Wildlife In the Nearby Faraway

IMG_8223Happy World Wildlife Day!

It’s a day to celebrate all our relations, and to promote and protect biodiversity and wild habitat.

Wild Nature Heart believes that having a deep connection to all our relatives in this beautiful home of ours is one of the best ways to protect wildlife in the long run. It’s also the only way we will survive as well.

Today, there are a lot of pics of tigers, bears,and elephants (oh my!) on social media, all of which are facing particular challenges. This year’s World Wildlife Day theme is “Big Cats,” which are under unprecedented threats due to habitat loss, conflicts, and poaching.

Bear on his morning commute in the High Sierra

Yet we also find that wild nature is always close by, right in our backyards and in the nearby faraway (to adopt and modify Rebecca Solnit’s phrase). We love the gorgeous big animals too (and we’ve had encounters with bears, lions, elephants), but we also love all the wildlife we share in our local ecosystems–how wonderful it is to slow down and connect with them.

Just in our area this week we have experienced rabbits, peregrine falcons, coyotes, foxes, 🦊, egrets, deer, owls 🦉, IMG_4610herons, snakes, toads, hummingbirds, fungi, wild herbs, finches, salamanders, hawks, pterodactyls, etc. Ok, maybe not that last one. And each one offers a wonderful opportunity for wisdom and communion, like the cormorant offering a night class on contemplative stillness.

What (who) do you connect with in your nearby faraway?

Dreaming Spring – March Update

Dear Earth Lovers,

We just sent Wild Nature Heart’s very first newsletter. We’re so excited to share our spring emergence and our new programs with our inner circle!

In the midst of a wonderful late winter rain blessing, Wild Nature Heart is dreaming spring. The new year has already gifted us with three full moons and a gorgeous lunar eclipse. And with the scent of magnolia and plum blossoms in the air and the longer days, it’s no surprise we are all dreaming spring. But it’s worth taking a sacred pause (a good idea any time), to note some of the highlights of the past year.

If nature teaches us anything, change is a constant and movement is perpetual, unfurling the next moment out of the old. 2017 was a year of transition and big growth for each of us–among other things this soul-rooted enterprise called Wild Nature Heart was born.

fern unfurlWe met a year ago as part of a small cohort of an on-the-land ecotherapy certification program with The Earthbody Institute, led by Ariana Candell. Little did we know then that the seeds were being planted for a new species wanting to unfurl and flourish. Every species, just like every individual, has its particular niche, its peculiar traits, and its special beauty. Since last spring we have both undertaken wilderness vision fasts and discovered a common calling.

We feel that a core wound of the modern world is disconnection — from wild nature, each other, and our truest selves. As a result, we live with a host of ailments, anxieties, oppressions, and a sense of alienation. Wild Nature Heart’s mission is to support men and women to reconnect with the wisdom of wild nature and their most authentic selves. We work with a variety of tools to do that, including wilderness journeys, nature connection retreats, council circle and mirroring, vision quests, and creativity workshops.

We hosted our first winter weekend retreat in the Santa Cruz redwoods. The theme was soul-rooted visioning of our dreams for the year and we couldn’t have asked for a more lovely group. We began our time together with an evening water blessing ceremony and ended with a labyrinth walk at dawn on the final day. In between we shared dreams, council circle, music, visioning with art, fire night, storytelling, and intention walks. But there’s probably no better way to get a flavor of Wild Nature Heart than by letting a few of the participants speak for themselves:

“I feel like the best version of myself. There are parts of me that I feel which haven’t shown themselves in years. On a soul level everything is very ‘lit up’ yet calm at the same time.”

“After participating in Katie and Ryan’s New Year Deep Dreaming Weekend, I started getting very excited about all the new possibilities of experiences to lead in my new context of women’s empowerment. I hadn’t felt excited and flowing like that in a long time!”

“I felt like I was in a new body with a different perspective of the world. I felt very humbled and wiser, I felt so blessed in so many ways – to connect with each of you in such a deep and authentic way, to be able to join so freely on several occasions with the watershed of that incredible forest.”

It was equally positive and powerful for both of us, an affirmation of Wild Nature Heart’s mission and why we are doing this work.

labyrinth2One of the joys of this work is to hold space for people to encounter their own soul growth in the context of nature. When done with intention and presence, wonderful things happen: people start hearing and honoring their true voices more clearly, our fragmented selves start to align in powerful ways, and healing unfolds.

We both feel deeply the sacred responsibility of the calling of holding space for this magic to happen and that is what Wild Nature Heart is all about. We are honored to be able to witness and mirror the transformations and are excited to be able to offer other opportunities in the coming months.

Read the full March Newsletter.

Be part of Wild Nature Heart’s Inner Circle, Subscribe to Our Newsletter.

Ursula Le Guin and Labyrinth Wisdom

labyrinth2For Wild Nature Heart’s first winter retreat in the redwoods of Santa Cruz mountains, we specifically chose a site with a labyrinth.

We began our time together with an evening water ceremony and ended with a labyrinth walk at dawn on the final day, just as the sun was rising above the horizon. In between we shared dreams, council circle, singing, dancing, visioning, fire night, storytelling, and intention walks.

A labyrinth walk is a powerful and mysterious way to walk into the truth of what lives inside us, physically and soufully walking step by step in the non-linear way that informs all of life.

A labyrinth consists of a single path that leads from the outside to the center, in a circuitous way. Unlike a maze where there may be dead ends and you lose your way, the labyrinth is a soulful tool that can help you find your way. You arrive near the center and discover that you still have a long journey ahead. Similarly, you arrive towards the perimeter only to find that you are snaking your way deep within once again.

