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Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth's Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness

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Reclaiming the Wild Soul takes us on a journey into Earth’s five great landscapes — deserts, forests, oceans and rivers, mountains, and grasslands — as aspects of our deeper, wilder selves. Where the inner and outer worlds meet we discover our own true nature mirrored in the Earth's wild beauty and fierce challenges.

A powerful archetypal model for transformation, the “soulscapes” return us to a primal terrain rich in knowing, healing, and wholeness. To guide our path, each soulscape offers up wisdom in the form of soul qualities the modern world often undervalues and even undermines. We see how deserts model simplicity and silence, how forests help us make peace with uncertainty, how rivers and oceans reveal the power of flow, how mountains inspire our highest purpose, and how grasslands teach us about giving back.

Weaving personal story with poetry, imagery, and explorations, Reclaiming the Wild Soul is simultaneously self-help and a courageous call to action. It is written for all those disillusioned with our hyper-paced, high-tech world, who decry what we are doing to the Earth, who feel the tug of their own wild souls longing for discovery and mystery — a new, yet ancient, way of being human.

160 pages, Paperback

First published August 2, 2014

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About the author

Mary Reynolds Thompson

6 books19 followers
Mary Reynolds Thompson is a facilitator of poetry and journal therapy dedicated to bringing forth the Wild Soul Story. This new story is rooted in our oneness with nature and a vision of the world in which the wild landscapes of both Earth and soul can thrive. As a little girl, Mary's wild soul was awakened by family vacations spent in Positano on the Amalfi coastline of southern Italy. She slept in mountain caves and rode a pig called Romona over dusty trails. Many years later, she would hike the Himalayas, backpack the Grand Tetons, and brave the blasting winds of Patagonia, deepening her connection to the sacred Earth. Her first book, "Embrace Your Inner Wild: 52 Reflections for an Eco-Centric World" was a finalist for best Nature Book, 2011. Her latest book, "Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth's Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness" is being lauded by spiritual leaders and ecologists alike. Born in London, England, today Mary lives in her beloved landscape of Marin County with her husband, Bruce.

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5 stars
48 (37%)
4 stars
41 (32%)
3 stars
24 (18%)
2 stars
12 (9%)
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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Lisa Francesca.
Author 2 books11 followers
September 27, 2015
Reclaiming the Wild Soul, by Mary Reynolds Thompson, is the best kind of sacred workbook I’ve read in years. Thompson’s many rivulets of personal history as traveler, poet, teacher, writing therapist, and woman who loves the wild have all merged together beautifully in a book that is actually not about her at all, but about the book’s reader and our planet.

I use the word “sacred” thoughtfully. We make something sacred by setting it apart, by dropping lesser-needed things (sacrificing them) to honor it. In this book, Thompson reaches into each reader and stimulates our memory of whatever landscapes we have experienced. With simple, spare writing she holds a mirror, and provides exercises for us to look deeply into the differences between desert and oceans, forests and mountains, grasslands, and to see our place in them – and their place in us. The times when life was barren and parched, or when we could not find our way through the thicket. The times we were overwhelmed by flowing emotion, or when we simply flowed and knew everything would work out just right. This is the first part of her process: through her revelations we find our inner “soulscapes.”

By just doing this work alone, we can heal some of our own lives. Thompson includes a history of her sobriety in recovery after a wild youth, and I think her placement of that history is both to encourage and parallel our own various recoveries from whatever behaviors were wounding us. So it is a healing workbook, and a delight to read. But Thompson’s process has a second part, with a much larger scope, making the book at once sacred and subversive.

Because when we find soulscapes within ourselves and our lives that we love, when we become intimate with them and spend actual time with them, we cannot help but champion the external landscapes. Whether that means changing our pattern of consumption or boycotting a fracking crew, the natural next step to working with this book is becoming an activist advocate for the health of Earth and her creatures in whatever way suits us best.

It took me a long time to read this book. I savored it, dreamed about parts of it, and worked it. It was like a spa for my soul, and a wake-up call for the rest of my life. I bought ten more copies for family and close friends. Read this book.
Profile Image for J. Gray.
Author 1 book2 followers
March 23, 2015
Allows the reader a way to experience the principles demonstrated by writing down their own. Provides a means of Knowing, as opposed to Believing. Very useful.
Profile Image for Angela.
347 reviews28 followers
November 22, 2021
What a gem of a book. Being receptive to the message certainly helped- and I loved the lyrical writing and the way the book is structured into different landscapes/enviroments.
"I stood there,considering the peculiar way we humans have come to think of ourselves as seperate from nature, and how in doing so, we are tipping the balance. We are exhausting the Earth by the demands we put on her. We are draining ourselves, too, sapping the flow of vitality through constant stress and overwork, and our push for more, more, more."
Profile Image for Lena Liberato.
4 reviews21 followers
December 14, 2014
"Reclaiming the Wild Soul", by Mary Reynolds Thompson, which I won on a Goodreads giveaway, is the most poetic and inspiring text about Nature I've ever read. It is helping me to look around more thoroughly and conscienciously and perceive the big and small wonders that surround us with wonderous eyes and a much broader mind. It has also taken me back to the many hours that I spent at university reading and discussing Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, to mention just two English speaking authors. It is, indeed, a great contribution to the environmental cause and the urgent need to preserve this planet that is, after all, our only home.
Profile Image for Katie.
203 reviews
January 23, 2015
Reclaiming the Wild Soul explores how the inner self is connected to the natural world around us. The advice is aimed at helping people recognize how far we have pushed the natural world out of our daily lives and experiences, and how to bring back closeness to nature. It takes inspiration from different types of nature (desert, forest, grasslands, etc) and guides you into integrating them into your life. For instance, the silence in the desert speaks to the need of silence in our crazy, hectic lives, and the author suggests incorporating moments of silence into your day. The book is full of tasks designed to help you connect back to nature, and to use these ideas and actions to help heal and strengthen yourself.
I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

