Reclaiming the Wild Soul

From Bruce W. Thompson, Adjunct Faculty, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA.

Reclaiming the Wild Soul Book Cover ArtI am happy to announce that my wife Mary Reynolds Thompson’s latest book Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness is now available. Read on for a description, info on her upcoming book launch and to watch her spectacular video.

If you’re looking for a new kind of soul journey, this book provides the answer.  Structured around Earth’s five great landscapes of deserts, forests, oceans and rivers, mountains, and grasslands, Reclaiming the Wild Soul guides us to back to the place where we see our own true nature mirrored in all the fierce beauty and challenges of Earth herself. Weaving personal story with metaphors and explorations, it is simultaneously self-help and a courageous call to action. It is written for all those disillusioned with our hyper-paced, high-tech world, who decry what we are doing to the Earth, who feel the tug of their own wild souls longing for discovery and mystery — a new, yet ancient, way of being human.

Mary’s first book, Embrace Your Inner Wild, with photographer Don Moseman, was a finalist for best nature book of 2011. Reclaiming the Wild Soul is gaining even more attention:

David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous; Becoming Animal) writes how her “book works simple magic to bind our broken souls back into full-round rapport with the more-than-human terrain.”

Angeles Arrien (The Four Fold Way), writes “Reclaiming the Wild Soul leads us on a journey of exploration, though imagery, poetry, story and creative imagination, to connect back to the five archetypal landscapes in Nature, and reconnect to our own inherent Nature.”

Bill Plotkin (Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche) observes how “Woven with enchanting stories and wise counsel, Reclaiming the Wild Soul lavishly supports us, at this time of global crisis/opportunity, to return, emboldened, to Earth and to our own human wildness.”

Kathleen Adams (Director, Center for Journal Therapy and Editor, Expressive Writing: Foundations of Practice) states, “With the urgency of Rachel Carson and the lyricism of Terry Tempest Williams, Mary Reynolds Thompson brings startling clarity to the myriad ways the earth’s archetypal landscapes mirror  our own pain, struggles, resources and triumphs.”

Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods; The Nature Principle) notes that Reynolds Thompson “explores the ‘the breath of wildness,’ the reality of kinship that exists just beyond the reach of our senses. She has commenced what Thomas Berry called the Great Work of the 21st century: reconnecting to the rest of the natural world, for meaning. For soul.”

You can purchase a copy of Mary’s book here:

You can watch her beautiful book trailer here:

You can attend Mary’s book launch at Book Passage in Corte Madera on Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. Learn more here:

You can download your free Wild Soul Mandala and check out Mary’s schedule of workshops, readings and other events by visiting her website:

Please join with me to celebrate the launch of this special book and share this email with anyone else you think might be interested in learning more about Mary’s work and writings.

Thank you!

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New Story Summit at Findhorn Foundation, Scotland

This sounds fantastic! From

Although the summit is fully booked with a long waiting list, New Story Hub, a fledgling resource centre, offers a number of other ways for you to participate in this exciting event.

We are inviting people to group together to form Summit Hubs, to join us online in the first three days and then to create their own summit.

Or join us as an individual online during the event via Findhorn Live.

You can also post on our facebook page, subscribe to our youtube channel and follow us on twitter. In this way we can all generate a powerful event, building practical foundations reaching far into the future.

New Story Summit
Inspiring Pathways for our Planetary Future

Special Event
27 September – 3 October 2014

For people, generally, their story of the universe and the human role in the universe is their primary source of intelligibility and value. The deepest crises experienced by any society are those moments of change when the story becomes inadequate for meeting the survival demands of a present situation.

Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth

As we change our story, we change our world.

We humans find our way by story. Our stories shape us, hold us and give meaning to our lives. Every so often it becomes clear that a prevailing story is no longer serving. Now is such a time.

If we do not create a positive, realistic picture of the future, we will not live into it.

