Encountering the Mysteries of Descending to Soul with Bill Plotkin, Ph.D.

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Plotkin says that encounters with spirit is a transcendent experience. However, encounters with soul takes us on a spiritual descent. He reveals how humans are the only species that need instructions as to what our purpose is in the larger Earth community. For example, Salmon need no instructions as to how to swim upstream to spawn. Monarch butterflies need no instructions as to how to navigate from Canada to Mexico to winter in the same oyamel forests where their great, great, great, great grandparents clustered. He encourages us to seek out a soul encounter in order to find our ecological niche and the metaphor that will give us a sense of our place in the larger world. He encourages us to do the necessary work to become true “adults.” And he points out that being an adult has nothing to do with our chronological age. His work reminds us of the work of Earth Elder, Thomas Berry who tells us that we must “reinvent, a sustainable human culture by a descent into our pre-rational, our instinctive resources.” We do this work in order to give our gifts back to the web of life and become embedded in life-enhancing activities. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Bill Plotkin, Ph.D, has been a psychotherapist, research psychologist, rock musician, river runner, professor of psychology, and mountain-bike racer. As a research psychologist, he studied dreams and nonordinary states of consciousness achieved through meditation, biofeedback, and hypnosis. The founder and president of Animas Valley Institute, he has guided thousands of people through initiatory passages in nature since 1980. Currently an ecotherapist, depth psychologist, and wilderness guide, he leads a variety of experiential, nature-based individuation programs. 

Bill Plotkin is the author of:

  • Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (New World Library 2003)
  • Nature and the Human Soul: Creating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (New World Library 2008)
  • The Journey of Soul Initiation: A Field Guide for Visionaries, Evolutionaries, and Revolutionaries (New World Library 2021) 

To learn more about Bill Plotkin’s new book go to www.natureandthehumansoul.com

 To learn more about the work of Bill Plotkin go to www.animas.org

Topics explored in this dialogue include:

  •  What was the informing and repetitive dream that Plotkin had as young person
  • How did Plotkin get the name “Cocoon Weaver”
  • Why humans must seek out their evolutionary assignment whereas other species need no instruction as to how to fulfill their niche in the Earth community
  • Why Plotkin feels it is important to become a “true adult” which is more than just a chronological age
  • What does Plotkin mean by Eco Soul Centric Development
  • How the metaphor of the caterpillar becoming a butterfly is about the descent to soul
  • What are the five phases of descent to soul: preparation, dissolution, soul encounter, metamorphosis, and enactment
  • How many (even professional) guides can treat human metamorphosis to wholeness as a pathology thus aborting a successful descent
  • How, like butterflies, we are born to pollinate the earth with our creative gifts that enhance all life
  • Why the underlying cultural crisis is arrested human development and how we are culturally stuck in the caterpillar stage with its voracious appetite to consume

 Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 1/21/2021   Program Number: 3723

Music Playlist

From Album:  Dorothea Lange - Grab a Hunk of Lightning (original Soundtrack)
Artist: Jami Sieber and Evan Schiller

Opening Essay: Track 01 – Openinf (Invisible Wings)
Music Break 1: Track 02 - Berkeley
Music Break 2: Track 10 - Starving Women (Dancing Backwards)
Music Break 3: Track 13 – End of Marriages