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


The sun setting can be a daily practice to let go of things that we are still holding on to too tightly.

The old way of holding things
sank into the sea
with the diving god

and sprouted dawnwings
as an owl flying out of one hand

gentle dawnfingers
caressing the earth with the other

with mycelium strung between
finding nutrients in every thing

I barely had a chance to say goodbye
to the old way

Before the way to say goodbye
became the treasure
at the bottom of each breath and day
the bottom of each moment’s play

Which was also how to pray hello
and mean it
like one of the great lovers
of the world

Without fists or fortresses
and only a cosmos to call home


Sunday’s Full Moon Hike was absolutely fantastic and powerful. After a sacred pause in silence with the moon shimmering in the waters of the bay and a couple earth poems, eight of us up on the rock immersed ourselves in a discussion on the theme this month: Hunting Our Wholeness.

Everything in nature tends towards wholeness, towards its unique and powerful expression. Everything in Wild nature is unabashedly, unashamedly itself.

What is it in us that can get in the way of our own Wholeness and self-expression? Can you imagine a river saying, “Well, I’d like to go to the ocean, but what would the red alders think of me?” Or the Sitka spruce wallowing in self-doubt about sinking roots and growing new bright green needles? What if the purple flower hid behind its thistles?

There was a time when I was unaware of whole facets of myself. Slowly, and often painfully, I discovered tools, contexts, resources both within and without that could help facilitate my expansion. When I learned some of that, I still had plenty of those bogeymen of doubts and anxiety about the perception of others if I was too (_____ fill in the blank).

Nowadays, I take plenty of moon and tree and river medicine and practice waxing my wholeness continually, knowing that I am not and the world is not served by hiding.

As the bats flitted about and harbor buoys rang out, the moon lent its bright wisdom to us while we shared individual experiences of hunting our own wholeness, as well as the ways we hide, how we sometimes get in the way of our own light.

Moon is an Elder that teaches many lessons, including how to stand in one’s power. Yes, there are times to wane, to rest, to hide–all important modes and energies. But there are times to claim one’s fullness and round out one’s wholeness.

It reminds me of a quote by Bill Plotkin:

“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.”

With the light shimmering impossibly across the bay, one moonbather shared a poignant haiku:

Broken and broken
again on the sea, the moon
so easily mends

And so, with rolling waves completing the soundscape, and a great horned owl meeting  us at the end of the trail to tuck us into our dreamscapes–we departed a little more rounded, a little more still, and a little more mended into our wholeness.



We’ve held a few gatherings now called Ecogrief Healing Circles: Honoring Our Pain and Resiliency (now monthly in Humboldt, and soon an Online Circle), and it is clear: there is a dire need for these gatherings. But another thing is equally clear: this isn’t just about ecogrief, the pain and fear we feel, this is about love and connection. It’s about reclaiming our birthright as humans, which is community, which is joy/awe/pleasure in nature’s beauty and abundance and all that life has to offer, which is our natural Wild Resiliency.

“Pleasure and Joy is our birthright!” one of the participants exclaimed. Damn it’s good to hear that. Yes, we feel the grief. Do we have to/should we live in it/from it/wallow in it all the time?We feel it to move it through and become more whole. The sunset and sunrises still offer their stunning tributes and pull us from our slumbers. The wind still has secrets. Connection to others stimulates us. The wild river meanders through our souls.

We gather in Circle to hold the Uncertainty. And in this approach of humility is an acknlowledgment that we don’t know. We don’t actually fully know EITHER that EVERYTHING’S FUCKED, or EVERYTHING’S GONNA BE ALRIGHT. We are fallible, with limited knowledge. The blessing of that is that we can come back to the simple things that our heart wants and needs to do anyway for the cultivation of belonging and healing and the co-creation of the world we want.

“I’m always moved by the authenticity with which people choose to show up in circle. Each time I have left with gratitude for the deep exchange, which unfailingly includes so much compassion and love for our planet and each other, renewing hope and instilling a sense of community around the challenge ahead of us.” Kelly Noble, Wild Nature Heart Circle Co-Facilitator

We gather to hold the breaking down of the old and the birth of the new simultaneously. Witness the new huckleberry bushes, ferns, and mushrooms out of the rotting redwood. Life/nature wants to thrive. It knows how to find balance. Wild Nature (and in our own bodies) teaches rebirth moment to moment, daily, seasonal, epochally. RESILIENCY – both our own and Earth’s. Endless.Brilliant.Wild.Resiliency.

“I loved the experience! A combination of spiritual and therapeutic and the natural beauty couldn’t have been better. I felt like I shared so much that was important that I could join a circle with more people now and do more listening and thinking about what others are going through. Thanks again!” –Nan S., participant.

The thing that continually floors us and makes us keep coming back: How we are medicine for each other. How much wisdom, heart, perspective, creativity, each of us brings.

We gather to hear each others’ stories and experiences. This is fundamental human need: to witness and be witnessed in our authentic truths. At the end of each sharing, we say, “We hear you.” Because we do.

Equinox Blessings: Embracing the Season

I have to admit, autumn is my favorite season. But I may say that at the beginning of every season. 🙂

I wasn’t always like that, I would often resist the changing of seasons in various subtle ways inside. Perhaps it was a reflection of things things I was resisting inside me. Over the years of reconnecting with wild nature, I’ve learned to notice the ways I resist change, and learned (still always learning) to not just welcome, but fully embrace every season. It’s one way I practice being present and belongingness.

I honor it by Harvesting the fruits of my life with an attitude of gratitude. By slowing down and making room for reflection and interiority. By confronting my shadows. By letting go of the old stories, false or no longer true belongings, and ways of being and seeing that take me away from my Wholeness. And by celebrating the miracle and mystery of the changing wild nature of things both outside and inside.

May we embrace the season. May we belong to earth’s season, may we belong to the season of our lives.