Our modern world faces unprecedented challenges and the increasing fragility of once robust systems – social, economic, religious, political and ecological. This visibly accelerating disintegration of the story lived since the industrial revolution can feel overwhelming. Caught in this apparent helplessness, contemporary narratives of the future oscillate between blind denial and apocalyptic devastation. Neither will help us live the transformational Great Turning that is still – though maybe only just – within our grasp.

Our Summit is designed to support the emergence of a coherent new story for humanity and to produce practical, collaborative ways to live this new story.

This Summit is our call to people of all ages and cultures:

  • those already living their edge of a new story
  • those who have carried the best of the old story forward, the ancient and indigenous wisdom
  • those investigating threads of possibility
  • those seeking inspiration and insight as to what could be: to gather with open hearts and minds to open to and experience what we can co-create together.
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Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal

Bay Area Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal
Sunday, October 5, 2014, 10am to 2pm
“The Forum,” Laney College
900 Fallon St., Oakland
(Lake Merritt BART. Located on north campus off 10th St, across from the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center.)
FREE though registration is required

The Bay Area Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal will examine the violations of nature’s rights and human rights caused by the fossil fuel industry, using Chevron’s refinery in Richmond as a case study.  By highlighting the impacts on people and nature from the Chevron refinery and “Big Oil” activities, the Tribunal will also place on trial current legal and economic systems that advance the destruction of nature.

Tribunal judges include:

  • Carl Anthony (Breakthrough Communities; Urban Habitat)
  • Brian Swimme (California Institute of Integral Studies; Journey of the Universe)
  • Anuradha Mittal (Oakland Institute)
  • Courtney Cummings (Arikara and Cheyenne; Native Wellness Center, Richmond)
  • Bill Twist (Pachamama Alliance)

The day will also include:

  • The “Web of Life Labyrinth,” created by local artists
  • Local music; food for purchase
  • Insights from Bay Area ecological justice, human rights, local economy, indigenous, women’s, and other groups.

Save your space for this important event; register now at:

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Sudden Discovery and Thomas Berry by Dr. Margaret Berry (sister and aide)

Of the 151 tributes to Thomas Berry in the remarkable volume produced this year (2009) by Herman Greene and his Center for Ecozoic Studies, many contributors view their experience of Thomas’s thought as a sudden, powerful opening to a hitherto unsuspected, major, and life-altering  reality.  That reality might be expressed as the unity of a sacred Earth community in which humans are [but] the climactic part in a unified, interdependent, evolutionary, and divinity-revealing enterprise.

The suddenness of such an event, the abrupt coming upon a great truth with powerful impact and implication, has been treated memorably in one of the greatest short poems in English, John Keats’s 1816 sonnet On First Discovering Chapman’s Homer.  Limited to Latin in his linguistic education, Keats had, until 1816, known Homer (the Iliad and the Odyssey) only through eighteenth-century heroic-couplet translations lacking the freedom and power of Homeric narrative.   One evening a friend introduced 20-year-old Keats to George Chapman’s 1616 prose translation of the Homeric epics.  The friends reportedly sat together till daylight reading the translation, Keats “shouting with delight at some especially energizing passages.” At breakfast the next morning Keats’s friend found the sonnet on his breakfast-table:

On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer
Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Essentially an analogy, the sonnet offers at its primary level three realities: 1) the explorer (mistakenly named) Cortez and his crew wandering about the Isthmus of Panama; 2) their sudden coming upon the Pacific Ocean, of which they had heard from natives; 3) the Pacific Ocean itself in all its expanse and grandeur.

At the secondary level the analogy equates 1) the explorer and his crew with Keats struggling to access the essential Homer; 2) the sudden sighting of the Ocean with Keats’s sudden grasp of the authentic Homer by means of the Chapman translation;  3) the greatness of the Ocean itself with the expanse and power of Homeric poetry.
Thomas Berry’s role in contemporary cosmological thought, I propose, is for many analogous with Chapman’s role as portrayed in the Keats sonnet.  In other words, for many Thomas has functioned as a translator of cosmological structure and history in leading people to see, to grasp, to understand for the first time the ultimate truth about human relations with nature, the universe, specifically with Earth. What I propose is, in short, that Thomas’s role may be appreciated with special clarity when seen as an analogy of an analogy.

