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Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World Paperback – December 28, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In his magnum opus more than 25 years in the making, psychologist, eco-therapist, and wilderness guide Plotkin (Soulcraft) brings forth a new model for the whole of human life and spirituality in our world in dire ecological need, spoiled by patho-adolescent society. Beginning fittingly with elder eco-sage Thomas Berry, Plotkin calls us to a fresh circular conception of individual and collective evolutionary life genuinely reconnected to the wild of nature. Using the indigenous template of the four compass directions, his eight stages on the wheel of spiritual development are the Innocent, Explorer, Thespian, Wanderer, Soul Apprentice, Artisan, Master and Sage. The Wheel is a deep-structure portrait of nature-and-soul-oriented cultures, a portrait that encompasses child-raising practices, core values, stages of growth, rites of passage, community organization, and relationship to the greater Earth community, he writes. Leaning heavily on psychology, Plotkin also draws upon a heavenly host of the rich sources that inform a lifetime including poetry, global cultures and much more. Graceful prose is counterbalanced with diagrams and clear chapter structure. Plotkin offers an essential, weighty book for our perilous times. (Jan.)
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From the Inside Flap

"With Nature and the Human Soul, Bill Plotkin once again works miracles. This vital book provides a road map to help us remember how to be human - which means how to be a human being in relationship to the natural world, to our home. We owe Bill Plotkin a deep debt of gratitude for this important work."
Derrick Jensen, author of A Language Older Than Words and coauthor of As the World Burns

"Nature and the Human Soul offers a consolidated and invaluable template for internal and external development - not only personally, but collectively as well. Bill Plotkin defines the eight stages of human life and describes the cultural and individual tasks for each stage in brilliant, insightful, and masterful ways."
Angeles Arrien, PhD, cultural anthropologist and author of The Four-Fold Way and The Second Half of Life

"Bill Plotkin enhances our grasp of the stages of life we are born to pass through by weaving into them themes of meaning, soul, and spirituality. This is a rich offering not only to the field of psychology but to a world torn from its roots."
Chellis Glendinning, PhD, author of My Name Is Chellis and I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization

"Brilliant, accessible, respectful, and compassionate, Nature and the Human Soul weaves a practical path for anyone from any culture to become whole, leading a soul-centered life that will benefit themselves and everyone and everything around them. Science, as currently practiced, can only tell us what is. Nature and the Human Soul shows what could (and should) be. There is an old adage that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. The publication of Nature and the Human Soul may well signal that humanity is ready to learn a better way. It should be read by everyone, particularly those who choose to be parents, educate our children, guide our cultures and communities, and envision a better world."
Dan Popov, PhD, cofounder of the Virtues Project and coauthor of The Family Virtues Guide

"C.G. Jung, Joseph Campbell, Mircea Eliade, Father Thomas Berry, Julia Butterfly Hill, Joanna Macy. These are but a few of the bright visionaries who have helped us to understand the territory of the human psyche in its relation to the realm of myth, the profundity of cosmology, and the ancient human love affair with the natural world. In Nature and the Human Soul, Bill Plotkin joins their ranks by masterfully weaving luminous streams of insight and guidance, offering us new tools and maps. These potent maps not only hold the promise of personal transformation, but they may very well be a path toward our survival as a species."
Frank MacEowen, author of The Celtic Way of Seeing

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library; 1St Edition edition (December 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577315510
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577315513
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
To individuate is a subversive act. It requires a person to move against their habitual ego notions about how things are and to reject many of the accepted norms of their culture. Individuation is made more difficult in a time of what Jung called 'kairos', a time of the "changing of the gods", a time when the worldview of a culture is itself undergoing a rite of passage. In such times, when the myths of our culture are not adequate to lead us into a new way of being, and new myths are not yet here, we have to return to what Thomas Berry called `genetic guidance', the spontaneously creative and mysterious impulses of the world unconscious that originate in the same instincts through which the earth came into being. In short, we have to return to nature. But where can we find guidance that is not itself coming out of the old Cartesian, nature-phobic fantasy that is the problem? To read a text on individuation that is not grounded in such assumptions requires that the author be `cured' of the disease of Cartesianism and have enough of the Bodhisattva in them to want to share their insights in a labor of love, a book. I am pleased to report that Bill Plotkin's second book, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World, fits this bill.

