Falling Off the Map: an Invitation

I’m both excited and curious about Wild Nature Heart’s new course container starting next month. Falling Off the Map is premised on the sneaking suspicion that we’ve exhausted the exhausting maps we’re caught in. That we are being invited to fall through inherited maps into new/old territories of being and relating and imagining.

It is oriented more around questions than answers, as too quick and certain answers might be one way we try to dominate mystery, maintain control, and manage our anxieties.

🌞How can we relearn to honor and listen to/with/as Water? As a being in its own right, with fluid intelligence and the source of life?

🌞What if we lived and loved from a space of deep time?

🌞What if we apprentice to slugs, practicing S.L.U.G. (Slow Life Is Unparalleled Greatness)?

🌞What if we kissed other-kin in the center of our cells?

🌞What if grief is a sacred portal calling us back home?

🌞What if lichen can help complicate our notions of identity as individual selves?

🌞What happens if we sit with the bare shit in the woods?

🌞What if “Wonder is an essential survival skill for the Anthropocene”? (Robert Macfarlane)

🌞What if this civilization is already dead? To what/whom shall we give allegiance?

🌞What if we called our anxiety desire, and let it be a garden? (Natalie Diaz)

🌞What if the interpersonal is political is interspecies?

🌞What if instead of living in someone else’s tired imagination we poured our longings into a new collective dreamshed?

FALLING OFF THE MAP: Trickster Practice In the Great Composting is an 8-week interactive course dedicated to proliferating imaginal buds and practicing ways of being beyond the inherited coordinates of Modernity, through an animist, ecospiritual, liberatory lens.

Over 8 weeks we will explore together through Online Gatherings, Council Circle, Emergent Dialogue, Poetry, apprenticing to water, slug, and lichen, dream council, and integration activities.

The style is emergent, playful, curious, awkward, vulnerable, & honoring.

DATES: March 24-May 12TIME:  10am-12pm PST | 6-8pm GMTWHERE: Zoom

If this alluringly stirs something in you, Register to join Or drop me a line: ryan@wildnatureheart.com


💧Recite the eon-long poems in our blood
💧Relish our grand and gratuitous re-enchantment
💧Kiss the other-kin in the center of our cells
💧Allow prophetic artistry to germinate from our magnificent failures
💧Waltz whimsically with all the big and little deaths
💧Let our inner cops out of jail
💧Caress each other’s voluptuous sacred wounds
💧Give mad meanders to ourselves and others as sacred gifts of holy unscripted dream-frothing
💧Embrace every subtle turn in the thick now, and every now amidst each paw print in the turn
💧Inhabit the inexhaustible sky within our extended nervous system
💧Enlist the species of our dreamshed ecosystem as agents of co-liberatory remembering
💧Activate magic metabolisms acquired and acrobatic
💧Eat the long shadow into ourselves like one walking from dawn to noon
💧Evoke erotic enzymes as engines of transmutation dissolving imperial incarcerations
💧Feel through to the furry and ferned fingertips on the landscape, caressing life
💧With delicious dendritic swarming map new cartographies of animist aberrations
💧Drink and be drunk by more wild water 💦


Winter Solstice blessings!

May we relish deep rest and be nourished by the slow gift of fruitful darkness, wooing and embracing the dark parts of us into the circle of Self ⭕️. May we nurture the inner fire on our darkest nights. May we honor the returning light and bless the gifts we hope to embody in our next season, greeting Sun with a smile and song.

I. Sip the Season Darkly

Darkness has arrived
wrapping its inky cloak
across the season of our lives

long shadows and owls
stand tall and salute
the arc of autumn’s slow song
becoming winter’s long march

asking us not skip too quickly
over the hour

with an eager eye grasping
towards cherry blossoms
awaiting on the other side

Drink deeply from the season,
they say

Drink from the cup overflowing
with the sweet & fruitful darkness

Sip the season darkly
in its slow embrace

Wisdom hidden from summer’s glare
may yet pass our lips
should we have the thirst for it

The bright and busy world goes under:

We go to the cave, the secret one
in the mountain of ourselves
seeking stillness

and listen for it—
the true voices amidst

The Silence.

