What We Do
Animas Valley Institute — founded in 1980 by Bill Plotkin — offers a rich assortment of journeys into the mysteries of nature and psyche, including soulcraft™ intensives, contemporary vision fasts, and training programs for nature-based soul guides. The Story of Animas
We stand on the threshold of a great unknown. Individually and collectively, we launch into an uncertain future — at once, both perilous and saturated with possibility. Our accustomed, culturally-determined roles and identities are inadequate to navigate the sea change of our time. Our collective journey requires a radical shift in the human relationship with the community of all life — a cultural transformation so profound that future humans might regard it as an evolution of consciousness. Safe passage requires each of us to offer our full magnificence to the world. Popular culture cannot help us uncover our singular gifts; contemporary institutions do not invite their expression. Our particular genius can be discovered only in an initiatory journey — an accidental or intentional descent into the mysteries of soul. Guiding the intentional descent to soul has been the unfolding work of Animas Valley Institute for 40 years.
Soulcraft™ skills and practices evoke the world-shifting experience of soul encounter — the revelation of our unique mythopoetic identity, an identity expressed through symbol and metaphor, image and dream, archetype and myth, an identity embodied in a mysterious story that whispers to us in moments of expanded awareness and exquisite aliveness. The shape and rhythm of this story reveals the hidden treasure that each of us carries for the world — a world longing for the transformative contributions of visionary leaders and artisans of cultural renaissance. Soulcraft practices spring from wilderness rites, depth psychology, ecopsychology, the poetic tradition, nature-based peoples, and from the wild Earth itself — and comprise a contemporary, Western, and nature-rooted path to the terra mysterium of soul initiation.
Animas Valley Institute offers multi-day, experiential explorations into wild landscapes and into the wilds of soul with the goal of discovering the meaning and destiny at the heart of each life. We are guides to the initiatory journey — the descent into the mysteries of nature and psyche where the husk of outgrown ego-identity is shed; where tricksters, demons, and perhaps angels are encountered; and from which a new self emerges as a vessel for one’s distinctive genius and world-transforming gifts. Although our work evokes non-ordinary perception and ways of knowing, it is not shamanism, nor is it primarily rites of passage, wilderness-based psychotherapy, or emotional healing. Our immersions are not designed to transcend the ego, solve everyday personal problems, or help people better adjust to — or be happier in — the flatland of contemporary Western culture. Rather, our intent is a deep-structure shift that matures the ego and elicits each person’s most creative, soul-rooted response to our critical, liminal moment in the unfolding of the world’s story — on the threshold of a future shaped by those who can see beyond our own time.
“Soulcraft” is a registered trademark of Bill Plotkin