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
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!!
Presence. Flow. Playfulness. Art Therapy. Holding the messiness. Music. Deep Listening. Brightness and vibrancy. Inner wilderness guiding.
These were a few of the gifts people committed to bring back to their community, planted as soul seeds in our council circle at our Deep Nourishment Gathering (co-led with Ariana Candell of The EarthBody Institute) among the redwoods yesterday.
After a relational protocol acknowledging the land and watershed that raised us, its original indigenous people, and a movement activity that had us embodying everything from the wind that teaches flow and black phoebes to resilient green grass and California poppies, we discussed the concept of cultivating Belonging.
Knowing that belonging to our gifts/powers/purpose is deeply fulfilling only when shared, which in turn cultivates belonging to community—we each articulated what we will be sharing more of in this new spring season.
Here’s a poem that emerged from one of the participants:
I’m the tree that feeds the folks
The wind that teaches flow
I’m the birdsong singing out
to let the people know
I’m the open meadow holding
space for all to spring
I’m bright and poppies growing
and every wild thing
Some are mirages,
some are mirrors,
and some are red-hot miracles
awaiting the eye of your heart.
Over the past year several people have reflected back to me that I (Ryan) have been a powerful mirror for them, through my presence & words. Enough times that it has made me really look in the mirror so to speak, to really claim it as one of my superpowers.
When I listen, I listen with all my ears—it’s like all my pores open up to absorb the information I am receiving, not just from words, but the body, symbols, & energies that are probably impossible to articulate into words. I attempt to listen deeply w/ mind, heart, soul, & body.
I take these skills into my work as a inner wilderness guide & poet. When I hold space for someone in 1-on-1 mentoring or in council circle, I have the best interest of the psyche/soul’s journey in mind. At times I see-feel someone’s sacred wound shining like a lighthouse on the shore. At other times I see-feel someone’s gifts in the form of an image or phrase.
When I am blessed enough to have poetry emerge through the soil of my psyche, it often can be like a dream, potent in expressing images & communicating messages exactly needed for the moment, whether for myself, another person, a group, or culture.
Recently, I had someone with whom I spent only three hours with tell me that a poem I wrote shortly thereafter struck to her core, & the poem saw her in ways and named things that no one else had. It helped in some way that even I don’t completely intellectually understand for her to continue deepening her soul journey.
I am of course still learning to listen. I am not always great—when I am not grounded, I am scattered. When I am not taking care of my own needs, I get hooked by my own stuff & can’t bring robust presence to others. But I trust & accept & am grateful for all the wild mysteries.
Indeed, I believe we are all mirrors for each other, & that it is necessary for our growing into wholeness. Of course we are also masters of projection, casting our own image onto others. But as clear mirrors, it helps us see ourselves, helping us reclaim abandoned parts. So here’s to claiming our powers & to really seeing each other!
“The day will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door….”
These words from the poem ‘Love After Love’ by Derek Walcott beautifully describe for me (Katie) that moment when we choose to stand fully in our own life, willing to offer the gifts that we are perfectly designed to give, with tender love for self and all that is.
I have this kid inside of me who wants to sing, climb trees, and play dress up. I believe that as adults it is critical that preserve that childlike innocence and play. Being an authentic adult is also about being willing to put on the mantle of leadership and share what you know. In that spirit then, I want to make sure that all our followers know about the Wilderness Rite-of-Passage program I’ll be co-guiding with Ryan (@ryanreturntotheearth) from June 10-20 in the Eldorado Forest, California.
If you’ve been following Wild Nature Heart and thinking, maybe-I’ll-be-ready-after…(whatever YOUR thing is), I want to tell you this—Life changes very quickly. I will show up as your guide with all my heart and soul, and do my level best to give you all I have to give. I’ll teach you what I know about embracing wholeness & showing up to your life & to the world with all the love you’ve got. I will hold space for you, sit with you in circle, listen to your story w/ the ears of my body, heart, mind, & intuition. I’ll tell you the absolute truth about what I see when I look into your eyes and gather up the shining pieces of your story.
I’m not going to try to talk anyone into going on a wilderness rite of passage program. I don’t know anything about where you are in your life journey or whether this is the time for you. What I can tell you is that wilderness rite-of-passage has been transformative in my life and believe that our culture is in dire need of ways to initiate ourselves and reconnect and live into our most authentic selves.
Throughout February, I’ll be talking to people who think a wilderness rite-of-passage program might be right for them, answering any questions that I can, listening your soul story, and taking full or partial payments to hold spots. If you think you might be someone who is meant to be on this program, I’d love to talk to you further—DM me at passageways@sbcglobal,net.
With love and wildness,
P.S. This photo of me was taken by my brother Clay Kasserman, who is an amazing photographer. It’s part of a photo shoot that he did with me recently to help me fuse my rock star and my nature girl sides together. 🙂