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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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Nov 17, 2017

This episode of Living Myth begins with the flood of revelations of sexual harassment and abuse being revealed in all areas of contemporary culture.  Michael Meade uses the metaphor of lifting a veil that reveals the structural and pervasive imbalance between men in positions of power and women who are wounded by their actions. He asks the question: how long is the road from the place where men have often stood to the areas of deep wounding where the hearts of so many women reside? Things take a mythic turn and lead to one of the great myths from India in which the loss of the feminine and spread of poison brings the entire world to the brink of disaster.

Nov 7, 2017

This episode of Living Myth begins in the sorrowful aftermath of the latest mass shooting in America. The dark atmosphere becomes compounded by the realization that the United States is now the only country in the world that has not signed the Paris Climate Accord.  After considering the grief and fear caused by the procession of tragedies and the practices of denial, Meade turns to the old idea of the Friends of the Soul as a way for people to find meaningful levels of support and encouragement in the midst of these troubling times. He draws upon ancient traditions from around the world to bring back to life the sense that we need soul friends, whether it be in the form of a confidant or companion, a mentor, teacher or lover.

If we are to survive the flood of tragedies and growing climate threats it becomes more important than ever that we find genuine Friends of the Soul. If we are to create a collective transformation of culture we need genuine friends who can help nourish our inner spirit and sustain the true aim of each other’s lives.

Nov 2, 2017

This episode of Living Myth begins in the midst of all the chaos in the world that includes terrorism, misogyny, bigotry and social injustice.  It tracks the origins of human resentment and misdeeds to a shared alienation that derives from the loss of a meaningful cosmology and a shared mythology.  A consideration of the universal dynamic of chaos and cosmos leads to the edge of the world where the human soul waits for a new vision of the interconnectedness of all life.

Oct 26, 2017

This episode of Living Myth looks at the darkest time of the year and considers the ancient ideas of facing the darkness to find the hidden light of inspiration and renewal.  Michael Meade looks at the origins of Halloween and the Day of the Dead and follows threads  of mythology and cosmology all the way back to the beginning of the world.  In the course of this journey, Meade weaves a personal story of facing darkness with an ancient Celtic story, leading to “the drop of eternity that is the threshold and hinge between darkness and light, between time and eternity.”

Oct 19, 2017

This episode of Living Myth focuses upon abuses of power and the shadow that forms when power is given to those who remain unconscious of their own wounds and neediness.  Michael Meade follows an ancient story into the village under the world where a person in power undergoes a ceremony of cleansing and healing.

Those who rise to great heights and handle power have need for repeated healing if they are to develop some inner nobility. For whoever rises closest to the light must also cast the greatest shadow. Whoever would become elected would best submit to continual cleansing and healing or else suffer a great fall when the shadow erupts and the inner decay becomes revealed.

Oct 12, 2017

Beginning with a consideration of all the conflicts in the world and how the underlying oppositions of life become increasingly revealed before us, Michael Meade uses the sense of increasing polarization as an indication that something deeper and more unifying is also trying to appear.  Amidst the growing uncertainty, he suggests it is important to find meaningful paths to follow and soulful ways to live.  Using old stories about spiritual conflicts of belief, he works his way towards the ancient Tree of Life and the old idea of the Great Way and how the many ways of art and practice are intended to lead us to the unifying tree at the center of life.

Oct 5, 2017

This episode begins with a distinction between signs and symbols, specifically the sense that a sign points to something evident whereas a symbol can connect to the mysteries of life and death.  In the aftermath of the most recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, and amidst the ongoing tragic conditions in Puerto Rico, Michael Meade talks about the necessity of having a meaningful practice for finding psychic grounding and places of stability.  He also laments that the battle between life and death has become the story of modern culture and argues for the necessity of “living symbols” that connect us to the enduring presence of the other world and the deep imagination that is the genuine legacy of the human soul.

Sep 28, 2017

Michael Meade begins with a poem that suggests that the big dream of the world may be increasingly obscured by the nightmare of endless war and the growing number of conflicts throughout the world. In a heartfelt response to many who write in about being discouraged about life, he argues that freedom is found in the active, imaginative mind and in the hidden poetic union of the soul.  Weaving ideas about the roots of human creativity and the articulation of beauty and meaning in the world, the path leads to ideas of the deep self as being the center of life and source of the ongoing dream of the world.  In the midst of annihilating storms and threatening culture wars, the individual self and soul become the necessary place to turn to and the essential place to stand when the future of the world is at risk.

