Body and the Lion’s Roar

B2F7814B-AC52-4A51-81BE-3EB41C5890C6Your body and the lion’s roar
tell the truth

Just as there is no arguing
with the dawn or elder trees.

The river insists and you comply
and the bear’s inimitable growl
does not go unheeded.

Damn the censors!

No, Bless them with your beauty
your revelry raw and rivaled
only by anything
that is Unashamedly Itself.

After all, they are only wanting it too.

So compost the joyless judges
in your kingdom of fungi
and retire shame
from the grammar of your unfurling.

If it’s too much for them
it’s because they’ve wounded
their own belly
with the blade of poor belonging.

Are the waves offended by the full moon,
the soil aggrieved by the million seeds?

The fruiting cap before the rains
was but a stage

and that ancient longing
can’t help but burst
the tight shells of humility.

Still a quarter and a quarter yet
lies asleep in the dirt
awaiting the wake up call

that irresistible pull into the Big Stretch.


E9D2B10B-07C8-4BFD-ACF6-F00FFC9CF141I usually don’t share my Wild Nature Heart offerings on here. But I wanted to let readers of my poetry here know about the Wild Nature Heart Challenge, in part because soulful earthy poetry is central to it.

The Wild Nature Heart Challenge: A Season of Deepening is a self-paced mini-adventure with 25+ earth-rooted practices and sense-based and soul-deepening exercises along with accompanying poems to guide you into reconnecting and deepening your connection with wild nature, with natural cycles, and aspects of your wholeness.

Discover more here:



DE4B117B-AA3D-45F5-A427-9E5408A50F41Happy 200th birthday, Walt! 🙏Thank you, comrade, Oh Great Affirmer, for the worlds you up. Thank you, my soul friend, exquisite celebrator, you grand experimenter, you bold ecosensualist!

To put my western boots on
for the lonely descent
in deepening dark
to know it will be a long while
not knowing when the dawn will break—or if.

But also to know the strength
of my calves and limber heart
libidinous and unrestrained
to spring from these muscles my inviolate motion
sometimes slow, sometimes quick
but sure, steady, alive!
all my incarnate days

While I can, the movement of my savage and beautiful body, unalloyed
in bright unbridled kicks of freedom
my electromagnetic self commingling with my analog
and broken leaf self,
permeable and wanting all the worlds—oh what storms!

To love these shoulders strong
and pulsing, pushing to the edge
of my shadows
stretching then pushing further
turning the wheel in new directions

To make from these soft, brown eyes
all the beauty of the world
(and the ugly truth of it too)

Yes the shimmers, the hues,
patterns and spirals,
the ripples, the great green garments
of summer.
and endless faces, her eyelashes,
wisps of hair that won’t obey,
crooked drifters!

Just as the bones hold it together
In life as much as death
I say yes to new trees
and the burnt and ragged

Her form silhouetted
against the birth
as much as the dying day

Tails, petals, clouds & bubbles,
rosemary dawn
moonlight on silver ferns
falling leaves maroon and gold,
the swooning birds

To embrace with these well-known arms
friends and lovers
a few enemies at times

Yes even the stones, trees, yes,
even my own self.

-Ryan Van Lenning

You can get my books RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul, and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound. My book of mystical poems, Silence Begins Here, and book of love and erotic poetry, Wild Rose Hips, will be out later this year. Follow me @ryanreturntotheearth for ecosensual mythopoetic inspiration and @wildnatureheart  for my heart-centered nature connection & 1-on-1 inner/outer wilderness work.


DB58FC07-B97C-403B-BFA4-046B6D4FFCBANot intending to I found myself
bent over on hands and knees

face nose-deep
in the forest of pineapple weed
scooping up the sharp-sweet
candy coated sword of sensory delight

I was hooked by the nostrils—
that animal body I hang out with
was at it again
and asked me to come along
for the ride

It’s the way the dance arrives
like wind
from out of no where
possessing my limbs
making me do things
no one in their right mind
would do

but everyone in their right body
would do
with the flow of their own wind

It’s how I found a pair of antlers
and a pair of wings

My pair of legs
led me to a pair of bears
My pair of eyes
to a paradox

It’s how I met coyote
and the goose that laid
the golden egg
that hatched the gosling
that gave the feather
that’s in my crooked cap

It’s how the heart-shaped stone
at the bottom of the river
found its way to the altar
at the bottom of my well

It’s how the scent of her skin
still clings to me
and my tongue still testifies
to the taste of her everything

It’s why the palms of my hands have beautiful bruises from the drum slap
rhythming raucously
without a why

It’s how the seven new scratches that decorate my arms and legs
are like tattoo trophies
won from finding the view
of the mountain
with moons and stars on its shoulders—

Collateral beauty of a body
following it’s own path

So no, I don’t mind coming along
for the ride
when my body gets hooked
by the smells and shapes
of an endlessly rippling world

—Ryan Van Lenning
You can get my books RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul, and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound, Link in bio. My book of mystical poems, Silence Begins Here, and book of love and erotic poetry, Wild Rose Hips, will be out later this year. Follow me @ryanreturntotheearth for ecosensual mythopoetic inspiration and @wildnatureheartfor my heart-centered nature connection & 1-on-1 inner/outer wilderness work.

Letting Go of Limiting Beliefs

4B0F37C3-A42C-481F-BD30-71C67019E8D6Yesterday I was called to do a spontaneous letting go ritual on the land with a friend.
It came to me suddenly at dawn when I was taking some questions out for a walk and I found myself drawn to a particular eucalyptus tree.

It reminded me of an experience a had last year with another eucalyptus. It was on the first weekend of my ecotherapy certification with Ariana Candell of the Earthbody Institute, & we were doing a south shield somatic exercise.

At that time, I had particular hang-ups around body & movement; it was one reason I chose to study with her. I had particular stories and beliefs around, such as “I’m not a mover or a dancer” or “my body is ____” “my sexuality is ____”.

As a result, I was having difficulty dropping into the experience, then I saw all these strips of eucalyptus bark at my feet, then looked up & saw them falling off the trunk, while the upper branches danced in the wind and the new flowers were emerging.

I was just moved viscerally and it was one of my first real conscious experiences of nature as mirror, nature and psyche as co-partners in expression.

Everything alive sheds the old to make room for growth and the new.

I knew I had to strip away beliefs and attitudes that I’d carried for too long and were no longer serving. It resulted in me being much more comfortable in my body, and in the poem ‘Peel Away the Bark Of Yesterday’.

But back to the present: I knew I wanted to do an intentional ceremony and my friend was up for it, so we created a circle with bark and limbs, then wrote out limiting beliefs on madrone leaves, read them one by one aloud to each other, crumbled them, and then threw them behind us.


This time the limiting ideas I stripped away had to with my relationship to money, family, that love meant I had to abandon myself, that I’m not good with kids, & and ideas about how I have to live my relationship with lover nature.

How liberating!!

We both felt energized by the experience by making room for expansion. This is a type of activity we use in Wild Nature Heart programs. But you can do them yourself—I highly recommend these sort of spontaneous self-ceremonies done with intention. Listen to your intuition, get out of your own way, and honor your soul by trusting it knows what it needs.

Open Your Skin

D356FA82-0A00-451B-B21F-DA9A92C864F6Here’s a little poem that emerged from our Wild Nature Heart Deep Belonging gathering sense walk.

Open your tongue to the taste of the world
Open your skin to the texture of life
Open your ears to the heartbeat of things
Open your nose to the scent of the wind
Open your hands to the tribe of your choosing
Open your eyes to the place of your belonging
Open your heart to your true home within