Nature, Culture, and the Sacred

A Woman Listens For Leadership

by Nina Simons

Publication Year: 2022

Winner of the 2018 Nautilus Gold Award (category: Women)
and 2018 Nautilus Silver Award (category: Social Change & Social Justice)

Bioneers co-founder Nina Simons offers inspiration for anyone who aspires to grow into their own unique form of leadership with resilience and joy. Informed by her extensive experience with multicultural women’s leadership development, Simons replaces the old patriarchal leadership paradigm with a more feminine-inflected style that illustrates the interconnected nature of the issues we face today.

Sharing moving stories of women around the world joining together to reconnect people, nature and the land—both practically and spiritually—Nature, Culture and the Sacred is necessary reading for anyone who wants to learn from and be inspired by women who are leading the way towards transformational change by cultivating vibrant movements for social and environmental justice.


Expanded Second Edition!

Table of Contents

Introduction 7



Shifting Guidance from Head to Heart 17

A River of Purpose: A Human-Nature Landscape 21

Listening for Guidance: Mystery, Intuitionand Dreamtime 36

Cultivating Relational Intelligence 41

Through Darkness, and Into Vision 51

From Mourning Into Daybreak 56

Reinventing Leadership: Reclaiming the Feminine(Interview with Lauren

Schiller, Inflection Point) 63




At the Front Lines: The Global War on Women 83

Grassroots Women: Restoring Relations Around the World 90

Reclaiming Activism: Indigeneity, Leadership and Collaboration (Interview

with Ayana Young, For the Wild) 99

Illuminating Possibilities: Leaders Lifting Others Up 110

The Power of Story 131

The Power of Story: Eve Ensler 137

Celebrating Women’s Ways 142



Valuing Relationship & Tradition: Towards a Future that Works for All 149

Healing at the Intersections: Environment and Social Justice Conjoin at

Bioneers (acceptance speech for the Goi Peace Award) 155

Escaping the Tilted Room 165

Trauma, Rupture and Repair 171

Pathways for Repair after Ruptures: Best Practices (Notes from the Journey)


Women Finding Voice: The Relationship between Inner and Outer Work (A

Conversation with Terry Tempest Williams) 196

Nature, Culture & Spirit: Integration and Congruence through Practical Magic


Acknowledgments 231

Selected Bibliography 235

Praise for Nature, Culture & the Sacred:

This is the time when the power of women returns to us, as we reaffirm our relationships to each other and to our Mother Earth. Together we will doula the next economy into being, re-birthing ourselves and this world. Nina’s writing explores the path forward on this journey that we will make together.  —Winona LaDuke, Executive Director, Honor the Earth

The world seems to be divided into two kinds of people—those who divide everything into two, and those who don’t. Reading Nature, Culture and the Sacred is a step toward melting this false division into “feminine” and “masculine,” allowing each of us to become fully human again and at last. —Gloria Steinem, Co-founder of Ms. Magazine

In Nature, Culture and the Sacred Nina Simons has woven a compelling and honest tapestry of hard-earned personal and collective wisdom, honoring the earth and igniting the revolutionary ways of women. It’s a book as much about the inside as it is about the outside, exploring where and how they can meet for a sustainable future.  —V (formerly Eve Ensler), founder of V-Day
and author of The Vagina Monologues

Nature, Culture and the Sacred: A Woman Listens for Leadership is the perfect book for this historical moment. Nina Simons not only knows the rare gifts of leadership women can offer, she also reveals how challenge and adversity brings these gifts forth more brilliantly and powerfully.  —Joanna Macy, author of World As Lover, World As Self

Nina Simons About the Author


NINA SIMONS is co-founder of Bioneers, and a social entrepreneur passionate about reimagining leadership, restoring balance to the feminine and masculine, and helping to heal relations with ourselves, each other and the Earth. She is co-editor of Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart, and a contributor to Ecological and Social Healing: Multicultural Women’s Voices. She co-facilitates transformative intensives and retreats and loves co-evolving in beloved community. Nina has been honored to receive a Robert Rodale award and in 2017, the Goi Peace Award. For more about her work, and to learn where she may be speaking or teaching, visit or



As the world hurtles from urgency to emergency, we can move from breakdown to breakthrough. We can shift our course to reimagine how to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other and future generations.

Bioneers highlights and helps realize the profound transformation already taking hold around the globe: the dawn of a human civilization that partners with the wisdom of nature’s design, and practices values of justice, diversity, democracy and peaceful co-existence. Around the world in diverse fields of endeavor, social and scientific innovators have been developing and demonstrating far better technological, economic, social, and political models inspired by the wisdom of the natural world and traditional peoples. Human creativity focused on problem-solving is eclipsing the mythology of despair.

Since 1990, Bioneers has acted as a seed head for the game-changing social and scientific vision, knowledge and practices advancing this great transformation, with First Peoples and indigenous knowledge systems as central to our work. As a community of leadership, Bioneers is helping disrupt our current failed institutions by offering people better choices. We show a compelling vision, practical models and “the how,” through our annual national conference, award-winning media, local Bioneers conferences and initiatives, and leadership training programs. Learn more at

Photo by Genevieve Russell

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