November 2018 programs

In November 2018 we were extremely pleased to welcome to Australia Bill Plotkin, founder of Animas Valley Institute and his fellow guide and writer, Geneen Maree Haugen. With warmth and wisdom, Bill and Geneen guided four programs in New South Wales – Training in Human Development, Writing the Wild Soul, Deep Imagination Intensive and Advanced Soulcraft Intensive. They also travelled to Western Australia for Coming Home to an Animate World, produced by Jenni York. Each program offered a rich dive into the realms of psyche and nature. We are very grateful to Bill and Geneen, all of the participants, the land and the other than human world for a very successful series of programs – further growing the Soulcraft community in Australia and strengthening ties with the Animas Valley Institute. See below for details of each program.

Carin and Robert – Soulcraft Australia producers

Training in Human Development: The Soulcentric Developmental Wheel, Katoomba NSW

November 3, 2018 – November 7, 2018

Guide: Bill Plotkin, Ph.D.

Important note: This intensive is a training program designed for people with a professional or personal interest specifically in the Soulcentric Developmental Wheel.  The training is anchored in experiential exercises as well as lectures and discussions, but this program is not a good choice for people primarily seeking an introduction to the work of Animas or an experiential dive into our Wild Mind work or into the journey of soul initiation. For the latter purposes, any of our Animas immersions that are not trainings would be much better choices. This training is designed primarily for those we call professional human development guides (PHDGs) and for PHDGs in training — in such fields as psychotherapy, psychiatry, clinical psychology, professional counseling, ministry, life coaching, ecotherapy, rites of passage, education, and certain realms of mentoring and outdoor education. But parents and others who wish to study an ecocentric and soulcentric approach to human development are warmly invited to apply!

Anchored in traditional four-directions wisdom, contemporary depth and archetypal psychologies, and thirty years of nature-based soul guiding, the Soulcentric Developmental Wheel (SDW) is a new ecopsychology of human development and cultural transformation. As presented in Bill Plotkin’s book, Nature and the Human Soul, the SDW is a blueprint showing how richly we can grow and mature when soul and nature are embraced as our wisest and most trustworthy guides. It includes an integrated set of developmental guidelines that can help every human mature into an adulthood of visionary leadership — a stage of life that has become rare to attain but is precisely what we need in this century if we are to create a just, compassionate, and sustainable world.

A life-span model of development from infancy through authentic elderhood, the SDW presents eight distinct stages of life and shows how these stages are almost always independent of chronological age, biological development, cognitive ability, or social role. Rather, the movement from one stage to the next comes about through progress with psychological and spiritual tasks that are specific to each stage. The SDW presents an achievable vision of a contemporary way of life that holds soul-discovery and genuine contribution to the more-than-human community as its most central features and goals (If you are a previous Animas participant familiar with the 4-directions-based map of the Self and the sub-personalities — used on many of our programs — please note that the SDW is something quite different although totally complementary).

During this training, we employ talks (with handouts), conversation and story telling, and experiential exercises on the land as we explore the SDW and its applications to education, parenting, rites of passage, psychotherapy, spiritual formation, personal growth, the journey of soul initiation, and cultural regeneration. You’ll discover how to use the SDW to support others in their personal development as well as to clarify your own next steps of soul-infused development. You will learn a set of principles and practices by which contemporary people can once again align themselves with the lifelong journey of growing whol

Writing the Wild Soul, Katoomba NSW

November 3, 2018 – November 7, 2018

Guide: Geneen Marie Haugen, Ph.D.

Wild musk and whispers of soul press into our waking and dreaming, leave tracks outside the door of our everyday concerns, tap at our closed windows, beckon us into the moonlight, or twilight, or star splattered night, where nothing precisely resembles the crisply-defined world of day.  A faint trail shimmers in the dimness, and maybe we notice a wind-borne scent, a distant hooting, or a sensation in belly or bare feet that pulls us, allures us along the trail, through the thicket to the far horizon where familiar phenomena and perception fall away. At the edge, a portal opens into the dreamtime, into the wilder psyche, the mythopoetic imagination, the mysterious primal presence at the heart of everything.  When we fall into that world, nothing is the same again.  Our eyes may see differently; we may hear the underground waters or beings from across time.   Our satchels may be filled with peculiar treasures that we somehow recognise as gifts for a hungry world, if only we knew how to offer them. 

Perhaps we long to express our encounters with mystery, wildness, or soul in such a way that the expression reflects and evokes the experience itself.  Poets, writers and storytellers know that images, rhythm, texture, and lyrical language can cast a spell that potentially draws others into the essence of an experience, and thus, a wild perception or soulful knowing is passed from one to another.

