Ecospirituality: The Way of the Coyote

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The Ecospirituality program connects people to the healing power of nature using the Way of the Coyote. The 16-week journey towards ecospirituality uses the skills of mindful ecotherapy to teach students and practitioners how to live in True Self according to their own true nature.

In this Ecospirituality Coach Certification course, you will learn how to implement the Ecospirituality program so that you may run your own groups.

TARGET AUDIENCE: General Public (Coaching Course)

Total Online Continuing Education Hours: 40

NBCC Approval: No

Course Description

In this Ecospirituality coaching certification course, you will complete the journey while learning all the skills you would need to facilitate an ecospirituality group of your own. This coaching course is designed for people who are not mental health professionals. Completing the certification qualifies you to lead a coaching program in Ecospirituality: The Way of the Coyote.

Ecospirituality: The Way of the Coyote  Workbook

Ecospirituality isn’t about a particular religious or spiritual path. The word “spirit” comes from the Latin “spiritus,” which simply means, “to breathe.” It’s where we get the word “inspiration.” Ecospirituality teaches us to seek those breathtaking moments of inspiration, using nature as our guide.

The ecospirituality program is based on the workbook, Ecospirituality: The Way of the Coyote. The complete text of this workbook is included in the course.

The Ecospirituality: The Way of the Coyote program is a coaching program for people who are not licensed mental health professionals, but who wish to be certified coaches in ecospirituality. You do not have to be a counselor or therapist to take this course, or to become an ecospirituality coach.

If you are a licensed mental health professional you may wish to consider the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy courses instead.

Included in this course:

  • Ecospirituality: The Way of the Coyote – 33 online and experiential continuing education hours
  • Running a Successful Group – 5 online continuing education hours
  • Coaching vs. Counseling: Avoiding Liability – 2 online continuing education hours

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DISCLAIMER
This course was developed by Charlton Hall, MMFT, LMFT/S, RPT-S, CHt. All course materials are evidence-based, with clearly defined learning objectives, references and citations, and post-course evaluations. This course is for life coaches, and not for mental health professionals, professional counselors, or therapists. Because of this, course work is not approved for credit by the National Board for Certified Counselors, and there is no NBCC credit for this course.

Course Overview

Joseph Campbell was an American mythologist best known for his works and lectures in comparative mythology and comparative religion. One of Campbell’s areas of study was the archetypal nature of world mythologies. He noted that myths from around the world followed a pattern. Campbell conceptualized this pattern into a framework or a template for the seeker’s journey, calling it the monomyth. The monomyth is the archetypal mythological journey of discovery. Campbell’s monomyth is often referred to as the Hero’s Journey.
The path of ecospirituality also follows the monomyth. The template for the monomyth, along with an explanation of the phases, is outlined below. There are three major phases, with steps for each phase. The three major phases are: Departure, Initiation, and Return. This course and the ecospirituality program are divided into three sections labeled after these phases:

Phase One: Departure

In the Departure phase, the hero leaves the familiar on a journey of self-awareness that will ultimately make or break him. The Departure phase is about a way of doing things differently than they have been done in the past. It is an awakening to the world of wider possibilities. It has been said that, “Insanity is doing the same thing in the same ways and expecting things to turn out differently.” In the Departure phase, we prepare for the journey by coming to the realization that if what we have been doing hasn’t been working, then doing more of it isn’t likely to work either. For a spiritual seeker, this means challenging your own accepted notions of what spirituality means. It means going against the dogma you were raised with and finding your own individual path. It means trusting yourself and your own supernatural aid enough to take that step.

Session 1: The Call to Adventure

The Call to Adventure is the catalyst that sets the Hero’s Journey in motion. It could be an inner need to change one’s circumstances, or it could be an external event that triggers the journey. For Buddha, it was the inner desire to seek enlightenment. For Luke Skywalker, the Empire forced his hand. In either case, the hero recognizes that something fundamental has changed, and he/she can never go back to the way things were.

Session 2: Refusal of the Call

Change is scary. The comforting thing about the familiar is its familiarity; we know what to expect. This can even be true if the familiar situation is grim. Such a sentiment is often expressed in the phrase, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”

The familiar, however uncomfortable it may be, is at least familiar. When faced with change, there is an element of the unknown that must be reckoned with. Few things are as frightening as a trip into the unknown. No matter how bad things are, the thought that they could potentially get worse always hovers in the back of our minds. By making a change, chance has entered the equation. What may you expect to happen when walking into uncharted territory? Things might get better, but they might get worse as well. Because of this doubt and uncertainty about where the path may lead, many people refuse the call to adventure.

