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Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche [Kindle Edition]

Bill Plotkin , Thomas Berry
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Since 1980, depth psychologist Bill Plotkin has been guiding women and men into the wilderness — the redrock canyons and snow-crested mountains of the American West — but also into the wilds of the soul. He calls this work soulcraft.

There’s a great longing in all people to uncover the secrets and mysteries of our individual lives, to find the unique gift we were born to bring to our communities, and to experience our full membership in the more-than-human world. This journey to soul is a descent into layers of the self much deeper than personality, a journey meant for each one of us, not just for the heroes and heroines of mythology.

A modern handbook for the journey, Soulcraft is not an imitation of indigenous ways, but a contemporary nature-based approach born from wilderness experience, the traditions of Western culture, and the cross-cultural heritage of all humanity. Filled with stories, poems, and guidelines, Soulcraft introduces over 40 practices that facilitate the descent to soul, including dreamwork, wilderness vision fasts, talking across the species boundaries, council, self-designed ceremony, nature-based shadow work, and the arts of romance, being lost, and storytelling.

"Here is an abundantly wise and carefully crafted survival guide for the wild soul currently dozing (or dying) at the heart of your civilized life. Plotkin has wandered again and again into the nourishing darkness, and has returned with this earthly bundle of insights and images — talismanic tools for awakening to the outrageous depths both within us and all around us. He has bound them into a book that is immensely practical, alive with ritual intelligence, thick with useful tools from a host of courageous comrades."
— David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous

Editorial Reviews


"As we enter a future where humans and the natural world are more intimate with each other, we will surely be powerfully influenced by this new guide into the mysteries of nature and psyche. In Soulcraft, Bill Plotkin gives us an authentic masterwork. In the substance of what he has written, in the clarity of his presentation, and in the historical urgency of the subject, he has guided us far into the new world that is opening up before us. We will not soon again receive a work of this significance." — From the foreword by Thomas Berry, author of The Dream of the Earth and The Great Work "The fundamental worldview of industrial society is that Earth is like a gravel pit or a lumberyard — just a resource for human use. We live disconnected from the evolving earth community, but our deepest allurement is a rich, intimate participation in nature and the ongoing adventure of the Universe. In this stunningly original and inspiring guide book, Bill Plotkin shows us how to reconnect with the sacred powers of life, of nature, of soul, and the ways that each one of us can reinvent ourselves and discover our unique way to flower forth." — Brian Swimme, cosmologist and author of The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, The Universe is a Green Dragon, and coauthor with Thomas Berry of The Universe Story

About the Author

Bill Plotkin, PhD, founder of Animas Valley Institute, describes himself as a “psychologist gone wild.” A cultural visionary, author, and guide to the entwined mysteries of wilderness and psyche, he’s been blazing new trails for decades. His ecocentric re-visioning of psychology invites us into a conscious and embodied relationship with soul and with the more-than-human world. His other books are Wild Mind and Nature and the Human Soul. He lives in southwestern Colorado.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
119 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential, Hazardous Journey October 19, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bill Plotkin's Soulcraft, grounded in the author's formal training as a clinical psychologist, and in his decades of experience as a wilderness guide who guides his clients through both inner and outer wilderness, provides readers with an experience-based, intellectually stimulating, and potentially life-altering antidote to mainstream Western civilization.
Based on the premise that virtually all of us live lives that attempt to satisfy the ego's needs while ignoring the soul's deeper yearnings, Plotkin guides us to a severance from our ego-based lives, through an encounter with soul, and finally into a return, with new knowledge of the gifts we carry to our people--family, friends, co-workers and community.
As he encourages us to grow from our necessary and valuable uninitiated adolescent need to be accepted by society, into our initiated adult need to live authentically these gifts we carry, he treats us to his own story and the stories of others who are doing the work of authenticity.
More than 30 practices validate the presence of the word "craft" in the book's main title. Whether the reader is drawn to meditation, drumming, dream work, deep imagery, befriending the dark, wandering in nature, working with shadow or any one of more than a score more approaches to living a soul-based life, Bill Plotkin challenges us to live our true callings, and provides us the means with which to do so.
Soulcraft engaged me both experientially and philosophically, calling me to both act and think. It's no accident that Thomas Berry wrote the foreword, or that Brian Swimme, Angeles Arrien, Robert Johnson, and Derrick Jensen, among others, praised the book before publication.

Bill Plotkin, in the words of David Whyte, whose poetry graces many of these pages, carries "what is hidden as a gift to others." For this we should all be grateful.
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73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-changing February 21, 2005
I am currently translating this book into the German language. It is the most exciting translation I have done in the last years. Even though I am only copying it down it has already changed my life in a profound way. I am very thankful for the destiny that put this book on my desk - and I know that there was no coincidence involved.

