Course Website:https://www.rewilding-mythology.com/ | An 8-week live online course exploring the inner worlds of lichen, fungi, rainforests, and songbirds with writer Sophie Strand
For most of human history, myth was a durable mode of knowledge transmission, kept alive and resilient by the breath-laced web of communal storytelling. Practical information about survival and sustenance was nested within compelling narratives that prized the epic stories of multi-species communities over the monologues of human individuals. Just as we plant a seed in soil, so were vital pieces of agricultural and ecological lore planted into stories that were built to survive environmental and social collapse.
Mythtelling, as primarily oral and embodied, was revitalized by the same ecological cycles that depend on a balance of decay and regrowth: breaking down dead wood to generate new soil. Our culture-creating cosmogonies rarely grew stale because they were refreshed and adapted to new conditions each time they were retold. Most importantly, they were contextual. Just as mycorrhizal fungi map the relationships in a forest, so do myths map the specific relationships of a community rooted in place. A myth designed to transmit information about harvesting nuts in one location cannot be transplanted to another ecosystem unchanged and still provide reliable ecological information. Myths were the maps of communities intimately dialoguing with their environment.
But the rise of empire depended on the deracination of mythologies. Just as landscapes were stolen and terraformed so were whole pantheons uprooted from their social and ecological contexts, coopted by the very cultures that ensured the demise of their originating cultures. Galilean magicians were turned into militaristic figureheads. Serpentine divinities were transformed into gorgon-headed monsters. Uprooted from their context and from the renewing respiration of communal storytelling, these stories ossified into abstraction and reinforced the anthropocentric hyper-individuality and colonial capitalism of today.
Rewilding mythology is an 8-week course with sessions taking place every week from Monday 7 November until Monday 19 December at 5pm UK time. The weekly sessions will consist of lectures and Q&A sessions (recorded for you to catch up if you miss them live) with a unique, curated lineup of teachers. Each week will be accompanied by optional readings, practices and resources for you to deepen the work at home. Learning will be facilitated by community discussion, and participants are encouraged to engage in between live sessions.
- Reroot popular mythologies in their original social and ecological context using a historical, scientific, and anthropological lens;
- Revitalise oral storytelling as a relation mode of knowledge transmission;
- Pour anthropocentric narratives into more-than-human morphologies;
- Decenter human heroes by peering into the sensory worlds of insects, microbes, and fungi;
- Map the webs of relationship that constitute our own backyard mythic ecosystems;
- Think alongside fungi as way of understanding intelligence as a process shared by a community, rather than as an object possessed by an individual;
- Compost progress-oriented paradigms with forest ecology and the wisdom of rot;
- Offer our creative and intellectual tools to other species;
- Step into the spaces left behind by extinction with;
- Use Queer Ecology as a lens to rewild heteronormative value systems.