84 reviews
October 2, 2016
I was totally ready to give this a chance. In fact, i gave it several chances over the course of the 23% i read. However i am drawing the line at a chapter encouraging me to "carve out two hours of my schedule" to make a collage expressing my spiritual "songline". Yknow, like the spade-footed toad that arrives every spring proclaiming "here i am. Here i am." yknow?
Profile Image for Ann Winschel.
20 reviews2 followers
February 18, 2018
I didn't read much of this book because the author doesn't seem to be in touch with reality.

In Part 1 Deserts she says that more than 1/5 of the earth's surface is desert. Actually about 70% of the earth's surface is water. About 1/3 of the landmass is desert. That's less than 10% total surface desert, not 20%; 1/3 of the landmass, not 2/3. In Silence she refers to the story by Laurens van der Post about the Bushman of the Kalahari. A quick google of van der Post will get you to credible articles that this guy was a fraud.

I also find her associations with each of the major ecosystems she identifies quirky and sentimental. The desert she associates with snakes. Don't snakes live over most of the earth? Why not associate them with the jungle, where they hang out in trees ready to drop on you? Forests she thinks are scary and mysterious while grasslands invite community. These associates might hold for her and some others but I don't see them as universal.

Facts, reality, matter.
Profile Image for Allison.
601 reviews
September 21, 2020
I finally finished this book- it was a good one to pick up now and then whenever I needed some grounding or peacefulness or some different perspectives on the world around us and the things different spaces could mean. I could see a few interpretations more than others, some were a stretch, some were spot on I felt. I didn't do any of the explorations or anything- they felt over the top, to me- but for someone looking for that individual/on your own sort of therapy I guess they're not bad. Overall, I'm glad I have this to reflect on from time to time- I marked lots of lines throughout. I also enjoyed picking it up and reading certain sections just before I would go visit any given landscape- that was fun.
Profile Image for Tory.
217 reviews
October 4, 2017
The author uses different aspects of the landscape -- deserts, forests, oceans and rivers, mountains, and grasslands -- to suggest ways that our environment shapes us, grounds us, frees us.....you get the idea. I liked the way that she made me think about different ways of viewing our natural landscape. Each chapter ended with suggested exercises, which I found less helpful than the thought-provoking chapters.
Profile Image for Linda Wood.
70 reviews
November 22, 2017
This is a book much like some devotionals I've written, so I'd like to say it was wonderful, but it just didn't hit the mark for me. Others might relate better, though, so I'd say read a sample and see if it touches your heart.
Profile Image for Charlene Mason Gallego.
13 reviews1 follower
March 3, 2020
This book approaches a topic of deep personal interest; the relationship between the natural world and spirituality. The author invites the reader to travel through various landscapes to discover a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
Profile Image for Sue.
228 reviews6 followers
June 30, 2023
Brilliant in its simplicity. The timeless themes are "popular" these days but Thompson's return to nature's landscapes as a portal for understanding offers more rooted approach.

72 reviews1 follower
December 3, 2014
Mary Reynolds Thompson has done a fantastic job sharing with her readers the connection that all people have with the Earth. In this book, she shares five landscapes which include deserts, forests, oceans and rivers, mountains, and grasslands, and shares how the reader is tied to each one. Modernization has driven us further and further from nature. In this book, Ms. Thompson explains how these different parts of the Earth can influence our souls and draw us closer to our true selves. By focusing our attention on what the Earth has to teach us, it draws us closer to who we were meant to be.

I really liked the included journal exercises at the end of each landscape chapter that gave direction to the reader on how to more fully relate to the different landscapes and to really listen to their own souls as to how each one makes them feel. As we become more disconnected from the Earth, we also become more disconnected from each other and who we were created to be. This book allows the reader to stop, listen, and learn.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
48 reviews3 followers
November 11, 2014
A poetic and imaginary synopsis of of the five landscapes of our planet. The author says each of us relate more to one than the others. Desert impressed me as the quiet, simplicity in life, The forest a little more closed in and unsure, but shadows and sturdy roots give us security that we are safe. Oceans and rivers seem a little more insecure to me, but beautiful, and sparkling with flowing sounds that are soothing and restful. Mountains seem more challenging in the authors words, but the climb to the top must be the most satisfying wonder of the world; spectacular and rewarding that sets us free. Grasslands was the most comfortable to me. Growing things, nature, wild animals and not so wild creatures that we relate to gave me the sense of belonging and revival, renewal. If ever there is a book that screams, "save our planet", this is it! I enjoyed every minute of reading this!

I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Emily Kestrel.
1,110 reviews64 followers
December 23, 2014
This is a lovely collection of meditations on nature and creativity, with discussions of five types of landscapes and journal prompts. So far, I've just read the book and not done any of the exercises (ughh, crazy overtime leaving me depleted of all energy), but even so, I found it quite insightful and inspiring. I'm so glad I won this one through First Reads (the book was free, but my opinion, as always, is 100% my own).
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

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