Can you hear them?

II. Within the Cave Something Pulses

We’ve been here before.

Many times—as far back
as it will be forever forth.

The Big Rhythm holds it all.

Within the cave something pulses.

We hear it, feel it, even now

that which deepest dark cannot smother
and even winter’s hands cannot touch

tender tendrils of a luscious vine
bearing the wine of our heart

Some secret vial
distilled for this very hour
to sip the season brightly

A Remembering—Aha!

Sun too misses its lover earth
and cannot too long stay away.

Like you, Sun was meant for this: to shine.

To not share that big love is a wounding.

So in this darkest hour
the sun knocks on the nearest horizon
and announces The Return with a steady beat:

“Dear Love, I’m Here.”

Which is exactly what we find
written on the walls of our cave:

“Dear Love, I’m Here”

As we open new eyes
like the first breath after coma

and though it’s just a whisper now
it is enough to start it all again
and again…again….again…


“You, darkness, that I come from
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything-
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! –
powers and people-

and it is possible a great presence is moving near me.

I have faith in nights.” – Rainer Marie Rilke

Befriending darkness can take many forms. In an over-illuminated world, could it be that we’ve let go of some of our ancestral connection to the gifts of night? Some have even proposed that because of light pollution, kids growing up without the wisdoms and mystery of the night sky are deprived of something essential to being human. Could we begin to treat darkness as a long-lost lover with whom we can reconnect?

1)Noticing Illumination

Practically, we can begin to notice how our easy access to nighttime illumination in our homes and neighborhoods can override our body’s messages or the season’s recommended daily allowance of darkness. Or what about that all-too-common modern urge to scroll our phone before we lay our head down for the night? Where are we banishing darkness? What effect do these habits have on our nervous system? Our quality of sleep? Our natural rhythms?

2)Silent Night Walk

Just what it sounds like. Find a nice, safe area to take a meander when it is dark. What do you notice that you don’t notice in full visibility of daylight, in yourself and the surroundings? If going alone does not feel good, go with a friend and make a commitment to keep part of the walk in silence. 

3)Dark Bathing

You’ve heard of forest bathing. You’ve maybe flirted with rain bathing. Dark bathing is  like sky-gazing but you sit or lay in complete darkness. You allow yourself to float on the waves of darkness, becoming permeable to its soothing waters. In darkness, our perception of form dissolves, which can allow us to experience different textures inside and out.

4)Invoke your inner slug

We might spend time with slugs, snails, mushrooms or other slow creatures, or evoke their image and energy. Can we meet the slow ones at their pace? Sometimes even watching a video of them regulates my nervous system and brings out a deeper breath.

For regular things you do, try it 80% of your normal pace. Now how about a half of the speed? Do you notice any resistances within to letting go of freneticism and list-making?

This isn’t about not getting things done. But about bringing presence to what is being done. We can also practice delayed responses and pregnant pauses, becoming comfortable with silence, not filling the space. 

5)Sense Walk (see handout in week #2)

Evoking your other senses while covering your eyes

6)Saying no/saying yes

To support our own pace, we might practice saying no to another’s rhythm, and say yes to your own. For some, this is actually the hardest, because of ingrained people-pleasing coping mechanisms, though it can be where the real juice is. 

This is where we also notice narratives that arise and accompanying emotions like guilt. How can you also invoke your inner slug and fungi to help compost those narratives and emotions?

7)Slow Eating and Eat for the First-Time Challenge
How would you approach a banana if you’d never seen one before? A pomegranate? A few years ago I started doing a video-taped “eat for the first time challenge”, where I encounter a fruit or vegetable as if I’d never seen or tasted it before. It was meant to be more humorous than ecospiritual, but it was a good way to experience with beginner’s mind. It also re-awakened the simple awe and mystery of the things we put into our bodies everyday. An extension of this can be to bring to mind all of the processes and people, human and not human, that it took to get that particular food to you. Guaranteed to keep us rooted in gratitude and slowness.

