We are delighted to be offering three special Animas Valley Institute Programmes in Scotland in 2017. Firstly the welcome return of Bill Plotkin and Geneen Marie Haugen offering a first ever Advanced Soulcraft Intensive. Then, for the first time in Scotland, Bill Plotkin will be guiding Nature and The Human Soul, his visionary Wheel of Human Development. Last, though certainly not least of the AVI offerings, is the first Vision Quest in Scotland on the magical Isle of Iona. See below for further details and contact Wendy for further information and application. Finally there is a new programme ‘Earthsong, Awakening Humanity’s Wild Notes’ guided by Rebecca Wildbear, Doug Van Houten and myself in Cairngorms National Park. See below….

~ Programme 1 ~

Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche: Advanced Soulcraft Intensive- August, 2017 Scotland

Argyll, August 21, 2017 – August 25, 2017

Cost: £745.00 (Includes accommodation from 20th, food from lunch 21st)

Venue: Torran Bay Hostel

Guides: Geneen Marie Haugen, PhD., Bill Plotkin, Ph.D

In August 2017, in the incomparable Scottish Highlands, we will offer “Crossing Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche,” – an  “advanced” version of the Soulcraft Intensive for people prepared for a radical immersion in the enigmatic dark waters of soul. This intensive is designed for those with previous Animas experience who have cultivated the resources of what we call the four facets of wholeness, and those whose primary longing now is for a first or deeper experience of soul encounter — the revelation of one’s unique mythopoetic identity, an identity expressed through symbol and metaphor, image and dream, archetype and myth, an identity embodied in a mysterious story glimpsed in moments of expanded awareness and exquisite aliveness. Not intended as therapy or healing, this advanced Soulcraft Intensive assumes participants have previously attended to their foundational work of wholing and Self-healing.

Navigating our lives according to the deep currents of soul is a way of participating in the resacralization and rewilding of the world, and a way of subverting the outworn, life-assailing cultural directive to consume and out-compete. It is a way of participating in what Joanna Macy calls the Great Turning. The capacity to navigate by soul is greatly amplified through practice in community over a period of days (or weeks or months!).

Crossing Into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche will gather an outlandish band of wanderers, tricksters, and pilgrims to explore and cultivate practices to bring awareness to the deep soul stream. We will offer our attentions to the land, our unrestrained blessings and praise, our laments, thundering questions, our madcap and sacred ceremonies.

Our intention is for the consciousness-changing practices of soulcraft to move deeper into our bones and breath; to be more firmly rooted within us when we return to our everyday lives. We will closely attend the particular ways the landscape erodes, stirs, startles, shapes, and opens us, as if some wild possibility for our individual lives is evoked by the interactive field of place, creatures (including ourselves), and practices. For much of our time together our attention will be turned outward toward the world in recognition that our particular psychospiritual niche — or soul — is enriched and enacted in relationship with the Others.

Naturally, we will be carrying a basket of soulcraft practices such as dreamwork, solo ceremonial wanderings on the land, council, deep imagery journeys, trance dance, and more. The specific practices we engage — and their timing — will spontaneously emerge from the depths that are stirred individually and collectively as we descend deeper into the currents of soul. The guides will offer individualized invitations that emerge from your own mystery journey.

Again, this is an advanced immersion, suitable for those who have previously encountered hints (or full blasts) of soul, and who are resourced enough with their four facets of wholeness to wander more deeply into the world. An application is required.

We will meet where the veil between the worlds is thin, where ancient oaks prevail and pike mingle; where you can walk up in the hills to views across the Islands at Torran Bay Hostel on the suitably named south Loch Awe in Argyll. The venue is a few hours drive or bus journey north-west of Glasgow. We will be just a few miles away from the valley of standing stones at Kilmartin and you can place your foot where Ancient Kings of Scotland were throned. Accommodation, with high quality two bed en-suite bedrooms, is available from 20th and full catering from lunch on 21st.


Geneen Marie Haugen, PhD

Geneen Marie Haugen, PhD, grew up a little wild, with a run-amok imagination. As a guide to the intertwined mysteries of nature and psyche, she delights in multidimensional listening, and in offering perceptive questions, ceremonies, escapades and reflections that help expand a sense of our own possibilities as individuals (and as a species), and deepen our experience of participation with an intelligent, animate Earth/cosmos. Her writing has appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth; Thomas Berry: Dreamer of the Earth; Written River; Parabola Journal; Kosmos; Langscape; and The Artists Field Guide to Greater Yellowstone(forthcoming). A former tipi-dweller and whitewater river guide, she now lives amidst the creatures and features of southern Utah’s sandstone labyrinth. She is committed to the world-transforming potential of the human imagination in collaboration with the Earth community.

