Practical Animism Online Course

Reclaiming Kinship Through Earth-Honoring Ritual

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 these 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 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.

This online course arises from guiding hundreds of days of ritual work focused on relating with spirits of place over the past two decades. Participants will learn to more firmly anchor their everyday lives and rituals (be they newly crafted or from intact traditions) in 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 lay out 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 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

Please note: We have updated the schedule and added live conferences for this course. The course is divided into Part One and Part Two, each consisting of seven lessons over an eight-week duration, with a week in between (see below for full descriptions). New lessons are released on Monday mornings every one-two weeks and can be accessed any time after for a year after the course concludes. Each lesson also includes a 75-minute live conference for Q&A and also small-group discussion, alternating Thursdays at 11am and Wednesdays at 3pm (all times are US Eastern Time). The detailed course schedule is here (scroll calendar to May 2019).

  • Part One: May 13 – July 18, 2019
  • Part Two: July 29 – September 26, 2019

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. Lessons include closed captioning on the videos and transcripts. Participants can share experiences with other learners through a private Facebook group, and all registrants also enjoy a year of unlimited 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 fourteen live 75-minute online group support sessions with Dr. Foor throughout the course, one per lesson (recorded for playback as needed, and transcripts provided).

How to Register

Cost is $400 USD for the full course (Part One and Two) and $225 for Part One only. There is an early registration discount of $25 for the full course through March 1. If participants decide after completing Part One to then enroll in Part Two, the additional cost is $225. Both the full course and the individual parts have additional payment plan options (more info on registration page). By registering you’ll enjoy:

  • Access to the 14 instructional course videos (about 30min each)
  • 14 live 75-minute group support conferences with Dr. Foor & the 25+ course supporters (one conference with each lesson)
  • Option to download accompanying audio files and pdf transcripts of course content
  • Opportunity to engage in course participant private Facebook group
  • Invitation during course to ask Dr. Foor directly for support with the material
  • Access to all course materials for one year after course completion

Course Dates:

Part One: May 13 – July 18, 2019

Part Two: July 29 – September 26, 2019


We are strongly committed to keeping the work accessible to people of diverse backgrounds and variable means while also supporting this organization. If you need financial assistance beyond the scope of the available payment plan options to be able to join, 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.

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

Course Dates:

Part One: May 13 – July 18, 2019

Part Two: July 29 – September 26, 2019


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