What’s New

Wild Mind Training Program

Professional training in the use of the Nature-Based Map of the Human Psyche to support others to cultivate their innate wholeness and to acquire the skill of Self-healing.                                                     Continuing Education Credits Available. See the informational brochure and upcoming residential program.

Wild Mind Intensive Programs 2017

Interviews & Media

Interview on The Lifeboat Hour October 2014

Review of Wild Mind by GreenSpirit June 2014

Review of Wild Mind in Ecopsychology Journal June 2014

Dialogue with Terry Patten, March 2014

Interview with Sweigh Spilkin, May 2013

Interview with Ted Rose, April 2013

Interview with Michael Stone, KMVR Radio, April 2013

Bill on KWMR with Anthony Wright, June 2013

Bill - Dance Palace public talk Port Reyes, Ca. June 2013

Review of Wild Mind by ForeWord magazine:  "Plotkin deftly weaves the threads of his multifaceted philosophy to create a vivid picture of what it means to be a mature, fully developed human being, and he does so while taking into account the ephemeral nature of all that lives."

Interview with Bill on The Journey Home – Santa Fe Public Radio

About BIll Plotkin

Bill PlotkinBill Plotkin, Ph.D., is a depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and agent of cultural evolution. As founder of western Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute in 1981, he has guided thousands of women and men through nature-based initiatory passages, including a contemporary, Western adaptation of the pan-cultural vision quest. Previously, he has been a research psychologist (studying non-ordinary states of consciousness), professor of psychology, psychotherapist, rock musician, and whitewater river guide.

In 1979, on a solo winter ascent of an Adirondack peak, Bill experienced a call to adventure, leading him to abandon academia in search of his true calling. Bill is the author of Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (an experiential guidebook), Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (a nature-based stage model of human development through the entire lifespan), and Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche (an ecocentric map of the psyche — for healing, growing whole, and cultural transformation). He has a doctorate in psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

read interview with Bill

The Book

Enjoy the excerpts!


Additional Experiential Practices

The practices offered in the PDF below are more complete versions of those found in the book’s Appendix.

The book itself is full, in nearly every chapter, with experiential practices not included on this website page.

Enjoy this PDF download!

Assisting Others

The suggestions offered in the PDF below supplement those found, throughout the book, on ways to help oneself and others cultivate wholeness and embrace our subpersonalities.

Enjoy this PDF download!


We’ll explore the landscape of the psyche through a variety of practices, including creative expression, self-designed ceremony, solo exercises while wandering on the land, group work, movement, voice dialogue, journaling, and deep imagery work.

For details on Exploring the Wild Mind experiential programs being offered by Animas Valley Institute and other organizations:


Animas Valley Institute

Animas Valley Institute — founded in 1980 by Bill Plotkin — offers a rich assortment of journeys into the mysteries of nature and psyche, including soulcraft™ intensives, contemporary vision fasts, and training programs for nature-based soul guides.

We stand on the threshold of a great unknown. Individually and collectively, we launch into an uncertain future — at once, both perilous and saturated with possibility. Our accustomed, culturally-determined roles and identities are inadequate to navigate the sea change of our time. Our collective journey requires a radical shift in the human relationship with the community of all life — a cultural transformation so profound that future humans might regard it as an evolution of consciousness. Safe passage requires each of us to offer our full magnificence to the world. Popular culture cannot help us uncover our singular gifts; contemporary institutions do not invite their expression. Our particular genius can be discovered only in an initiatory journey — an accidental or intentional descent into the mysteries of soul. Guiding the intentional descent to soul has been the unfolding work of Animas Valley Institute for over 30 years.

Soulcraft™ skills and practices evoke the world-shifting experience of soul encounter — the revelation of our unique mythopoetic identity, an identity expressed through symbol and metaphor, image and dream, archetype and myth, an identity embodied in a mysterious story that whispers to us in moments of expanded awareness and exquisite aliveness. The shape and rhythm of this story reveals the hidden treasure that each of us carries for the world — a world longing for the transformative contributions of visionary leaders and artisans of cultural renaissance. Soulcraft practices spring from wilderness rites, depth psychology, ecopsychology, the poetic tradition, nature-based peoples, and from the wild Earth itself — and comprise a contemporary, Western, and nature-rooted path to the terra mysterium of soul initiation.

Animas Valley Institute offers multi-day, experiential explorations into wild landscapes and into the wilds of soul with the goal of discovering the meaning and destiny at the heart of each life. We are guides to the initiatory journey — the descent into the mysteries of nature and psyche where the husk of outgrown ego-identity is shed; where tricksters, demons, and perhaps angels are encountered; and from which a new self emerges as a vessel for one’s distinctive genius and world-transforming gifts. Although our work evokes non-ordinary perception and ways of knowing, it is not shamanism, nor is it primarily rites of passage, wilderness-based psychotherapy, or emotional healing. Our immersions are not designed to transcend the ego, solve everyday personal problems, or help people better adjust to — or be happier in — the flatland of contemporary Western culture. Rather, our intent is a deep-structure shift that matures the ego and elicits each person’s most creative, soul-rooted response to our critical, liminal moment in the unfolding of the world’s story — on the threshold of a future shaped by those who can see beyond our own time.