In this analogy, at any one of the three levels proposed, there is the basic concept of seeing in its multiple sense of physical, intellectual, and psychic vision; ergo the repetition in the poem of the long  ì (eye) 14 times, culminating in the ecstatic “wild surprise, silent” near the ending.  Subterranean connections with the ego I, also, cannot be dismissed.  It is the poet’s gift so to organize sound, sense, and intuition into a perfect whole.

And nowhere did Keats better exemplify poetic genius than in his refusal to change the factually mistaken, but artistically exact, name of Cortez.*  A lesser poet, by a “correction,” might have weakened the impact of the episode, not only metrically and phonetically, but also in the sense of character extension raising the poem from a particular to a universal insight.  Other technical aspects of the sonnet resonating in Thomas’s “translation” have to do with images of vastness, as planets swim through the heavenly expanse mirrored in the Ocean below, and wherein see and sea are inextricably intertwined.

Like Cortez and his crew, we humans explore unfamiliar terrain for clarification of the truth about who we are, where we are, why we are, and how best to reach the ideal.  Like Keats we often resort to the arts, sacred and secular, in our search for adequate answers.  Like him we often need a translator to interpret and understand the answers we receive.  For many Thomas Berry performs that task, and in that capacity has freed questors from the anthropocentrism vitiating recent history and from excessive emphasis on Redemption to the detriment and diminishing of Creation. He has, in fine, bridged the centuries-old chasm between humans and nature so that the part is reconciled with the whole and the ideal is achieved of a mutually enhancing relationship between humans and Earth.

Margaret Berry
December 2009

*Keats had been reading in William Robertson’s 1777 History of America about both Vasco Nuñez de Balboa (founding of the Pacific Ocean, 1513) and Hernán Cortez (entering the Valley of Mexico, 1519), and in the heat of inspiration confused the two factually without in any way altering the sense of his statement.

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Personal Reflections on Exploring the Ecozoic

September 9, 2014

I am continually orienting myself, asking myself again and again, “What exactly is the definition of Ecozoic? What was it that Thomas and Brian intended? Where do they suggest we head?”.

This recently brought me back to the chapter “The Ecozoic Era” in The Universe Story (pages 241-261). I was impressed at the beginning of the chapter with how strong the critique was of our present historical situation. Thomas would often refer to this as “our current moment”. I tend to be someone who is more interested in the hoped-for better future than with the dark, sober, dirty machinations of the military-industrial-techno-growth-consumerist culture.

I was thus given pause by their focus on the critique of modernity. I felt uncomfortable with it. It seems that activating the Ecozoic era is as much about understanding how we got ourselves into this situation, knowing the story, if you will, as it is about creating hopeful solutions for the future.

I find myself resisting learning the details of our history. It is so very hard to tolerate. I have not developed the spiritual, capacity to metabolize, process, integrate the ever-growing shadow of this society. The daily news presented by big media is unbearable. Teilhard might say I have yet to Divinize the Passivities I experience.

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Thomas Berry Colloquium – May 2014 – Chapel Hill, NC

Links to audio recordings and associated visuals for lectures presented at the Colloquium on Thomas Berry’s Work: Development, Difference, Importance, Applications, held May 28-30, 2014 at the FedEx Global Education Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC.

A summary page listing all talks with a brief synopsis:


Straight into the Internet Archive page complete with technical details:

I recommend starting with these three talks, below. An MP3 audio file of the recorded talk should begin upon clicking the title of the talk.

Wednesday, May 28

Thursday, May 29

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The Day My Daughter Was Born, Part II: A Gestational Epic

[For Calliope]

My daughter leapt into the world

After nine months of uterine back flips

(and back pain)

Writing graffiti

on the walls of her womb

Head-first-diving into life

like a supernova.


My daughter dove into existence

on a day when all over the world

people were dying before they lived

not paying attention to their wide, wondrous world.

She cried out to them

(I heard her)

Wake up! I am here!