The book provides several practices and approaches that help to address the problem a lot of people encounter in the middle of their lifes - or sometimes even earlier: The moment when you notice that things that have always made sense all in a sudden don't carry any meaning for you any more. It is the first book I ever read that does not only promise to, but actually really helps you finding out what you are here for and how you can act according to this insight. It brings you on your path - the soulpath. Work your way through the practices, exercises, and ceremonies in this book and your life will never be the same again. Seriously, I see a lot of books on new age and nature spirituality going over my desk, but this one definitely outdoes all I have been reading and working on during the last ten years.
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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unparalleled Guide to Soul Initiation in the Wilderness September 9, 2003
Every now and then a book is birthed into the world that is destined to irrevocably alter the spiritual face of modern culture. Bill Plotkin's Soulcraft is just such a book. Charting a course through the underworld pathways with the heart of a shaman, mapping the powers of myth and psyche with all the soul and interpretive skill of Jung or Campbell, Plotkin's guide to the journey of initiation is to nature-based soulwork what Huxley's Doors of Perception was to consciousness studies. This book is an immense treasure that will provide wisdomseekers, psychologists, shamanic practitioners, and seasoned wilderness guides alike with a fresh heart-opening soul language, a new mythos for fathoming the depths of change, as well as time-tested practical methods for navigating the landscape of authentic transformation. In essence, Soulcraft is Plotkin's "soul gift," a user's manual for the journey of the human soul, as well as a guide to the futurescape of why we are all really here. It is the book I wish I could have had at my fingertips when I began to feel the ancient call for rites of passage in my early youth. It is required reading for anyone guiding other people in soulwork, or delving deep into their own. As philosopher Parker Palmer has said, "The way to God is down." Plotkin shows the way.
- Frank MacEowen, author of The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lighthearted Review of Bill Plotkin's book, Soulcraft September 9, 2004
What do you get when you cross a Jungian-oriented depth psychologist, an ecotherapist, and a wilderness guide of the highest caliber? And then what do you do? The answer to the first question is Bill Plotkin, director of Animas Valley Institute ([...] The answer to the second: spend 20+ years creating a way to approach soul in a culture that over the years has lost its ways of soul connection that once were as natural as walking upright. Half guidebook, half storybook, and half pure poetry, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche by Bill Plotkin describes his lifelong work in discovering and developing nature and the outer wilderness as mirrors for our inner nature and inner wilderness. In Soulcraft, Bill tries to compile and present approaches to the mystery of our souls and what Mary Oliver calls "our place in the family of things." Of the many fruits one can take away from the stories and practices Bill describes in Soulcraft, I think four of the juiciest are: (1) his distinction between "spirit" and "soul", (2) his approach to dreamwork, (3) his belief that soul work, while not promising any easy answers to the harsh realities of life, certainly makes life more interesting, and (4) the practices that lead to cultivating a soulful relationship to life.

Bill explains, "By soul I mean the vital, mysterious, and wild core of our individual selves, an essence unique to each person, qualities found in layers of the self much deeper than our personalities. By spirit I mean the single, great, and eternal mystery that permeates and animates everything in the universe and yet transcends all. Ultimately, each soul exists as an agent for spirit. ... Soul is what is most wild and natural within us.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I like Bill's central message but he gets too complicated in ...
I like Bill's central message but he gets too complicated in explaining all the techniques he's describing. Get out in the wild and stay awhile...
Published 27 days ago by James H Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of Todays Spiritual Journey
During the first reading I can only say this is an iincredible book. It seems to sum up much of my spiritual journey and is a wonderful find!
Published 1 month ago by Willa Pearls
2.0 out of 5 stars tedious and no actual practice - just philosophy
I found this book tedious and boring.... While the book description made it seem like this book would be full of practices to help you connect with yourself and nature, it is... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Travis Bodick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by Mystic Rick
2.0 out of 5 stars A little bit tedious and overstated in it's attempt to bring you...
A little bit tedious and overstated in it's attempt to bring you closer to a sense of soul craft. Was hard to finish the book.
Published 4 months ago by Oscar Gillespie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautiful book! Words can't do it enough justice. What a great book! A must read of Plotkin's.
Published 4 months ago by ~M~
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes!
Very in-depth look at spirit and bringing out what your spirit needs of this life. I also took a Vision Quest through the author's company and it was remarkable. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Patrick Michael Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Plotkin rocks!
Let's face it, Bill Plotkin and his work rock! This book provided me with a plethora of inspiring actions/crafts and insights to further my activism in environmental and cultural... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Lilian Gael
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 9 months ago by charlesbarnhouse
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
This book is very inspiring. It has a good balance of trying to explain the mystery and then leaving it as it is
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
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