Nature-based Soul Guide Rev. Matt Syrdal

The Journey of Descent

The soul realm is where we are encountered by our spiritual and ecological niche.
— Rev. Matt Syrdal

Nature-based soul-guide, Rev. Matt Syrdal, is re-wilding what it means to be human.  His work weaves in myth and ceremony in nature as a way for people to enter into conversation with the storied world in which they are a part.  In referencing this “storied-world,” Matt says, “there is a constellation of relationships with the more-than-human world in which our sense of self-hood, community, and myth emerges from a deep conversation that is always happening around us.”

This “window of the imagination,” Matt says, “is the way of co-participating and co-creating through our imaginal sense in a conversation with another that can’t speak,” referring to the natural world.  

Nature is both the context and that which holds the wisdom to reveal one’s soul, which Matt explains is a realm of itself. 

He says, “The soul realm has nothing to do with primary relationships or vocation, is not culturally constructed, is completely beneath language, and is the place of connection with one’s own deeper mythos. The soul is ultimately our deepest unique mystical identity even in the more than human world.  It’s our ultimate place that we were born to fill; Our spiritual and ecological niche. It’s not just a location. It’s a way of inhabiting the world that is uniquely ours and ours alone.”

However, in order to be encountered by soul and to discover our deepest purpose in the world, we have to go through life stages of severance and wandering.  These archetypal stages are found in many of the major religions, like the Abraham story found in the three major world faiths: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.  

Rev. Matt Syrdal looking into an ancient cedar stump in Snoqualmie, WA.

Rev. Matt Syrdal looking into an ancient cedar stump in Snoqualmie, WA.

Matt references for these stages comes from Bill Plotkin’s work and the Animas Valley Institute where Matt is in The Soulcraft Apprenticeship and Initiation Program (SAIP), which, the Animas website says, “is designed for those called by Mystery to learn, co-develop, and implement an authentic, contemporary, Western, nature-based path to soul initiation.” This path is marked by a descent into the underworld.

This journey of descent is far from common in our Western, ascent-orientated culture.  In this conversation Matt talks about why this work is vital to developing initiated adults in our patho-adolescent society, and helps develop elders and ultimately healthy communities. All this requires soul-centric development and an eco-centric consciousness.

In addition to guiding the descent to soul, Matt is also a Reverend at Grace Presbyterian Church in Denver. CO, where he is intentionally working to re-wild the Christian narrative, which he explains is allowing its original power and original spiritual intent, as embodied in the person of Jesus, to re-emerge and re-awaken into our world.

Matt and I had this conversation inside of a hollowed out, ancient cedar stump, just outside of Snoqualmie, WA.  It proved to be the perfect place to explore these topics with Matt, who was in the Seattle area to cohost the region’s first “Wild Church” experience, which he co-lead with Mary DeJong, my wife, an eco-theogian, who also writes, speaks, and guides experiences with the Sacred Wild.  Her work can be found at

Connect with Matt

  • WilderSoul, re-wilding the Self and reconnecting Christian leadership with the natural world through Celtic and ancient nature-based practices.

  • Church of Lost Walls, a Wild Church, in the Front Range area of Colorado.

  • Seminary of the Wild, designed to support eco-seminarians as they prepare to bring their own unique forms of transformative work into deeper service to the world.  It will be nested within the seminary academic institution as a supplement and alternative for the traditional educational paradigm.  The first introduction will be at Ghost Ranch next year, the week of July 28th-August 2nd, 2019.  It’s called Wild Christ, Wild Earth, Wild Self, a nature-based introduction to seminary of the wild. There are immersive nature-based experiences for kids as well.

In order to be encountered by soul and to discover our deepest purpose in the world, we have to go through life stages of severance and wandering.
— Rev. Matt Syrdal