My daughter brought forth her world on a day like any other:

the wide, soft earth cried out beneath the suffering of her children

who–some of them–took their blink-of-an-eye existence & danced upon suffering

singing Calliopean songs of rebirth.

Even on the day her father tearfully called his mother

sitting by his brother’s deathbed.

We needed some good news, she said.


My daughter brought forth an entire universe

from her speck-of-dust soul–

We had waited so long for her:

Since the day I saw her mother,

on that porch,

drinking homemade wine

So many years ago


Since the day when I watched my own little brother

(my daughter will do better than I did)

come home from the hospital

Since the days when the ancestors wandered over seas and mountains

to lose themselves

and to find

Each other.


Still longer, we have waited:

Since the days when the entire universe was written

in a single book

–the original speck-of-dust–

& danced its dance, sang its song

& wrote its new poem: stars pressed across the sky

(is this what you painted on the walls of your womb?)


& now, you are here:

Like the rest, you will get only a blink of an eye

(I cannot lie)

but we’ve waited for you so long

to sing your Calliopean song.

We needed some good news:

& you are it.

September 18, 2013

From the website of a student of Brian Swimme’s;

Posted in Art, Celebration, Poetry, Prayer, Reinventing the Human, Role of the Human | Leave a comment

World Elephant Day – August 12

Let’s have a civilization that celebrates a different creature every day! Can you imagine – nothing but a constant world wide party as we dance and sing and celebrate ALL the creatures and their role in our Earth community. It could be like the Indian Festival of Color – all the time!

Festival of Color - India - Decorated Elephants 1347111479

or… A world without elephants?

Elephant IMG_7708-41

I was in a “SoulCollage” workshop last week where a gal was mesmerized by a close-up photo of the happily-twised trunk of an elephant. She chose the image to represent her spiritual teacher from whom she had received many gifts. Will future generations know the embodied and spiritual gifts of our elephant companions?

In the mutually enhancing world of the Ecozoic all species have the right to habitat and to participate and contribute to the Earth community.

Celebrate World Elephant Day, August 12! Have an elephant party?

Short article at ENN:

Long article at the website of World Elephant Day:

Posted in Celebration, Earth Community, Ecological Civilization, Ecozoic Era, Elephant, Wild | Leave a comment

Kumar at Resurgence Favors Ecozoic Over Anthropocene

Satish Kumar, Editor in Chief at Resurgence / Ecologist magazine of England, favors the word Ecozoic over Anthropocene to better describe our current moment. His cover story and editorial from Issue 279 • July/August 2013 is copied and linked below. Thank you to Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker for bringing the article to our attention at the Sophia Center Summer Institute 2013.

The Ecozoic Era

We are not in the Anthropocene Epoch, but entering into the Ecozoic Era.

The first principle of ethical and ecological living is to live in harmony with oneself, with the fellow members of the human family, and with all the species of the Earth community. Unfortunately, rather than living in harmony, the industrial societies have been busy controlling, dominating and reshaping the natural world to suit the industrial design and financial greed of modern civilisation. Now it is being proposed that we should name our age ‘the Anthropocene epoch’, meaning ‘the age of Man’.

The Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen, who proposed this new name, has very good intentions. He believes that by highlighting human centrality and the impact of human activities upon the natural world we might wake up and do something to save the planet; we might develop a new sensibility for sustainability. However, many ecologists and environmentalists are worried about this proposal and are asking a fundamental question: by naming a geological epoch after ourselves are we not committing the ultimate act of human arrogance?

There is a reason for such questioning. Human hubris has been in evidence before – even when intentions may have been good. For example, the Whole Earth Catalog once proclaimed that we are “as gods and might as well get good at it”. And more recently, Mark Lynas named the human species “the god species”.

One way or another the industrial societies possessing powerful technologies have come to believe that they can and have conquered Nature. Now Nature must be managed, manipulated and even looked after – but only so that it can better serve the ever-increasing demands of industrial societies.