In “Writing the Wild Soul,” we’ll explore practices that beckon us toward non-ordinary experience and modes of participation with the world.  We will press our ears to the ground, listening for mythopoetic language, for sounds and words with mud still clinging to their roots, or hinting of the holy, or gasping with transformation or dismemberment. We’ll track images that can be translated into words, listening for the rhythmic breathing, faint howls, or leaping hooves of our Earthy and numinous companions.  We’ll practice bringing a whisper, or a full-bodied roar, from the alluring, soul-filled, animate world to the page. 

“Writing the Wild Soul” is designed for those who are called to encounters with the intertwined mysteries of nature and psyche, and called, as well, to writing, poetry, spoken word, or storytelling – or other forms of expression.   All levels and forms of writing are welcome; we are less interested in literary skill than in risking expression of that which can (nearly) not be expressed. 

About the facilitator:  Geneen Marie Haugen’s work has appeared in many journals and collections, including Thomas Berry, Dreamer of the Earth and Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the EarthParabola Journal; Kosmos; High Country NewsEcopsychologyWritten River, and others.  She is a three-time recipient of literary fellowships from the Wyoming Arts Council, including twice for nature writing, and was a finalist for the 2018 Siskiyou Environmental Literature prize.   Some of her writing can be found at these links:,,,

Deep Imagination, Soulcraft and the Reanimation of the World, Nowra NSW

November 11, 2018 – November 15, 2018

Guides: Bill Plotkin Ph.D. and Geneen Marie Haugen Ph.D.

A shifting, leafy canopy casts green shadows on the forest floor.  A creature appears: tall and upright, hair braided, body draped in earth fibres and verdant silks, human-like but not tame.  She turns your way and perhaps you shudder, recognising that she may know you better than you do.  The trees lean in, listening.

The exuberant, inter-species conversations that animate Earth are nearby – very near – and so is the mysterious terrain of soul, where we might encounter strange, alluring, cryptic, unbidden images, creatures, or impressions.  Deep imagination is a portal to the terra mysterium of soul and to the wrenchingly alive, sentient, ensouled world.   Recovering our innate experience of an intelligent Earth (populated with both seen and unseen presences) and reclaiming our relationship with our deep imagination not only re-enliven us as individuals, but also erode the outworn Western worldview of a meaningless, disenchanted universe upon which life-assailing business-as-usual depends.  Discovering, or deepening, a relationship with soul can serve as a compass to guide us as we learn to reinhabit a wildly alive, participatory Earth and cosmos.

In this immersion, Bill and Geneen offer inter-connected, multi-layered experiential practices – including deep imagery journeys, dreamwork, solo wanderings on the land, stream-of-consciousness writing, conversations with other-than-human beings, and poetry – that shift our consciousness toward the depths, toward the wilder, mythopoetic current that streams beneath everything. There is a significant difference between intellectually recognising that Earth is alive and directly experiencing an ensouled world. Experiences of participatory relationship re-shape the ways we enact our lives. Through the wild window of deep imagination, we might experience the soul of the world – in all its dimensions, textures, hues, and wild voices – in intimate relationship with our mysterious human soul, which is the psychospiritual – or mythopoetic – niche that each of us uniquely occupies in the larger community of Earth/Cosmos.

Western Australia – Coming Home to An Animate World: A Way of Ceremony and Conversation

21 – 25 November, 2018

Guides: Geneen Marie Haugen, Ph.D. and Bill Plotkin Ph.D.

Coming Home to an Animate World: A Way of Ceremony and Conversation​ is one of our most exhilarating and imagination-expanding intensives, and it’s foundational to all the work we do at Animas. Think of this intensive as a green doorway, an opening to a wilder consciousness shaped by forest and owls, clouds, cliff and dreams — a passage from a lifeless universe to a cosmos breathing with mystery and invitation, singing and crying in a jillion tongues. Come gather with other Earth lovers, forest whisperers, and visionary coyotes to honour the Others with ceremony and conversation.

When we address the beings of the world as if all are alive, intelligent and suffused with psyche, our lives shimmer with profound richness, depth and mystery. When we engage in conversations with sacred Others – whom we might know as stone, river, owl or pinyon, or as a figure from a dream, or as soul, anima, beloved or muse, or simply as world – we dip into the deep stream of our life: the soulful, mythopoetic story that flows beneath the surface of everyday consciousness.