Session 3: Supernatural Aid

Sometimes when we get stuck in our refusal of the call, we need a little push to get going again. When this happens, the stars tend to align in such a way that we have to act. If we choose not to walk through the open door out of fear or uncertainty, the universe begins to close all other doors one by one until we have no choice but to walk through the one that is open before us.

This supernatural aid doesn’t have to come from some deity. Sometimes it is just as simple as a moment of inspiration or a flash of insight. Sometimes it may just be learning to see things in a new way. Sometimes it’s just the knowledge that we can’t live the rest of our lives this way. Whatever the ultimate form our supernatural aid takes, it sets our feet on the path in spite of our reluctance to embrace the journey.

Session 4: The Crossing of the First Threshold

 “It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step into the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

–Bilbo Baggins

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This means that for every journey there is a first step. The Crossing of the First Threshold is that first step. The significance of that first step is that it indicates a commitment to the journey. The reluctance and refusal are over, and the intention has been set. Once your intention has been determined, and you announce your intention to the Universe, there is no going back to the way things have been in the past.

Session 5: Belly of the Whale

In order to learn new ways of being, we must first cast off our old assumptions about the way things work. Our assumptions create our perceptions, and our perceptions create our reality. If we’re journeying to new realities, our old perceptions and assumptions have to be discarded. This can be an especially difficult task, since many of our assumptions and perceptions are involved in our own sense of identity. If we cast them off, we lose who we are. But in order to become someone new, we must lose who we were. Percival had to cast off his armor before he could receive the Holy Grail. Since he was a knight, this meant casting off all outward appearances of his former identity in order to discover something new.

Jonah spent three days in the Belly of the Whale after his Refusal of the Call. This was Jonah’s casting off of his former identity so that he could step into his new role as a spiritual leader. This time in the whale’s belly is a time of reflection and of challenging preconceived notions before initiation into a wider world. It is a preparation for the death of the old self so that the new self may be born.

Phase Two: Initiation

In the Initiation phase, the hero must “die to herself.” Many religious and shamanic rituals involve a symbolic death and rebirth to a new way of being. Initiation is an emptying of your cup so that it may be refilled with new knowledge. For a spiritual seeker, Initiation means being open to new experiences and being willing to experiment with new ways of being.

Session 6: The Road of Trials

“The word ‘ashes’ contains in it a dark feeling for death; ashes when put on the face whiten it as death does…some men around thirty-five or forty will begin to experience ashes privately, without ritual, even without old men. They begin to notice how many of their dreams have turned to ashes.”

–Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book about Men

The Road of Trials begins with what Robert Bly calls “Time in the Ashes,” or “Ashes Time.” Sometimes things get worse before they get better. The Greek katabasis literally means “to go down” or “to descend.” Katabasis is the idea that it is always darkest before the dawn. As the spiritual seeker’s old identity is stripped away in the Belly of the Whale, there is nothing yet with which to replace it. To a spiritual seeker, this katabasis may feel like the end of the world. Sometimes it manifests as a sense that one’s entire life has been meaningless up until this point. Author Richard Bach, in his bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, describes this feeling best: “I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth it?”

Session 7: The Meeting with the Goddess/God

“For she is the incarnation of the promise of perfection, the soul’s assurance that, at the conclusion of the exile in a world of organized inadequacies, the bliss that once was known will be known again…” – Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey

The Goddess (or God) here isn’t necessarily an actual divine entity, although she can be. Since the heroes in most of the myths Campbell studied were heterosexual males, the Meeting with the Goddess represents the ideal partner. Since we’re talking about a spiritual and metaphorical level here, the Meeting with the Goddess symbolizes the idea of completeness and perfection. After having our former identities stripped away in the Belly of the Whale, and after our Initiation in the Road of Trials, the Goddess appears to us in ideal form with the promise of what could be, if we persevere. The Goddess represents perfect love. It is a love that is truly unconditional; a love that applies not only to others, bur to self as well.

Session 8: The Temptress/Tempter

The original monomyth referred to “Woman as Temptress.” The gender bias of referring to the Temptress/Tempter as a woman is a by-product of centuries of male heroes in mythology. The Temptress can just as easily be a Tempter, as when Lucifer tempted Jesus with all the wealth of the world if he would give up his seeker’s journey.

