September 14 – 18, 2023
With Doug Van Houten and Sara McFarland
Based on Bill Plotkin’s book, Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche, this five day intensive is an experiential exploration of our human psyches as unique expressions of the universal forces and patterns of nature. We will work with what we call the Nature-Based Map of the Human Psyche, which is, among other things, a comprehensive inventory of what can be right about a person.
Our wild minds possess astonishing resources, untapped potentials and depths that we might not even know exist until we discover how to access them, cultivate their powers, and eventually integrate them into our everyday lives. In this intensive, we’ll access these depths and potentials — which we call the four facets of the Self, or the four dimensions of our innate human wholeness — and also the four sets of fragmented or wounded subpersonalities that form during childhood.
Rather than attempt to eliminate our subpersonalities (which is not possible) or to beat them into submission, we’ll cultivate the four facets of the Self and uncover the gifts of our subpersonalities. Our goal is to fully embody our multifaceted wild minds, commit ourselves to the largest, soul-infused story we’re capable of living, and serve the greater Earth community.
Accommodations: This is an all-camping program – participants are responsible for bringing personal camping equipment, and for transportation to and from the program location.
If obtaining the necessary camping gear is a barrier to participation, the venue may be able to loan specific items. Contact us with accessibility requests.
Location: Swanville, Maine, unceded Wabanaki territory.
A small rural town located in the mid coast area, Swanville is 40 minutes from Bangor International Airport and 10 minutes from the coastal city of Belfast, which is also accessible by interstate bus. Our camp is set in a mixed forest, with wetlands and hidden springs. Wildlife and bird sightings are abundant from resident porcupines who wander around in the evenings, to passing deer, bobcat, and many more seen and unseen wild ones. There is ample space for wandering on and off trail and plenty of areas for tent or hammock camping.
Start Time: 1pm – You may arrive on site anytime after 10:30am. Plan to arrive with plenty of time set up, we will begin promptly at 1pm. Dinner is the first meal served on the first day.
End Time: 1pm – Plan to stay for the duration of the entire duration of the program. Breakfast is the last meal served on the last day.
Cost: $1,475.00 – $1,750.00. The sliding scale tuition model is a type of fee structure that accounts for variability in assets, income, and expenses as an attempt to increase accessibility for people with less financial and/or class privilege. This model allows self selection of registration cost, please pay the actual cost of attendance if you are able to. We highly recommend reading more about Sliding Scale: A Tool of Economic Justice. The Animas community and several incredibly generous donors make it possible for Animas to grant scholarships to programs. Scholarships covering up to 75% of program costs are available for anyone who would otherwise be unable to participate, if you need additional financial support beyond this, White Ash Learning may be able to offer additional scholarships supported by donations.You can begin this process by applying at the link below.
The cultivation of wholeness is a new paradigm for human development that contrasts radically with psychotherapy and its focus on healing (the elimination or reduction of psychopathology). While wholeness does enable healing — in particular, a more potent form, namely Self-healing — it offers so much more: Wholeness engenders true adults and visionary artisans of cultural renaissance.
The development of the Self also enables the cultivation of the four windows of knowing: heart-centered thinking, full-bodied feeling, full-presence sensing, and deep imagination. The cultivation of these and other innate human capacities engenders mature humans capable of embodying their human wholeness rather than living through the fragments of psyche elicited by our mainstream Western modes of parenting, education, religion, and entertainment. Rather than supporting people to function more effectively in a dysfunctional culture, the Wild Mind framework enables individuals to develop their nature-given wild minds and in that way enhance their personal fulfillment as well as their capacity to serve the world from their wholeness, thereby transforming contemporary culture. Cultivating wholeness also prepares individuals for the mystical descent to soul and, in that way, the uncovering of deepest life purpose. The key to reclaiming our original wholeness is not to suppress psychological symptoms, to merely recover from addictions and trauma, or to simply manage stress but rather to fully embody our multifaceted wild minds, commit ourselves to the largest, soul-aligned story we’re capable of living, and serve the greater Earth community.
Doug Van Houten
Doug draws on the wisdom of the natural world, depth-psychology, eco-psychology, dreams, somatic knowing, poetry, and many pan-cultural, soul furthering practices that includes: The Way of Council, vision fasting, shadow work, symbolic artwork, trance dancing and conversations with the more than human world. Doug’s true calling in life is to support others as they uncover their own unique gifts and in so doing, transform their lives in service to what Thomas Berry called ”The Great Work” of our times. Doug is also an ardent beekeeper, a visual artist, a wily wanderer, a dream tracker, an emergent ceremonialist, a heart-centered activist, and a yoga instructor interested in new forms of somatic practice. Learn more about Doug on his website: https://www.bodyartsoul.org.
“There is a profound and unmet longing in contemporary culture for a life of deeper meaning, purpose, and fulfillment especially at this critical juncture in human history. ”
Sara is a healer of the Golden Web of Life, an Edgewalker singing the Frequencies of Soul, a ritualist in reciprocal relationship with the Holy in the Wild. As an improvisational singer, SoulStoryteller, and guide, she creates Fire Silk and Dreams Earth’s Web, in order to weave paths of golden threads into the underworld and between the worlds for others to follow. She tracks the Life – Death – Life energy of transformation and serves as a Death Doula to that which is dying- both in the personal as well as the collective. She is a Queer, both/and creature, welcoming of the exquisite multiplicity of Life beyond the Binary. Her capacity as a Gatekeeper allows her to presence the many manifestations of life (seen and unseen) blossoming beyond a human-centric perspective. She is a traveler with, a friend along the path – her work is both trauma-informed and compassionate, in service to healing personal and civilization trauma. She is also unafraid to be fierce, lovingly cutting to the heart of the matter – in service to ending the current Paradigm of Life-destroying-ways, as well as the dying that presages the renewal of Soul Initiation. Mystery, the Cailleach and the Dream guide her Muse to live a Soul-led life. Learn more about Sara on her website: https://www.saramcfarland.com.
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 soulguides. Read more about the Story of Animas.
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 40 years.
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.