ONLINE COURSE

Practical Animism Online Course

Reclaiming Kinship Through Earth-Honoring Ritual

with Dr. Daniel Foor

January 1 – April 6, 2021

Overview

Animism is a way of 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 others. Animism is largely about ethics or core values that get expressed through more or less fancy practices, rituals, and everyday habits.

Animism gets at what people often mean when expressing a call to indigenous traditions or shamanism but does so in ways that avoid some pitfalls of those terms. 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 also tend to be concerned with the welfare of our diverse human kin. Humans are people. Plants are people. Mountains and rivers are people. Ethics, rituals, and healthy community all follow from this.

This course arises from guiding hundreds of days of ritual focused on relating with spirits of place over the past two decades. Participants will learn to more firmly anchor their everyday lives and rituals in animist values, be they newly crafted or from intact traditions. The approach is non-dogmatic and inclusive to people of diverse ancestries. 

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Thank you for this carefully presented, respectful and marvelously organized course — with something for the brain, the ear, the eye and the heart in each unit. EVERYTHING worked. Very successful combination of deeply reflective ‘lectures,’ thoughtful readings, and deeply leading questions for reflection. Gives a whole new meaning to the inadequate label ‘course.’ Re-shaped my world.

– Past Participant

Curriculum

The course is offered in two parts. Both Part One and Part Two are included in registration.

Part One

January 1 – February 16, 2021

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LESSON 1
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”
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LESSON 2
Eating, Killing, and Giving Thanks
  • Explore parallels in relational dynamics with humans and the others
  • Consider attachment theory in light of bonds with other-than-human kin
  • Discuss strategies for loving amidst ongoing ecological catastrophe
  • Engage in a practice of valuing and tending to bonds with extended kin
  • Enjoy resources on the intersections of attachment/bonding and the Earth
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LESSON 3
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
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LESSON 4
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
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LESSON 5
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
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LESSON 6
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
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LESSON 7
Altars, Regular Tending, and Cultural Healing
  • 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
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Thank you Daniel for the courage it must have taken to follow this path, to bring voice and clarity to something that I may have not listened to before and for bringing honesty, light and even humour to some dark but beautiful truths. A somewhat skeptic before this class, I’m finishing it with great reverence and renewed awe for so many familiar things around me that feel freshly illuminated. I will carry this class and all I have learned from it deep in my heart.

– Past Participant

Part Two

February 19 – April 6, 2021

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LESSON 1
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
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LESSON 2
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
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LESSON 3
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
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LESSON 4
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
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LESSON 5
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
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LESSON 6
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
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LESSON 7
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
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Daniel’s practical approach to deep and layered issues of animism works for seekers at all levels. I came away from this course with a refreshing new way of seeing the world and all the Other Than Humans, even though I thought I was a lifelong animist. Thank you, Daniel, for all your guidance, relational wisdom, and good humor. The live calls I was able to participate in were also very rewarding, led by some talented and wise students of Daniel’s.

– Past Participant

Course FAQ

It’s ok! The live calls are optional, and the main course calls are all recorded (video and audio) and transcribed into a pdf, except for the small group time at the end of each call, for privacy. You can attend as many or as few as you like. You can always go back and revisit all of the course material at any time. The additional community calls are not recorded.

We offer the course in its entirety, with both parts included. In previous years, we had offered the course as separate parts, but have since realized that for the integrity of the offering, we want participants to have access to the full course material (even if it takes a while to work through, or is revisited later). If you have previously taken only Part One of the course and would like to take Part Two, simply send us an email at info@ancestralmedicine.org and we will help you.

No, this course is for personal healing and spirit work, and does not presume to train people to guide this work for others. That said, any of the content in this course will support your own practices.

Yes. We are strongly committed to keeping the work accessible to people of diverse backgrounds and variable means. If you need financial assistance beyond the available payment plans please see our application for payment plans and partial scholarship spaces.

If you would like to join us in keeping this work accessible or if you have enjoyed financial assistance previously and now wish to extend this gift to others, please consider a donation to our scholarship fund.

At this time, we are unable to offer CEU’s, although we are looking into it for future offerings.

Yes! We provide a transcript for each lesson and live call, and the videos in the lessons include optional closed captioning.

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Incredibly timely and important work shared in this course. Very accessible presentation which was deeply meaningful on many levels. Daniel’s ‘realness’ as a teacher comes through and helps me to feel encouraged and included. As a lifelong student who has studied many approaches, this material speaks to me in a way that none else has done. I’m so grateful!.

– Past Participant

About the Instructor

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Daniel Foor, PhD

He is a licensed psychotherapist, doctor of psychology, and the author of Ancestral Medicine: Rituals for Personal and Family Healing. Since 2005 he has led ancestral healing intensives in eight countries, trained over sixty practitioners, and supported thousands with ancestral reconnection through online teaching and sessions. Daniel is an initiate in the Òrìṣà tradition of Yoruba-speaking West Africa and has learned from teachers of Mahayana Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and the older ways of his English and German ancestors. He lives with his wife and daughters in Western North Carolina, homeland of Cherokee peoples.

Testimonials

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