The Grapevine Art & Soul Salon

Views and Reviews: Barbara Knott


The first book mentioned below is a good starter. It is a gathering of essays by some of the most eloquent teachers of our time concerning the human-made ecological crisis caused by accelerating climate change, species depletion, and pollution of many kinds. There is a consensus among the writers that our loss of deep feeling—including reverence for nature—concomitant with the development, exploitation and exhaustion of land and resources, has created conditions that cause the Earth to cry out and that the earth’s cry is a call to action.

The writers represent many nations, including aboriginal groups, and multiple points of view, all focused on the necessity now of action through mindful and reverential approaches to restoring our landscapes and natural resources by positioning ourselves anew as humans with a vital connection to all of creation.

The other books are described in material, including blurbs, on the cover or inside front pages. All are books I hold in high regard.

SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY: The Cry of the Earth, 2nd ed., edited by Lewellyn Vaughan-Lee. Point Reyes, CA: The Golden Sufi Center, 2016.

Kenny Ausubel, co-founder, Bioneers, and author, Dreaming the Future: Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature (one of many blurbs listed in front): Lewellyn Vaughan-Lee has assembled a gem of a book reflecting the bright inner light from a pantheon of our most luminary visionaries working to heal the Earth, and with it, ourselves. Spiritual Ecology elegantly repairs the most fundamental systems error in our relationship with the Earth: the celebration of the sacredness and oneness of all life. For millennia, prophets, mystics, and poets have spoken about the oneness of all life. Today biology is confirming that belief with the most basic genetic fact of life: As human beings, we are literally kin with the entire diversity of life, from the microbes to the mammals. This book is a must-read and will elevate your spirit, expand your vision, and nourish your heart.

THOMAS BERRY: Selected Writings on the Earth Community, eds. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2014.

Back cover: Thomas Berry (1914-2009) was a priest, a historian of religions, and a “geologian.” An early and significant voice awakening religious sensibilities to the environmental crisis, he is particularly well-known for articulating a “universe story” that explores the world-changing implications of contemporary science.

Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim are co-directors of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. They were students of Thomas Berry and have devoted themselves to his legacy by editing his books and producing the Emmy-award-winning film, Journey of the Universe with Brian Swimme.

ECOPSYCHOLOGY: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind, eds. Theodore Roszak, Mary E. Gomes, and Allen D. Kanner; Forewords by Lester R. Brown and James Hillman. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 1995.

Front Cover, Jane Goodall blurb: A very exciting book of enormous interest for everyone concerned with the future of our species—environmentalists and legislators, industrialists and educators, you and me. Its message should become part of Western thought.

Back Cover: Ecopsycology marks the coming together of leading-edge psychologists and ecologists to redefine sanity on a personal and planetary scale. Here is the first in-depth exploration of an exciting new field, presenting revolutionary concepts of mental health along with a vision of renewal for the environmental movement.

Jane Goodall (again): Ecopsychology provides a powerful new dimension to the environmental movement, suggesting that by living in greater harmony with the natural world we shall not only help to save our planet from ultimate destruction but shall also improve our mental health and be happier and more fulfilled human beings.

Mary Catherine Bateson (blurb): A glad welcome to the affirmation by a group of psychologists that the self does not stop at the skin nor even with the circle of human relationships but is interwoven with the lives of trees and animals and soil; that caring for the deepest needs of persons and caring for our threatened planet are not in conflict.

THE SPELL OF THE SENSUOUS: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World, by David Abram. New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 1997. Winner of the Lannan Award for Nonfiction.

James Hillman (on front cover): I know of no work more valuable for shifting our thinking and feeling about the place of humans in the world.

Back cover: In The Spell of the Sensuous David Abram draws on sources as diverse as the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty, Balinese shamanism, Apache storytelling, and his own experience as an accomplished sleight-of-hand magician to reveal the subtle dependence of human cognition on the natural environment. He explores the character of perception and excavates the sensual foundations of language, which—at its most abstract—echoes the calls and cries of the earth. On every page of this lyrical work, Abram weaves his arguments with a passion, a precision and an intellectual daring that recall such witers as Loren Eiseley, Annie Dillard, and Barry Lopez.

Bill McKibben (blurb): David Abram has written the best instruction manual yet for becoming fully human.

Los Angeles Times: Long awaited, revolutionary. … This book ponders the violent disconnection of the body from the natural world and what this means about how we live and die in it.

