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Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  994 ratings  ·  83 reviews
For millennia, ceremonies and initiation rites have helped societies survive and thrive by marking life transitions. In contemporary America, except for bar mitzvahs, graduations, and weddings, these rituals are conspicuous by their absence. Written for people in search of their true selves--particularly those on the verge of adulthood and those at a major crossroads such ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 29th 2003 by New World Library
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August Coyote Absolutely!
Plotkin paints a beautiful roadmap for the journey from our Survival/Ego based life to our Soul driven life. I've found the book immeasura…more
Plotkin paints a beautiful roadmap for the journey from our Survival/Ego based life to our Soul driven life. I've found the book immeasurably valuable, not just personally, but in my professional practice as a coach and somatic therapist.(less)

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Average rating 4.27  · 
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Avonlea Rose
Aug 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: new age-y folks, tree huggers, and others interested in earth based spiritualities
Plotkin is an eco-therapist and wilderness guide, who writes about what he terms the "soul," and the art of engaging and understanding it. He explains that encounters with our soul provide us with our life's purpose, and help us to live in harmony with nature. I had picked up the book anticipating more of a guide book about what one does to achieve "Soul Crafting," particularly as the book is set up this way; however, it turned out to be more of an expose on the experience.

I was completely inte
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After a four-month journey savouring SoulCraft – reading, contemplating, rereading, questioning, discussing, and rereading again, I closed the cover today, tenderly as if biding farewell to a much loved friend. I have loved this book.

I facilitate a Spiritual Literacy Group, for a group of international and interfaith women who gather together with the shared intent of cultivating spirit and a soulful dimension to life, through reading and discussing spiritually themed books. We meet twice a mont
Erin Drake
Mar 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Soulcraft masterfully explores the deep and mystical connections between the human psyche, soul, and nature and does it using simple, eloquent language to describe richly nuanced ideas about spirituality, wholeness, initiation, and truth. Although the entirety of Bill Plotkin’s inspired work is magical, radical, and thought-provoking, I found the sections that describe the ceremonial opportunities provided by our transition into adulthood the most fascinating and, to use an en vogue term, releva ...more
Sarah Esmae Wolfe
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deconstruction
I think this book is excellent but I don't think everyone should read it. It would be a 5 star read for me but I subtracted a star because I believe fasting in any form to be problematic. If you have struggled with an eating disorder or are currently suffering from depression (the author makes this disclaimer himself), don't pick this up. If not and you are looking to connect your spiritual practice with nature, I highly recommend. It changed the way I view a lot of things especially going into ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this a few years ago (while I was transitioning out of Bastyr College of Naturopathy). I loved the concept of marrying yourself; meaning, acknowledging the divine feminine and masculine in yourself and finding balance & wholeness within.
Jan 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this 3.5 stars if I could. My advice regarding this book is to read its pages with an open mind and take away from it whatever resonates with you.
Jason Mulligan
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Powerful perspective changer. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will need to revisit this book frequently.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Some quotes from the book that moved me:

"The gift you carry for others is not an attempt to save the world, but to fully belong to it. It's not even possible to save the world by trying to save it. You need to find what is genuinely yours to offer the world before you can make it a better place. Discovering the unique gift to bring to your community is your greatest opportunity and challenge. The offering of that gift - your true self - is the most you can do to love and serve the world ... and
Byron Barnes
Sep 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Had I read Soulcraft years ago, I'd have dismissed it as New Age garbage. Plotkin implores us to speak (out loud) to animals and rocks, engage in "deep imagery" with an animal totem pole of our chakras, stand in raging storms after starving ourselves for days, and (of course) carry healing crystals around with us to protect ourselves. It's all too much.

But I still enjoyed reading about it. I think any perspective which shifts us a bit more towards intuition, spirituality, and a general softening
Andjelka Jankovic
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I honestly think this may be one of the most transformative books I’ve ever read - speaking directly to my curiosity to ‘this can’t be it’ by unravelling the life you are meant to lead, if you are courageous enough to go after it.

