and permaculture.
Our journey begins in an airport hotel bar in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and the story unfolds through encounters with forest spirits, shark gods and cities of the dead. From stone altars in Micronesia, ancestral Maori pâ, and Aboriginal songlines to lecturing on UFOs at the Guggenheim in New York and avenging angels in London, the journey gathers momentum. We experience songlines, fire storms and rain dragons in Tasmania, and are finally brought into ceremony with Ayahuasca in Peru.
Gordon is transformed through his encounters with a living cosmos, and in the Telling. In walking in the magician’s footsteps, the candour of his heartbreaks and triumphs, we are invited to come into right relation ourselves, toward the cosmic aim of mutual flourishing.