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Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World
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Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  200 ratings  ·  30 reviews
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 q...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published December 28th 2007 by New World Library (first published October 6th 2006)
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As we move through life, we learn and grow. At each step along the way our perspective changes and what really important to us shifts. We've all experienced these transformations, first in childhood, then as an adolescent, and finally as an adult. Perhaps, what we don't realize is that we continue this growth throughout our entire life.

Nature and the Human Soul looks at the eight stages of maturation of the human being: Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, Early Adolescence, Late Adolescence, Ear...more
this book is a BRILLIANT blueprint for creating a sustainable human culture... in a time of global crisis, id say its an essential read. its not hokey, far-fetched or "utopic w/o a solution" (as i struggled with in say, "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn) rather, its visionary capacity is complemented by practicality and as such, it is an amazing resource for parents, educators, psychologists, researchers, artists, visionaries and well... any human, really! it is clearly an integration of many many years...more
Nature and the Human Soul discuss the stages of development of humans viewed from the perspective of eco-soulcentric society. The author tries to present how someone can move from an egocentric standpoint to a soulcentric one, or how to bring up a child to become soulcentric. He uses his studies of the subject, and experiences of people he knows, as well as incorporating from the different eastern aboriginal cultures. The author presents his developmental wheel in the hopes of cultivating wholen...more
I couldn't get a seat on the train, so I sat on the floor in the space at the end of the carriage and started to read this book. Seldom has a journey passed so quickly! Not only does Plotkin write in a very personable voice; he offers in 'Nature and the Human Soul' a manual for living that reminds us of the importance of rites of passage, and the presence of true wise elders, and the balance between human culture and nature.

His 'Development Wheel' suggests that we all have eight life stages of...more
When I was a young parent beginning to raise our young children, I was always told, "there's no instruction manual on how to raise a child." This book is it. And what makes it so great ... is that is not necessarily even the intent. It is a powerful book about how we can each live a "soul-centric" life - and how we can help others around us do the same.
Brandon Peele
Amazing manual for the human experience. He leverages the Native American four-directions and then layers detail that only one of the world's most esteemed eco-psychologists, nature guides and depth philosophers can do. I will be re-reading this a number of times throughout my journey. I'm especially grateful for his declaration of soul-centric parenting (as opposed to the obedience training and entitlement training currently underfoot in the US). He chose a number of luminaries to light this wo...more
Apr 17, 2009 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
from the library c2008 in great demand from the library

pages to copy 140, 342

contrasts societies that are egocentric with those that are soulcentric/
a more detailed ecopsychological view in the tradition of Thomas Moore and James Hillman

gives the typical arc of people through each age group in each type of society
Table of Contents

Circle and Arc

The Wheel of Life and the Great Turning
1 (28)
The Power of Place
29 (20)
Overview of the Wheel of Life
49 (394)
The Innocent in the Nest

I'm more than halfway through a year-long study of this book. I find it incredibly thought provoking even in places where I disagree with the conclusions (which are relatively rare).

He is talking from a hetero-normative perspective and needs some serious systems breaking to really get down to business in some ways. But he's thinking about the interaction between nature and human development is pretty sound in my experience of raising children and being in community. Kids need nature and explorin...more
I've just finished reading this for the second time, and have gotten even more out of it than the first go-round. There are very few books that I put on my "try to read once a year" shelf and this is one of them. While there are several small aspects of the author's theories I don't agree with, overall, I think Bill Plotkin has crafted a true masterpiece, as he shares his idea of the stages of living an ecocentric (or soulcentric) life. And when he uses that term, he is not just meaning living i...more
Visionary and founder of the Animas Valley Institute, Bill Plotkin offers us a new model of human development that reveals how fully we can grow and mature when our souls are intertwined with wild nature. Following his masterwork Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche, he weaves together ecopsychology, ancient mythology, the teachings of indigenous cultures and humanity’s deepest bonds to the cycles of the natural world. What impressed me most about Nature and the Human Soul...more
A book about various life stages. I jumped to the late adult stages, and now up up front, reading about early adolescence. He uses nature, primitive peoples, sociology, archetype theory, his own experience and interviews. A lot of anthropology as well. So this book basically is Jung meets Muir meets Meade.

