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

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  545 ratings  ·  49 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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Apr 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Nikki Coffelt
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 25, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: psychology
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
Zornitsa Tomova
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book! Such a simple but powerful model for healthy pre- and I believe post-consumerism society and individual development. How does the human life look like when grounded in an understanding of the human soul and deep connection with nature? Bill Plotkin has the amazing capacity to weave together the feminine and the masculine, combining his appreciation for myth, symbol, ritual and the unknown with an eagle-eye high level structured perspective. I needed to read this - I think everyone ...more
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book will grow in stature and influence as Western culture catches up to its vision. As Mr. Plotkin so eloquently affirms throughout, we have erased the lines that define our stages of growth as individuals, losing the rites of passage that help us move forward towards maturity. This book restores that vision and is thus a huge service to all of humanity. This book should be used more as a reference than as pleasant reading because reading it cover to cover is quite a challenge. It will des ...more
Mar 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Andjelka Jankovic
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Quite possibly the most formative book I’ve ever read that speaks directly to this hunger and discontent I feel and yet hide so well. I know I’m not the only one.

BRB while I digest and process the life changing insights about moving from adolescence into adulthood (hint: it has nothing to do with your age and everything to do with your courage).
Pegi Eyers
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Brandon Peele
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Joli Hamilton
This book appeared at the pivot point in my life. I had made a comfortable, pleasant existence and when I was ready to finally have a real life, Bill Plotkin's words were right there reminding me that I wasn't alone, nor was I crazy for feeling like the modern world required significant maladaptation.
It was also filled with innovative psychological models which led me to finding a new way, an authentic me buried deep inside my persona.
Scott Yelton
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
John Terribili
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
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...
Mario Yanez
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Brynne Betz
Sep 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
heard a bit of this on New Dimensions recently...cant wait to re-read it.
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The most comprehensive model for sane human development.
Aug 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the most amazing book! I highly recommend it to EVERYONE!
Stephanie Crawford
Oct 05, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: psychology
“In industrial growth society we have for centuries minimized, suppressed, or entirely ignored the nature task in the first three stages of human development, infancy through early adolescence. This results in an adolescence so out of sync with nature that most people never mature further.
Arrested personal growth serves industrial “growth.” By suppressing the nature dimension of human development (through educational systems, social values, advertising, nature-eclipsing vocations and pastimes, c
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for all of humanity. Brilliant.
This took me about 5 months to get a little more than halfway. And I just can’t anymore. The psycho babble is astounding.
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Format: Audiobook

This was really interesting & well worth the listen.
Cindy Costa
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I ever read in my life! This should be a must for everyone 🙏🏻
Becky Traptow
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a book you will refer back to over and over. It is a resource for the journey and contains so much meat you can feast off it for years.
Brooke Dierkhising
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When I first read this book, I was enthralled and deeply appreciative. It is interesting to look at how the self grows by stages in life and this is a unique view of what those stages are. I go back to this book often for support when I am needing a more in depth understanding of what I might be going through in my life. I also turn to this book as a parent and teacher. The ideas for childhood development really resonate with how I care for my own daughter and for the types of activities I like ...more
Nazareth Michelle Wilkinson
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book, “Nature and the Human Soul Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World”, by Bill Ploitk in is a philosophical discussion of the individual’s, life cycle designed to develop the soul’s immortality to preserve and contribute to each future generation.
The question of immortality has troubled mankind for ages. There is something within all human beings that lives on forever. Many refer to this as the human soul. Within this concept, the soul of a human being never dies. The
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Bill Plotkin, Ph.D., is a depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and agent of cultural evolution. As founder of southwest Colorado's Animas Valley Institute, he has, since 1980, guided thousands of women and men through nature-based initiatory passages, including a contemporary, Western adaptation of the pan-cultural vision fast. He's also been a research psychologist (studying nonordinary states o ...more

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“Remember that self-doubt is as self-centered as self-inflation. Your obligation is to reach as deeply as you can and offer your unique and authentic gifts as bravely and beautifully as you're able.” 50 likes
“As soon as enough people in contemporary societies progress beyond adolescence, the entire consumer-driven economy and egocentric lifestyle will implode. The adolescent society is actually quite unstable due to its incongruence with the primary patterns of living systems. The industrial growth society is simply incompatible with collective human maturity. No true adult wants to be a consumer, worker bee, or tycoon, or a soldier in an imperial war, and none would go through these motions if there were other options at hand. The enlivened soul and wild nature are deadly to industrial growth economies - and vice versa.” 7 likes
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