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  • Writer's pictureJamie Quail

"The Nest" ​Excerpt from Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

"A nest - the bed prepared by a bird for holding its eggs and for incubating, hatching, and rearing its young - serves as a womb for the first stage of avian life, in which the chick undergoes a complete transformation from shell-encapsulated mystery to flying juvenile.

     Likewise, the Nest fashioned by human parents provides a loving and protective environment composed of the family and the nearby natural world, an environment of people and wild things that nurtures the human infant and young child while he undergoes the earliest phases of physical and psychological development. And like a hatchling, a human being in infancy and early childhood experiences a profound transformation, a metamorphosis from a being of spirit and primal innocence into a creature who possess conscious awareness of itself and its world. This appearance of conscious self-awareness marks the end of the Nest stage and is, in essence, the birth of a psychological personhood.

     A healthy Nest calls for devoted, soul centric parents or caregivers - and other community members - who understand the developmental needs of infants and preschool children, an understanding that is not nearly as common in our society as one might hope. The all-important tasks of the Nest, unlike those of any other stage, are not the conscious responsibility of the individual in this stage but belong instead to the parents and other community adults. These tasks are the preservation of innocence and the formation of a healthy, intact, culturally viable ego. The principal accomplishment of this stage is a conscious, relational self still connected with wildness - its own and Earth's," (Plotkin, 2008, p. 79).

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