“Having uncovered your soul image or story, you long to embody your soul in a way that engenders genuine and intimate communion between people, the land, the other-than-human beings. This is the way you’ll participate in the unfolding of the world’s soul. you know the world cannot flower into its full potential without each person, including you, playing the part each was born to play.” —Bill Plotkin

B9A84444-5E6E-41CE-AA54-2F0A8E25506E.jpegPlotkin’s work is an important tool in the Wild Nature Heart toolbox. The nature-based map of the psyche, the 8 stages of psycho-spiritual development (Wheel of Life), and a variety of soul-craft exercises are delightful & useful for excavating our unique treasures/soul gifts, leaning into our growing edge, & anchoring how we BELONG to the greater story.

Where are you at on your psych-spiritual journey? I locate myself as having been in the Apprentice at the Wellspring stage since I made a huge transition (Initiation) in my life in almost all ways two years ago. I became an ecotherapist, crossed the threshold in a Wilderness rite-of-passage. apprenticed myself to the land, to the craft of poetry, to deep listening, and to bringing people into wild nature to Re-Wild and reconnect to themselves. After founding Wild Nature Heart, and offering a variety of reconnection programs, after publishing two books of earth poetry (and material for several other books), after living intimately with Nature for two years, after Wilderness First Responder Training, I now recognize I have passed into the Artisan in the Wild Orchard stage, which is demanding something more and bigger.

This is the stage when we step more fully into our power by developing new cultural delivery systems to share the essence of our gift. It is the great Giveaway as art form.

That is why I find myself up-leveling my work & expanding Wild Nature Heart’s offerings & network, with a focus on earth-rooted teaching, 1-on-1 Mentoring, and Inner/Outer Wilderness Guiding—All with a goal of becoming more fully who we are, acting from wholeness, and embodying our soul gifts in the world.

This summer we are launching Wild Nature Heart Academy’s first class with a cohort of 8 people (see previous post), and the Say Yes to Your Wild Nature Heart Wilderness Backpacking Journey, both in August. If this work speaks to you, drop us a line, ryan@wildnatureheart.com.


Six years ago was the first day of my 10-week wilderness trek. The start of walking alone nearly 500 miles through the Sierra mountain range, carrying everything I needed on my back. It remains one of the most thrilling, grueling, and rewarding experiences of my life. I had 1 bowl and 1 spoon, a couple changes of clothes, no soap, no shower, no keys, no inbox for the entire summer. I formed a deep relationship with mountains and rivers, and as importantly, with my self. I became familiar with my own inner terrain.

It is a life-long lesson and reminder to start that grand adventure, whether that’s external or internal, or that big project or new direction your voices within have been whispering (or shouting!) about. For me, it’s the things we don’t do that we end up regretting.

From my journal entry, May 2013: “At last I depart for the grand adventure. I love that feeling of getting on a train for a new chapter, the motion, the unknown, the novel sites and smells, the anticipation of adventure. Life.

At 10,000 ft. I’m sitting on a marbled granite boulder atop a ridge separating three emerald lakes. All I hear is water flowing and trickling and birds chirping. Marmots play in the distance. It is Hot & sunny, yet snow rests on either side. On bouldering as a metaphor: sometimes your path is blocked…you only have to move over a little bit for a clear path through to appear. Sometimes the way up is the way down, and vice versa.”

(Real photo from the trip!)


Really excited about what’s emerging! We’re launching Wild Nature Heart Academy.

It’s still early, but I couldn’t wait to announce it. In a couple months I will be Inviting JUST 8-10 PEOPLE to join the first edition of Wild Nature Heart Academy’s introductory online course: RECLAIMING YOUR WILD NATURE HEART. This is the online version of the on-the-land version of the course that I will host in Humboldt County.

The interactive course is for people who are on the path of rewilding and cultivating a deeper belonging to place, purpose, and people. For those transitioning to a deeper earth-centered and sensual life and those unfurling a meaningful livelihood sharing your unique gifts that honors our earth home and our wholeness as people. And for those exploring their inner wilderness and eager to expand their toolbox of exploration, and wanting to share with others.

Participants will not only have a transformative, nourishing, and inspiring experience, but will also be in the first cohort who will help shape the Wild Nature Heart Academy. It is also an opportunity to be part of the growing edge of the ever-expanding rewilding and nature-connection/ecotherapy movements.

More soon on details as the curriculum is developed, but for a glimpse now: there will be 8 modules (on topics ranging from Deep Belonging, Deep Listening, and Stepping into Your Power, to Joanna Macy and The Work That Reconnects, the 4 Shields of Human Nature, and The Way Of Council), weekly video meetups, Deep nature and wild soul connection Practices and activities, guest teachers, 1-on-1 earth-rooted mentoring/inner wilderness guiding sessions, Assistance designing on-the-land experiences and creating a self-ceremony, poetry, and council circle with peers doing similar work and learning.

