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Living Myth

Mosaic presents Living Myth, a podcast with Michael Meade, renowned mythologist and storyteller. Meade presents mythic stories that offer uniquely insightful and wise ways of understanding the current dilemmas of the world we live in. Living Myth proposes that genuine solutions to the complex and intractable problems of our world require both transcendent imagination and cohering, transformative narratives.
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Now displaying: February, 2022
Feb 23, 2022

This episode of Living Myth begins with a current controversy over mistakes made in baptism ceremonies in a Catholic church. Michael Meade then considers the origins of baptism and need for reconnection to “…the spirit of life and the transformative powers of nature that is more a matter of lived experience, than abstracted belief.”

 

A recent news article describes how years of baptisms performed at a Catholic Church in Arizona have been declared invalid. Church leaders discovered that a priest had misused the prescribed text by saying “we baptize you” instead of “I baptize you.” Although the mistake was unintentional, the result is not only that thousands of baptisms are now invalid, but also that all subsequent sacraments for those involved were also invalidated, including confirmations and marriages.

 

The religious ceremony of baptism can involve a prescribed creed or system of fixed beliefs that must be followed literally and precisely. Yet, an old idea contrasts fixed creeds with the sense of wonder and awe that has more to do with direct, conscious experiences of the spirit of life. By its nature, a creed is dogmatic and fixed, whereas awe and wonder involve immediate, revelatory experiences and epiphanies of the spirit.

 

Originally, baptism was not a one-time event connected to a religious doctrine, nor was it a matter of anointing the forehead of a newborn child. To baptize means “to immerse or dip in water” and typically this meant full immersion in a living body of water. Baptismal rites go back to ancient times and were intended to connect individual human souls with the spirit of life and the transformative powers of nature. And that is more a matter of lived experience, than abstracted belief.

 

The issue is not simply that we are in a fallen world that lacks the presence of the divine; but rather that we become caught in fallen visions that collapse the ever-changing wonder of life into that which is simply literal, factual, and historical.

 

Rather than a single formal event, ancient baptisms might be enacted whenever a person became stuck in life or suffered a disorienting loss. Water was universally considered to be the original source of life, an essential element for cleansing and blessing, but also the reconciling element of nature.

 

We are at the end of an era and in the midst of worldwide disorientation. As institutions collapse, people have less and less to trust in and believe in. It’s as if belief itself seems to collapse. That can be troubling and disconcerting; yet it is helpful to know that what we most need in times of upheaval is not another system of belief, but genuine felt experiences of the spiritual and soulful dimensions of our lives.

 

In a sense, we either drown in the splits, conflicts and confusions of our lives or surrender to something greater than ourselves in order to reconcile what divides us within. Like devotees entering the Ganges River and traditional people throughout time, we can immerse ourselves in something seen and felt to be sacred and transformative. We originally came from the waters of the womb and instinctively seek a return to the cleansing waters of reconciliation that can dissolve the hardness of the heart and allow our inner life to flow freely again.

 

Primary to the awakening of an individual soul is a felt connection to the heart of the living world. There is no one way, no single path for arriving at the point of transformation, that can involve both stillness and change, both loss and renewal. Once we surrender, the water of our deepest troubles can become the water of our own solution. In a mysterious way, our life is re-solved, reconciled and therefore renewed.

 

There's an old saying that we have each come to life to bring the wonder back. That implies that the wonder natural to life keeps being lost and also that part of our mission in life is to find it again. Of course, one of the quickest ways to lose the sense of awe and wonder is to reduce the living mystery to a system of fixed belief that takes us out of the flow of life, instead of deeper into it.

 

When the time of collapse and upheaval comes around again, something ancient in us longs to touch the origins of life. No one can prove it, and no one has to believe it, but something in us can return to a still point where our first breath once formed. In that invisible, inner center life can renew itself, and we can become imbued with a breath of wholeness and thereby connect to our original life potentials again.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting the podcast. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his current online series “Lead into Gold” and upcoming online workshop “A Self in Training”. Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events. 

 

You can save 30% on these events and further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Along with a discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles, members receive access to the full archives of nearly 400 episodes and bonus episodes each month. Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.

