African Cosmologies with Dr. Butterfly


In this episode we speak with EWP adjunct professor Dr. Butterfly, along with students, Tayina Fenelus and Cameron Rice, who both took his class on African Cosmologies last semester. We speak of intergenerational transfer of knowledge in African traditions, and other important ideas in African cosmologies such as consubstantiation, ritual, story and song, and practices of divination. Dr. Butterfly shares his views on how African cosmologies can “help one rediscover ways in which one can be soulfully attached, reconnected, and participating in activities that enrich our lives, give them meaning, and restore value to kinds of relationships to each other.”

Anthony “Butterfly” Williams, MFA, PhD, (we/us) is the Executive Director of Iruke Institute International. Dr. Butterfly is a cultural alchemist whose work manifests in performance art, community organizing, and transformative education. He is an expert on the decolonization of culture through the arts. Creativity, compassion and collaboration inspire the transformation of self and society that he calls “the work.” Dr. Butterfly is a thought leader who has presented papers, lectures, workshops and symposia on creativity, culture and spirituality in academic, professional and community settings, including the U.C. Berkeley School of Social Welfare, the American Psychological Association, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, among others.

Dr. Butterfly is a community builder who has designed and produced arts-based community events on men’s healing, African-centered psychology, creative leadership, police brutality, affordable housing and gay literature. His community-based collaborations include projects with Community Housing Partnership, Bayview Association for Youth, Center for Political Education, and Urban Healers, among others. Dr. Butterfly is a multimedia performance artist who has directed or acted in numerous theater productions, including original multimedia works about mass incarceration, Blaxploitation films, and the writer James Baldwin. He sings live in art galleries, where he exhibits music videos that feature his psychedelic art pop band OLOKUN. His performances have also been presented at Herbst Theater, Bayview Opera House, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the San Francisco International Arts Festival, among others.

Dr. Butterfly is a founding member and the newsletter editor of Pacific Felt Factory, a workspace for diverse artists in San Francisco. He has been awarded an artist residency by the San Francisco Public Library as well as art-and-entrepreneurship fellowships by Intersection for the Arts and SQFT, a tech start-up for pop-up events. His work has been funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission, Svane Family Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Theatre Bay Area, Queer Cultural Center, Center for Cultural Innovation and Groupon Grassroots. His work has also been covered by the San Francisco Chronicle and ABC 7 News, as well as KPOO-FM and the Bay Area Reporter, among others. A graduate of Yale College, Dr. Butterfly has a M.A. in English from the City University of New York, a M.F.A. in Performance Arts from John F. Kennedy University, and a Ph.D. in Psychology, with specializations in Creativity Studies and Transformative Social Change, from Saybrook University.


The EWP Podcast credits

Your Host

Stephen Julich and Jonathan Kay

Stephen Julich has worked as an adjunct instructor in History and Anthropology at the City College of New York, as a lecturer in Jungian Studies at the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, and as an adjunct instructor at the California Institute of Integral Studies where he has taught classes on ensouled writing and Western Esotericism.

Jonathan Kay is a professional musician, and is currently a PhD student in the department of East-West Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco under the mentorship of Dr. Debashish Banerji.

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