Bill Plotkin, Ph.D.

Bill Plotkin, Ph.D., is a depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and agent of cultural evolution. As founder of western Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute in 1981, he has guided thousands of women and men through nature-based initiatory passages, including a contemporary, Western adaptation of the pan-cultural vision quest. Previously, he has been a research psychologist (studying non-ordinary states of consciousness), professor of psychology, psychotherapist, rock musician, and whitewater river guide.

In 1979, on a solo winter ascent of an Adirondack peak, Bill experienced a call to adventure, leading him to abandon academia in search of his true calling. Bill is the author of Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (an experiential guidebook), Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (a nature-based stage model of human development through the entire lifespan), and Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche (an ecocentric map of the psyche — for healing, growing whole, and cultural transformation). He has a doctorate in psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.


ToranBayHostelScotlandTorran Bay Hostel

Torran Bay Hostel is part of Torran farm which is a 1600 acre hill farm , with stunning views over Loch Awe and the Western Isles.





~ Programme 2 ~


Nature and the Human Soul; an Experiential Exploration of the Soulcentric Development Wheel

Argyll, 28 – 31 August 2017

Cost: £500 including accommodation and food

Venue: Torran Bay Hostel

Guide: Bill Plotkin, Animas Valley Institute 

Anchored in traditional four-directions wisdom, contemporary depth and archetypal psychologies, and twenty-five years of nature-based soul guiding, the Soulcentric Developmental Wheel (SDW) is a new ecopsychology of human development and cultural transformation. It’s a blueprint showing how richly we can grow and mature when soul and nature are embraced as our wisest and most trustworthy guides. It includes an integrated set of developmental guidelines that can help every human mature into an adulthood of visionary leadership — precisely what we need in this century if we are to create a just, compassionate, and sustainable world.

A life-span model of development from infancy through authentic elderhood, the SDW presents eight distinct stages of life and shows how these stages are almost always independent of chronological age, biological development, cognitive ability, or social role. Rather, the movement from one stage to the next comes about through progress with psychological and spiritual tasks that are specific to each stage. The SDW presents an achievable vision of a contemporary way of life that holds soul-discovery and genuine contribution to the more-than-human community as its most central features and goals.

(If you are a previous Animas participant familiar with the 4-directions-based map of the Self and the sub-personalities — used on many of our programs — please note that the SDW is something quite different and complementary.)

During this intensive, we employ talks (with handouts), conversation and story telling, and experiential exercises on the land as we explore the SDW and its applications to education, parenting, rites of passage, psychotherapy, personal growth, and cultural change. You’ll discover how to use the SDW to clarify your own next steps of soul-infused development and learn a set of principles and practices by which you can align yourself with the lifelong journey of growing whole.


~ Programme 3 ~

Scotland Quest – September 2017

September 2, 2017 – September 13, 2017

Cost: £1949.00

Venue: Iona Hostel

Guides: Doug Van Houten, Rebecca Wildbear, M.S.

“There is here today
a bigger presence…
The Great Silence.
I hear it, palpable…
deeper than stone, wind, waves and clouds
deeper within earth
and Universe.
Lying on rose granite
watching ever-shifting Beauty
l surrender to
The call,


ISLE OF IONA, for many, many centuries has been and continues to be a place of sacred pilgrimage; a place whee Druids and Celts have lived and practiced on the land’ a place where the veil is thin and visions are thick. A fabulous opportunity has arisen to Vision Quest on this deeply Mysterious Isle, staying at the eco award winning Iona Hostel before and after solo time on the West land.

This contemporary Western embodiment of the ancient, pan-cultural vision fast is a dynamic wilderness rite for men and women seeking greater depth and clarity about life purpose and meaning. As a rite of initiation, the quest is a ceremonial descent to the underworld, in which you die to your familiar way of belonging to the world, uncover the passion and wisdom of your soul, and retrieve the gift that is yours alone to bring to the world, enhancing personal fulfillment and genuine service.

The Animas Quest catalyzes the encounter with soul by temporarily displacing everyday consciousness through five primary means: (1) solitude for three or four days and nights while (2) fasting (i.e., drinking water only), (3) being fully exposed to and enfolded within the forms and forces of nature, (4) enacting a series of ceremonies, and (5) employing a set of practices (soulcraft) that support you in crossing into the mysteries of nature and psyche.

Most often, our quests take place over a total of 11days, 8-11 of which are spent in the wilderness. Preceding your time of solitude are five full days of preparation activities that enhance your ability to benefit from the fast. The first two and a half days of these five may be held at a retreat center or car-camp before we journey to our wilderness base camp (or, on some programs, remain at our car-camp).

During the five preparation days, we work with dreams, poetry, deep imagery, ceremonial drumming and dance, dialogues with nature, the way of council, and other practices to help us slip out the door of our everyday lives and access our own deeper, wilder currents.

The heart of the quest consists of the solo: three days and nights without human companionship in nature, fasting, engaging in personal ceremonies, saying yes to the mysteries of soul, tending the true mythos of your life, praising and grieving, and birthing a vision. Upon your return to base camp, there are three days of reincorporation activities, preparing you to embody among your people what you received on your fast. The last of these three days takes place back at the retreat center or car-camp.

No previous backpacking experience is required. (In fact, many of those who have quested with us have never before been camping or backpacking).

Participants are responsible for their personal camping gear, personal lunches, and personal snacks.  Details will be included in the preparation materials sent out after registering


Doug Van Houten

Doug Van Houten has an eye for the heartbreakingly beautiful and a wild heart that sings in the dark night of his own soul. He is beekeeper, artist, brave explorer of the “darker than darkness”, student/facilitator of the Great Work, and Animas trained vision fast guide. In his own backyard of the rolling Kentucky hills, Doug organizes retreats/conferences/workshops/drumming circles, and festivals in celebration of Earth spirit. Lit by the luminescence of his own dreams, wanderings and visions, his firsthand enraptured experience is a deep exploration of his own dark wounding. Doug has taken a vow to soul, (that would kill him to break), to live consciously with grace and to stay awake. Here, he dances with shadow, hones his artistry, and answers the call to support the soulful opening of others.

Rebecca Wildbear, M.S.

Rebecca is a soul guide and lover of the wild.  She compassionately assists people in listening to the mysteries that live both within their own being and within the animate natural world.  Rebecca guides others in opening up their sensory bodies, engaging their dreamworld, and accessing their deep imagination.  She delights in tracking the underground streams of the greater human stories.  She gently ushers people into surrendering to their soul’s deepest longing.  Formerly a therapist and wilderness guide for 17 years, she focuses her private practice on supporting individuals as they discover and manifest their soul gifts.  Rebecca utilizes her training and experience with yoga, Hakomi, and somatic psychotherapy in her work.  She leads Animas programs and is on the faculty of Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica.  She is also the creator of Wild Yoga, a sacred way of breathing and moving, aligned with one’s soul and the beauty and rhythm of the evolving Earth.


Iona Hostel


Please contact Wendy for application


~ Programme 4 ~

Earthsong, Awakening Humanity’s Wild

16 – 19 September 2017

The Steading, Glen Feshie, Cairngorms National Park

Guides: Wendy Robertson Fyfe, Doug Van Houten, Rebecca Wildbear

Take care you don’t know anything in this world too quickly or easily.  Everything is also a mystery, and has its own secret aura in the moonlight, its private song.
~Mary Oliver

Since forever humans have listened to the songs of Earth.  The Nalungiaq (Inuit) remind us that at one time, “people and animals spoke the same language.”Laurens van der Post spoke of the Bushmen in the Kalahri Desert hearing the stars sing. The old ones knew their tunes and the places given; old ones such as the Aboriginal people who knew and know the Songlines of the land. People, land and place thrive in that relationship; when we don’t sing them, the land dies.

In modern times, we’ve forgotten Earth even has songs.  We’ve gotten lost in the noise of our current culture. We’ve lost our wild indigenosity, our participation in the great Cosmic Liturgy. Can we remember that the Earth has a much more beautiful song that is always here; that we can learn to be present and hear it; we can learn to listen to the nuances of the sound each place and being of earth makes: the song of the ocean, the flowing and bubbling rivers, each forest, purple bell heather, hares and stags of the hills…It’s not only birds who sing, it’s rocks and spiders, blades of grass in the breeze and well….everything. Earth has songs for those who listen. They are everywhere: in whale song, eagle song, melody of the wind, patter of rain, clap of thunder, rustle of leaves. Trees have their own songs. Mountains have their own songs. Humans have their own songs.