What to expect from an Animas Experience:

  • Identify — or clarify — your unique note in the symphony of all life
  • Free your wild imagination •  Re-inhabit your animal body
  • Encounter the mysterious genius of your soul
  • Recover and integrate the forgotten voices of your own wild psyche
  • Experience conscious participation in the dream of Earth
  • Join other visionary leaders in shaping a soul-infused future

For a full overview of Animas courses, visit our web site: www.animas.org or contact us at soulcraft@animas.org or 800-451-6327 (USA Only) or 970-259-0585

“Soulcraft” is a registered trademark of Bill Plotkin


Some of the press we've received

  • Review of Wild Mind by ForeWord magazine:  "Plotkin deftly weaves the threads of his multifaceted philosophy to create a vivid picture of what it means to be a mature, fully developed human being, and he does so while taking into account the ephemeral nature of all that lives."
  • Review of Wild Mind by Tony Putnam, Ph.D.:  "In Wild Mind, Plotkin expands his insights to encompass the whole of the human psyche, from start to finish, top to bottom and in literally all directions. He makes a fresh start in helping us see who and what we are, and can become."  Tony Putnam is a Descriptive Psychologist who helps organizations discern and live from their specific dharma. He has known Bill Plotkin since graduate school, when Bill was more mild than wild.
  • Review of Wild Mind by Carolyn Baker, Ph.D.:  "Plotkin’s work resuscitates the mental health landscape with notions of vibrant humanity and unprecedented aliveness."  Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., former psychotherapist and professor of psychology, is the author of Sacred Demise and Navigating The Coming Chaos. 
  • Publisher's press release
  •  Review of Wild Mind by Matt Riddle for Genesis Farmor
  • Permaculture Magazine review of Wild Mind
  • Review of Wild Mind by Greenspirit
  • Review of Wild Mind in Ecopsychology Journal


"Bill Plotkin's Wild Mind ushers in a new era of depth psychology. For all of the penetrating insights flowing from Sigmund Freud and his associates, the field's origin was imprisoned in the worldview that regarded our universe as dead. It was inevitable that psychological work would be confined to conversations between humans, in offices, inside buildings. Plotkin's work shatters that limited conception for he lives in the creative universe as articulated by quantum physics, indigenous traditions, and evolutionary cosmology. Most helpful of all, Plotkin shares his powerful processes for entering deep conversations with rivers and owls and stone. To study Wild Mind is to pass through a magical gateway into one's unique role within the Great Work that Earth is calling us to."~ Brian Thomas Swimme, professor of evolutionary cosmology, California Institute of Integral Studies, and co-author (with Thomas Berry) of The Universe Story
"In Wild Mind, Bill Plotkin maps the relationship between the human psyche and the rest of nature — a task akin to painting a detailed portrait of a tree in a stiff wind. As in all of his books, Plotkin writes with grace, eloquence and humor. And through this brave effort to capture the wind, he makes an enormous contribution to our species."~ Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods
"Here, in Wild Mind, Bill Plotkin guides us into a landscape where we recognize the extraordinary gifts of our own true nature. Through his nature-based map we can not only find our powers of leadership, joy, sensuality and renewal, but also the dragons of self-deception whose energies we can liberate for the healing of our world.".~ Joanna Macy, author of Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in Without Going Crazy
"Living as we do in both an external environment and an internal environment, Wild Mind is a summons to an evolved eco-consciousness. Both natural settings have been subordinated to narcissistic enlargement by a complex-driven ego, and the price we are paying is personal, cultural, and environmental pathology. Wild Mind provides a compelling agenda for re-integration of these sundered worlds in service to wholeness."~ James Hollis, PhD, author of What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life
"I have both taught and worked with Bill Plotkin, and believe that Wild Mind is the most mature synthesis of his excellent and much needed vision. Be guided here by a master of listening to both nature and soul!"~ Richard Rohr, O.F.M., author of Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
"Thomas Berry calls us to "reinvent the human."  Bill Plotkin has been doing his part for decades principally through leading people into their deeper selves via vision quests in the wilderness.  In this book he continues his pioneering efforts in a brave attempt to reinvent psychology with useful practices and new languaging that honors the psyche/cosmos relationship."~ Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing, The Pope's War, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times
"Wild Mind offers wise and loving medicine for our selves and our world at a time when reinventing how we live on Earth and with each other is more crucial than ever. This brilliant and lyrical book provides an alternative to the outmoded mindset that has had us focused on what's wounded or missing in ourselves rather than appreciating our magnificence and the unique gifts we each carry for the world. With this delightful, encouraging, and inspiring read, Bill Plotkin delivers an engaging and tender adventure of reclaiming, healing, and celebration." ~ Nina Simons, Co-CEO and Co-founder, Bioneers
"Once again, Bill Plotkin provides an invaluable Field Guide to reclaim and embody our original wholeness and our inherent kinship with Nature, all species, and habitats. Wild Mind, not only revitalizes, but re-enchants us in our endangered world!" ~ Angeles Arrien, cultural anthropologist and author of The Four-Fold Way


Where to Purchase Wild Mind

Available in April 2013

wild mind book

Now available at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, IndieBound,
 New World Library,and your local bookstores!

Contact us

Please contact us for information on how to order books, Wild Mind programs, and Bill’s speaking calendar: