Off the Rails

The journey from the dominant culture to exciting and meandering alternative paths to our own authentic and sovereign path. As we each individually step off the rails and into our uniqueness and wholeness, we are co-creating the new paradigms needed for The Great Turning.

Belonging to Our Purpose

WE BELONG TO OUR PURPOSE (Not the other way around)

When I talk about Deep Belonging, I often divide into belonging to Place, to People, and to Purpose. Or put another way, we cultivate belonging to the land and other-than-human kin, to community, and to our calling. Each is distinct, yet are woven together.

But Purpose isn’t something we go and get out there, let alone own. It doesn’t belong to us; WE BELONG TO IT. A number of things follow from this slightly different way to think about it, including a deeper sense of responsibility, as well as a deeper sense of belonging and vitality.

Our purpose is an energy of its own, an aspect of our Ecological Self, that wants to live THROUGH US.

The 6-week Deep Belonging Interactive Experience begins in January. There is a daytime course and an evening course.

Bless You Beautiful Artisan

This is for all you creative and courageous wild ones bringing your big heart, your beautiful gifts, and your embodied soul into the world that desperately needs you.

I see you. We see you. Keep showing up. Persist. Go to the forest, go to the cave, go to the sacred river for nourishment and renewal, but keep coming back, bigger and more powerful than ever. I know you will, because that’s what you’re meant to do. We need you. We build each other up because The Great Turning needs it.

Here’s a little reminder from Bill Plotkin:

“You’re attempting to bring mystery, wildness, deep imagination, and praise of the sacred (the natural) to a society obsessed with security, comfort, material wealth, and the ownership of things. The culture you live in consists mostly of commodities and objects, while all things you encounter are entities and subjects.

As an Artisan in an egocentric world, you have no guarantee that society will welcome your gifts. It’s possible that people will look upon your innovations or your original voice as odd, irrelevant, or crazy, or perhaps as subversive or immoral. Or you might do your work in complete obscurity and frustration, at least for a while.

In an egocentric society its easier to become discouraged in the always difficult work of creative innovation, beause its easier to convince yourself that no one cares about what you have to offer.

But this is just a strategy of the Loyal Soldier, who is still attempting to keep you safe by making you feel small. Thank him or her for his/her kind intentions, and stay on your course. The fact is, in an egoentric world, your soul gifts are needed EVEN MORE than in a healthy one.

Remember that self-doubt is as self-centered as self-inflation. Your obligation is to reach as deeply as you can and offer your unique and authentic gifts as bravely and beautifully as you’re able.

From the Artisan in the Wild Orchard chapter in Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World


A core orientation towards the world when living open and from our wholeness is a romantic one. It is inherently sensual, perhaps even erotic, in the sense of Eros—bringing our passionate love and deep imagination and curiosity to everyone (including every other-than-human sentient being) we meet.

I’m talking courting romance of all, the flowers and sunsets, the deep autumn reds and sexual lovers, yes, but also your friends, the bees, the seasons, the bark of madrone, the flowing creek, the otters, the marshy mud, the muse, the moon, your monsters, the godwit hunting aquatic worms!

Have you stared alluring into eyes of death?

And don’t forget about romancing your own beautiful and endless depths.

We are the great lovers with the world, with wild nature. This is a core pillar of Wild Nature Heart.

This orientation honors and restores the fundamental wonder and mystery and radical intimacy at the heart of all. We are in love, in awe, with the alluring world and it’s intoxicating vitality; and therefore we feel our own vitality and allurement.

And ‘wonder is an essential survival skill for the Anthropocene,’ as Robert Macfarlane says.

However, there are always depths to explore, in us…and in everyone else. This is bad news for us if want to figure everything out, or need certainty. But it’s fantastic news for us when we become great lovers of the world.