Your soul is a song, composed of many notes. Have you ever heard even one note or perhaps a whole verse? It’s vital not only to listen to the song of the Uni-verse, but to practice embodying your song within the greater song.  How do they each sing and court one another. How do they nurture and love or rattle and destroy? How do they carve and cut, chisel you so that you rediscover your original form? If you let your dreams sing through your body, what would that sound make?

What might happen if we come together, pay attention to the call of the future ones too, those longing for us to sing them in; if we offer time and in doing so fall evermore deeply and utterly in love with this miraculous Earth; that the Earth knows and feels our love. What if our love shows up in notes as we move, step and speak; as we think, imagine, sense, feel; in sounds we might not otherwise hear; if we listen to the world from a finely tuned body tuning in, in tune; if we deepen even further as Earth walking, dancing, listening, singing. What if everything depends on us tuning in together in such a way at this particular time of global unravelling. Our world’s in trouble for sure. The beat of our culture is the wrong sound to follow, but perhaps the pain of its squeel could call us to action?  Let’s respond to the song of the world from our soul’s song.

Thomas Berry said we have become autistic to the ‘others’ in our Earth Community. We must rediscover that the Earth has songs and how to listen.We must learn our own notes and how to sing them.We must cultivate a participatory relationship between humans and the greater earth community that is mutually enhancing. Sound and song are primary integrating forces in the understanding of our place within the biosphere’s wild mind. What would it be to live our whole lives within this conversation, this music playing back and forth spontaneously and authentically, each note influencing the next? Everything may well depend on it.

This programme, with a chorus of three guides, over three nights and three days, will invite Soulcentric practices and questions such as: what’s the song of the Earth and what’s your note in its symphony? How does your soul sing with the wavy tall branches of a silver birch tree or raindrops on sun-lit water?

No musical experience is necessary and nothing more than curiosity and your courage to listen is required.

The stunning venue is at The Steading, Glen Feshie, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland see ‘home base’ https://www.northshots.com/

Cost is £550.00 including fabulous food and accommodation.

If you feel a resonance or call with this programme, please contact Wendy Robertson Fyfe on wendy.fyfe@btinternet.com for a booking form. No application required

…Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?
Lynn Ungar

Note: Programme 4 is not an Animas Valley Institute programme

Contact Wendy Robertson Fyfe for further information
07748 175961; www.wendyrobertsonfyfe.co.uk, facebook

Feedback from the 2016 Animas Valley Institute ‘Wild Mind’ Intensive with Sage Magdalene and Doug Van Houten:

“The Programme itself Amazing! I had read Wild Mind and understood the facets of wholeness conceptually, even accessed them (to an extent) during my experiences in the Underworld Journey prior to this yet something transformational happened for me during this programme. I have to say it had a lot to do with an immediate felt sense I experienced of the capacity and wholeness that the guides brought, which I noticed just in seeing them and being in their presence. Upon reflection, I can see that other things in my life were preparing me for this experience. I was amazed how deeply the process took me in such a short linear timeframe. I found the group dynamics to be both powerfully enriching and revealing of aspects of my own process. I feel really grateful for who showed up at this programme.”

Feedback from 2016 ‘Way of Council and Art of Mirroring’ with Doug Van Houten and Sage Magdalene:

“Really amazing and wonderful and valuable experience with all of the beautiful beings on Iona! Still processing all that this might mean for me.”

 Feedback from the 2015 ‘Romancing the World’ Intensive with Bill Plotkin and Geneen Marie Haugen at Loch Nevis:

“Honestly, just amazing. I have been fortunate enough to do many workshops in the last number of years, but the skill in which this one was put together, held together, and offered to us, was really something. It is still working!”

Feedback from the 2015 ‘Writing the Wild Soul’ Intensive with Geneen Marie Haugen and Bill Plotkin at Loch Nevis:

“Through Writing the Wild Soul I opened up to the poetry flowing through this whole vibrant humming animate world, and to the poetry flowing through me, a gift from my soul to my self to be given back to the world again.”

Feedback from the 2014 Soulcentric Dreamwork Intensive with Jeffrey J Allen and Rebecca Wildbear at Glen Tilt, Perthshire:

“Completely awesome”

Feedback from the 2013 Isle of Iona Programme ‘Coming Home to an Animate World’ guided by Bill Plotkin and Geneen Marie Haugen: 

“The facilitation was amazing. The integrity of Bill and Geneen was incomparable.”

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