Soulcraft™ & The Nature Based Map of the Human Psyche

Soulcraft™ is a cross cultural set of skills and practices developed by Bill Plotkin, founder of the non-profit Animas Valley Institute ( in collaboration with other Animas guides. These practices are designed to facilitate the life-shifting encounters with soul — our deepest and most genuine and authentic selves.

Soul is that vital principle or mysterious animating force within all things — it expresses who we are and what is uniquely ours to bring into the world. It is that sacred realm of our most heartfelt knowing and the ultimate significance of our own lives. Soul beckons to us though dreams, symbol, metaphor, art, nature, emotion, mysterious images and curious allurements. It is the source of our deepest longing and like an underground river it often remains hidden even from ourselves. Soul is the life force that arises in us ... and it takes us on a wild journey from the uniquely personal to the transpersonal and back again to birth gifts that are uniquely ours into the world. Soul is the deep imagination of the cosmos emerging thru each of us.

Our habits and cultural influences often keep us from hearing the emanations of soul. And soul can seem risky to our egos and our everyday way of being. This is because soul might ask us to do something that fundamentally changes our routine and predictable lives. For those who say yes to soul it is possible that a door will open that will be impossible to close again. Yet, despite how scary this might be, we sense that what often lies ahead is what David Whyte refers to, “the one life that waits beyond all the others. ...”

In this work I guide/coach others to not only heal and whole themselves, but to also gather up all the images, patterns, stories and numinous threads that make up their unique larger soul story. What we are going for here is what can be called our mytho-poetic identity. In other words, the larger myth that guides our life and gives us meaning.


The Soulcraft™ practices that I use are:

  • Soulcentric Dreamwork
  • Deep Imagery or Active Imagination
  • Journaling
  • Self-Designed Ceremony
  • Council
  • Vision Fasting
  • Symbolic Artwork
  • Trance Rhythms and Drumming
  • Wandering in Nature
  • Mytho-Poetic discovering
  • Storytelling
  • Poetry
  • Conversations with the Sacred Other


The Nature-Based Map of the Human Psyche

This map was conceived by Bill Plotkin and is a valuable tool in allowing nature and soul to guide us into a deeper relationship with the various sub-personalities or intra-psychic energies of ourselves. Using this map I will guide you to understand and to integrate these different parts. This map is a nature-based model because the human psyche grew and evolved alongside nature and it is nature. So it reasons that when we delve into the human psyche that we take nature along with us as a roadmap. This model is based on the 4-directions of North, East, South & West and each contains various energies and aspects of nature which mirrors the cycles and aspects of our own inner nature. The Nature—Based Map invites us to an evolved eco-consciousness.


The Knight

The knight rides forth in coal-black steel
into the teeming world.

Outside his armor everything is there: sunlight and valley,
friend and foe and feast,
May, maiden, forest and grail,
and God himself in a thousand forms
to be found along every road.

But inside the armor darkly enclosing him
crouches death. And the thought comes
and comes again:
When will the blade
pierce this iron sheath,
the undeserved and liberating blade
that will fetch me from my hiding place
where I’ve been so long compressed—

so that, at last, I may stretch my limbs
and hear my full voice.

—Maria Rainer Rilke