Pandemical Mysticism: A Theology of Life

A four-week course that will explore similarities between our lockdown experiences and the lives of the medieval mystics. The challenges of isolation, solitude and anxiety that many are experiencing resonate with writings about the challenges and possibilities of the mystical life. We will explore a new approach to life that these experiences offer us, both in lockdown and beyond.
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The Collins Dictionary recently named ‘Lockdown’ the word of the year. For most of 2020 much of the world has heard this fateful word more than once and along with it has come a singular transformation of our personal and social lives. Covid-19, the viral cause of a global pandemic has brought life as we know it, and have come to expect it, grinding to a halt. Wary of contagion we are socially distanced, wearing masks, closing borders, stopping travel, working from home and forced into a new kind of solitary existence. We have been forced to retreat from the world and our lives have taken on new shapes.


We may not have chosen this path and probably don’t see it as a divine call, but nonetheless this lockdown life has opened up new spaces in our 21st century lives. Torn away from the usual distractions of contemporary life we are experiencing the highs and lows of a more solitary existence. Connected by technology but little else, we have become victims of data, conspiracy theories and scientific opinion, and find ourselves wrestling with boredom, depression, anxiety, despair and fear of the future, and hungering for connectivity and communion.

Faith's Future a la Mystics

What if the lives of medieval mystics could help us to see that the broad range of experiences we have had since the onset of the pandemic are quite typical of lives forced into solitude and isolation? And what if those experiences could help us find our way to a different understanding of the human condition, both in and out of lockdown? And what if there is a way to take a more ‘mystical’ approach to life that doesn’t require us to embrace the ancient way or the old gods? 

4-Week Outline

What this conversation is all about

Since the onset of the global pandemic much of the world has found itself in forced isolation-separated from loved ones, from the everyday and from life as we have come to expect it. The ongoing lockdowns have turned us into nations of isolated and dislocated peoples. In this four-week course we will explore the ways in which the global pandemic and accompanying lockdowns echo something of the mystical experience. We will explore some mystical texts and seek to deepen our understanding of our current circumstances as a kind of ‘pandemical mysticism’ with all the contradictions, challenges and puzzles that the mystical entails, and also consider a new kind of mystical life rooted not in the mystery of God but the mystery of life itself.

This seminar will explore some of the writings and practices of the mystics in an effort to frame our own solitary pandemic-shaped existence with a deeper level of reflection and understanding. Along with reflections on mystical writings and experience we will offer a vision for a material, life-centered, mysticism, that will allow us to think differently about our lives when, and if, we are released from our modern ’hermit cells.’ We will also soundtrack this conversation with popular music which echoes our mystical experience.

What you can expect

  • This course starts LIVE Thursday, January 28th at 1pm PST/9pm GMT via zoom.
  • For those who can't make the LIVE lecture it will be posted to watch at your leisure on our learning platform.
  • If you are purchasing this course after it has started you can go through the course from the beginning and still interact with the instructors in the archive learning section of each week.
  • Each weekly lecture lasts for about an hour or so and there will be a time of Q&A to further engage the content and instructors.
  • There are no assignments, but you can expect sessions packed with content as well as recommended reading and resources.
  • Check out our podcast on this course here.
  • Check out our social post here.

Barry Taylor

Co-Director of H&Co, a theologian-philosopher, musician, artist, academic and writer who has spent more than thirty years challenging traditional notions of religion and church and creating alternative communities built on the idea that life is uncertain, the future is unwritten and that none of us has the answer.

More on Barry here

“If the supernatural in a conventional sense is no longer possible, what remains after the “death of God” is an occulted, hidden world…the enigma we face is how to confront this world.”

-Eugene Thacker