8)Befriend the Smalls and Nighttime Creatures
What about those ladybugs? That blade of grass with one bulging dew drop? That snail and the piece of lichen they are munching on? Or how about the unseen, but heard critters in the night? The owls and coyotes?

Have you ever noticed that when people are asked to envision an animal ally it’s often a majestic bird or mammal, like a jaguar or eagle? I remember when slug and soil and beetle came to me, it felt like I was no longer overlooking a whole world under my feet (literally).

Don’t forget the Smalls in your basket of Whos
Don’t forget the smells when you’re looking for clues
Don’t forget your nose when you’re searching for hints
Don’t forget the sense of all of the scents
Don’t forget your ear, to put to the ground
Don’t forget the slow when you forage for sounds
Don’t forget to see from the snail-point-of-view
Don’t forget the Smalls in your basket of Whos

Wild Nature Heart October Update

Dear Wild Nature Hearts,

A few days ago, I woke up feeling overwhelmed. I sensed my imagination waning. Perhaps you can relate to that sensation of constriction that can arise when you’ve been digesting too much about climate catastrophes, shameless capitalist exploitation and commodification, patriarchal domination and supremicist abuses of all kinds. The energies of both anger and grief swirled in me, that these systems of impoverished imagination are running rampant over so many lives, that it doesn’t have to be this way.

I wondered how to deepen my role in enriching our heartstorming for co-creating systems that support life and liberation. Then I took/gave a sacred pause with mycelium and fungi (see Mycelium Gratitude below) that were newly emerging after the first greatly appreciated rains of the season. The yellowing bay leaves among the redwoods and beautiful slugs and snails joined the conversation. They helped re-invigorate an imagination that had been temporarily truncated by dominant/dominator culture.

I was reminded of all the unseen, unlifted and beautiful work and play that is being done in service of Life and Liberation. How both slow and rapid processes are involved in breaking down the old and building up the new. How growth can be slow like giant trees adding ring upon ring over great stretches of time or quick like mushrooms popping up over night with sudden exuberance (puhpowee, in the Potawatomi language, according to Robin Wall Kimmerer).  

How unseen networks link whole ecosystems, non-human and human. How intimately connected seemingly far-flung people and events are. For example, how intricately bound up the women and girls uprising in Iran against an abusive regime is 

to struggles in the United States for women’s right to bodily autonomy and growing resistance to patriarchal censorship and control, to black liberation struggles for reparations and against police brutalities, to indigenous struggles for sovereignty, #landback, and the rights of river and salmon, to Ukrainian people’s resistance and and workers everywhere flexing their muscles for dignity. These are mycelium webs of mutual liberation.

As Rebecca Solnit writes in her book ‘Hope in the Dark’:

“Mushroomed: after a rain mushrooms appear on the surface of the earth as if from nowhere. Many do so from a sometimes vast underground fungus that remains invisible and largely unknown. What we call mushrooms mycologists call the fruiting body of the larger, less visible fungus. Uprisings and revolutions are often considered to be spontaneous, but less visible long-term organizing and groundwork-or underground work-often laid the foundation. Changes in ideas and values also result from work done by writers, scholars, public intellectuals, social activists, and participants in social media.” 

I would throw into this circle all of us treehugger tricksters, wild wind whisperers, full moon mystics, water wizards and sensual witches, heartbeat healers, all of us getting in the ‘good trouble’ of putting our shoulders to the wheel of the Great Turning in our unique way, especially when we link our gifts to collective change.

Solnit concludes, “It seems insignificant or peripheral until very different outcomes emerge from transformed assumptions about who and what matters, who should be heard and believed, who has rights. All that these transformations have in common is that they begin in the imagination, in hope. To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.”

Autumn is a season of deepening. As we continue to apprentice to slug and mycelium, to listening better to the more-than-human world and those growing liberation, we practice slowing down to be with what is here. It enables us to take the next right step, and to build the capacity to hold the charges and changes at our doorstep, personally and collectively.

Thank you for reading. May we belong to earth’s season, may we belong to the season of our lives. May we keep our muscles of imagination strong, vibrant, and full of surprises. 

with spontaneous emergences and the slow growth forest of us,

read the full October Newsletter: