Animist Psychology

Earth, Ancestors, and Mental Health

with Dr. Daniel Foor

April 22 – June 15, 2021


Animist Psychology seeks to identify and build on common ground between ritual, psychology, and cultural healing. This course is a good fit for practitioners of ritual arts, mental health professionals, students of psychology, and anyone interested in the intersections of ritual, culture, and psyche. No need for in-depth psychological training or prior experience with animist, earth-honoring ritual to join.

Ritual arts and psychology are deeply complementary and historically often one and the same; however, the field of psychology continues to grapple with heavy colonialist legacies, pressure from the larger scientific community to study the human psyche only in reductionist materialist ways, and a disproportionate influence of European-ancestored voices. Too often these biases replicate avoidable harm and the field of psychology misses opportunities to learn from effective approaches to psychological healing found in the world’s wisdom traditions. As a result, spiritual and religious practitioners, people without adequate resources, people wary of being judged harshly, and Black people, Indigenous peoples, and People of Color (BIPOC) too often feel excluded by the field of psychology and miss out on what is truly beneficial about psychotherapy and mental health services.

As a participant you can expect accessible and interactive learning, invitations to reflect at depth on your own journey through guided experiential practices, and an increased ability to identify and speak to important psychological and cultural dynamics in your personal lives and communities of practice. Topics include: colonialism and mental health, ancestral curses, archetypal possession, psychosis and spiritual emergency, belonging in places with major historical trauma, cultivating resilience in partnership with the ancestors and land, and a range of other considerations under the banner of Animist Psychology. Resources included with each lesson favor ancestrally diverse voices both within and outside the psychological establishment, and the approach to learning is kind and inclusive with lots of space for questions, and peer discussion.

This course was exactly what I needed at this point in my life, intellectual, heartfelt, in-depth and provocative. So much was covered, and even though I did manage to keep up, I could probably redo it multiple times and always find something new requiring further digestion. It was truly unique and very engaging, managing a very tricky balance of content from what sometimes seemed like irreconcilable ways of thinking. Thank you.

 Jim L., Melbourne, Australia


Animism, Colonialism, and Earth-Honoring Psychologies
  • Situate psychology amidst ongoing legacies of European colonialism
  • Identify alignments and tensions between psychology and animism
  • Explore animist epistemologies as key to a more relational psychology
  • Reflect on personal experiences with psychotherapy and healing arts
  • Enjoy resources from Indigenous and other animist clinicians
Attachment Theory, Intimacy, and Loving the Earth​
  • 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
Ancestral Healing, Trauma, and Resilience
  • Expand on the common ground between “inner work” and cultural healing
  • Identify cross-cultural strategies for transforming trauma into resiliency
  • Reflect on acquired resilience and how animist values can inform healing
  • Practice reframing individual challenges as ancestral and cultural legacies
  • Enjoy resources on healing justice from somatic-oriented therapists
Spirit Contact, Psychosis, and Consensus Reality
  • Explore seemingly incompatible versions of consensus reality
  • Cultivate nuance and humility on the subject of psychosis and spirits
  • Extend prayer and respect to those already lost to the deep waters
  • Practice honoring limits to our nervous system and cognitive function
  • Enjoy resources from spirited clinicians on acute mental illness
Personality, Ego Inflation, and Possession States
  • Distinguish personality from disorder, healthy ego from inflation
  • Clarify helpful/intentional from harmful/undesired possession states
  • Explore psychological vulnerabilities as openings to archetypal forces
  • Practice identifying and uncoupling from a source of possession
  • Enjoy resources on archetypal possession and spiritual emergency
Harmful Spirits, Curses, and Cultural Troubles
  • Reach for common language on harmful spirits, curses, and psychic attack
  • Explore impacts of fear and cultural bias when addressing malevolence
  • Consider cultural troubles as a type of interference from harmful powers
  • Kindly review your life in a way that respects the reality of malevolence
  • Enjoy Indigenous and animist perspectives on danger and big trouble
Belonging, Ecopsychology, and Becoming a Place
  • Consider the psycho-spiritual implications of home and belonging
  • Explore the strengths and limits of eco-psychology as animist praxis
  • Identify responsible ways for settlers to cultivate local Earth wisdoms
  • Practice disrupting false human-nature and culture-nature dichotomies
  • Enjoy resources on heart-aware decolonization and becoming a place
Integration, Cultural Healing, and Ways to Deepen
  • Explore different cultural frames for an ethic of service and relatedness
  • Identify the foundations of healthy psyche in your ancestral cultures of origin
  • Consider the long-term balance of critical thinking with love and kindness
  • Practice identifying ways to deepen your path of personal cultivation
  • Enjoy hopeful, inspiring resources from culturally encouraging clinicians

This is an engaging and potentially challenging course that will take you deeper into the intersection of New Animism and the mental health field. I’d recommend this course for anyone in a helping profession as well as any and all unrepentant psychology nerds out there.

– Caitlin M., Whiting, Indiana, USA

Course FAQ

It’s ok! The live calls are optional, and Q&A calls with Daniel are recorded (video and audio) and transcribed into a pdf. Small group breakouts and community calls are not recorded. You can attend as many or as few calls as you like. You can also go back and revisit all of the course material at any time.

No, this course is for personal ritual and healing work, and does not presume to train people to guide this work for others.

At this time, we are unable to offer CE credits, although we are looking into it for future offerings.

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 scholarship application.

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.

Yes! We provide a transcript and notes for each lesson, a transcript for each live call (all TTS suitable), and the videos in the lessons include optional closed captioning.

Our offerings at Ancestral Medicine are rooted in feminist, decolonizing, anti-racist, LGBTQI-friendly, class-aware, international, earth-honoring ethics and a heart-aware and non-dogmatic spirit that seeks to meet each participant’s unique life experiences and ancestral storylines. Resources included with each lesson will favor ancestrally diverse voices both within and outside the field of psychology, and the weekly community calls include options for BIPOC and LGBTQI-only small discussion groups.

Although the course material comes with a debt of gratitude to Indigenous traditions and teachers, including the emergent field of Indigenous psychology, this is not a course on Indigenous psychology per se. Resources include voices from the 95% of humans who are other-than-Indigenous, and the teachings do not rely on an idealization of or legitimacy-by-association with Indigenous peoples.

Although some material may overlap with teachings in other Ancestral Medicine online courses, Animist Psychology focuses on psychological dimensions of ritual arts, ancestral engagement, and Earth reconnection in ways that are different and complementary to the other courses. The material aims to engage the subject matter at depth in both recorded lessons and live calls but does not require psychological training or prior completion of other courses.

As far as content, people practicing healing arts of any kind are wise to include this course in our education/training. It illuminates and honors absolutely necessary perspectives that are underrepresented in many practices (perhaps especially psychology). What is also incredibly impressive, and what really underlies and carries all the material (which is in itself invaluable) is the integrity with which Daniel teaches, creates space, and carefully invites us to participate in our own personal way(s). As well, his knowledge and experience provide a depth of understanding and variety of perspective that feels deeply grounded while still holding all the appropriate doors open for what is still to be explored.

– Tecoya R., North Bonneville, Washington, USA

About the Instructor

Dr Daniel Foor

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.