Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
For over twenty years, Ive been guiding people into the wilderness not just the redrock canyons and snow-crested mountains of the American Southwest but, more essentially, into the wilds of our own souls. I call this work soulcraft.
As a psychologist, Ive found that my clients discontents are often rooted in an unmet longing for wildness, mystery, and a meaningful engagement with the world. Psychotherapys traditional methods, regulated relationships, and confined offices are inadequate to address this craving for the untamed terrain of the soul its jungles, cataracts, labyrinths, and feral creatures. A radically shifted perspective, an expanded cache of strategies and roles, and much wilder environments are needed to recover the innate treasures, the secrets of destiny, buried beneath the surface of our daily routines. Soulcraft is an approach to the psyche and the world that embraces both wild nature and the depths of our souls; it could be called an eco-depth psychology.
Contemporary society has lost touch with soul and the path to psychological and spiritual maturity, or true adulthood. Instead, we are encouraged to create lives of predictable security, false normality, material comfort, bland entertainment, and the illusion of eternal youth. Most of our leaders political, cultural, and economic represent and defend a non-sustainable way of life built upon military aggression, the control and exploitation of natures "resources," and an entitled sense of national security that ignores the needs of other species, other nations, tribes, and races, and our own future generations. These values do not reflect our deeper human nature.
Successful navigation of this most perilous time in human history requires psychologically and spiritually mature men and women who can engender a mature human species. For nature-based people, initiated adulthood is developed in intimate relationship with the earth, the larger organism who births and sustains us. For contemporary people whose culture discounts or even disdains an intimate relationship with nature and soul, reaching psychological and spiritual maturity is challenging but possible, and never more necessary than now.
Fortunately, many people in the industrialized cultures of Western civilization recognize that a fulfilling life is not about superfluous economic advancement, that modest amounts of security and comfort serve adequately as foundations for a creative and soul-stirring life, and that each of us can bring a unique gift to the world, a world desperately in need of the socially transforming contributions of initiated, actively engaged adults. I hear the world itself calling for a renaissance of the human soul or, as James Hillman says, for a psyche the size of the earth.
This book is a border crossing into mystery. Filled with soulcraft practices, stories, poems, and guidelines, these pages invite you to embark upon a contemporary, Western, nature-based journey into the wilderness of your own soul.