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On being sensitive to worlds: the role of animism and spirit in activism. A discussion between Starhawk and Isabelle Stengers.

Sunday 13 August 2017

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]


Tuesday 22nd August 18.30 with the library Le Taslu but in the big marquee on the intergalactic camp.

On being sensitive to worlds: the role of animism and spirit in activism. A discussion between Starhawk and Isabelle Stengers.

"To resist a likely future in the present is to gamble that the present still provides substance for resistance, that it is populated by practices that remain vital even if none of them has escaped the generalized parasitism that implicates them all." ― Isabelle Stengers <>

"Systems don’t change easily. Systems try to maintain themselves, and seek equilibrium. To change a system, you need to shake it up, disrupt the equilibrium. That often requires conflict. To me, conflict is a deeply spiritual place. It’s the high-energy place where power meets power, where change and transformation can occur." Starhawk

Philosopher and historian of science, Isabelle Stengers will be in discussion with writer and ecofeminist neo pagan activist Starhawk. at the zad’s library, le Taslu. Stahawk co-founded the movement "Reclaiming" which has spent decades trying to bring together the spiritual and the political. She sees spirituality and ritual not as something removed from the world, but deeply embedded in it, and has developed forms of resistance that merge ritual with direct action, from the anti-nuclear movements of the 80’s to the alterglobalisation movements at the turn of the century and most recently in teaching and practicing regenerative earth healing and supporting many indigenous struggles, including the uprising at Standing Rock.. She continues to merge these practices with Permaculture in her "Earth Activist Trainings". Isabelle Stengers has written about chaos theory, politics (the spell of capitalism), psychoanalysis, hypnosis and the history and philosophy of science. She wants science to give up its claim of rational objectivity and truth and its denouncing of other systems of knowledge. Her recent work proposes a ’Cosmopolitics’, with it roots in indigenous worldviews, which reintegrates the natural and social, the modern and archaic, the scientific and the irrational, entwining the human and non human worlds together and suggesting that the more-than-human is an active agent in politics not a mere object.

Wednesday 23rd August

A morning workshop and water ritual on navigating conflicts with Starhawk.

« The water we hold sacred is not some abstract image or fantasy of Water, but the real stuff that we need to drink and bathe and grow our gardens, that provides the crucial habitat for fish and plants and thousands of other creatures, that is the Earth’s literal life blood. » Starhawk.

At Standing Rock, North Dakota, the resisters to a new oil pipe line called themselves ’Water defenders’, on the zad, the zone to defend, an airport project is being successfully resisted from destroying one of the regions most important wetlands. Across the world, infrastructure projects are sucking territories dry, spreading the desert of capitalism. Both at Standing Rock and the zad the resistance involved a composition of radical diversity, unexpected encounters between very different visions of the world that attempt to share forms of life and practics of struggle together. This of course inevitably involves conflict, which is often a way of learning and evolving together, but it can also be a weight, and history has shown that more revolutionary movements are destroyed by their inner fights than by the police and the state. In our attempt to build new forms of political intelligence which value unity in diversity, we lack the right tools to be able to navigate conflicts between us.

Renowned ecofeminist, activist witch Starhawk will run an afternoon workshop on the zad, sharing the tools she has discovered over decades of experience in radical movements and communal living that can help us navigate conflict. The workshop will end with a water ritual on a key part of the beautiful wetlands.

The workshop will be held in english with translation. It is part of the intergalactic camp on the zad which takes place between the 17th -24th of August. For more info see: <>

- places for this workshop are limited. Please write to us if you intend to attend.