On this excerpt from the latest Living Myth Premium episode, Michael Meade reads selected poems from The Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart, the renowned anthology edited along with Robert Bly and James Hillman. The recording includes reflections on the surprising dynamic of creating the anthology along with commentary on the importance of poetic inspiration. This is the first part of a Living Myth Premium podcast series that weaves poetry, spoken word and anecdotal stories about the role of art and creativity and the undying speech of the soul.
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Peace and blessings,
Michael Meade suggests that “when the walls are closing in,” what is typically missing is a connection to things that are authentic and creative, life-enhancing instead of self-limiting. An old wisdom tale turns the common world upside down, so that those who wield power to the detriment of the common folk are revealed to be inauthentic and fraudulent.
When those who are in power refuse to be authentic they wind up trapped in their own vanity and self-delusions. Instead of enhancing life for others, they wind up building walls that imprison themselves as well as everyone else. When the walls are closing in, there is usually a failure of the courage and imagination needed to find genuine solutions that diminish the fear and suffering that can so easily engulf the world.
On this episode, drawn from an in-depth interview on New Dimensions Radio, Michael Meade describes the current period of worldwide crisis as the “time of impossible tasks” and says, “We have to tap into the deep understanding of the human soul, one image of which is the wise elder.” In contrast to those who simply grow older, the genuine elder lives a life of meaning and purpose. The awakening of true elders can lead to a revitalization of youth, whose life dreams are intended to form part of the core imagination of the future. This deep dialogue is rich with metaphors that bring a sharp focus to imaginative healing possibilities for these times of trouble and radical change.
“We live in a world in which it is easier to divide things than unify them. Politics and polarization are both connected to the root word ‘pole’ which can appear as a unifying central pole, as in a tent, but can also divide into opposite poles. The unifying energy is there, but is not visible because it is not yet conscious.” So begins Michael Meade’s consideration of the essential dynamic of opposition leading to a new state of unity. In order to uncover the deeper sense and meaning of opposition and polarization, Meade goes to an ancient practice from a small tribe near the Amazon River. The ideas about the wise and the crosswise aspects of the soul helps elucidate the sense that in our individual lives and our collective experiences we are often looking for and longing for the third thing that is the medicine we most need.
On the first episode of the New Year, Michael Meade begins an exploration of the myths of creation and tales of re-creation that allow time to renew and the world to begin again. Any serious consideration of creation must also include the energies of chaos that continually dissolve and disintegrate what creation establishes in the world. An ancient story from India describes the “two hands of creation” through which the world recreates itself from emptiness as well as from abundance, from sorrow as well as joy and from despair as well as wonder.