BECOMING ANIMAL: An Earthly Cosmology, by David Abram. New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 2011.

Back Cover: David Abram’s first book, The Spell of the Sensuous, hailed as “revolutionary” by the Los Angeles Times, as “daring” and “truly original” by Science, has become a classic of environmental literature. Now he returns with a startling exploration of our human entanglement with the rest of nature.

As the climate veers toward catastrophe, the innumerable losses cascading through the biosphere make vividly evident the need for a metamorphosis in our relation to the living land. For too long we’ve ignored the wild intelligence of our bodies, taking our primary truths from technologies that hold the living world at a distance. Abram’s writing subverts this distance, drawing readers ever closer to their animal senses in order to explore, from within, the elemental kinship between the human body and the breathing Earth.

Orion Magazine: Prose as lush as a moss-draped rain forest and as luminous as a high desert night … . Deeply resonant with indigenous ways of knowing, Abram lets us listen in on wordless conversations with ancient boulders, walruses, birds, and roof beams. His profound recognition of intelligences other than our own enables us to enter into reciprocal symbioses that can, in turn, sustain the world. Becoming Animal illuminates a way forward in restoring relationship with the earth, led by our vibrant animal bodies to re-inhabit the glittering world.

Bio from the Book: David Abram is an ecologist, anthropologist, and philosopher who lectures and teaches widely around the world. His prior book, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, helped catalyze the emergence of several new disciplines, including the burgeoning field of ecopsychology. … David was named by both the Utne Reader and the British journal Resurgence as one of a hundred visionaries transforming contemporary culture. … A co-founder of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE), David lives with his family in the foothills of the southern Rockies.

SOULCRAFT: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche, by Bill Plotkin. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2003.

Recommended by David Abram: Here is an abundantly wise and carefully crafted survival guide for the wild soul currently dozing (or dying) at the heart of your civilized life. Plotkin has wandered again and again into the nourishing darkness, and has returned with this earthly bundle of insights and images—talismanic tools for awakening to the outrageous depths both within us and all around us. He has bound them into a book that is immensely practical, alive with ritual intelligence, thick with useful tools from a host of courageous comrades.

Other blurbs:

Frank MacEowen: Every now and then a book is birthed into the world that is destined to irrevocably alter the spiritual face of modern culture. Bill Plotkin’s Soulcraft is just such a book. This book provides a fresh heart-opening soul language, a new mythos for fathoming the depths of change, and time-tested practical methods for navigating the landscape of authentic transformation. In essence, Soulcraft is Plotkin’s ‘soul gift,’ a user’s manual for the journey of the human soul, as well as a guide to the futurescape of why we are all really here. It is the book I wish I could have had at my fingertips when I began to feel the ancient call for rites of passage in my early youth. It is required reading for anyone guiding other people in soulwork, or delving deep into their own. As philosopher Parker Palmer has said, “The way to God is down.” Plotkin shows the way.

Molly Young Brown: A poetic and yet intellectually rigorous exploration of the essential relationship between the human soul and wild nature, Soulcraft guides the reader on a journey of descent, to return with gifts for a hungry world.

Bio from book: Bill Plotkin, Ph.D., is a depth psychologist, ecotherapist, and wilderness guide. He is founding director of Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute (, which has been leading nature-based soul-initiation programs since 1980. He lives in the mountains of western Colorado.

NATURE AND THE HUMAN SOUL: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World by Bill Plotkin. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2008.

Back Cover: Addressing the pervasive longing for meaning and fulfillment in this time of crisis, Nature and the Human Soul introduces a visionary ecopsychology of human development that reveals how fully and creatively we can mature when soul and wild nature guide us. Depth psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin presents a model for a human lifespan rooted in the cycles and qualities of the natural world, a blueprint for individual development that ultimately yields a strategy for cultural transformation.

Angeles Arrien, Ph.D. (blurb): Nature and the Human Soul offers us a consolidated and invaluable template for psychological and social development—not only personally, but collectively as well. Bill Plotkin defines the eight stages of human life and describes the cultural and individual tasks for each stage in brilliant, insightful, and masterful ways.

SPRING: A Journal of Archetype and Culture, Vol. 83: Minding the Animal Psyche. New Orleans: Spring Journal, Summer 2010.

