Anthropomorphism or Agency?

When my horse Shiloh was alive, I would always give the ‘Shiloh whistle’ as I entered the barn and he would respond by sticking his head out of his stall and nickering a return greeting. I would go up to him and he would immediately hold his nose against my ear, breathing welcoming sighs into my ear. After our greeting, I would get to work putting together his feed and meds for the upcoming week. Often I would sing as I was working, and I would soon be accompanied by a flapping sound. It was Shiloh, flapping his lips together in concert to my singing. After his feed was prepared, I would bring him out of his stall for a grooming and massage session. As I massaged his forehead, he would toss and move his head, always managing to position my hand where he wanted it.

None of these behaviors were out of the ordinary for Shiloh ~ that was our life together.

So the question becomes - was Shiloh communicating with me, or was I anthropomorphizing his actions?

I find it only natural that animals relay their requests and needs, desires and wants to us. When we accept this connection, we are becoming more in sync with the Circle of Life and becoming more at one with all that is around us. In other words, we are beginning to develop an animistic relationship with those whom we share this physical reality.

Recognizing Shiloh's agency (authority) to be who he was and his need to express himself authentically was not me projecting human thoughts and emotions on him, but rather me witnessing and honoring Shiloh and the expression of his own agency. When humans recognize the agency of another sentient being, we lower the risk of anthropomorphism.

Here's To New Beginnings,

Janet