6/23/11: The Wheel of Life and the Great Turning

Bill Plotkin published Nature and the Human Soul in 2008. This was our primary reading during our stay at Whiterock Conservancy.

This book had me at hello. In chapter 1, “Circle and Arc: The Wheel of Life and the Great Turning,” Plotkin introduces three premises:
1) “A more mature human society requires more mature human individuals.
2) “Nature (including our own deeper nature, soul) has always provided and still provides the best template for human maturation.”
3) “Every human being has a unique and mystical relationship to the wild world, and the conscious discovery and cultivation of that relationship is at the core of true adulthood.”

The process of “the Great Turning” begins with the shape or pattern of our current human story and challenges us to realize a crucial new story emerging. In order to discover this new story and create a co-evolutionary future for humans all other Earth-beings we must confront our collective immature human expression. Plotkin articulates the reality that most adult humans in the western world have not truly moved beyond the stage of adolescence, and actually suffer from a variety of adolescent psychopathologies –“incapacitating social insecurity, identity confusion, extremely low self-esteem, few or no social skills, narcissism, relentless greed, arrested moral development, recurrent physical violence, materialistic obsessions, little of no capacity for intimacy or empathy, substance addictions, and emotional numbness.”

This has led to a society without appropriate rituals and ceremonies to help young people transform into mature adult leaders wise elders. Thus, in his book he offers a model of human development in the form of a “Wheel of Life” that outlines stages of development from early childhood to late elderhood. This book asks the question, “What do the stages of modern human development look like when we grow, in each stage, with nature and soul as our primary guides?”

From the book’s website:

“’Nature & the Human Soul’ introduces an innovative developmental psychology that shows how fully and creatively we can mature when we allow soul and wild nature to guide us. Plotkin presents a model for a human life span rooted in the patterns and rhythms of wild nature, a template for individual development that ultimately yields a strategy for cultural transformation.”

“This book explores nature’s ways — and every vital culture’s ways — for raising healthy children; preparing adolescents for the initiatory adventure that opens the way to mature, authentic adulthood; and enhancing the cultural artistry and fulfillment of adult and elder lives.”

I am excited to receive what Plotkin has to offer throughout the remainder of this book. Thank you Travis for bringing this into our course. I feel like this reading provides the necessary synthesis of ideas that we can bring home (to ourselves) with what we’ve explored and experienced throughout this course and practically utilize in our ontological process. The Wheel seems to provide a workable and relevant model geared toward the fulfillment of what Deep and Transpersonal Ecology outline.


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