 

As always, we appreciate you leaving a review on wherever you listen to this podcast and sharing it with your friends. On behalf of Michael Meade and the whole Mosaic staff, we wish you well and thank you for your support of our work.

Feb 16, 2022

This episode begins with a fairy tale in which a wondrous tree grows in a palace garden at the center of a realm. The tree at the center produces golden fruit; but each night a golden apple mysteriously vanishes. The culprit turns out to be a golden bird that drops a shining feather before also disappearing. The rest of the tale involves searching for various elements that represent the golden self within us that is the natural inheritance of the human psyche.

 

In the story, the connection to the golden bird appears as light as a feather. Yet, if we do not pick up the feather of our own lives, we can miss our calling and fall out of the story of our own soul. What was once as light as a feather can become a heavy psychic load, leaving us stuck in depression, in self-rejection or feeling lost. Yet again, the idea of an inner alchemy depends upon the potential for human transformation, which is symbolized by turning the lead in our lives into gold.

 

You can hear Michael Meade talk more about inner gold and the alchemy of change by joining his new online series “Lead into Gold” that begins on Friday, February 18. Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events. 

 

You can save 30% on this series and further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Along with a discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles, members receive access to the full archives of nearly 400 episodes and bonus episodes each month. Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.

 

As always, we appreciate you leaving a review on wherever you listen to this podcast and sharing it with your friends. On behalf of Michael Meade and the whole Mosaic staff, we wish you well and thank you for your support of our work.

 

Feb 9, 2022
This episode begins with a shocking controversy in which threats from extremists and conspiracy theorists force the National Butterfly Center to close down. Michael Meade connects the nightmare scenarios of current life with the dark stages of dissolution that precede the transformation of butterflies.

There is a great mystery in the metamorphosis that brings a lowly caterpillar to the majesty of the winged creature that emerges from a chrysalis. Since ancient times, humans have used the emergence of butterflies to symbolize the wonder of life's capacity to completely transform. For thousands of years, humans have looked to butterflies as a reassuring symbol in times of change.

Yet at this moment, when the entire Earth is in the throes of an uncertain transformation, butterflies have become a symbol of loss rather than renewal, an evidence of collapse rather than redemption. Monarch butterflies migrating south from California must now pass through areas where native habitats are already 95% diminished by modern culture and human interference.

Many migrating butterflies find refuge at a nature preserve that sits at the southern tip of Texas, facing the border with Mexico. For decades, the National Butterfly Center has served as a nature sanctuary along the banks of the Rio Grande River. Nature enthusiasts travel great distances to watch the delicate creatures float over the wildflowers in what many have called a magical place.

In recent years however, the butterfly center has been thrust into the news and caught in the storms of conflict over immigration policies at the border. Strange as it may seem, it has now also become a landing place for wild conspiracy theories that border on insanity.

The troubles began when then president Trump ordered a section of border wall to be built right through the National Butterfly Center in order to the migration of “illegal aliens.” What began as a legal battle over this “butterfly wall,” has recently morphed and escalated as extremists began posting and pushing conspiracy theories about the nature center. The new attack claims that the butterfly refuge is secretly run by “left wing thugs with a sham butterfly agenda.”

Extremist groups have asserted, without any evidence, that pedophilia and rampant sex trade were taking place on the property along with illegal migration. A rapid escalation of online and in-person harassment of the sanctuary staff soon followed. Recently, increasing threats of violence by far right extremists and Qanon conspiracy followers have caused the butterfly center to close indefinitely.

It seems hard to exaggerate the distortions occurring when butterflies become the center of a controversy promoted by those who deny reality and refuse to accept the need for meaningful cultural change and healing at this time. Part of the irony includes the fact that butterflies are not migratory in the sense of human migrants who might, for any number of reasons, be crossing borders and boundaries. Rather, the migration of butterflies demonstrates the interconnectedness of everything and everyone as well as the capacity of life to continually transform and renew.

Those so fiercely threatening violence at the gates of the butterfly center may be caught in a nightmare of their own making. Yet, there is also a nightmare quality to being alive at this time when radical changes place extraordinary stress upon each person. Reports of climate crisis and all manner of cultural upheavals cannot simply be contained by the individual psyche, nor can they simply be dismissed. As the web of life loosens amidst rapid changes, everything can become psychically charged, as if some collective process of shedding and recovery has to happen before a meaningful transformation can occur.

