Animism and Earth Reconnection

Online Course

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Animism is a way of approaching life that emphasizes relationships. Animists see the world as full of persons, both human and other-than-human, and prioritize living in respectful ways with these others. Animism is largely about ethics or core values that get expressed through more or less fancy practices, rituals, and traditions.

Animism gets at what people often mean when expressing a draw to indigenous traditions or shamanism but does so in ways that avoid some pitfalls of those terms (more on this distinction if it’s of interest). Some kinds of people animists might relate with include: plants, animals, fungi, mountains, metals, fire, bodies of water, spirits of wind and weather, deities, human ancestors, star people, and others we don’t have words for in English. Animists tend to also be concerned with the welfare of our diverse human kin (more on animism). Humans are people. Plants are people. Mountains and rivers are people. Ethics, rituals, and healthy community all follow from this.

After guiding hundreds of days of ritual work focused on relating with spirits of place over the past two decades, I’m finally presenting this material in a full-length online course. Participants will learn to more firmly anchor their everyday lives and rituals (be they newly crafted or from intact traditions) in core animist values. As a doctor of psychology and mental health professional, I could have called this ‘Applied Animist Psychology’ but it’s too technical. The approach is non-dogmatic and inclusive to people of diverse ancestries. I provide a strong conceptual framework, and the heart of the work is experiential. I’m not an Indigenous person or presuming to represent any given Indigenous tradition; this is a core values based approach to loving the Earth. If you’re looking for training in a specific Indigenous system, this isn’t that. The course is only open to people who want to be in the course. No need to believe in anything to join, interest alone is plenty.

Learn about the Course

How the Course Works

The course is divided into Part One and Part Two, each consisting of seven lessons (see below for full descriptions). New lessons are released on Sunday evenings and can be accessed any time after. Part One and Part Two are each eight weeks in duration with one break week midway through each.

  • Part One: April 15 – June 3, 2018
  • Part Two: June 17 – August 5, 2018

Lessons include an instructional video (25-35 minutes) with a ritual exercise, homework and questions for reflection, and a ‘further resources’ section (e.g., PDFs, video clips, blog posts, movie recommendations) highlighting diverse animist and earth-honoring traditions. Participants can share experiences with other learners through a discussion board and private Facebook group, and all registrants also enjoy unlimited ongoing access to all course readings and video/audio recordings (roughly seven hours for both courses total). Participants can ask questions of Dr. Foor directly for the duration of the course and are invited to join four live 90-minute online group support sessions with Dr. Foor throughout the course (recorded for playback as needed).

How to Register

Registration for this course is now closed. It will be offered again in spring-summer of 2019. Please email if you would like to receive information on next year’s course when registration opens. Cost is $400 USD for the full course (Part One and Two) and $225 for Part One only. If participants decide after completing Part One to then enroll in Part Two, the additional cost is $225. By registering you’ll enjoy:

  • Unlimited access to the instructional course videos (about 30min per lesson)
  • Option to download accompanying audio files of course content
  • Opportunity to engage in course participant discussion space
  • Invitation during course to ask Dr. Foor directly for support with the material
  • Four live 90-minute group support conferences with Dr. Foor (two in each Part)
  • Ongoing access to accompanying readings and resources

My intent is to keep the work accessible, and there are some need-based partial scholarships for participants of Indigenous and/or African ancestries, LGBTQ folks, and those serving historically marginalized populations. I’m even open to extending reductions to straight cis-gendered white people also beaten down by an exploitative capitalist system. And give what you’re able as I’m pouring a ton of work into making this awesome. Inquire about scholarships directly at: daniel@ancestralmedicine.org. If you write, give me a few sentences from the heart on why this work matters to you, and let me know what you’re able to give, including if we spaced out payment. I’m quite generous as long as your email doesn’t read like ‘Hey, I’m super spiritual, now gimme your work/time/energy for free’.

If it’s supportive in sharing about this opportunity with others, see the online course flyer and Facebook event page. If you would like to be informed of future offerings, consider subscribing to the monthly newsletter (January 2018 link here, easy to self-subscribe from there).

Part One Course Overview

Lesson One: Kinship, Intimacy, and Animist Psychology

  • Affirm an ethic of humility and friendship for the work ahead

  • Distinguish animism from shamanism and indigenous ways

  • Start to bridge psychological wisdom with animist teachings

  • Practice speaking directly with our other-than-human kin

  • Enjoy resources from important voices in the “new animism”