Whichever gender you choose to picture the Tempter/Temptress, its purpose is to entice you with the easy way out. The Temptress manifests in shortcuts, laziness, and leaving things half-done. It is the counterpoint to the Meeting with the Goddess. The lesson of the Tempter is that if we cheat by taking shortcuts on the road to enlightenment, we are only cheating ourselves.

The Temptress will test your integrity and character, but there is a purpose in this trial. By testing you, the Tempter gives you an opportunity to display your honor. True honor is how we act when nobody else is watching, and the Temptress gives us the opportunity to practice that honor. She will attempt to sway us from the path and try to prevent us from owning the darker parts of ourselves. If this happens, we will fail to achieve Atonement with the Father.

Session 9: Atonement with the Father

The poet Robert Bly, in Iron John, talks about the son receiving an injury from the father. Whether the father intentionally or unintentionally gives the son this injury, often it is this catalyst that sets the son off on a journey of self-discovery in the first place. In primal cultures this injury is sometimes ritualized and done deliberately. In some African cultures, the father knocks out one of the son’s teeth in a rite of passage ritual. In some Native American cultures, the son receives some other form of injury, as in the ritual tearing of the pectoral muscles practiced during the Sun Dance of the Lakotas. This dark aspect of fatherhood is reflected in the idea of the Shadow from Jungian psychology (more on this later). The psychoanalyst Carl Jung believed that all human beings have the potential for all behaviors. The most moral among us have the potential to become serial killers, and the most immoral among us have the potential to redeem themselves and become saints. Since, according to Jung, all humans have the potential for all behaviors, the behaviors we choose not to express are suppressed in the unconscious. The part of the psyche in which these behaviors are repressed is what Jung called the Shadow. The behaviors we choose to express, the mask we wear in our daily lives, are what Jung called the Persona.

The Atonement with the Father is the integration of the Shadow with the Persona. Although the Shadow is where our dark, evil impulses lie, it is also where our creativity lies. Without it, we can have no imagination. So Atonement is literally “at-ONE-ment,” meaning that the Shadow and the Persona become one. This does not mean that we consciously choose to act on those evil impulses. It means that by acknowledging their existence in the first place, we can move towards mastering them. When they are mastered, we can achieve apotheosis.

Session 10: Apotheosis

This word, Greek in origin, means, “To deify,” or to “become godlike.” According to Joseph Campbell, apotheosis is, “The pattern of the divine state to which the human hero attains who has gone beyond the last terrors of ignorance.”

Apotheosis is the ability to rise above the chess board and recognize that one has been a pawn in the game. By seeing the whole board, we gain a new perspective. It is a shift in perspective; the solving of the puzzle of existence. Once the hero has achieved apotheosis, he can never go back to the way things were before. Apotheosis is the gaining of a godlike wisdom. Adam has eaten the apple, and gained the godlike knowledge of good and evil.

Session 11: The Ultimate Boon

The Ultimate Boon is the treasure at the end of the journey. It is the Holy Grail; the elixir of life; the reason for the journey in the first place. For a spiritual seeker, the Ultimate Boon may be the gifts of wisdom and enlightenment. In ecospirituality, the Ultimate Boon is the ability to live according to one’s own true nature.

Phase Three: Return

In the Return Phase, the hero has gained wisdom about the nature of reality and consciousness, and is now faced with the challenge of returning to the world to teach those who are willing to listen. It is the process of coming home with the Holy Grail. It is the act of bringing the Ten Commandments down off the mountaintop. It is the skill of helping others to achieve what the hero has achieved, while avoiding the temptation to turn them into carbon copies of himself. For a spiritual seeker, this means applying lessons learned in the spiritual realm to daily life. It means learning to see the bigger picture and to trust the vision.

Session 12: Refusal of the Return

When you have tasted the milk and honey of Paradise, why would you want to leave? When you’ve experienced perfection, it can be difficult to summon the energy to return to an imperfect world. There is also the consideration of trying to communicate your experience to others who have not had the same experience. You will lack a common frame of reference. Once your perceptions have been transformed and you learn to see things in a new way and speak a new language, it can feel like it’s impossible to communicate with those who haven’t learned the same language.

In Plato’s Cave Allegory, the Seeker learns to see beyond the illusion and into the real nature of things. In Plato’s Cave, these illusions take the form of shadows projected on a wall. The shadows are of people. The shadows are not the people; they are merely an illusion and a projection of the real people behind the shadows. In Plato’s Cave, the Seeker sees the real people behind the shadows for the first time. But when he tries to explain the concept of real people to the others in the cave, they cannot understand what he means, because they lack a common frame of reference.