If this sounds like you, put a pin in it or DM me (ryanvanlenning@gmail.com) with your interest. More soon! 🤠

🌱Spring Emergence and The Great Turning

Dear Wild Nature Hearts

With migrating ducks and butterflies flitting about, the scent of cherry blossoms and lilac in the air, and brighter days, spring has Wild Nature Heart saying “Yes!” to the new season.

Quite a few new and vibrant leaves are emerging from Wild Nature Heart’s rested winter soil/soul, including developing more practical skills workshops (foraging, wild-crafting, backpacking, etc), beginning to grow a team to include collaborators with different skills and passions, weaving ecological/social justice values and indigenous struggles into programs, and launching a Wild Nature Heart school on Teachable.

But among the biggest news is that Katie Baptist, co-founder of Wild Nature Heart, is stepping down from her role as co-guide. It is with love and honoring her role in co-creating this business that we say goodbye and welcome her as one of Wild Nature Heart’s key cheerleaders. While we’ll miss her, it has opened up a re-imagining of what Wild Nature Heart is and what it can be. (See her heartfelt letter below.)

Wild Nature Heart is about re-connecting and living into our full selves so we can be of service in this time of transition. If we’re paying attention, the signals that we are in the midst of a Great Turning are abundant. We know we are facing ecological and cultural challenges of almost incomprehensible magnitude. But I don’t need to catalog what we are facing here, but rather point out that one way to look at breakdown is as a type of ‘positive disintegration’. That the the flip side of breakdown of the old is the build up of the new. Like the pupa stage of a butterfly, the entire body must disintegrate, before the imaginal buds form and the new creature (psyche/soul/butterfly/culture) emerges.

So also, if we’re paying attention, we can’t help but notice the phenomenal things taking place to re-connect us to the earth and to each other. Think Greta Thunberg, the climate prodigy who helped launch and unite youth and their followers (the adults) across Europe (and deserves a Nobel Peace Prize). Think Extinction Rebellion in the UK, bringing decisive direct action to the streets to demand a new way. Think the Sunrise Movement and the New Green Deal in the United States, pushing for a new energy economy.

Think the return of species to native habitat and repatriation of land to indigenous people. In my neck of the woods (Humboldt County), several wonderful things have warmed my heart and signal a different way of relating: the return of Tuluwat (Indian) Island to the Wiyot tribe by the City of Eureka, the pending return of the condor to traditional Yurok territory in northwest California, and the removal (and slated removal) of several dams on the Eel and Klamath Rivers. These types of renewals are happening across the globe, though they don’t get the ink and airtime they deserve.

Think earth elder and teacher Joanna Macy, who marked her own great turning this week by celebrating her 90th birthday this week (See below). And think all the ‘regular’ (read: extraordinary) people stepping into their power, lending their gifts, passion, and love to the Great Turning.

The paths to re-belonging and recovery are here. We and the earth need all of us to live our most whole and alive selves during this time.

One of the joys of this work is having the privilege to hold the space for people to encounter their own soul growth and unfurling in and with wild nature. When done with heart-centered intention and presence, the most magical things happen: we start hearing and honoring our true voices more clearly, our sometimes fragmented selves start to align in powerful ways, healing and re-connection naturally unfolds, and our inherent creative impulses emerge. I feel deeply the sacred responsibility of holding space for this magic to happen and am honored to be able to witness and mirror the transformations and learnings. I am excited to be able to offer many opportunities in the coming months, ranging from 1-on-1 Inner Wilderness Coaching and custom backpacking trips to workshops on wild writing, foraging, council circle, and deep belonging. See a bit more about each below and I hope to explore with you soon!

Read the rest of the newsletter here:

In all the best and wild mysteries,


Director of Creative Earthiness

The Great Turning – Joanna is 90

Yesterday earth elder and teacher Joanna Macy turns 90.

I’ve learned a lot of things from Joanna’s teaching, courage, transparency, and passion, but among them are 1)the absolute necessity of acknowledging the difficult feelings, the sadness and anger—now sometimes called eco-grief—as essential feedback of Earth/Gaia itself, and 2)How fortunate we are to be alive right now, to experience this disruption, this awkward initiation of humanity into the next way of being and relating, and to lend our talents and our broad shoulders to the wheel of the Great Turning.

Happy birthday and Thank you Joanna!! And thank you all who are living love over fear, sharing your gifts and your hearts for the healing of us all!!