The word psyche, often used to indicate the human soul or spirit, derives from a Greek root that means butterfly or night moth. Just as butterflies go through phases of darkness and even disintegration before they can manifest their intended beauty and wonder, the psyche of humanity now seems to be suffering stages of darkness and dissolution on the way to a greater awakening.

Butterflies can appear to be delicate and changeable like the human psyche; yet they are also hardy and determined as they undertake epic migrations. Indigenous tribes of the American Southwest particularly revered butterflies whose exquisite presence was considered a miracle, not just of transformation, but also resurrection. The current journey of humanity involves returning to essential connections to our own nature and thereby to great nature; but also to the core mystery of life, death, and renewal, symbolized since ancient times by the metamorphosis of the butterfly.
 

You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his new online series and workshop that begin on Friday, February 18. Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events

 

You can save 30% on these events and further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.

 

As always, we appreciate you leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to this podcast and sharing it with your friends. On behalf of Michael Meade and the whole Mosaic staff, we wish you well and thank you for your support of our work.

Feb 2, 2022

This episode begins with a dream of two fathers and an ancient tale that opens up the complicated territory that fathers and sons are bound to enter.

 

Fathers and sons can find themselves caught in the deep patterns and sweeping energies of mythological as well as psychological dynamics. Human fathers unwittingly join a long line of paternal figures that can appear as distant and out of touch or else as demanding, dominating and rejecting. Ancient Greeks had the gods Ouranos and Kronos to represent these extremes of fathering, while Romans called them Jupiter and Saturn.

 

In psychological terms, they can be called the absent father and the devouring father. Not that there aren't many other fatherly characteristics; but more that in critical moments, one or the other type of energy tends to appear. As inevitable tensions and confusions arise between father and son, a father will often feel pulled to extremes that seem out of proportion to the situation.

 

At one extreme the Ouranos or Sky father tends to escape the grasp of his children through vague, cloudy answers, disappearing into abstract principles, hiding behind the veil of a newspaper, a computer screen or a personal device. This kind of father may be easygoing, but also tends to disappear at critical times. Like old Ouranos, the absent father elevates above it all, leaving a gap between himself and his children. And that leaves them feeling abandoned and uncertain, unprotected and overexposed when facing the world.

 

The spirit of Kronos or Saturn pulls the human father the opposite way into tendencies for dominance, angry conflicts, even devouring rages. In myths, Saturn sees his children as a threat to his downfall. In this pattern the child is not avoided, but can be attacked or punished simply for reaching out to father or towards a reward in life. Before the son can even get going, the father snaps at him or cuts him down, having the effect of devouring his natural ambitions and efforts to enter life more fully. If a father refrains from attacking his child, he can still hold the Saturn position through acidic waves of cynicism or the cutting edge of sarcasm.

 

One type of father moves through the lives of his children like a mysterious cloud pattern they cannot hold on to, disappearing just when they need him near. While the other father type storms about, suddenly snapping and stomping through the lives of his children, so that they feel that they cannot get away from him. The sons of Ouranos can't quite get going in life, while the sons of Saturn are punished for trying to get things going on their own.

 

Even when father and son relate well, a single bitter occasion may cut the intimate connection from one to the other. How often is it heard that a man hasn't spoken to his father in many years or that a father can’t find a way to communicate with his son since a certain event occurred or a kind of curse passed between them. All or nothing can be how things go with fathers and sons, as what happens between them can suddenly lead to severe disappointments, to alienation and mutual exile.

 

As the old stories try to remind us, there are spirits involved; there are deities in our lives and in our closest troubles. There is something that goes further back and deeper down than father or son, parent or child might expect. To become a parent, just as to become someone's child, means to become part of a mystery that reaches back to the beginning of time. We are each born into a mystery that can only be solved by finding the natural nobility of our own souls. In doing that, we become more truly human and thus more able to forgive ourselves and see how others are caught in the mysteries of their own lives.

 

You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his new online series “Lead to Gold” that begins on Friday, February 18. Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events. 

 

You can save 30% on this series and further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.

 

As always, we appreciate you leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to this podcast and sharing it with your friends. On behalf of Michael Meade and the whole Mosaic staff, we wish you well and thank you for your support of our work.

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