17th – 22nd May, 2022
West Highlands, Scotland.
“The greater part of the soul lies outside the body’
– James Hillman
In recent times in the human story we have become severed from a sensuous and intimate connection with the wider natural world and our more-than-human relatives. This has led to consequences both for our own soul as well as the rest of the life we share this earth with. This course is an invitation to reconnect with the wider natural world and to explore the contours and expansiveness of soul through our relationship with the land, and to see as Hillman remarked, that in truth there is no separation between soul and earth.
In ‘The Soul Unearthed’ we will be camping out in the West Highlands of Scotland to immerse ourselves in a particular landscape where we will slow down into a pace of life governed by the rising and setting of the sun and a daily rhythm that invites a simplicity of relating to both inner and outer landscapes, and the relationship that unfolds between these.
On this course we introduce a nature-based model of human development: the four directions ecocentric wheel (see Plotkin’s overview below). The ‘wheel’ draws on generations of indigenous cultures’ intimacy with the wider natural world and is a model of human development that is based on careful observation and an intimate relationship with the more-than-human world. In this course we explore the movement from Spring to Summer, which in the human wheel of life is known as childhood. The healthy child develops through meaningful bonding with both the human and more-than-human community. The eco-centric task of this season and stage of life is to remember our indigeneity with the wider earth community; coming to know the myriad forms of life as our extended relations and sensing that the land is not just a backdrop for our human experience, but rather an intimate companion in our own maturation.
Each day we will work with this wheel in a similar manner to those who have gone before us, going out onto the land to find in the mirror of Nature aspects of ourselves reflected back to us. Through this we gain an increasing intimacy with those parts of ourselves that may have been unattended to, neglected or even cast into the shadows – those parts of ourselves that hold are waiting to be reclaimed. This is an invitation to re-embodying our wholeness, our vibrancy and our sense of intrinsic embeddedness within life and finding refuge, as elder Joanna Macy has said in this larger ground of our belonging.
Our daily rhythm will be supported by periods of contemplative or meditative practice emphasising awareness of a sensuous receptivity to life through our own body, and through our awareness of the larger body of the land that we travel through. Elements of Jon’s Young’s ‘core routines’ will also be offered in support of this sensuous presence with the land and it’s animal inhabitants. The practice of ‘council’ will be offered daily as a support for connecting more deeply with the small temporary human community that we will be creating. We also envision a solo day on the land to be a component of our time together and will weave in elements of self-generated ceremony in support of this.
An overview of the four-directions wheel we will use as a template for the program.
Rupert’s background is in environmental and outdoor education with an emphasis on experiential approaches to exploring ecological identity and personal agency. For several years he trained and guided with the School of Lost Borders (U.S.) in Contemporary wilderness rites of passage, and now offers this work here in Europe.
The other thread of Rupert’s livelihood centers on contemplative practice. He has practiced in the insight meditation tradition for over 25 years in Europe, America and Asia, and teaches at various retreat centers in Europe and beyond.
In recent years Rupert has sought to bring the fields of contemplative practice and wilderness immersion together. This has been supported by living and working at Ecodharma, a contemplative retreat community in the Spanish Pyrenees dedicated to the movements for social justice and ecological sustainability.
Rupert currently works with individuals and organizations offering a range of retreats and trainings that explore personal empowerment and resilience in service of creating a more just and beneficial human presence on this Earth.
Adrian is passionate about the wellbeing of the whole. He is a social entrepreneur and community builder. Adrian himself pines for a healthy mix between adventure (doing) and slowing down (being), both of which he brings into the retreats and expeditions that he runs. Adrian deeply enjoys supporting the balance in people’s personal holistic well-being, working with men’s groups and also guiding adventures and expeditions.
Adrian lives off-grid in southern Tuscany, Italy, where he is growing an intentional community. He is the co-founder of Way of Nature UK and is impassioned by the alchemical reaction of combining deep relaxation processes with Rites of Passage nature connection practices. He has trained and assisted in facilitating programmes with John P. Milton, and has been leading wilderness programmes for 7 years. Adrian is also a co-founder of The Visionaries, an organisation that creates nurturing school communities that support young people into healthy adulthood. Adrian co-founded and runs Evolve, a centre for growth and wellbeing in London, for 10 years and has deep knowledge of both urban and nature-based wellness practices.
He works on a host of other businesses and projects that involve being of service, supporting the emergence of a better world for our grandchildren’s grandchildren and having a great deal of fun and connection along the way.
Sophie is foremost a lover of the wild, within and without. She has followed training as a Wilderness Rites of passage Guide at the School of Lost Borders in California. Beside that, she has been practicing Zen meditation in the Korean tradition for several years, and has received initiation into Druidry and Celtic Shamanism.
Sophie grew up in the forests of the Belgian Ardennes, where she nurtured a strong connection to the land of her ancestors as a kid. After roaming wild places in the cities, she moved back to her village with a strong dedication to offer her life to the well-being and healing of this land. Out of this, Chamai came into existence: a nature-based learning centre, where she offers residential workshops and experiential journeys in and with Nature.
In her work, she always interweaves the power of ceremony with her soulful love for nature and people. She is passionate about pilgrimages, solo time in nature, silent retreats and all those experiences that bring together a good balance of adventure, presence and gentleness.
The price for the program including all activities, practices, accommodation and food: £600
We have a few bursary places available.
We really want to support people to participate. If you are challenged by your income please get in touch with us: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to apply for this mentorship, please complete this application form.
For more information please email email@example.com.
Equipment and Camping
We ask that you bring your own camping equipment for this programme. Please check our packing list to ensure you have everything you need.
We will be meeting at The Bridge of Orchy train station in the West Highlands, Scotland at 9am on 17th May. The programme will finish at 12 noon on the 22nd May.
We will send more travel information on registration to the programme.