Spring, founded in 1942, is “the oldest Jungian psychology journal in the world. Published twice a year, each issue explores from the perspective of depth psychology a theme of contemporary relevance and contains articles as well as book and film reviews. Contributors include Jungian analysts, scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, and cultural commentators.

G. A. Bradshaw, Ph.D., from the Guest Editor’s introduction to this volume: Through the eyes of diverse scholars, we explore the exciting ground between human and animal psyches. It is has been a lonely space, grown barren after years of denial and neglect. … Psychology’s expansive move from a human-only to a species-inclusive domain is groundbreaking and exciting. We now re-acquaint ourselves with Sister Amoeba and Brother Worm not as poor country cousins lost somewhere on the family tree but as colleagues of “one common stock” in the creation of a new trans-species consciousness and community (viii-ix).

JUNG AND ECOPSYCHOLOGY: The Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Universe, Vol. 1, by Dennis L. Merritt, Ph. D. Carmel, CA: Fisher King Press, 2012.

Dennis L. Merritt is a Jungian psychoanalyst and ecopsychologist in private practice in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His book is dedicated “To my parents, Small dairy farmers of a bygone era.”

Back Cover: Carl Jung believed there had to be a major paradigm shift in Western culture if we were to avert many of the apocalyptic conditions described in the Book of Revelation. He coined the terms “New Age” and “Age of Aquarius” to describe a change in consciousness that would honor the feminine, our bodies, sexuality, the earth, animals, and indigenous cultures. Jung deplored the fast pace of modern life with its empty consumerism and the lack of a spiritual dimension.

Back cover: Vol. 1 of The Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Universe develops the framework and principles of Jungian ecopsychology and describes how they can be applied to our educational system and in the practice of psychotherapy. It offers a response to Jung’s challenge to unite our cultured side with the “two-million-year-old man within” thereby opening a bridge to the remaining indigenous cultures. Dreamwork, individuation, synchronicity, and the experience of the numinous are important elements in this conceptual system. The Dairy Farmer’s Guide provides a Jungian contribution to the developing field of ecopsychology, exploring values, attitudes and perceptions that impact our view of the natural world—nature within, nature without.


THE NEW GOD-IMAGE: A Study of Jung’s Key Letters Concerning the Evolution of the Western God-Image by Edward F. Edinger (1996). Asheville, NC: Chiron Publications, 2015.

D. H. LAWRENCE, COMPLETE POEMS. NY: Penguin Books, 1993.

SELECTED POEMS OF RAINER MARIA RILKE, A Translation from the German and Commentary by Robert Bly. NY: Harper and Row, 1981.

WALT WHITMAN, LEAVES OF GRASS. NY: The Modern Library, 2001.

WENDELL BERRY, NEW COLLECTED POEMS. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2012.


DIANE ACKERMAN, all poems, especially those in I PRAISE MY DESTROYER. NY: Vintage Books, 1998. Also see her A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE SENSES in book and film for television.

MARY OLIVER, all poems. Here's one collection: SWAN: POEMS AND PROSE POEMS. Boston: Beacon Press, 2010.


Nobel Prize Winner SEAMUS HEANEY, OPENED GROUND: SELECTED POEMS 1966-1996. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.

Nobel Prize Winner RABINDRANATH TAGORE, GITANJALI. NY: Dover Thrift Editions, 2000.

CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTES, WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. NY: Random House, 1995.

DAVID WHYTE, all poems including the books The Sea in You, Everything is Waiting for You, and The House of Belonging. Browse at his website

JAMES HILLMAN’s book best known to the public (a New York Times bestseller) is THE SOUL’S CODE (contained in an acorn). NY: Random House, 1997.

THE EARTH HAS A SOUL: C. G. Jung on Nature, Technology and Modern Life, ed. Meredith Sabini. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2016.

Book summary: While never losing sight of the rational, cultured mind, Jung speaks for the natural mind, source of the evolutionary experience and accumulated wisdom of our species. Through his own example, Jung shows how healing our own living connection with Nature contributes to the whole.

At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons. There is nothing in the Tower that has not grown into its own form over the decades, nothing with which I am not linked. Here everything has its history, and mine; here is space for the spaceless kingdom of the world’s and the psyche’s hinterland. (C. G. Jung, MDR 225-6)

Embedded here is a good look at Jung's book, where you can turn pages by clicking on the right side near the middle.

Copyright 2017, Barbara Knott. All Rights Reserved.