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Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche Kindle Edition
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This will probably become one of the books I recommend most highly to spiritual seekers, along with Touching Enlightenment by Reggie Ray to get a deep and practical Buddhist perspective.
Soulcraft is the artistry and practice of courting and embodying our souls. By Bill’s definition, ego is the attribute in humans that allows us to interact with the world - it’s our personality, and our physical form. Soul is purpose. Yet few people ever embody soul nowadays. And it takes both ego and soul to be human.
Soul is what makes us unique. Spirit is what is shared, universal. A balanced spiritual tradition involves both spirit [ascending] and soul [descending].
Soul is most often encountered alone in nature.
Bill is in his sixties, and has written three books about this work: “Soulcraft” , “Nature and the Human Soul” , and “Wild Mind” . I’ve read the first two.
The Ranch was beautiful. It was surprisingly “flat” for my perceptions of the Rockies. I covered a lot of milage, and everything was within 1,000 feet of elevation of everything else [moving up from base camp to almost 10,000].
Although the climate is relatively dry, it was wetter than what I’m used to in the Boulder, CO area. There was a surprising amount of green.
Forest was aspens and ponderosa pines, with mountain cottonwoods by the water - sparse compared to Northeast standards. Higher up things shifted to spruce and fir.
There was a river running through the valley, and it was full of brook trout. It was cool, but not freezing.
There was one nearby “peak” big enough to get a name on the map. It was called Quartzite Peak, and I hiked it.
All together there were thirty-three of us, with Bill, three guides, a few apprentices, and the rest of us participants. The group was almost all people in their fifties and sixties. Some of us were in our twenties, thirties, and seventies.
Most of my time was spent out in nature alone. As a large group in the lodge immediately after breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner, we were given tasks to work with alone in nature. We also met in smaller “clans” each day in order to discuss at length our experiences out in nature.
Some people had some really big personal breakthroughs or “breakdowns” during the event - what we were going through. I didn’t experience any of these in very apparent ways, but did really appreciate the depth of the experience.
There are four primary soulcraft practices that we worked with:
Completing unfinished business from the first three stages [out of eight] of ecosoulcentric human maturation
Wholing - becoming more balanced and present in the Four Facets of the Self
Self-healing - of the subpersonalities
Facilitation of soul encounters
The Four Facets of Self are:
East - Innocent, Sage, Sacred Fool, Trickster
South - Wild Indigenous One
West - Muse, Inner Beloved, Anima/Animus, Guide to Soul
North - Nurturing Generative Adult
The Subpersonalities are:
East - Escapists and Addicts
South - Wounded Children (including Outcasts)
West - The Shaw and Shadow Selves
North - Loyal Soldiers: Lion Tamers, Inner Critics, Inner Flatterers
If you’re interested in learning more about this specifics of all this terminology, read the book, go on a course with Animas, or get in touch and we can have a conversation.
My experience with Animas was awesome! Highly recommended for anyone looking for deeper ways to engage with themselves and the world.
Bowing and many Blessings!
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.