Rewilding and Re-rooting: Ecotherapy with the Earth Spirits of Local Folklore

Amidst the mounting challenges facing researchers, educators and students around the world, how can we retrieve a sense of joy and presence in our work? In the face of sweeping social and environmental change affecting landscapes and communities all around us, how can we weave together the mind and the heart, the eyes, the hands and the feet in what we do?


This interactive talk will suggest that reconnecting with the wild imagination of folktales and learning from their grounded ecological wisdom may open some meaningful paths. All cultures around the world have uniquely rich and diverse folkloric traditions with deep roots in local landscapes and ancient spiritual beliefs. We will zoom in on one such culture, Japan, in the company of shape-shifting animals and grumpy mountain crones. Theirs is an animate world where existence is precarious but also lived in intimate connection with the sacredness of wild places and the natural cycles of life and death, growth and decay. Hence many of such characters and themes have an archetypal quality, shining a light on our own lives in ways that both expand and deepen our relationship with the earth's wisdom.


We will be weaving together storytelling and scholarship, guided meditations and other exercises of nature connection inspired by the practice of ecotherapy to rewild and re-root our ecological imagination more deeply in the places where our lives unfold – and thereby to confront these challenging times of uncertainty with a renewed sense of purpose and creativity.