Lesson Two: Eating, Killing, and Giving Thanks

  • Explore psychological implications of plants and animals as people

  • Bring attention to the intimate killing that sustains our lives

  • Connect with the spirit of at least one tasty food plant or animal

  • Learn a ritual of gratitude to weave into daily consumption of family

  • Expand knowledge of ancestral rituals for honoring food as life

Lesson Three: Respecting the Ancestors and Tradition

  • Understand the human dead as part of the sacred ecology of place

  • Reflect on impacts of colonialism on your diverse ancestors

  • Invite connection with an ancestral guide from your lineages

  • Learn to respectfully greet ancestors of place near your home

  • Explore diverse animist perspectives on ancestors and place

Lesson Four: Boundaries, Consent, and Sacred Space

  • Examine cultural conditioning that minimizes others’ existence

  • Practice clear boundaries and saying ‘no’ including with the spirits

  • Explore role of permission and consent in our ecological crisis

  • Ritually test your ability to give and receive a ‘no’ during ritual

  • Learn protocols for establishing and honoring sacred space

Lesson Five: Celebrating Diverse Bodies and Wisdoms

  • Deconstruct limited views of animals due to cultural conditioning

  • Expand vocabulary for the sacred by reflecting on our animal kin

  • Reflect on ancestral and local-to-your-home animal affinities

  • Humbly seek connection with an animal teacher for your life

  • Consider older wisdoms on other-than-human kin known as animals

Lesson Six: Extinction, Grieving, and Opening the Heart

  • Explore ritual skills for working with grief, loss, and heartache

  • Contextualize your devotions amidst the current extinction crisis

  • Learn ways to respectfully approach the waters near to your home

  • Craft personal grief ritual to offer near a local body of water

  • Engage traditional perspectives on spirits of and near the waters

Lesson Seven: Finding Your Place in the Natural Disorder

  • Consider how power dynamics and differentials inform ritual etiquette

  • Greet local stones/mountains as one source of wisdom and perspective

  • Ritually appeal to the larger web for greater self-understanding

  • Further deconstruct false splits between humans and nature

  • Engage traditional teachings on destiny and unique soul-level gifts

Part Two Course Overview

Lesson One: Deeply Rooting into One Very Specific Place

  • Apply ritual etiquette and intuition to locate a ‘sit spot’ near your home

  • Start to reclaim dynamic relationships with previously overlooked Earth kin

  • Practice heart-aware listening for the sacred qualities of a place

  • Bring vulnerability and receptivity without dominating the relationship

  • Consider themes common to intentional outdoor solitude practices

Lesson Two: Friendship and Healing with Our Green Kin

  • Release hang-ups about not being a plant person (whatever that means)

  • Learn to prioritize love and friendship before botanical or herbalist training

  • Practice letting in the kindness and generosity of the green-bloods

  • Make connection with a plant near your sit spot for healing and guidance

  • Engage resources on plants as sources of love, wisdom, and companionship

Lesson Three: Praising and Feeding the Earth as Deity

  • Withdraw projection of personal pain and gender norms on the Earth

  • Consider implications for healing trauma and early attachment

  • Expand into diverse ritual applications of the practice of making offerings

  • Offer ritual at your personal ‘sit spot’ to feed the divinity of this Earth

  • Explore themes in cross-cultural teachings on Earth as an elder deity

Lesson Four: Blood, Sex, Tears, and the Water Spirits

  • Consider your sit spot in light of the local watershed and water cycle

  • Explore water ritual themes (grief, the erotic, ancestors, food, healing)

  • Reflect on personal strong and weak areas with respect to elemental water

  • Craft ritual using skills from previous lessons to honor local water spirits

  • Engage cross-cultural sources on how to honor water spirits and deities

Lesson Five: Honoring Place-Specific Blessings and Challenges

  • Learn ways to think about the deeper qualities or sacred medicines of places

  • Ask nicely to understand deeper layers of magic at your specific place

  • Offer ritual to reflect back the specific qualities you perceive at this place

  • Share about your specific magical place with others in the course

  • Enjoy resources on place-focused rituals from diverse cultures

Lesson Six: Ancient Ones Who are Animals, Plants, and Places

  • Learn inclusive ways to think about deities, archetypes, and weird old gods

  • Distinguish between deities of ancestry, place, and chosen tradition

  • Consider ritual and cultural etiquette for approaching different deities

  • Humbly offer ritual to convey respect to an elder power at your sit spot

  • Explore resources on place-specific deities with active priesthoods

Lesson Seven: Animism as Lifestyle, Culture, and Public Policy

  • Assess for congruence between core values and what you show others

  • Reflect on past and current vocations through an animist lens

  • Learn ways to harmonize ritual skills with cultural and political advocacy

  • Take one tangible action to advocate for the local Earth and peoples

  • Enjoy contemporary animist voices in law, science, politics, and the arts

About the Instructor

Daniel Foor, PhD, is a licensed psychotherapist and a doctor of psychology. He has led ancestral and family healing intensives throughout the United States since 2005 and helped thousands of people to restore healthy and empowering relationships with their ancestors. He is the author of Ancestral Medicine: Rituals for Personal and Family Healing (Inner Traditions, 2017).

Over the past 25 years Daniel has trained with teachers of Mahayana Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and diverse indigenous paths, including the older ways of his English, Irish, and German ancestors. He is a student of Yoruba culture and makes regular pilgrimages to work with elders in West Africa as an initiate (ọmọ awo) of Ifá, Ọbàtálá, Ọ̀ṣun, and Egúngún in the lineage of Olúwo Fálolú Adésànyà Awoyadé from Òdè Rẹ́mọ.

From 2003-present he has guided hundreds of days of outdoor ritual working with diverse spirits of place, first in the S.F. Bay Area and now in Western North Carolina. He is a Wilderness First Responder, amateur naturalist, and devotee of this specific precious Earth. For more info see: Daniel’s full bio