Embodiment and the Journey of Soul Initiation: A Conversation With Bill Plotkin, PhD

Embodiment and the Journey of Soul Initiation with Bill Plotkin, PhD

What a powerful conversation we shared, exploring Plotkin’s new book, the Journey of Soul Initiation as well as exploring his vast body of work.

Bill Plotkin, Ph.D., is a depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and agent of cultural regeneration. As founder of western Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute in 1981, he has guided thousands of seekers through nature-based initiatory passages, including a contemporary, Western adaptation of the pan-cultural vision fast. Previously, he has been a research psychologist (studying non-ordinary states of consciousness), professor of psychology, psychotherapist, rock musician, and whitewater river guide. In 1979, on a solo winter ascent of an Adirondack peak, Bill experienced a call to adventure, leading him to abandon academia in search of his true calling. Bill is the author of Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (an experiential guidebook), Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (a nature-based stage model of human development through the entire lifespan), Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche (an ecocentric map of the psyche — for healing, growing whole, and cultural transformation), and The Journey of Soul Initiation: A Field Guide for Visionaries, Evolutionaries, and Revolutionaries (an experiential guidebook for the descent to soul.) He has a doctorate in psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. You can dive into the rich world of his work at www.animas.org

We explored so many rich topics in this conversation, beginning, of course, with embodiment, as well as how humans can become life-enhancing partners with Earth and Cosmos. We talk about Bill’s framing of adulthood and maturity and his powerful sentiment, that 90% of older people in modern culture haven’t reached beyond late adolescence. We talk about how to understand where you are on his map of maturity and the process of soul descent, as well as what makes a true adult (and it’s not age-based!) We talk about the beautiful image of adults and elders as imaginal cells in culture, as well as what he calls the four facets of wholeness and ways of cultivating these. Bill shares comments on working with mature urgency in relation to our times and his admiration for Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects. We talk about the history of initiated elders and initiatory customs and rituals being what dominating cultures have continually wiped out in the partnership-based cultures they colonized, and what a great loss this has been around the globe. We talk about why rites of passage are so important personally and culturally. This whole conversation is so powerful and is rooted in the rare depth and comprehensive framework of his life’s work and evolving understanding of human development. We hope you enjoy this one as much as we did!

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By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.