Sintra, Portugal

Discover The History of Europe's Ancient Mystery Traditions And The Secrets Hidden In Plain Sight In Sintra 

Come on an experiential learning journey exploring the living, breathing world of animism and the perennial philosophy of ancient mystery traditions in one of the most awe-inspiring forests in Europe.

[Greek] ἔκστασις (ecstasis): a standing out of one’s self, being aside oneself, amazement, astonishment, trance.

Summer 2022 (To Be Announced)

Animist Ecstasis Retreat In Sintra, Portugal

Just outside of the city of Lisbon is a mystic forest steep in lore and mythology surrounding the town of Sintra.

Here, perched on the edge of Western Europe lies Sintra-Cascais National Park, a 200 square kilometre forest filled with castles, ancient temples, neolithic archaeological sites and important historical centres of Celtic, Moorish, Templar and Masonic mystical practice.

On this 2-day weekend retreat experience, we will explore these ancient traditions and how they used altered states of trance, ecstasy and immersion in the "felt presence" of immediate experience to enable initiates to experience what the Ancient Greeks called Ecstasis and "go beyond oneself".

Today, we have lost many of the rites of passage and sacred rituals that initiated us into the world of magic and mystery that extends beyond the boundaries of the analytical thinking and identification with thought.

This retreat will explore why compulsive thinking has become a prison for many people and how the Western obsession with rationalism and materialism has lead to the suppression of valuable states of consciousness that illuminate who we are, where we come from and where we are going.

Learn Practices To Expand Awareness And Tune Into Your Sensory Experience

The focus of this experiential retreat will be expand our awareness of ourselves beyond the limiting beliefs of the thinking mind and tuning our senses into the living, breathing world inside and all around us.

You will learn visualization, breathwork and meditation practices that will help you go beyond the limitations of the analytical mind and explore this mindful state of "felt presence" and immersion in your sensory experience.

Along the way, we will visit ancient sites in one of the largest forests remaining in Western Europe to explore the mythology and lore of the Celts, Moors, Templars and Masons who have made the Sintra mountains a place of pilgrimage and sacred ritual for thousands of years.

We will explore meditation not merely a practice or routine, but as a philosophy of felt experience living in presence and connection with the more-than-human world and the elements of nature that give us strength and vitality: the earth, air, sun, and water.

We will explore the art of Ecstasis through an ancient mythology process of separation, initiation and return to expand our awareness and open the senses to a direct experience of the aliveness and presence of the living, breathing world of animism.

Friday (Evening)

1. Separation: Ecstasis Breathwork Ceremony Exploring The Waking Dream State

We will start the retreat on Friday evening with an introductory circle where we will get to know each other and create a sacred container to temporarily separate ourselves from the mundane world to explore different ways of seeing.

You will learn about the 3-part mythological sequence of separation, initiation and return that is used in esoteric mystery rituals to give initiates a direct experience of their inner nature beyond the limitations of how they have been taught to think and perceive.

This will be followed by a 1-hour ecstasis breath ceremony involving a process of visualization, breathwork and meditation to go beyond the conditioned self to explore the magic and mystery of the waking dream state.

Each morning on Saturday and Sunday will be followed with a shorter ecstasis breathing practice to prepare us for a day of deep embodiment in our sensory experience.


2. Initiation: Exploring The Living Breathing, World of Animism

Have Western cultures severed their connection with spirit?

We will start the day by exploring the contemporary Western mythology of secular materialism and consumerism and its relationship with global biodiversity collapse through the lens of animistic cultures.

Many of the world's indigenous people view Western culture as suffering from a "sickness of the spirit" with a reckless prioritization of short-term accumulation at the expense of future generations and the elevation of greed, lust and envy through an endless stream of advertising.

The early Native Americans who met European colonists in New World called this sickness "wetiko" and considered it a virus of the mind, a psycho-spiritual illness that literally cultivates and feeds on fear and separation.

The results of this sickness can been seen in the growing sense of anxiety, restlessness and alienation from nature that underlies the relentless urge to control, dominate and conquer.

We can see this sickness manifest in the global biodiversity collapse that we are currently witnessing where over a million species are threatened with extinction and the rate of extinction has increased 10,000 fold in the last 40 years. A species now goes extinct every 20 minutes.

We will explore how each of us can reconcile today's Western culture with our unique ancestral history and rekindle an animistic kinship with the more-than-human world.