A return to the “real” world of shadows after living for a time in the world of true substance can be a frustrating experience if you hope to share your newfound wisdom with others. Because of this, it is easy to refuse the return, especially if you have attained paradise along your journey.

Session 13: The Magic Flight

“If the hero in his triumph wins the blessing of the goddess or the god and is then explicitly commissioned to return to the world with some elixir for the restoration of society, the final stage of his adventure is supported by all the powers of his supernatural patron. On the other hand, if the trophy has been attained against the opposition of its guardian, or if the hero’s wish to return to the world has been resented by the gods or demons, then the last stage of the mythological round becomes a lively, often comical, pursuit. This flight may be complicated by marvels of magical obstruction and evasion.”

–Joseph Campbell

Sometimes the hero can escape with the Ultimate Boon. But sometimes forces conspire to prevent the hero from returning. Even paradise can be a prison if you can’t leave when you wish to leave. For the spiritual seeker, the Magic Flight may consist of letting go of forms of spirituality that are no longer meaningful. Spirituality is only good when it isn’t taken too seriously. This is the ultimate lesson of Coyote magic. If you find yourself in a space where the tools and the dogma have become more important than the message, then you may be in need of a Magic Flight.

Session 14: Rescue from Without

As the end of the path draws nigh, the hero may be exhausted and spent from the journey. If you have cast off the weary world, you are probably in no hurry to return to it. If this is the case, then the world may have to come and get you. For a spiritual seeker, this rescue from without may come from a friend or a family member who needs the wisdom you have gained from your journey, or it may come from the knowledge that we are all connected, and what helps one must ultimately help all.

Session 15: The Crossing of the Return Threshold

The Return Threshold is the doorway that lies between the spiritual world and the “real” world. In order to cross the return threshold, the spiritual seeker must complete three tasks. First, she must retain all the wisdom she gained on the quest so that she may share it with others. Next, she must find a way to integrate that wisdom into a human life without pain or regret. Finally, she must find a way to share that wisdom with the rest of the world in such a way that they receive it with welcome. This last task is especially important, as we humans tend to make martyrs out of messiahs. This is another powerful way that Coyote magic may be used. Sometimes people have to be “tricked” into enlightenment in order to bypass their preconceived notions of what is and what should be. In any case, these three tasks must be accomplished in order to cross the return threshold.

Session 16: Master of Two Worlds

Once your basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and love have been satisfied, how much do you truly need? We often confuse our wants with our needs. The Master of Two Worlds has learned to reconcile these dualities. Such a Master has found a balance between the spiritual world and the material world. This seeker has also found a balance between his Shadow and his Persona; his light half and his dark half. Such a person has moved beyond seeing the world in black-and-white terms, and can see the gray areas, where most of life happens.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s famous philosophical device, commonly known as the Hegelian Dialectic, is a triad consisting of thesisantithesis, and synthesis, where the thesis is an idea, the antithesis is the idea’s opposite, and the synthesis is the blending of the two. If the material world is the thesis, and the spiritual world is the antithesis, then a synthesis of the two would be finding a way to live spiritually in the material world. The Master of Two Worlds has achieved this synthesis.

Session 16: Freedom to Live

Once you’ve conquered your fear of death, what else can stand in your way? If the soul is the only thing in the Universe that is truly indestructible, then death is just another way of being. Even if you are atheist or agnostic, and have no belief in an afterlife, this is still true from the point of view of your own consciousness. If this life is all you will ever know, and there is no afterlife, then it is impossible to ever be conscious of your own death; therefore there is no way you could ever know that you have died. How can you be conscious of your own death, if death is the end to consciousness? So from the perspective of your own consciousness, you are immortal for all practical purposes. When you die, your Universe ceases to exist, and you are no longer the Center. With this knowledge of death comes the Freedom to Live. Soul musician Ray Charles said, “Live every day like it’s going to be your last, because one of these days you’ll be right.”

Freedom to Live means that you have mastered death…and life.

A spiritual seeker can use this monomyth template as a road map for following the Way of the Coyote, or any other spiritual path. As you look over the phases and steps above, you can probably readily identify where you are on the journey. You can also identify what lies ahead, and get some idea of what skills and tools you will need to meet those upcoming challenges.