Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche

Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche

by Bill Plotkin

For millennia, ceremonies and initiation rites have helped societies survive and thrive by marking life transitions.

Drawing on ancient traditions, this vision quest serves as a modern rite of initiation.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Spirituality
  • Rating: 4.26
  • Pages: 400
  • Publish Date: August 29th 2003 by New World Library
  • Isbn10: 1577314220
  • Isbn13: 9781577314226

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He explains that encounters with our soul provide us with our life's purpose, and help us to live in harmony with nature. He is particularly keen on providing endless examples and anecdotes, even if they aren't interesting for the reader, such as his use of his dream about Blue and Red. Another thing about Plotkin is that he likes coining his own phrases and repeating them often (such as "Second Cocoon") which I find to be an irksome, and somewhat distracting, habit. Another thing here- I had hoped Plotkin would provide more evidence to support his ideas (being his occupation as a psychologist), but he doesn't seem really interested in that and instead draws primarily on anecdotal evidence and other non-academic works. Or perhaps Plotkin simply does not care about the reader's safety, as he often writes that danger and dances with death are required for "encounters with the soul." On page 37, he tells us about the Dagara people who undertake initiation rituals where "the small risk of death is preferable to the living death of an uninitiated life." Perhaps for some, but I question the ethics of composing a book that encourages people to endanger themselves. Although I didn't enjoy this book myself, perhaps if you are a patient reader and are especially interested in nature-based spirituality and eco-psychology (I see this book possibly appealing to the hippiest of hippies), then this book may be worth your time and provide a starting point for getting in touch with "true self" and "finding more meaningful ways to exist in the world".

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. Having defined these key terms, Soulcraft asserts the following: 1) each of us embodies a unique soul that holds within it our lifes purpose, the framework of which is service to others 2) an initiation is necessary to become a true adult and to recognize and live this purpose 3) violence in all its forms is permeating our post industrial society more and more because we no longer value or practice formal initiation into adulthood 4) we must, therefore, discover/explore/invent new rites of passage that address our unique, modern needs 5) these new ways of initiation, if implemented will save us from destroying ourselves. Plotkins soul initiation process utilizes many of same elements found in traditional rites of passage in most nature-based societies. It begins with an initial call to adventure, leaving home, a period of wandering, facing challenges both internal and external, solitude in some form, manifesting activities, soul encountered, truth revealed, obstacles overcome, a return to community, sharing knowledge gained and offering of new insights.

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. A reference to Bill Plotkin and Soulcraft caught my eye while the group was reading Linda Kavelin Popovs A Pace of Grace The Virtues of a Sustainable Life. The path of the wanderer, collective unconscious, a second cocoon and second adulthood, sacred wound, loyal soldiers, soul initiation, ego centric and soul centric relationships and more-than-human-world are all part of a liturgy of terms and concepts in Soulcraft that stimulates, baffles, releases, broadens, illuminates and ultimately enlightens. Our pick for the last session discussing Soulcraft was the virtue of initiative: Initiative is originality and creativity in action. Among Plotkins parting instructions is: "You must now speak your vision into the world." "You must learn to act on what the soul has revealed to you." "You must create ways to act on what you received.

The offering of that gift - your true self - is the most you can do to love and serve the world ... and it is all the world needs." Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft. It is always possible, however to refuse the call entirely and to turn th eear back to the egocentric interests of unrewarding work, relationships and "culture." The refusal of the call turns our flowering world into a wasteland of open-pit mines and clear cut, strip malls and billboards." Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft, Pp 48-49.

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).

The book lays out basic components to initiation, which is helpful.