Here are the life stages the form the core of his book:

Stage 1. Early Childhood: The Innocent in the Nest
Stage 2. Middle Childhood: The Explorer in the Garden
Stage 3. Early Adolescence: The Th...more
Will Szal
Bill is amazing. He's part wilderness guide, part facilitator of coming-of-age ceremonies. Into indigenous wisdom. This book maps his eight stages of eco-soul-centric human maturation. The subtext of the book is about the patho-adolescent nature of our dominant culture.
Jenn Raley
This isn't the type of book I would normally read, and I'm not even sure how I found out about it.

It's a bit of a slog, partially because parts of the book could use some editing, but mostly because there's a lot of vocabulary (jargon?) and the concepts are very rich.

I really appreciated the overall ideas in this book - his descriptions of what each life stage should look like in a healthy development. The contrasting, "egocentric" version of the life stages could have used some more in-depth tr...more
Still amazed at how Plotkin's wisdom nails it in defining where I am at on my journey through this egocentric culture, attempting to live from a soulcentric affirming and inspiring. I'm through Chapter 9 ("The Artisan in the Wild Orchard") and in wonder over the resonances between his words and my life. Highly, highly recommended for anyone struggling through the insanity of western culture and trying to make meaning and sense of it all while also trying to make a difference.
I project this is one of those books that will stick with me for a long time. True, it is repetitive, and a bit heavy handed. (The author admits to being overly serious; I would agree.) But it has that quality of Truth about it. I would suggest that anyone interested in human development (particularly if they have a humanistic bent) will appreciate this book. The author's construct of the developmental stages is both apt and intuitive.
This is a phenomenal book! Bill explains the ideal developmental stages and compares them to how most of Western culture has gotten stuck along the way. While reading this book I realized many things I missed out on through my childhood years. But it's not just the development of children, but the development through out an individual's entire life. I recommend this for anyone that's looking for a way to find their way in life.
More than you'll want to tackle in one sitting.One of those books you read in discreet bits to ponder perspectives.

Plotkin defines elderhood in a way that transcends age. Much richer context of stewardship and relationship to community.

Good book for individuals going through transformative personal change because it provides lenses with which to look at stages of personal transformation.

Scott Yelton
Great book with a ton of information, but too much to take in all at once. Plotkin likes to write and explain. Great reference for my mentorship work with boys, but I got it at the library and ran out of time.

I unfortunately got this with three other "thick" books that had been on hold forever at the exact same time... I didn't end up finishing three of them.
an interesting premise - that our whole white, western, modern society is stuck in an an "adolescent" stage if you apply human developmental stages to what would restore us to a more soulful, nature based society - big on the power of rituals and rites of passage. But the book was too dense, almost academic and repetitive - and a bit simplistic in its views for me.
A psychologist and wildrness guide shares how humans develop into sour conscious beings. I saw parts of my own journey and learned about ways I could think about healing and growing. I was suprised i liked it soo much!
John Terribili
still reading...sporadically. this has been a more tough book to read. it reads more like a text book than anything. not that I am not enjoying the subject matter, but it is more difficult than most...
Apr 04, 2008 Jill is currently reading it
This book addresses the pervasive longing for meaning and fullfillment in this time of crisis we live in. Very powerful... it challenges us to live a more fulfilling life and to create a better world.
Mario Yanez
An incredibly complete synthesis on Deep Ecology, Universe Story, The Great Turning, systems thinking and much more...all applied to healthy and whole human development within Earth reality.
Done with trying, more like. Too thick. Too jargony. Just couldn't force myself to keep reading.
Brynne Betz
heard a bit of this on New Dimensions recently...cant wait to re-read it.
This is the most amazing book! I highly recommend it to EVERYONE!
The most comprehensive model for sane human development.
Sian Jones
Sep 30, 2009 Sian Jones marked it as to-read
Cary Tennis recommend. Yes, I know -- but still.
Baxter Trautman
Dense but interesting work.
rockin book!
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