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State of Emergence is a new podcast about how we respond to the urgency of our world crises & catalyze human transformation. Hosted by @TerryPatten.

Jan 16, 2021

Ecopsychologist, wilderness guide and author Bill Plotkin joins Terry to consider the human crisis as essentially a crisis of immaturity — that true human adults and human elders are both extraordinarily rare today. Bill speaks to what is truly required for us — as individuals, and collectively — to grow from our extended adolescence into mature human adulthood. He describes the challenging, and sometimes hazardous, spiritual process of “soul initiation,” which demands the dissolution of our current identities and metamorphosis of our egos into mature co-creators, each of us born to serve a unique niche in our ecological, psychological and social worlds. 

Bill explains in rich detail the key understandings, models, and processes that guide his facilitation of soul work in his Animas community. He also shares new insights from Carl Jung’s The Red Book about the “feminine” aspects of the psyche, the difference between “soul” and “muse,” and experimental dreamwork. Ultimately, he points to a profound basis for hope — the living Earth has already provided what the world needs by creating us. He says we who are here now are the medicine the earth needs, if only we undergo the transformation it takes to deliver it.

Bill Plotkin is an eco-depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and agent of cultural regeneration. As founder of southwest Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute, he has, since 1980, guided thousands of women and men on the journey of soul initiation. His previous books are Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche, Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World, and Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche. His new book, The Journey of Soul Initiation is a field guide, based on the experiences of thousands of people, describing the principles and evokes the varied lived experiences of the riveting and sometimes hazardous odyssey of soul initiation, using many vivid stories and an in-depth exploration of Carl Jung’s Red Book.

Here are some additional questions Bill and Terry explore: 

  • What is the “descent to soul”, and how does it relate to the journey of soul initiation? 
  • What are the necessary stages of the “soul initiation” process?
  • What becomes of our consciousness and societal and ecological roles as the process is fulfilled?
  • Might we be more effective in evolving culture by aiming for “human maturity” instead of “consciousness development?” 
  • What is our soul’s purpose, and why is that necessarily poetic or metaphorical? 
  • Why is the common idea that our purpose is our vocation a misconception?  
  • What is it to create a delivery mechanism for our soul’s purpose?
  • What is the nature of the much deeper maturity that lies beyond all that?

For more information on Bill Plotkin and Terry Patten, check out the following resources:


We invite you to join Terry and other listeners of State of Emergence for a live Q&A and conversation and Saturday, January 23rd at 10 AM Pacific. To participate, simply become a Friend of State of Emergence on our website (if you haven’t already) by making a monthly contribution to the podcast. Then, you’ll receive access links to next Saturday’s session and our future Q&A events every month. Our first session (in December) was lively, deep, and inspiring, and we hope you’ll join us next time!