Bill writes like a soul who has been there and done that, and come back with stories and revelations to prove his points. I love the concept that your first life is your ‘summer house’ and the life you are meant to live - one of freedom and living your life’s purpose -
Maddie Nastase
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved how practical this book ended up being. In addition to providing a framework for the soul/spirit dilemma, it guided me through a journey that seemed 'unchartable'. From daily practices to words of wisdom, it gave me the legend and the map for the things I didn't know I was searching for. It will take a few rereads to integrate all these lessons :) ...more
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dropped, library
I really wanted to like this book. I have been trying to read it for months, and I've only made it about 200 pages in. I'm admitting defeat. It goes back to the library today, where hopefully someone else will benefit from it. Maybe it didn't hit me at the right point in my life. I mostly just felt depressed that I didn't know my soul, and this book was really nebulous about how to do that. "Wander in nature starving yourself," "go into a trance," "sign up for my institute." Rather than making s ...more
Johnny Stork, MSc
Apr 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Although a long read, with some dry and even repetitive sections, Bill Plotkin’s Soulcraft is good introduction for anyone who might be feeling like their life is not their own. Soulcraft is about allowing yourself to recognize, experience, seek-out, value and most of all, nourish and encourage the essence of your soul. I am not talking about some sort of ethereal, ghost-like apparition that flies out of your body at death and is judged by some bearded guy in the clouds who decides to shuffle yo ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This book points to the turn away from intuition, nature, and soul that much of Western civilization has taken and offers a way back. Our science and capitalism has given us the significant gifts of health and easy--even pleasurable--lives, and yet we have payed the price in terms of losing deep meaning that often comes from confronting our human frailty within the bigger natural world. Soulcraft is Plotkin's way of recovering meaning in our lives, in way that balances the typical Western attitu ...more
Sep 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plotkin's premise is that we must each discover our purpose on this planet, not just by "ascending" into the spiritual realm, but by "descending" into the realm of the soul, which is where our uniqueness lies. To do so, he suggests a radical life disruption involving nature, things like vision quests, mountaintop fasts, and group rituals (much of which he offers in his own practice). I'm not ready to sign up yet, but his cosmology is fascinating. My key reservation is the length of the examples. ...more
Zornitsa Tomova
Wow! Just wow. What a book! The deepest resource on soul and meaning I've encountered, coming into my life at exactly the right time. It introduced me to a framework that allowed me to understand the big picture of my soul journey so far, as well a huge set of tools and practices I can't wait to explore further. But most importantly - it gave me inspiration and support for deepening my nature- and soul-centric work and bringing its gifts out into the world. Highly recommended! ...more
Teri P
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am enjoying this book. Recommended for a guide to initiation. Finished this book. I am not in complete agreement with this author's explanation of soul. However, I found it very worthwhile read. The book lays out basic components to initiation, which is helpful. He is obviously influenced by James Hillman, which is a great source of reading about the nature of soul.

Brynne Betz
Nov 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
wise fodder for a hungry psyche....I hear and ingest this man's insightful perspectives and recommend him to anyone interested in some good old fashioned inner work. ...more
Sue rempel
Jun 08, 2008 is currently reading it
a beautiful guide to continue the journey of following one's soul path... one of the deepest and moving books I've read ...more
Aaron Hoopes
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic book on the process of crafting the soul and putting to rest all of the habits and behaviors that no longer serve us.
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A distillation of 20 years of 'work' in these varied incredible inquiry of spirit, earth and self. ...more
Jun 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
As I read, I learn more about, "an unmet longing for wildness, mystery, and a meaningful engagement with the world." (p. 1) ...more
I really loved this book about getting to know your soul, soul image, and soul path. There were many useful exercises and I was really inspired.
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bfw-reading
A profoundly insightful book into the process and experience of soul initiation and individual purpose in a modern world.
Nick Z
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Transformational! I'm seeking to meet others who incorporate soulcraft practices into their daily lives. ...more
Willis Miller
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Life Changing Read.
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful journey into the experiential path of the soul.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Can’t really decide on 3 or 4 stars for this one. I really, really enjoyed this book and got so much out of reading it. The problem was the emphasis on the wilderness expedition as a requirement for soul craft. I love being in nature and obviously think it’s an enormously important component of soul development. I just don’t think i need to put myself at risk by heading out into an unknown environment without food or shelter for days on end. One can develop one’s soul without being stupid. Addit ...more
Leanne Hunt
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. Written by a man who gave up academia and a promising profession to follow the call of his soul, it is rich with stories, guidelines for listening to your own soul's call and overcoming difficulties along the journey. The writing style is both informative and compelling, and the audio version is beautifully narrated.
I found myself trying to make the book last because i didn't want to finish it too soon. I really enjoyed making notes and using the advice given in the boo
Lacey Mclaughlin
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow this book came at a perfect time in my life. I find there few sources and resources to help guide us on our soul path, especially when that path requires difficult decisions, disappointing others and questioning our departure from the safe and certain. Bill Plotkin gave me a new framework for understanding this process which requires death and rebirth. I now see how nature serves as a portal to connect us to the divine and how removed our society has gotten from the natural rhythms of the un ...more
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Seeking to Meet other Soulcraft Practitioners 1 8 Nov 02, 2014 12:03PM  

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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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“You were born to occupy a particular place within the community that ecophilosopher David Abram calls the more-than-human world. You have a unique ecological role, the way you are meant to serve and nurture the web of life, directly or through your role in society. At the level of soul, you have a specific way of belonging to the biosphere, as unique as any maple, moose,” 0 likes
“A healthy ego is skilled in imagination, feeling, intuition, and sensing, in addition to thinking.” 0 likes
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