The MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred ran for seven years at Canterbury Christ Church University. It started in 2014 and will end in 2021. Previously, a similar MA ran at the University of Kent from 2006-2011, called The Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination. Both programmes were devised by Dr Angela Voss and Dr Geoffrey Cornelius.
In devising the programme, we were very inspired by the work of Jeffrey Kripal, Religious Studies professor from Rice University, Texas, and this is what he has to say about an integrative approach to studying sacred texts and traditions:
“[There are] types of understanding that are at once passionate and critical, personal and objective, religiousand academic. Such forms of knowledge are not simply academic, although they are that as well, and rigorouslyso. But they are also transformative, and sometimes soteriological.” (Kripal, 2001: 5)
He points to the essential pedagogical aims of the MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred: to investigate and develop imaginative, creative and participatory methodologies for the study of mythopoeic, sacred and symbolic texts and traditions within a rigorous academic framework, through exploring aspects of the history and epistemology of esoteric (i.e., holistic or transpersonal) philosophy, spirituality and ritual practice from antiquity to the present day.
From this basis, the urgent question of the value of non–rational (i.e., intuitive, imaginal and spiritual) modes of perception and knowledge in academic and social discourse are addressed, and ways of understanding the conflicting claims of scientific and religious reality constructs are considered. The MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred sought to broaden the understanding of texts, traditions and practices defined as “spiritual”, “sacred”, or “esoteric” through employing innovative and progressive pedagogy (i.e., experiential engagement and artistic modes of expression) as well as developing critical faculties. It sought to foster academic excellence, personal reflection, professional enhancement, and social awareness. For this reason, our MA was ideally situated within the Education Faculty, as it aimed to embody the ideals of transformative learning in an interdisciplinary and open minded enquiry into different ways of knowing, and their appropriate relationship with each other. The work of the MA is being continued via our new Centre for Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred.