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The Journey of Soul Initiation: A Field Guide for Visionaries, Evolutionaries, and Revolutionaries
by Bill Plotkin


This book is a guide to a forgotten but crucial spiritual journey, the Descent to Soul, that leads to personal awakening and cultural transformation.

Plotkin argues that the current environmental and social crises stem from a widespread failure in individual human development, particularly the loss of the journey of soul initiation. He defines the Soul as a person's unique ecological niche in the Earth community, a deeply personal and unique role each of us is born to play.

The book outlines the five phases of the Descent to Soul:

  1. Preparation: This phase involves honing the foundations of human development, cultivating our innate wholeness through four facets (the Nurturing Generative Adult, the Wild Indigenous One, the Innocent/Sage, and the Dark Muse-Beloved), and practicing Self-healing by embracing our inner protectors.
  2. Dissolution: This is the actual descent into the underworld, a psychospiritual space where the Ego is stripped of its old identity and stories. This phase can involve intense emotional experiences, grief work, wilderness immersions, and other practices designed to destabilize the Ego.
  3. Soul Encounter: This phase marks the meeting with Soul, the revelation of our mythopoetic identity, a metaphorical representation of our eco-niche. This is experienced as a vision or insight and can involve otherworldly encounters, vivid dreams, or direct contact with the natural world.
  4. Metamorphosis: The Ego undergoes a transformation in light of the revelation, shifting from an egocentric self to a Soul-centered agent. This phase requires actively allowing the vision to work on the Ego through various practices, including Experimental Threshold Crossings, which involve intentionally embodying the new identity in everyday life.
  5. Enactment: This is the final phase, where the initiated Adult actively embodies their soul-infused vision through acts of service to their community. This involves choosing and developing a delivery system, a role or profession that allows them to express their unique gift to the world.

Plotkin's approach is deeply rooted in the interconnectedness of the natural world, drawing upon indigenous wisdom traditions and contemporary practices of depth psychology and eco-therapy.

The book is a call to action for individuals and society. It argues that reclaiming the journey of soul initiation is the key to creating a more mature and sustainable culture in partnership with the Earth.

Key Takeaways:

  • Most people today haven't completed the journey of soul initiation and are stuck in a psychological state of adolescence.
  • The Descent to Soul is a challenging but essential journey to rediscover our true identities and ecological purpose.
  • By embracing our Soul, we can contribute to a more ecocentric and life-enhancing culture.
  • We are not alone in this journey, as our Soul, the Earth, and inner and outer guides provide support.
  • The process of transformation is messy and can involve pain, fear, and a complete shift in how we see ourselves and the world.
  • Embodying our Soul through acts of service is the ultimate goal and can lead to a life of deep fulfillment and meaning.

The book's approach is innovative and refreshing. It offers a compelling map and practical tools for anyone seeking to embark on this transformative journey.