CONVERSATION with BILL PLOTKIN–Journey of Soul Initiation

Fundraiser for IMAGINING TRIBE: Youth Summer Immersion

April 8, 2021

6:00 pm EST on Zoom

Join us for a LIVE conversation between Tracey Forest and Bill Plotkin as they discuss Eco-awakening, the Journey of Soul Initiation, Mythopoetic Identity, Wholing and Self-Healing, the Human Development Crisis and Cultural Evolution.

This event is a fundraiser for Spirit Hollow’s new summer immersion for young people ages 16-22, IMAGINING TRIBE: A Summer Immersion for Youth Changemakers and Cultural Evolutionaries (July 2021). Once you make a donation, you will be sent a Zoom link for the LIVE event, which includes original music, the 90-minute conversation, and a Q and A with the staff of Imagining Tribe.

Make Your Donation and Get the Zoom link

You will also have access to the recording of the event.

Our intention is to fully fund this July immersion so that up to 20 young people can attend without worrying about finances.

Our crowdfunding campaign kicked off in late February and we are off to a good start.

“I believe the root cause of the dire crises and challenges of our time — all of our currently  cascading environmental and cultural collapses — is a widespread failure in individual human development,” writes Plotkin. “This has been true for so long and in so many societies that most  people today are unaware of this breakdown in the natural sequence of human maturation, a  failure now plainly evident — as witnessed in the current epidemics of psychological  dysfunction as well as social and ecological degradation.” ~ Bill Plotkin

Plotkin’s just-released book, The Journey of Soul Initiation, explains that this developmental dilemma stems from  disconnection from both our “outer” and “inner” natures and the loss of the journey of soul  initiation — a psychospiritual adventure that connects us in the most profound way to both the  Earth community and the source of our deepest humanity. According to Plotkin, if this journey is  revitalized and reclaimed, it can transform everything for us both individually and collectively.  

This loss is our single gravest human and planetary crisis because the journey of soul initiation is the  path to true Adulthood — to becoming a cultural visionary and evolutionary — and true Adulthood is  essential to a genuinely healthy, mature culture,” writes Plotkin. “This journey will be a core element of  any future society capable of growing a flourishing culture in partnership with all other species and life  processes of Earth.” 

Philosophically, Plotkin’s core (and radical) move is to frame “soul” as an ecological concept — with all  the psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual implications that unfold from there. 

The central and pivotal episode of soul initiation is the Descent to Soul, which takes place in a stage of  human development most contemporary people never reach. The Journey of Soul Initiation provides a  map of the terrain of the five phases of the Descent, a map based on the journeys of thousands of women  and men the author has guided since 1980. The phases of the Descent include the dissolution of earlier identity, the revelation of destiny or mythopoetic identity, and the subsequent metamorphosis of the ego into that of an initiated adult. Each phase is lavishly illuminated with stories from the people the author  has guided, as well as the Descent experiences of W. B. Yeats, Carl Jung, and Joanna Macy. The book  includes a thorough exploration of Jung’s personal “confrontation with the unconscious” and introduces a framework for understanding his Red Book that contrasts in significant ways from contemporary  Jungian perspectives.

In some ways, the journey of soul initiation has been lost and is now simply being rediscovered, yet in  other ways, the journey of soul initiation is itself in the process of evolving and a new developmental  possibility for humanity is emerging,” writes Plotkin. “Either way, our species is clearly in the midst of  an initiatory interlude — and consequently, our planet is as well.” 

The Journey of Soul Initiation is Plotkin’s first written presentation of the five phases of Descent to  Soul, a model that differs significantly from his previous writings and from any other model for  initiatory odysseys, including Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey.” In its pages, readers will find a  thorough description of the most essential things he has learned over the past forty years about the trail  to true Adulthood.  

Although the Descent to Soul — the expedition across a vast plain, then down into the depths of what I  call Soul Canyon, and eventually, with good fortune, up and out the other side — can be hazardous and  harrowing, it is also joyful and engaging,” writes Plotkin. “What waits on the other side of that vast  plain is so much more interesting and inspiring.”

Bill Plotkin, PhD, is the author The Journey of Soul Initiation. As a depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and founder of western Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute, he has led thousands of women and men through nature-based initiatory passages. His previous books include SoulcraftNature and the Human Soul, and Wild Mind. He lives in Durango, Colorado and you can visit him online at

You’ll find him on social media here:

Tracey Forest
Co-founding Director of Spirit Hollow
As one of Plotkin’s apprentices, Tracey Forest (KeyTurner) knows the territory of the Journey of Soul Initiation from the inside. Five years ago, Tracey took this journey with Plotkin and his partner, Geneen Marie Haugen in the Yearlong Soulcraft Immersion.  Under their guidance, Tracey traveled through Soul Canyon over many months, being seasoned, crossing thresholds, withdrawing from mainstream culture, being dismembered and delighted, terrified and inspired, descending into the fecund darkness of a vision fast in Utah and encountering her Soul, her niche, her destiny as KeyTurner, one who stands in portals with a lantern, a set of skeleton keys, singing people across thresholds into the vast terrain of their own souls.  She is still be shape shifted and metamorphosing, learning from Mystery, honing her delivery systems and training to be a Soul Initiation Guide with Plotkin and the Animas Valley Institute.  One of her delivery systems is to assist our young ones in completing the tasks of the first three life stages so they are prepared for the Cocoon and for the descent to soul so that they may emerge as initiated True Adults ready to serve the world in their own unique ways.