Short Course

Spirits, Gods and Magic: An Introduction to the Anthropology of the Supernatural

with Dr. Jack Hunter


21 and 28 June, 5, 12 and 19 July 2021 at 4 pm BST


Online on Zoom

Sophia Centre Short Course

"Spirits, Gods and Magic" is an introduction to the anthropology of the supernatural. This course introduces key anthropological theories on shamanism, spirit possession, witchcraft and magic - from classical theories to contemporary approaches - and presents cross-cultural perspective on ghosts, spirits and gods. The course also explores the relationship between participant observation, ethnography and the paranormal and considers what the fields of anthropology and parapsychology might stand to learn from each other.

Across the globe and through time - from prehistory to the present day - human beings have described experiences with strange forces and invisible beings. They have developed elaborate systems for understanding and establishing good relationships with the super/natural world through ceremony, ritual and other forms of participatory engagement.

Since the nineteenth century Western anthropologists have been trying to make sense of the extraordinary experiences and beliefs recounted to them by their fieldwork informants, at home and abroad. Sometimes they have sought to explain belief in spiritual beings away, and at other times anthropologists have tried to participate in other ways of seeing the world, in an effort to understand them on their own terms. These different perspectives have given rise to debates and controversies in the anthropology of the supernatural.

The Course

This is a five week course running on consecutive Mondays from June 21st at 4pm (BST).

Week 1: Trends in the Anthropology of the Supernatural

Week 2: Animism: Spirits, Gods and Demons.

Week 3: Magico-Religious Practitioners: Shamanism, Spirit Possession and Witchcraft

Week 4: Psychical Research and Parapsychology

Week 5: Toward a Non-Reductive Anthropology of the Paranormal

Seminars will be two hours in length with a combination of presentations and group discussion. These sessions will be recorded and made available for registered students to access.

There are no assessments, but you will receive a certificate of completion following the course.


The textbook for this course is Spirits, Gods and Magic: An Introduction to the Anthropology of the Supernatural (2020, August Night Press). The course is structured around the book, but also builds on and adds to the ideas discussed in each of the chapters.

The book is available for £10.99 in paperback, or £6.99 on Kindle.

Further Study

If you are interested in taking your studies further, check out the internationally renowned, distance-learning MA in Ecology and Spirituality. We welcome inquiries.

Sophia Centre Short Course

Dr. Jack Hunter is an anthropologist exploring the borderlands of consciousness, religion, ecology and the paranormal. He is an Honorary Research Fellow with the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre, and a tutor with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, where he teaches on the MA in Ecology and Spirituality and the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology. He is a Research Fellow with the Parapsychology Foundation. In 2010 he founded Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal. He is the author of Spirits, Gods and Magic (2020) and Manifesting Spirits (2020), and is the editor of Greening the Paranormal (2019), Damned Facts (2016) and Talking with the Spirits (2014).


The cost is £150 which covers all five lectures.

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To register and pay, please click the blue button Make Payment.

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The acknowledgement of payment from PayPal will be sent to the email address that you have registered with PayPal. The day before the course starts, the link to join the seminar will also be sent to this address. If you wish the link to be sent to a different email address, please contact

Student rate 10%

Students of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David get 10% discount for this short course. Please register and pay by clicking the button below.

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You should register by Paypal if possible but, if you can't, email Dr Nick Campion and you can arrange to pay by cheque or bank transfer.

Refunds: no refunds are possible once the course has started.

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