Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Animism Today: Engaging with a Living World

Animism Today: Engaging with a Living World

earth with eye
Key Info: 
  • Examine the history of the idea of animism
  • Engage in practical exercises to help open us to the possibilities of an animate world
  • Explore what a return to animism can bring to our ecological crisis

With Dr Andy Letcher, Colin Campbell and facilitator Selena King

£ 385.00
Course fees include a two-night stay in private, simple accommodation with shared bathroom and all vegetarian meals. Fee also includes any field trips, materials as well as all teaching sessions.

In the modern West, we tend to view the world as a set of resources, as a backdrop to our enjoyment, as something we can do with as we please. By contrast in animism plants, animals, mountains, rivers and even the weather are regarded as ‘persons’. Being in the world requires that we maintain right relations with all the other-than-human people with whom we interact. It is a lifeway built upon respect and etiquette, where the human is no longer at the centre of things.

In this short course we will examine the history of the idea of animism. Victorian anthropology saw animism as a primitive belief. Animists filled the world with souls and mistakenly saw inert 'matter', such as rocks, as alive. This original conception has been thoroughly overturned as scholars from many disciplines rethink and decolonise animism. For animists, rather, the world is full of other-than-human persons: bear persons, rock persons, tree persons. Each person has their own way of being in the world but importantly, each person has agency. To be an animist is to learn to be respectful of the many other people with whom we share the world, to find the right way to live with them.

Outside of the classroom we will engage in some practical exercises to help open us to the possibilities of an animate world. We will put theory into practice by finding a respectful way to engage with the other-than-human.

We will ask what a return to animism can bring to our ecological crisis. Can we learn to be animists again? How would we approach the world differently if we saw it as full of people, not things?

Please note that Colin Campbell will be contributing to one session via Zoom.

With Dr Andy Letcher, Colin Campbell and facilitator Selena King

Dr Andy Letcher

Dr Andy Letcher is writer, performer and scholar of religion who began life as an ecologist, completing his D.Phil in Ecology at Oxford University. After a spell as an environmental activist during the 90s, especially during the anti-roads protests, he moved across to the humanities, completing a PhD at King Alfred’s College Winchester. He is an expert on contemporary alternative spiritualities, especially modern Paganism, neo-shamanism and psychedelic spiritualities. A writer known for his critical approach, he is the author of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom and a range of academic papers on subjects as diverse as fairies, animism, folklore, bardism and Druidry. He wrote the companion volume to The English Magic Tarot. A folk musician, he plays English bagpipes and Dark Age lyre, and for ten years fronted psych-folk band, Telling the Bees.

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell grew up in rural southeastern Botswana, the son of a renowned anthropologist and a creative healing mother. He is currently a practitioner of traditional African medicine, based in Cape Town, South Africa and the UK. He receives clients from all over the world, and facilitates international group processes relating to natural law, transformation, healing & personal power, sacred sites, and cross-cultural cosmology.

His work bridges major world cities with ancestral homelands and forgotten wilderness, taking him from the Amazon Basin to Los Angeles, the sacred sites of Venda to the urban grit of Johannesburg, and remote Ethiopia to the City of London. Colin co-founded and co-runs a training school in Botswana for traditional doctors and sangomas with his brother Niall Campbell. He is also a lifelong artist and musician, his style once again bridging the traditional with the contemporary, the timeless with the timely, and the sounds of the sacred with the lyricism of electric rocking funk.

Selena King

Selena King

Selena first came to Schumacher College as a participant on the Becoming Indigenous programme and developed a keen interest in exploring and understanding how indigenous Earth-centred wisdom can be used to help solve many of the current problems we are facing, from the personal to the global. She brings a commitment to serve thriving life and right relations, ensuring that teachers and participants get the most out of their time at the college. When she’s not facilitating courses at Schumacher, Selena uses her skills as a strategic consultant and qualitative researcher to be an agent for change in the corporate world. Her mission is to be a compassionate and loving voice in the boardroom for all human and non-human beings, and to help companies and organisations develop products and services that have a positive impact on our lives, our communities and our planet.

If you would like to book onto one of our short courses, you will need to create an account. This is a simple process of choosing a username, email address and password. Once you have created an account you will receive a verification email. Please click on the verification link within to have full access to the site and to make your booking. (You may need to  check your spam folder if you do not see this email.)  We will email you confirmation of your payment and any further communication about your course application.

Residential accommodation for "Changing the Frame"  is at Higher Close, a 20 minute walk from Schumacher College. All meals will be provided at the college.

A place can not be guaranteed unless we receive your deposit or payment on your chosen course. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please do this before making your course application.

Short Course Bursaries create an opportunity for an individual to experience the powerful transformative learning by joining a course that assists the participant to inspire their wider community and benefits from the participant’s own unique contribution. It is our hope that our bursaries support a wide cross section of participation on our short course programme. The number of bursaries available is limited, competition is strong and funding is not always available for every short course. Please be aware that most bursaries are in the region of 10% – 20% of the course fee so please be prepared to raise funding from other sources.  A bursary award is not intended to cover travel or incidental expenses.

Applications are viewed on a case-by-case basis and we are unable to enter into discussions on any decisions. We generally have many more applications for bursaries than we have funding available. We can only offer one bursary per person per year and priority is given to those who have not attended the college or received a bursary before. To help us support as many people as possible, please only apply if you would be unable to attend the course without a bursary.

How to apply for a bursary

NB: Please do not pay your deposit for the course yet. Any applications received where a deposit has been paid will be rejected and the deposit refunded.

Six weeks before the course is due to start all bursary applications will be considered and responded to.  If successful you will be required to accept our Bursary Terms and Conditions.

Please answer the following:

  1. What does a bursary mean to you?
  2. How will your attendance on this course benefit the wider community?
  3. If your financial situation justifies you applying for a bursary, how much are you able to contribute towards attending this course?

Please be prepared to supply an appropriate reference in support of your application.

More about our growing areas and philosophy

We follow ecological cycles as much as possible. Much of the food is grown in the five and half acre agroforestry field – in a system of alley cropping and in the developing forest garden. The field also has fruit trees and bushes; young nut trees; a flock of pasture fed poultry; two wild life ponds, a craft and pollinator garden and a hazel and willow coppice.

Other areas include two herb gardens; four polytunnels; a perennial no dig vegetable garden and several fruit areas. We compost our garden and kitchen waste for use on site, and use green manures for fertility building.

Our students find their time engaging with food growing, and all it entails, a truly transformative time.   Our gardens are as much about nurturing people as plants, and hundreds of students have found the contact with the land and soil to be a rich learning journey.

Integral to the College’s international learning community, you will get to know students, staff and volunteers through daily meetings and shared activities. There is also a diverse programme of events and evening talks, offered by college residents, visiting teachers and local experts.

Help & Enquiries

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