We find that what one finds in the labyrinth IMG_7187is what one carries in, but that it can open up what is there to be seen or heard in new and powerful ways, by quieting the mind, grounding the body, and opening the soul and heart. Stepping out of the walking meditation, one finds a new center. Or maybe it was the old one all along.

Shortly after our time on the land, we heard news that the world had lost one of the most brilliant, fierce, and compassionate writers, Ursula Le Guin.

Le Guin was not just a major voice in American fantasy fiction, but a voice for imagining deeply earth-centered and humane alternatives, exploring through her stories and essays themes about feminism, utopias, sexuality, gender, truth-telling, and societal mores.

Here we share one of Le Guin’s poem that also addresses a person’s unique voice, the creative spark, spinning the sacred thread that shows the way as she walks through the labyrinth of life.

I see her walking
On a path through a pathless forest
Or a maze, a labyrinth.
As she walks, she spins
And the fine threads fall behind her
following her way,
where she is going
where she has gone.
telling the story.
the line, the thread of voice,
the sentences saying the way.

(from “The Writer On, and At, Her Work”)

RIP Ursula, Earth Sorceress.

Operation Ecotherapy Retreat: Success!

In mid-September, we hosted a day-long nature connection event at Earthrise Retreat center in the beautiful oak hills outside Petaluma. It was a pleasure to be part of the team producing it with our ecotherapy colleagues through The Earthbody Institute and to meet about 20 new people who felt called to reconnect to nature and themselves, to take a Sacred Pause. Hope to have a second iteration in the not too distant future!


Ground Yourself With the Wisdom of the Earth:
An Autumnal Ecotherapy Retreat

Join the EarthBody Institute for a day of connecting with nature, each other, and our authentic selves, in order to become better stewards of the Earth and to hold this moment together in community.

The profound and often troubling social and environmental changes happening in our world can make us all feel off-center and overwhelmed.Together we will step into the autumn season with boldness, wisdom, and groundedness with the aid of nature.

The Autumn Equinox marks the transition to fall, a time of letting go, harvest, and transformation. We pause for a moment, perfectly balanced between the lingering warmth and brightness of summer and the crisp brilliance of the cooler weather.

Join us as we explore this time of change together on the land, falling into earth’s wisdom – the wisdom of healing, groundedness, and flow. We return to earth as a way to return to ourselves.

Participate in a variety of sense- and soul-filled activities and workshops, including Embracing Change In Nature With Joy, Sacred Pause and the Love Affair with Nature, Self Expression through Song, Earth Poetry, Synchronizing Your Rhythms with the Rhythms of Nature, Resiliency and Grief, and Channeling Intuition in Nature.

We are women and men working together to shake off the old stories of our culture and live into the new stories of the Great Turning.

Cost: $85 standard, $50 student/low income
Includes a scrumptious organic lunch!

Register here:

Hosted by Ariana Candell and the Earthbody Institute, Joy Khoo, Ryan Van Lenning, Katie Baptist, Miranda Michelle, Constance Blake, & Joceyln Rose.

Workshops descriptions:

The Sacred Pause and the Love Affair with Nature: What happens when we really slow down, pausing to deeply see and listen to ourselves, others, and nature? We will explore recovering authentic connection buried just beneath the surface through group and solo activities.

Embracing Change in Nature with Joy: Learn from nature, connect with like-minded people, turn inward and collaborate with nature to create a group art piece.

Channeling Intuition in Nature: Do you often override your intuitive sense, rather than listen to and embrace it? Reconnect with your intuition through several meditative and somatic Ecotherapy practices.

Cultivating the Daily Gifts of Nature: How do we attune and become present to ourselves, each other, and the land that we live in? Experience simple somatic ways you can feel the support, inspiration and vibrancy of connecting with all that is around in your daily life. Live with more joy, meaning and satisfaction.

Honoring Grief With Nature: This is an opportunity to name and honor grief, whether recent or long-held from the past, using the healing natural world as our setting. Participants will tell their stories and experience the support of nature and others by creating a group healing ritual.

Synchronizing Our Rhythms With the Rhythms of Nature: Explore the fascinating scientific principle of entrainment, the tendency of rhythmic things (including heartbeats, brainwaves, pendulums, etc.) to lock into synchronization, vibrating in harmony with what they are in close proximity to. We will learn tools for refreshing our nervous system by reconnecting and entraining with the natural world and with each other.

Songwriting for Self-Expression in Nature: Tap into your musical and lyrical creativity with nature as muse.

Click Here to Register:

Backpacking In the Tuolumne

Our backpacking trip into the gorgeous Yosemite backcountry of Tuolumne was soul nourishing. We got to share this adventure with Ariana Candell, our intreprid ecotherapy certification trainer, and the person responsible for our meeting and beginning to dream into this work together in the first place.

The wilderness is an old frieIMG_6020nd, but I (Katie) was somewhat new to backpacking, so I was grateful to be traveling with my backpack experienced co-conspirator. Ryan is a trustworthy and grounded wilderness guide, and he helped us to feel comfortable and prepared to face the elements and the trail. We held sacred circle around a magical campfire, I sang and recited Robert Service’s Spell of the Yukon, we did solo medicine walks, and Ryan accompanied our hiking with his ukulele. We chose an enchanting trail to an enchanting lake called Polly Lake a few miles into the wilderness from Tioga Road.

We’re happily anticipating being able to take some of you with us next time we go!