My beginning premise is that a more mature human society requires more mature human individuals.

My second premise is that nature (including our own deeper nature, soul) has always provided and still provides the best template for human maturation.

A third premise is that every human being has a unique and mystical relationship to the wild world, and that the conscious discovery and cultivation of that relationship is at the core of true adulthood.

~Bill Plotkin (slightly abridged) - Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World.

Like so many of us, I too want to live in a society of greater collective maturity, among many more mature folx in global leadership positions that value and enjoy deeply attuned, mutual responsive relationships with each other, mother earth and all her beings.

And…slowly…it’s happening. We are growing.

We, as a species, may not survive this growth spurt, but we are growing.

Increasingly, there are more of us who are awakening to the current state of humanity and life as we know it on this planet. There are more who are tending and restoring the mature systems of organizational power that model and maintain healthy, sustainable connection for those who are still finding their way. And there are more who are holding themselves, each other, and these systems accountable to the deep structures of justice, resilience, and truth.

We still have such a long way to go.

Like many others who can also see and are living more directly in the path of the immature, dangerous and potentially even more devastating current trajectory on this planet, I too can see that it’s imperative in these times that a whole lot more of us mature (not just age) if we humans, and a whole lot of other species on this planet, are going to survive beyond the next fifty or so years.

In my understanding and experience, Soul Work is central to this process.

We humans are incredibly relational and interconnected beings that through trauma, tragedy, loss, illness, or various stages of development and growth (that are ongoing throughout our lives), will understandably begin to close down and disconnect from ourselves and others, and insulate ourselves from the, especially, more-than-human world as a means to manage and protect ourselves, especially if we don’t find the ongoing support of compassionate and inspiring sources of deeper truth, counsel, practices, ritual, or the wisdom sourced through the traditions of our own people and the intelligence of the wild ones through all time. We cannot navigate both our survival and growth at the same time well, so if we are navigating our survival, or operating from survival patterns, we will just stop growing.

These patterns of closure become hardened and habitual and can easily be absorbed into the warp and weft of the immature survival (consumptive, capitalistic and colonial cultural and global) patterns of greed and domination that have plagued humanity on this planet for centuries. We carry and live from these habits and patterns of survival and dis-ease that have been normalized and passed down to us through history and the generations, and then inadvertently pass them on ourselves if these patterns are not intentionally disrupted…and we are not individually and collectively held accountable…grown…and the damage and fall-out is not reconciled, repaired and then redirected; fed back into creative and generative maturating processes and projects of growth and renewal.

And yes, as Robin Wall Kimmerer so beautifully writes at the bottom of the page here, the more-than-human life is still very much here on this planet, working patiently with us. And these beings, among many others, have been here, for millennia prior to our human arrival, teaching us, responding to us, and patiently growing us into our humanity. They continue to this day.

Reconnection to our Bodies, Reconnection to our Souls

The wisdom of nature is reflected at all levels of life, and it is also reflected and experienced in our physical bodies.

Our bodies are intelligent, fertile sources of sensation, emotion, and emerging personal and collective experience: story, myth, meaning, wisdom and truth. Our bodies are beautiful, creative and powerful fields of transformation that reflect our ancestral his/her/their story and trauma, but also reflect it’s medicine and magic.

Our bodies’ are intuitive divining rods that are continually responding to the deeper currents of our own human-nature or innerlife, to the earth’s wild nature, and to the larger mysteries of this cosmic life.

They are just one way inwards…and home to ourselves.

And slowly…very slowly…as we collectively make the internal shift from habituated survival patterns (and dominating capitalistic and colonizing patterns) to inter-relational growth patterns, we are re-membering ourselves as humans. Recognizing ourselves as part of a much larger web of interbeing on this planet. And learning to tune into, hear, listen to, and respond to the wisdom being communicated to us through the world around us…including the wisdom communicated to us through our bodies.

Soul work comes from the understanding that each of us has a unique soul, or place of belonging, and a unique path of unfolding and maturation within a much larger collective unfolding which follows and builds upon the path of our ancestors, but at it’s roots, is guided by the deep currents, wisdom and intelligence of life itself.

It comes from understanding that we humans actually do belong within the much larger story of life on this planet. And the more directly and intimately we can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, smell it, know our place in it, and trust it…the more fiercely, courageously, and lovingly we can inhabit it and live fully from it. 

True adulthood, or psychological maturity, has become an uncommon achievement in Western and Westernized societies, and genuine elderhood nearly nonexistent. Interwoven with arrested personal development, and perhaps inseparable from it, our everyday lives have drifted vast distances from our species’ original intimacy with the natural world and from our own uniquely individual natures, our souls.

But if we know where to look, we uncover great opportunities spawned by these crisis. All over the world, we are witnessing a collective human response to exigency, an immensely creative renewal, addressing all dimensions of human activity on Earth - from the ecological, political, and economic to the educational and spiritual.

My beginning premise is that a more mature human society requires more mature human individuals.

My second premise is that nature (including our own deeper nature, soul) has always provided and still provides the best template for human maturation.

A third premise is that every human being has a unique and mystical relationship to the wild world, and that the conscious discovery and cultivation of that relationship is at the core of true adulthood.

~Bill Plotkin (slightly abridged) - Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World.