We will tend the holy mystery at the core of our lives with soulful practices and ceremonies designed to arouse our conversations with the Others — in both their luminous and shadowy guises. These conversations might include song, symbol or poetry, dream or dance, expressive art or lyrical gestures, or something else utterly unique to you. The Milky Way Galaxy and ancient ocean will help support us in an experience of what ecophilosopher Joanna Macy calls “deep time” — a felt-sense of our embeddedness in the cosmic and Earthly unfolding of life. We’ll bring greater awareness to the conversation we’re already having (whether we know it or not) with the embodied and numinous Others. And we’ll bring greater consciousness, as well, to tending the conversation with our human and other-than-human ancestors, and with the generations that follow our own – as if our ceremonies and conversations matter not only to the present, but also to the evolving Earth story.

The guides will help you track themes, archetypal images, patterns, and numinous encounters from both your dayworld and nightworld (dream) experiences, and then offer deliciously alluring (or perhaps exquisitely challenging) invitations for you to more deeply participate in conversations with the Others with whom we share the world. Self-designed ceremony (with assistance from the guides, if you like) will help deepen the atmosphere for your encounters with Mystery — in the wild, symbolic, poetic, image-rich language of Mystery. Perhaps a sacred Other will flirt with you, or perhaps she (or he, or it) will throw off her mossy robes and show you a glimpse — or a full view — of the precious treasure that you, and only you, carry as an offering to your people, an essential offering to the world’s evolving story.

This intensive is designed for change-agents, artists, educators, poets, therapists, and others seeking immersion in the intertwined mysteries of nature and psyche; for those longing for greater depth of connection with the Others with whom we share both the phenomenal and imaginal worlds; for those longing to ceremonially tend the temple of the holy Earth; and for those with curiosity about soul in a participatory, animate cosmos.

Crossing Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche: An Advanced Soulcraft Intensive, Katoomba NSW

November 28, 2018 – December 2, 2018

Guides: Bill Plotkin Ph.D. and Geneen Marie Haugen Ph.D.

In November 2018, for the first time in Australia, in the majestic Blue Mountains we will offer “Crossing Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche,” – an  “advanced” version of the Soulcraft Intensive for people prepared for a radical immersion in the enigmatic dark waters of soul. This intensive is designed for those with previous Animas experience (although not exclusively – see below**), who have cultivated the resources of what we call the four facets of wholeness, and those whose primary longing now is for a first or deeper experience of soul encounter – the revelation of one’s unique mythopoetic identity, an identity expressed through symbol and metaphor, image and dream, archetype and myth, an identity embodied in a mysterious story glimpsed in moments of expanded awareness and exquisite aliveness. Not intended as therapy or healing, this advanced Soulcraft Intensive assumes participants have previously attended to their foundational work of wholing and Self-healing.

Navigating our lives according to the deep currents of soul is a way of participating in the resacralization and rewilding of the world, and a way of subverting the outworn, life-assailing cultural directive to consume and out-compete. It is a way of participating in what Joanna Macy calls the Great Turning. The capacity to navigate by soul is greatly amplified through practice in community over a period of days (or weeks or months!).

Crossing Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche will gather an outlandish band of wanderers, tricksters, and pilgrims to explore and cultivate practices to bring awareness to the deep soul stream. We will offer our attentions to the land, our unrestrained blessings and praise, our laments, thundering questions, our madcap and sacred ceremonies.

Our intention is for the consciousness-changing practices of soulcraft to move deeper into our bones and breath; to be more firmly rooted within us when we return to our everyday lives. We will closely attend the particular ways the landscape erodes, stirs, startles, shapes, and opens us, as if some wild possibility for our individual lives is evoked by the interactive field of place, creatures (including ourselves), and practices. For much of our time together our attention will be turned outward toward the world in recognition that our particular psychospiritual niche – or soul – is enriched and enacted in relationship with the Others.

Naturally, we will be carrying a basket of soulcraft practices such as dreamwork, solo ceremonial wanderings on the land, council, deep imagery journeys, trance dance, and more. The specific practices we engage — and their timing — will spontaneously emerge from the depths that are stirred individually and collectively as we descend deeper into the currents of soul. The guides will offer individualized invitations that emerge from your own mystery journey.

Again, this is an advanced immersion, suitable for those who have previously encountered hints (or full blasts) of soul, and who are resourced enough with their four facets of wholeness to wander more deeply into the world. 

We will gather atop the escarpment overlooking the vast canyons and trails of the Jamison Valley where the early morning mists slowly swirl their serpentine tails as they morph into the morning air.