table of contents | chapter one | experiential activities | diagrams | what people are saying
About Nature and the Human Soul
Addressing the pervasive longing for meaning and fulfillment in this time of crisis, Nature and the Human Soul introduces a visionary ecopsychology of human development that reveals how fully and creatively we can mature when soul and wild nature guide us. Depth psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin presents a model for a human life span rooted in the cycles and qualities of the natural world, a blueprint for individual development that ultimately yields a strategy for cultural transformation.
If it is true, as Plotkin and others have observed, that we live in a culture dominated by adolescent habits and desires, then the enduring societal changes we so desperately need won’t happen until we individually and collectively evolve into an engaged, authentic adulthood. With evocative language and personal stories, including those of elders Thomas Berry and Joanna Macy, Nature and the Human Soul describes how to raise children who are in love with life and learning; how to help teenagers develop personalities that are not only socially successful but also authentic and deeply imaginative; how to grow into a fulfilled, soulful adulthood contributing unique gifts to the greater Earth community; and how to mature into a genuine elderhood of wisdom and cultural leadership. Bill Plotkin guides every reader, stage-by-stage, on the journey toward wholeness and an active, contributing engagement with the world.
Nature and the Human Soul describes the challenges and benefits of the eight nature-and-soul-centered stages of life. Each stage is illuminated by the pairing of a human archetype with an Earth archetype: the Innocent in the Nest (early childhood), the Explorer in the Garden (middle childhood), the Thespian at the Oasis (early adolescence), the Wanderer in the Cocoon (late adolescence), the Soul Apprentice at the Wellspring (early adulthood), the Artisan in the Wild Orchard (late adulthood), the Master in the Grove of Elders (early elderhood), and the Sage in the Mountain Cave (late elderhood). Following a discussion of how Western society fails to provide adequate support for any of the stages of human development, Plotkin goes on to offer practices and principles that assist the reader to ripen into a more complete and genuine adulthood and eventually an elderhood of wise caring for the more-than-human world.
Based on nature’s cycles and on the developmental patterns of the healthiest 15 percent of Western people, Nature and the Human Soul helps every reader discover and embody his or her potential and personal destiny. Equally important, Plotkin offers us a way to progress from our current egocentric, aggressively competitive, consumer society to an ecocentric, soul-based one that is sustainable, cooperative, and compassionate. At once a primer on human development and a manifesto for change, Nature and the Human Soul fashions a template for a more mature, fulfilling, and purposeful life — and a better world.