Diane Ackerman captures this so beautiful in A Natural History of the Senses, “It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery. However many of life’s large, captivating principles and small, captivating details we may explore, unpuzzle, and learn by heart, there will still be vast unknown realms to lure us. If uncertainty is the essence of romance, there will always be enough uncertainty to make life sizzle and renew our sense of wonder.“

Into the Cave

The season is turning, both outside and within. The cave is beckoning. We go to the cave to find solace and our own sacred. To find the Big Silence where we can hear ourselves–not the voice of society, not the voices of family and friends, but our own sovereign voice. We go to the cave for the dark descent into ourselves, to confront and embrace the wounds and monsters, but also uncover the shimmering treasures to bring back as a gift to a world in need. We go to the cave, not to disappear, but return to the world and show up in our unique way.

This is not a Cave full of gadgets and toys. This is the Cave of Yourself. You are done with distractions. You are done with destruction. You are ready to know yourself in all its grand ripples, all its wounds and powers. You are ready to be of service to people and your purpose.

This experience is for you if any of the following describes you:

  • You are ready to really know yourself and cultivate a deep belonging to your power, place, and purpose.
  • You are tired of fucking around, and ready to own your shit and get real with your wholeness.
  • You are exploring, or want to explore, your inner wilderness and eager to expand your toolbox of exploration.
  • You are longing for a deeper earth-centered, sensual, and meaningful life.

Over 6 weeks leading up to the Winter Solstice and into the new year, we will explore through Online Gatherings, exercises and hard work in between the following topics:

  • Deep Listening/Deep Belonging
  • Allying Yourself with Bear Energy (Fierce Purpose, Grounding, Hunting Your Wholeness, Power, Presence, and Protection, Unleashing Your Growl)
  • Knowing Yourself Like Guardian Oak
  • Wilderness Rite-of-Passage and Other Ceremony
  • Cultivating Your Wild Eros
  • Living the Seasons
  • Honoring the Darkness
  • Shadow Work/Embracing the Monsters

A key component of this experiences is having the opportunity to do a supported solo overnight or extended DayQuest on-the-land ceremony.through the framework of wilderness rite-of-passage.

Engage in Sense-based and soul-based exercises that help you re-connect to inner and outer wild nature and drop deeper into your body, senses, and aspects of your wholeness.

In addition, ALL participants in ANY Wild Nature Heart course series receives:

  • Private Facebook group to connect, share, learn, and ask questions
  • A copy of Re-Membering: Poems of Earth and Soul
  • Discount on future Wild Nature Heart Courses and Wilderness Programs
  • Substantial discount on the Annual Wild Nature Heart Gathering (Next one Summer 2020)

Cost: EARLY WORM $275 IF YOU REGISTER BEFORE November 17 (save $50)

(Regular price $325- After November 17)

Register and pay course fee below

Or Email: with your interest & send registration fee to PayPal.Me/WildNatureHeart.

(Note: Class limited to 6 participants)

There are two groups: Click here for Men’s Only cohort and here for Mixed Cohort.

About the Instructor:

My name is Ryan Van Lenning, Co-Founder of Wild Nature Heart, and I am an earth-lover with a deep desire to be of service in the work of re-connection, re-wilding, & re-membering. I started Wild Nature Heart to support people to re-connect with the wisdom of both inner and outer wild nature, to live their soul callings into the world, and to assist in the work of repairing broken belonging.

I am an inner/outer wilderness guide and poet (author of Re-Membering: Poems of Earth & Soul) and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest, certified as an Ecotherapist through The Earthbody Institute & Certified Wilderness First Responder through Foster Calm. Prior to moving to California 12 years ago, I taught Comparative Religion, Philosophy, and Environmental Ethics at Sinclair College in Ohio.

Recent Testimonial:

“Thank you again Ryan for your mentorship prior to this quest of mine. You empowered me to trust in myself, in the wild, and in the ceremony and it seemed so fitting to receive these gifts of yours just prior to a decent. I love and am sincerely grateful for your poem. It certainly helped give me courage to unflinchingly make those leaps over trees and off every known cliff and will continue to do so.

I feel super motivated to continue on this path of mine and stay open to all the wild mysteries that present themselves within myself and within this more-than human world of ours. And to taking the next steps in unfurling my own gifts and presenting them to the world.”

— Brady W., Mendocino, 1-on-1 Client and Course Participant

More Testimonials