Rebecca Wildbear clearly states her aim in writing the book as being to ‘open you to unordinary ways of perceiving and awaken your inherent connection with the place we all most deeply belong to: the Earth.’
Does she succeed? That is for you, the reader, to decide. I would be surprised, however, if by the end of the book, your answer is ‘no.’
The background to this book is the environmental destruction and despoilation of our natural ecosystems. But this is not another recounting of the damage we (humans) are foisting upon the Earth - although Wildbear does not retreat from such descriptions where necessary.
This is a beautifully written book. It is highly personal – Wildbear writes openly of her experience with cancer for instance. She opens to her vulnerability, and to her dreams, visions, and soul-infused encounters with nature. She writes too, of the experiences of others whom she has guided or shared experiences with. She asks that we, the reader, open ourselves to similar encounters.
Rebecca Wildbear has been a teacher of Wild Yoga since 2007, she is a river guide, and has worked with Animas Valley Institute2 since 2006 where she has guided dozens of people on vision quests and other ecological and soulful programs. Her life story and her work provide her with an abundance of personal experiences, stories, understandings, and connections with which to write this book.
Each chapter has three sections. The first section is an exploration of some aspect of our environmental/social reality. Wildbear takes us into dark caves, has us negotiating river rapids, or climbing to the tops of trees. Her writing is visceral and somatic.
The second section offers a number of self-directed experiences that the reader can undertake to enable us to more fully experience the wonders and mysteries outlined in the first section.
In section 3 Wildbear guides us through a yoga pose that connects us somatically with the themes of the chapter.
This book could be read as a personal manual or workbook. Wildbear, however, is keen to ensure that we do not become stuck in personal growth; she exhorts us to a collective experience of our reality and responsibility.
Drawing on the power of prayer (without ascribing that notion with a religious fervour,) Wildbear tells us that ‘our prayers need to stretch beyond the individual. Soul making is a collaboration tied to the fate of the Earth, asking us to descend into the collective dark night of our planet.’
That we are in the twilight of a dark night of the planet is now a given. That we must descend into the darkness is unavoidable. That we must do so collectively is crucial.
If there is to be a way in which the human race descends into the darkness and emerges into some unknown, and unpredictable, future, then it will be the writings of people such as Rebecca Wildbear who will help guide that descent and emergence.
1. Rebecca Wildbear, Wild Yoga: A Practice of Initiation, Veneration & Advocacy for the Earth, New World Library, Novato, California, 2023. Rebecca Wildbear provides links to where her book may be purchased on her website (https://www.rebeccawildbear.com/wild-yoga-book)
2. Animas Valley Institute is a Colorado institute founded by eco-psychologist Bill Plotkin in 1980. The Institute provides nature-based programs that ‘evoke the life-shifting experience of soul encounter – the revelation of a larger personal story that whispers to us in moments of extraordinary aliveness.’