Sep 21, 2017

Michael Meade takes the occasion of Donald Trump’s address to the United Nations to look at both the abuses of power and the genuine roots of power.  Meade tells an ancient myth from India in which the deity Indra becomes inflated and unbalanced after a victory that makes him the ruler of this world.  In order to bring Indra down to earth, Vishnu, the God of Creation appears as a ragged beggar boy who instructs the ruler on the limits and  delusions of power.  This weaving together of contemporary events with mythic perspectives helps reveal how power and authority repeatedly need to be re-imagined and grounded in the human soul where the roots of nobility and humility reside.

Sep 13, 2017

This episode of Living Myth begins with the idea that we all suffer the mutual fate of living in a time of tragedy and trouble. And yet, the way through the troubles of the world must depend upon the individual thread of fate woven within each person.  Although the thread of fate implies limitation in each person’s life, it also ties each person to a destiny waiting to awaken.  In order to illustrate the dynamic of personal limitations and calling, Michael Meade tells the story of how he came to write the book called “Fate and Destiny”. 

There may be no greater time than these troubled times for understanding how the exact limits of an individual life can lead to the specific destiny that was the aim of that life from the beginning.  As Meade says, “destiny is purpose seen from the other end of life.”

Sep 7, 2017

This episode takes place in the open moment that is both the aftermath and devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the imminent arrival of another catastrophic storm.  Amidst the nightmare of overwhelming storms come political actions that threaten the future of the Dreamers with nightmares of their own.  In the face of worldwide adversity and uncertainty it takes a certain kind of blindness and cruelty to reject the young dreamers; for no one knows who carries the seeds of the dream trying to be born after the storms have passed.

Using poetry and ancient myths, Michael Meade points out that when the whole thing seems about to fall apart, revelations of the deep self and the deep dream of life might be closer than ever.  The threat of collapse and utter loss can also provoke a deeper sense of the unity of life where nothing but our total involvement and soulful inclusion will work. 

Aug 30, 2017

This episode takes place during the record-setting rainfall of Hurricane Harvey and the tremendous tragedy and displacement that follows the storm.  Michael Meade uses the metaphors of the tough-minded and tender-hearted as ways of understanding the two sides of heroic efforts to save people and survive the disasters of life.   Using James Joyce’s idea of  living in the time of chaosmos, Meade looks into the eye of the storm of tragedy in search of the underlying nobility of the human soul and its capacity to survive by the surprising elements of altruism and cooperation.

Aug 25, 2017

This episode begins with reflections on whiteness arising from Mosaic’s recent multicultural conference that came on the heels of the tragedy in Charlottesville, VA.  Michael Meade seeks to analyze and deconstruct white supremacy by looking at the cosmological trick that led to using color as a primary aspect of identity.  Pointing out how whiteness claims purity at the same time as it produces oppositional thinking, Meade reveals how the misuse of a symbol contributes to centuries of oppression.  Breaking the spell of whiteness as an aspect of collective identity turns out to be a necessary step for stopping oppression and finding cultural healing.

Aug 14, 2017

Drawing from relevant and compelling archival audio and building on themes from last week's podcast, Michael Meade tells an old and timely story from Japan while arguing for a poetic response to conflict, uncertainty and fear.  Meade suggests that genuine peace requires a poetic basis, a relearning of ways to weave the fragile fabric of culture with threads of imagination, meaning, and healing; not a quick fix or a simple protest, but a reclamation of radical roots and practices that affirm and nourish the genuine spirit of humanity. This is the real battle, the battle for beauty and meaning trying to break through the spells of the obvious and the fogs of war.

Aug 10, 2017

Michael Meade speaks about moments when myth and fact approach each other, momentous times that the Greeks called Apocairos. Stepping off from moments of threat and uncertainty created by the bombastic statements made by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, Meade opens up the mythic ground of “apocalypsis” that remind us that the world has been on the brink of annihilation many times before, and yet continues because of the slight edge that the energies of creation have over the energies of destruction. 