In this context even the well-intentioned idea of anthropocene could prove to be dangerous. Writing in the Spring 2013 issue of Earth Island Journal, Kathleen Dean Moore of Oregon State University says: “We should use words cautiously. Words are powerful, magical, impossible to control. With a single misguided phrase they can move a concept from one world into another, altering forever the landscape for our thinking.

“So no, not the ‘anthropocene’. That name completely muddles the message.

“Proud, solipsistic creatures that we are, we can convince ourselves that we are shaping Earth… The very notion that humans have become the shapers of Earth makes Earth guffaw in swirls of violence.”

In the same issue of the Journal, author Ginger Strand writes: “The idea of the anthropocene plays too slickly into the hands of the techno-utopians who will argue that since we are at the helm, we might as well put our hands on the rudder and steer. The very word ‘anthropocene’ makes too little accommodation for anything else besides us; it’s not going to help us live with more grace in a world full of things we can’t control, things we don’t know, things we might never know… What we don’t need is another word that feeds our idea of the all-powerful controllers we dream – or fear – we are.”

The late eco-theologian Thomas Berry proposed another name, which is much more humble and hopeful. He suggested that we name the coming epoch the Ecozoic. He urged humanity to repair the damage it has inflicted on the Earth and to bring about an era that is respectful of Nature, self-renewing and ecologically sustainable. He envisioned a new age in which humans and all other species live in harmony with each other. (Somehow Thomas Berry’s suggestion has not caught the attention of scientists and academics in the same way as Paul Crutzen’s.)

Once upon a time people believed in God; they believed that God would solve all their problems. Today we have a new god: the God of Technology. The industrial mindset has come to believe that we will find solutions to all our problems in technology, and somehow the name ‘anthropocene’ leads us towards that conviction, but in this issue of Resurgence & Ecologist Charles Eisenstein takes the view that technological fixes have severe limitations and that the problems created by technology cannot be solved by technology. He says we have to find other ways. Similarly other authors also highlight the need to reconnect with Nature and thus pave the way to the Ecozoic Era.

The choice is ours. Either we can embrace the suggested Anthropocene epoch, or create a new Ecozoic Era.

Satish Kumar is Editor in Chief at Resurgence & Ecologist

Posted in Anthropocene, Ecozoic Era, Editorial, Resurgence & Ecologist Magazine, Satish Kumar | Leave a comment

Feral – Searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding

Editors Note: Yes, bring on the wolves and whales!

A book by George Monbiot

Published by Allen Lane, May 2013

The book introduces a radical new type of ‘hands-off’ nature conservation called Rewilding, and takes the reader on George’s own journey to re-connect with the natural world.

Discussing his fiercely positive vision for a grand-scale restoration of Earth’s ecosystems, George will advocate for the need to let nature take control of its own regeneration, drawing on breakthroughs in ecological science, Gaia theory and a wealth of his own research, to supports his arguments. Recognising that we as humans are embedded within our ecosystems, he will also demonstrate how rewilding can offer humanity a new and positive form of environmentalism at a time when we desperately need one, proving that a hopeful future for our planet, and ourselves, is possible. George Monbiot is a journalist, environmentalist and author well known for his environmental and political activism. He has written a number of bestselling books of which Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the ­Frontiers of Rewilding is his latest. George is also the founder of The Land is Ours- a peaceful campaign for the public right of access to the countryside in the UK.


Press Reviews

Philip Hoare in The Sunday Telegraph:
“The book justifies its subtitle with rhapsodic descriptions of forays into the natural world. Whether kayaking off the British coast or walking the Kenyan bush, Monbiot – who studied zoology at Oxford – focuses our minds on what we have lost, and what we stand to gain. … as a passionate polemic, it could not be more rigorously researched, more elegantly delivered, or more timely. We need such big thinking for our own sakes and those of our children. Bring on the wolves and whales, I say, and, in the words of Maurice Sendak, let the wild rumpus start.”

Posted in Book reviews, Earth Community, Ecozoic Era, Human Flourishing, Human-Earth Relations, Land Ethic, Language, Living the New Cosmology, Mystery, Reinventing the Human, Wild | Leave a comment