A Study Guild
This is a group study course created and run by writer Sylvia V. Linsteadt.
At the center of this study guild is my belief that the native witchcraft traditions of Europe are a late manifestation of an ancient, indigenous, earth-based culture that predates the arrival of Indo-Europeans during the Bronze Age, and finds its roots far back in the culture that archaeologist Marija Gimbutas calls Old European (which spanned roughly 7000 to 3000 B.C.E.), and likely even earlier, in Paleolithic and Mesolithic traditions. This assertion is not without its controversy, and our study guild will function in part as a discussion workshop, in which we can inform ourselves together and create our own opinions and beliefs based on the sources, both mythic, folkloric, and academic (centered around Gimbutas' ground-breaking research), as well as a creative circle to try our own hands at ceramics, textile arts, and creative writing.
Together we will be following the tenuous pathways that lead us back to the roots of a culture in which reverence for the web of life and a feminine divinity (in many diverse manifestations) were valued at the center of European culture. My hope is that this journey into the deep past can inform our present, and hopefully our future, in a time when the Earth is more and more in need of those who would revere the sanctity and regenerative powers of the natural world, and each other.
This is the history we did not learn in school, but should have. We did not learn it for the same reasons that we did not learn the truth about the genocides that happened across North America to indigenous peoples and ways of knowing so that the United States could be created; because it does not fit into the dominant narrative of history that we have been situated within by academic tradition for the past two hundred years, and by the clergical doctrines that gave rise to it for the past two thousand. (See here for more on this topic.) This is my attempt to reposition the deeply suppressed history of a pre-patriarchal, pre-colonized earth-revering European heritage at the center of our understanding of Western history, instead of at the periphery, and in doing so to better understand the present-day legacy of colonization on the North American continent and across the world, a legacy that is destroying all forms of diversity on this planet with terrifying speed.
NOTE: This course is open to everyone, of all cultural backgrounds. While our focus is on Europe and on the feminine, because that is my heritage and it is my hope that we can begin to heal some of the traumas in the European lineage so that they are not carried forward, this group is whole-heartedly open to people of all ethnicities and all lineages.
Each Unit will be 3 months long, meeting roughly once a month in person at a spacious and private studio space in Point Reyes Station, and weekly through an online discussion forum to explore questions & prompts based on the readings I've provided, as well as your own individual inquiries. This is part study group, part workshop, and part class, but with an emphasis on collective discussion, research and imagination. Be prepared to do some serious reading! I will provide a fairly thick reader with a variety of sources for each Unit, which will be included in the cost of the class, and I hope we can dig deep together into the texts within. Do keep in mind that my hope for this class is that we embark on this learning adventure together, in a circle. While I have been an independent student of ancient history for most of my life (starting with a deep obsession with Egypt as a young girl, and continuing as independent study while at Brown University), I am not putting myself before you as an expert, but rather as a passionate learner hoping to share this exploration more deeply with you, holding the framework and the space but inviting a collective vessel of knowledge to grow and fill.
REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED!
In Person Cost: $300 for each 3-month Unit. This includes 4 in-person workshops from 10 to 3 pm on Sundays, a 300-ish page reader, and access to the weekly online discussion forum. I may suggest additional reading materials that will be your responsibility to purchase. The in-person workshops are a 2 hour discussion circle exploring the month's reading, questions, and prompts, a more informal lunchtime chat, and a 2 hour creative circle in the afternoon to explore more intuitive ways of understanding the material, such as textile arts, ceramics, and creative writing. This second half of the day will be shaped in part by group interest. I may include one additional expedition together out into the wilds of Point Reyes to learn about animal tracking and connect with the medicinal and magical properties of plants to try to ground what we are exploring in our beloved local land; perhaps as a final gathering. Limited to 12 participants.
Distance Cost: $75 per Unit. This includes access to the questions and prompts on the weekly online discussion forum, a 300-ish page reader (a digital pdf or printed book; international shipping will be additional), and overviews as well as the creative prompts from our in-person circles.
Note: I would like to make this course as accessible as possible to all; if the cost is prohibitive for you please email me at grayfoxepistles <at> gmail.com and we can work out a sliding scale or payment plan.