Nature and the Human Soul begins with the idea that humanity is engaged in the process of the Great Turning, the move from an ego-centric industrial growth model of civilization to an eco-centric earth community model that is sustainable into the future. The question is then asked, "What does it mean to become fully human in an eco-centric world?
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Format: Paperback
Ever wonder, as I have, why Holden Caulfield is still passing judgment on adult behavior, pointing out, more than fifty years since J. D. Salinger wrote "The Catcher in the Rye," that your average adult is only pretending to be an adult and therefore cannot be relied upon as a guide to lead someone like Holden into a deeper understanding of life?
Holden, for all his outward cynicism and irreverence, is hurting inside and deserves a mature response. Bill Plotkin, in his new book "Nature and the Human Soul," offers, in quite an unprecedented way, a competent and compassionate response to the Holden Caulfields of the world.
Holden is everyone of us who has ever gone looking for guidance from a mature adult, someone with the capacity to lead another into a deeply rooted sense of purpose and belonging, a need we hunger for so deeply that it leaves us feeling orphaned in the only world we have come to know, a world too small, too trivial, and too everyday even to acknowledge this longing, let alone respond to it with competency and compassion.
"Nature and the Human Soul" speaks plainly and directly to what ails us as human beings in our process of maturing and evolving, and to what ails this fragile earth, our island home. Bill Plotkin recognizes so clearly that the will required to alter our destructive treatment of the natural world will only come, if at all, by seeing the natural world as priceless in its own right surely, but also as that which alone can speak to our persistent longing to inhabit a place and a purpose uniquely ours in this universe, part of an infinitely complex, interrelated web of relationships and conversations.
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Format: Paperback
As with Plotkins first book (Soulcraft), I found Nature and the Human Soul to be an incredible map but better than that, more like a constellation of stars that allowed me to see/feel/experience a forgotten story that is our own. It is a glimpse of a great and wild ecological pattern. In fact, I can say that he has succeeded yet again in creating a cocoon on a collective level, one that serves humanity in its full maturation. I think it is a book that will have profound impact and is critical to the 21st Century and all its dangers...I've certainly been sending it to all my friends.

As important as it is to both Depth Psychologies and Eco-Psychologies, this book is also fresh and readable, poetic in its imaging and easily accessible to everyone. The weaving of interviews into the text with elders Joanna Macey and Thomas Berry are startling and poignant as we get to experience their far reaching wisdom. As well, Plotkins own storytelling masterfully draws one into the natural world showing us how nature can teach us and mirror our own humanity. He brings the soul's logic into view. The confluence of this organic developmental model of being fully human (the soul-centric developmental wheel) with ones own personal world is not constraining but rather frees us into our full imagination, expression and potential. It is a message that is highly original, vastly unique, and mysteriously familiar in its deep truth.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Plotkin has written a book which could be a model for the survival of the human race. It weds a psychological- developmental model for individual growth to the ancient medicine wheel which depicts the cycles of growth known to indigenous peoples around the world. In doing this, it provides a model for ecocentric rather than egocentric development. The end product of egocentric development is an arrested adolescence where self-centerdness, competition, security, and domination are the prevalent features. By implication, Dr. Plotkin says that our whole corporate economy instills this stage by brainwashing us with the idea that happiness depends on more money, more things, and more power over others. In contrast, his idea of a just society, one that honors and reveres nature is called the ecocentric society. In order for an individual to reach the adult stage of development, a more ecocentric stage ,he or she must find a place in the natural world which speaks to a deeper part of himself, the soul. In connecting with this place of soul, the individual finds guidance in developing modes of behavior which encourage compassion, cooperation, love, and humility in his or her dealings with all his relations, including the creatures of nature. If enough individuals reach this stage then society could become truly ecocentric, but it won't be easy. The coporate economy is firmly entrenched in our culture and has been exported to the rest of the world. Nevertheless, this is an important book, one that could change the future of a society stuck in an adolescent stage of disastrous consequence.
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