Interestingly, Sintra was an artistic and intellectual center of the 19th-century movement known as Romanticism, which mounted an early protest to the rational idea of the Enlightenment.

Frowning on the emergence of a "spirit-less" industrial world cut off from ancestral traditions and obsessed with a narrow worldview dominated by what can quantified by reason, the Romantics placed an emphasis on qualitative experiences that involved exploring the full range of human emotions, our connection to nature and rootedness in the past as a better way for a practical understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.

We will spend the afternoon learning how to tune into the "felt presence" of  immediate experience in the forest to feel a deeper sense of immersion and awe at the mystery of aliveness and presence.

Along the day's journey, we will visit the Anta de Adrenunes, a mysterious megalithic monument from the Stone Age located on a top of a hill at 426 metres above the sea.

Then we will continue on to the magical Sanctuary of Peninha and watch the sunset by Cabo de Roca, the westernmost point of Western Europe.


Return: Mythological Maps of Consciousness and The Unifying Patterns of Nature

On Sunday morning, we will start early by exploring the ultimate representation of the ideals and vision of Romanticism in Sintra, the Pena Palace built in 1847.

This extraordinary castle is one of the most iconic landmarks in the Western world. We will explore the esoteric symbolism of the palace complex and the 200 hectares (494 acres) of surrounding gardens that contain the plants and trees from the four corners of the Earth.

In the afternoon, we will visit the Quinta da Regaleira to decode the ancient symbolism and mythology of this spectacular estate while exploring the mysterious gardens, caves, tunnels and Masonic initiation wells.

Portugal has a unique place in European history as the first modern nation-state and the place of refuge for the Knights of the Templar after their discovery of the Holy Grail during their excavations under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Crusades.

While there is considerable debate about what exactly is the Holy Grail, it is likely a mythological map of a kind of initiation into mystical Christ Consciousness where adepts are taught to see beyond the fear of death to temporarily see beyond the veil into the immortality of spirit.

Ancient mystery traditions were built on mystical experiences like this that helped adepts feel a sense of fearlessness, which would help them realize their full potential as human beings.

We will also explore certain unifying archetypal patterns of nature that are seen across cultures and represented in the symbols, mythologies and art used to understand our place in the world.

Along the way, you will see how modern traditions of religion were built upon a foundation of much more ancient animistic traditions that relied much less on metaphor and abstraction, and much more on direct sensory experience.

You will leave this weekend experience with a solid understanding of both the mythology and practices of some of foundational mystical traditions of Europe and the role they have played in the development of the modern world.

You will also have a 3-step visualization, breathwork and meditation journeying process to break free at will from to explore your psyche in waking dream states beyond the perceptual filters that dominate normal waking consciousness.

About The Guide

Kyle Pearce

Kyle Pearce is from Vancouver, British Columbia and he has been designing and leading experiential learning adventures, nature immersion retreats, and forest ecology workshops through Animist Ecology since 2015.

He studied ancient and modern history at the University of Victoria and has spent the last decade traveling the world studying ancient civilizations, ecology and meditation with teachers from around the world. 

For the last 7 years, he has run an online learning website called DIY Genius where he teaches people how to design their own education and develop their focus, creativity and self-motivation using Flow Psychology.

He is passionate about experiential learning and taking learning beyond books, tests and lectures and back into the forest where people can learn through direct experience, group conversation and storytelling.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

About The Accommodation

Due to covid-19 epidemic, we will be doing things are a little differently for this retreat.

We will be staying at Selina Secret Garden in Lisbon where we will eat in the morning on the rooftop patio and do our daily foundational visualization, breathwork and meditation in their yoga studio.

Accommodation and food will be separate from this educational retreat experience to simplify things and give you more options of how you want to stay.

Discover The History of Europe's Ancient Mystery Traditions And The Secrets Hidden In Plain Sight In Sintra 

Come on a magical learning journey exploring the living, breathing world of animism and the ancient mystery traditions of Europe.

On this 2-day weekend retreat experience, we will explore these ancient traditions and how they used altered states of trance, ecstasy and immersion in the "felt presence" of immediate experience to enable initiates to experience what the Ancient Greeks called Ecstasis and "go beyond oneself".

Animist Ecstasis Retreat


EURO (Save $75 With The Early Bird Discount) Until January 1st

  • Entrance To Historical Sites
  • Transportation
  • Guided Journeys
  • Ecstasis Educational Training
Join The Experience