Tom Henfrey - Main Profile

I completed my Permaculture Design Certificate in 2011 and received my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design in 2021. I am active in permaculture at various levels: as a practitioner at my smallholding in central Portugal, an action researcher at the edge between permaculture and academic research in human ecology, a writer of several books and numerous articles, a teacher in PDCs and other formats, and a diploma tutor.

I locate my work mainly at the edge between permaculture and my other main professional activities: as a researcher into the social and cultural dimensions of ecological sustainability, and as a practitioner of core shamanism. My current work weaves the three together in a new programme of action, learning, training and writing entitled Sacred Political Ecology.

As a researcher, I have an interdisciplinary background in Environmental Anthropology and Human Ecology. I did doctoral research on indigenous environmental knowledge in Guyana and later found a niche as an action researcher within permaculture, Transition and related fields, strengthening the social and environmental impacts of projects through systematic application of permaculture in research design. I was a co-founder of the ECOLISE network for community-led initiatives on sustainability and climate change in Europe, where I worked as Research Coordinator between 2017 and 2021, and am a Fellow and Management Board member at the Schumacher Institute in Bristol, England. I currently work on a freelance basis in several national and international projects on community-scale action for eco-social regeneration.

I am also a practitioner and teacher of core shamanism and sacred sound, and have led over 50 public gong sound baths and over 100 shamanic journeying circles. I am actively exploring the links between shamanic practice and permaculture, with a particular emphasis on applications of shamanic practices as as design tools and the ways shamanic practice can support activism for environmental and social change.