This recording is full of surprising ideas about war and peace, the role of elders in times of threat and what each of us can do to be on the ground of creation, on the side of peace and in the fields of endless imagination.

Aug 4, 2017

Michael Meade tells a dramatic life and death story from his youth that shows how we are each shaped by compelling threads of fate and destiny woven in our souls. Having been cornered and under threat by members of a rival gang, the youthful Meade suddenly finds himself telling a story that, in effect, saves his life.  Having established the sense of an archetypal pattern present in each soul, the tale leads us back to ancient Greece and the myth of the Sisters of Fate.

Fate appears as whatever limits, restricts or even imprisons us; yet fate is the territory where we must go if we are to awaken to our inner destiny. Facing the elements of one’s fate and seeking the destiny hidden within it are part of the art of truly living and of living truly. Fate ties us to the world and keeps us in it, while destiny calls us to a divine errand set deeply within us.

Jul 27, 2017

Beginning with an old tale of an eagle that grew up believing it was a chicken; Michael Meade considers the necessity of a second birth that frees the spirit and the soul. Being born is a kind of miracle of life; especially in the sense that each soul that enters this world is unique and never to be repeated. Yet, in order to be fully alive a person must be born a second time. The second birth involves the cracking open of the shell of the little self and a conscious awakening to the inner nature of the individual soul.

It is never enough to simply fit in or just survive; for the soul aims at a destiny from the beginning. A culture that views success in simple terms of money or power will lack the imagination and vision necessary for shaping a meaningful and inclusive future. What really changes the world and what saves us from chaos and despair is the revelation of the spirit within us and the genuine expression of our own souls.

Jul 20, 2017

Michael Meade examines the differences between spirit and soul. After describing how spirit rises like air, like fire and soul descends like water, like earth, he turns to the struggle of spirit and soul in each human life. “Without the lift and the light of spirit, soul can become too heavy, sodden with earthiness, too tragic or stuck in the mud to move anything forward. Without the shading of soul, what could become wise can become way too sure of itself, to certain of the way and too blinded by the light.”

What is lost often missing in the modern world is depth of soul and soulful connections. “The deeper a person grows the roots of their soul, their instinctive embodied way of connecting to the earth, to the breath of creation, to the ground of being, the more that person can handle the heights and the flights of spirit. Wholeness requires descent as well as ascent. In the end, we can handle as much spirit as we grow our souls.”

“Soul doesn’t want a sudden solution to the problems of the world, or a sudden enlightenment that takes us out of this world. Soul wants us to live further and further into the depths of this world and into our own being, and thereby draw spirit down and bring heaven right down to Earth.”

Secretly, spirit and soul are trying to come together, to unite, but it’s usually the depth of soul that’s missing. By growing more soul each person can become a unique example of the middle ground of creation where spirit can descend and soul can rise. Human beings become the place of ongoing creation where the tremendous energies of spirit and soul can come together in a conscious way.

Jul 11, 2017

This episode begins with the old Irish idea that we can experience the world in opposing states called “the glam and the gloom.” The world has glamour when it shines with beauty and wonder, but it also has shadows and gloomy depths which can be experienced as anxiety, grief, and sorrow. Michael Meade connects this old idea to the current condition of the world where the constant drumbeat of troubles ranging from climate disturbances to political devastations creates more gloom in the form of fears and sorrows and even despair.

Antidotes for this modern condition are found in an old myth from India. The story begins when the god Vishnu dreams up the world while sleeping on the cosmic ocean of night. When the first human sage falls out of the dream of life, he winds up lost in the ocean of despair. Surprisingly, the sage finds a dream in the depths of his own soul that gives him both buoyancy and a spiritual orientation. That leads the storyteller to describe the ancient paths of spiritual practice that may once again be the way to find the touch of the divine and the dream of life.

Jul 6, 2017

This episode begins with the increasing tension between North Korea and the United States. The war of words between the two nations takes place with the threat of nuclear attacks in the background as levels of collective anxiety rise throughout the world.
In addition to all the politics and history involved, there can be an unconscious stirring of the elemental polarity between the contrasting world views of the Orient and the Occident. Michael Meade shows how East and West, aligned with the rising and setting sun, can also represent a beginning and end-- revealing an even deeper opposition than the North/South divisions that afflict countries like Korea, Vietnam, Ireland, etc.

