It was R Marett who put forth the theory of Animatism which refers to the belief in anything or anybody who is animate or endowed with life and that life is considered to have a supernatural power or force.
The term Manaism is derived from the Melanesian word mana refers to the impersonal, supernatural form associated with objects or persons.Manaism does not entail the conception of a personalized spirit or soul but only an impersonal force which is an inherent and automatic endowment.
When a thunderstorm is about to hit them, the Gibago of South America threaten it with a spear and yell at it to go away. The people here conceive of the thunderstorm as a live force which has an inimical attitude towards them.The Alaskan Eskimos believe that glaciers are live objects, which move and obstruct their paths. In an attempt to appease them they perform sacrifices to them.
The Melanesians attribute the power of mana to even objects such as a stone. If a stone appears in the shape of pig then the people keep that stone in the pig sty because they believe that the stone being abnormal in shape must be supernatural and hence the mana or power to multiply the number of pigs and also maintain their good health. The Melanesians attribute Mana or power to human beings as well. They believe that the chief possess mana of a high degree. That is why a commoner who has a mana of a much lesser degree can never become a chief. It is also believed that the commoner must maintain a physical distance from the chief and even if by mistake he comes in touch with a chief, the chief's mana has the power to annihilate him.Mana can thus be either benevolent or malevolent.
Bonga among the Ho tribe in India is similar to Marett's theory of primitive religion.
According to the theory naturism of Max Muller the earliest form of religion was probably worship of nature. Evidence in favor if this view has been found in archaeological excavations made in Egypt. The prayers in the Rig Veda convey worship of natural objects in Vedic times. Expressions such as clouds send rains, the sun rises and sets, the moon orbits the earth and trees yield fruits convey the belief in some inherent power in clouds, sun, moon and trees. Hinduism is known to include worship of hills, rivers,trees and sun.