Animism means the belief in spirits.E.B. Taylor in his famous book Primitive Culture developed the thesis of animism and subsequently he developed the distinction between magic, religion and science.In his thesis of animism he advocated that anima means spirit. Animism refers to a given form of religion in which man finds the presence of spirit in every object that surrounds him.
According to him, any type of spiritual phenomenon-- May that is souls, divinities-- which are animated and interpreted by man, explain the stage of animism. Man's ideas of spirits primarily originated from his dreams. In his dreams man, for the first time, encountered with his double. He realized that his double or duplicate is more dynamic and elastic than his own self. He further considered that his double, though resembled his body, it is far more superior in terms of quality from his body. He generalized further that the presence of soul in human body is responsible for the elasticity of images in dreams.
Taking this fact into consideration primitive mind considered that when man sleeps the soul moves out of the body of man temporarily and when he is dead it leaves out the body permanently. Thereafter man generalized that every embodiment, which is subjected to birth, growth and decay, is obviously associated with spirit. Hence, trees, rivers, mountains, which are greatly subjected to decay and expansion, were considered as the embodiments in which soul is present. Realizing this, man started worshipping and these embodiments and that is how animism as a specific form of religions came into being. According to Taylor, the most ancient form of animistic practice is manifested in terms of ancestor worship.
Man realized that his ancestors after their death convert into spirits who may be benevolent or malevolent. Realizing this, in order to convert these souls as protecting spirits, man made them periodic offerings. In primitive communities this is known as Ancestor cult and Ghost Worship. According Taylor, the primitive man was not in a condition to distinguish between animate and inanimate objects. Therefore, he conceived that like life and soul associated with human body, they should be associated with every object both animate and inanimate. Realizing this he started worshipping rocks, trees, streams, everything surrounding him extending the notion of soul and spirit to all of them. Taylor argues that religion in the form of animism originated to satisfy man's intellectual nature to meet his need to make sense of death, dreams and vision.