AHR 28: How to Understand and Use Practical Animistic Rituals for Personal and Family Healing with Daniel Foor, PhD


Is it possible to heal trauma in our personal and family lives by connecting with our well, deceased ancestors?


Provided you possess a beginner’s mindset equipped with the right animistic framework, my guest today, Dr. Daniel Foor of AncestralMedicine.org, would say yes—you absolutely can.

This week, Daniel and I delve into practical animism: where ritual and ceremony are used as tools for personal, family, and cultural healing.

A few months ago I was surprised to receive an early copy of Daniel's magnum opus, aptly titled Ancestral Medicine: Rituals for Personal and Family Healing. Since then, I've probably recommended Daniel's book to nearly all my closest rewilding friends.


Partly because trauma—and ways we heal from trauma—was central to many of the topics shared at this year's first annual North American Rewilding Conference. It’s also worth mentioning that Daniel’s work was brought up several times throughout the two-and-a-half-day experience.

So, without further adieu:

In today's episode, you'll learn...

  • How our well and unwell ancestors influence the living and non-living;
  • How directly speaking with the spirits and other-than-humans can break centuries of colonialism, patriarchy, and scientism;
  • How practical animism directly enriches our day-to-day relationships; and...
  • Much, much more.

Episode Breakdown

  • Daniel begins by telling us his upbringing in north-east Ohio and how Daniel wasn't exactly gifted with any framework to relate with the spirits or other-than-human people

  • By the age of 17, Daniel began to connect with living teachers that allowed him to acquire a specific framework for relating with animal, plant, and human ancestors

  • Daniel shares a pivotal story about an ancestor who aided his grandfather with a healthy transition into the afterlife  

  • Daniel explains the importance of dreams for conveying ancestral messages

  • Why Daniel says it's important to know who we're talking about when we're discussing our ancestors and other-than-human relatives

  • Daniel shares with the audience a myriad of ways our well and unwell ancestors influence the living and non-living for better or worse

  • Why Daniel says we're using personal level tools to solve collective level troubles

  • How our ancestors can be a source of support, blessing, and guidance 

  • Why Daniel says it's easy to make contact with our ancestors and is something anyone can do

  • Daniel explains why he doesn't tune into other people's ancestors for them

  • Why the recent dead who are not well can act as interference in building a relationship with the wise and well dead

  • The four primary lineages Daniel focuses on

  • Why Daniel says working with the dead is similar to working with nuclear material

  • Why genealogy, Daniel says, can be like having too much information

  • 254 names

  • Why Daniel says being individualistic can make us feel isolated and less morally accountable to others

  • Daniel points out the flaws he sees in western psychology

  • Why Daniel is interested in introducing an animist framework in a sensible, normal kind of way

  • How practical animism can enrich our lives with empathy and connection and how that spills into our day-to-day relationships

  • Why Daniel believes many indigenous cultures tend to have a respect for diversity

  • Daniel explains a few of the main archetypes or reasons that people go out of their way to search for his work

  • What Daniel thinks of cultural appropriation and what he says people might be overlooking in regards to the bigger picture

  • Why Daniel says you need to do you "like crazy", make intent (for, say, a year), and relearn and reclaim these practical animistic frameworks

  • How directly speaking with the spirits and other-than-humans breaks centuries of often unspoken agreements of colonialism, patriarchy, and scientism

  • Why Daniel says it's important—if you can—to work with one of Daniel's trainees, in a session format, to look intuitively at the condition your linages are currently in

  • Why Daniel says it's important to look intuitively at the present condition of your lineages without trying to connect with them right away

  • Why Daniel says multi-racial people have a beneficial voice to bring to the cultural healing that's needed to the ancestral health community

Questions I Ask

  1. "In your book you share a story about one of your first experiences you had when you were young, and your grandmother. Would you mind sharing that with the audience?"

  2. "Having shared this experience with your grandmother... having done the ritual and ceremony... how did she feel about that?"

  3. "You have a really nice distinction between our ancestors, the dead, and how you break that down for people. There's a distinction there, right?"

  4. "How exactly do our ancestors influence the living and visa versa?"

  5. "We don't need to go to Ancestry.com and do a full DNA panel, right?"

  6. "What type of individuals do you see that typically come to you? Do you notice there's an archetype?"

  7. "Where exactly would you have us begin?"

  8. "For those of us who are multicultural, how would we start looking into our ancestry?"

Mentioned Resources

"We have a role to play in helping the dead to become ancestors."—Daniel Foor, PhD

Who is Daniel Foor?

Daniel Foor, PhD, is a licensed therapist and a doctor of psychology. He has led ancestral healing intensives throughout the United States since 2005. He is an initiate in the Ifa/Orisha tradition of Yoruba-speaking West Africa and has trained with teachers of Mahayana Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and diverse indigenous paths, including the ways of his English, Irish, and German ancestors.

Daniel's approach to ancestor reverence and earth-honoring spirituality is heart-centered, non-dogmatic, and honoring of soul-level difference. He views ancestral and family healing as one part of a larger movement for social and earth justice. Daniel and his wife Sarah live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

Contact Daniel, Here:

Website: www.ancestralmedicine.org

Social media: Facebook (personal), Facebook (Ancestral Medicine), Twitter, Google+, LinkedInYouTube, and Instagram. (Phew! Daniel is everywhere!)

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Thank you.


James Broderick