As this opposing tension mounts, Meade digs deeper, looking for the third thing that can hold beginning and end together and also provide the imaginative ground needed to find new ways to shift the world-wide tensions into creative directions. 

Jun 29, 2017

Michael Meade takes us all the way back to the beginning of Western culture as depicted in Homer’s Odyssey. He leads us into the moment when the young prince is lamenting the collapse of the realm and the loss of nobility in culture. He encounters an old sailor who has survived many storms and disorienting experiences and therefore embodies a sense of deep knowledge and wisdom. This mythic moment involving the coming together of youth and elder becomes a seminal point from which to view our current cultural issues and conflicts. In the midst of the current arguments about national health and human care, Meade finds a way to lead us to an old and knowing place where the nobility and wisdom of the human soul appear and blessings might be imagined again.

Jun 20, 2017

Michael Meade takes the period of the Summer Solstice as a time to consider the hidden sun within the human soul. Using the ancient notion of a “dark sun” within the self, he considers both the overheating of the planet and the need for finding the abundance of golden qualities hidden inside people. “Unlike the outer sun, which can be so searing and burning in the contemporary world, the deep radiance of the inner sun of the self is both creative and healing.”

In the modern world, where so many things are dedicated to the surface of life, the notion of turning deep inside to find what is truly needed takes courage. Each person is golden in some way. Yet, if it were easy to move from the narrow ways of the ego self to the deep presence of the great self within us, more people would be doing it.

“The sense of spiritual gold being hidden in the heart or the self permeates all the great religions and most spiritual practices. And yet in order for us to feel this inner warmth and benefit from the inner radiance, the ego, which keeps thinking it is in charge, must loosen and open and become a servant of the deeper self and sun within.”

With poems from Hafiz and Machado as guides, Meade wanders in the territory of the heart seeking to touch the deeper realms of self and soul where the “treasure hard to find” and the inner radiance of the soul wait to be discovered and be delivered to an outer world which grows steadily darker.

Jun 15, 2017

This episode begins with a description of the youngest sisters and youngest brothers in fairy tales. They seem out of place and behind everyone else, yet they are the only ones able to break the collective spells of materialism, resentment and despair. They represent the genuine dreamer inside all of us and they are deeply connected to the dream of life and the wisdom of mythology. As agents of myth they have exactly what this troubled world most needs. However, it is the attitudes of the older brothers and sisters that prevail in the daily world. Only after all else has failed will people turn to the youngest sister or brother within who has been holding onto the true dream of life all along.

Michael Meade lays out the old idea of the Three Kinds of Thinking: the logical, the psychological and the mythological. Following the trail of the youngest aspects of the psyche, he shows how “when all else makes no sense, mythic imagination makes the most sense.” Myth is the deepest layer of life where grace and wisdom and even redemption can be found.

Jun 6, 2017

Michael Meade responds to President Trump’s abrupt backing out of the Paris Accord, leaving the US as one of a few countries out of accord with the increasing need for nations and communities to come together for the sake of the planet. This mythological response leads back to creation stories and an old idea suggesting that when the way forward is unclear, go back to the beginning, because origins retain possibilities and potentials waiting to be revealed. The mythic beginnings of human culture include a depth of imagination capable of generating long-term visions, the exact thing lacking in short-term, self-serving political acts.
 
A telling of the Mayan creation story describes how when the hard rain comes down upon this world, some people melt out of fear or lack of courage; while others become rigid, narrow-minded, and hard-hearted.  Ancient myths help explain how human blindness causes great damage in the world, but also make it possible to see how the whole situation might be redeemable. If people become capable again of connecting to nature and the deep imagination of the human soul, a new narrative might begin and the pulse of creation might be renewed.

May 31, 2017

On this episode, Michael Meade speaks about soul as the essential connective tissue of life and the missing ingredient in the current upheaval of culture and nature. He addresses how myth can be an antidote for fear and anxiety and delves into the surprising relationship between genius and wounds to the soul.

Each human soul is the bearer of genius gifts, but each soul also has core wounds that need to be acknowledged. There is a necessary balance between our learning our gifts and healing our inner wounds. Awakening the genuine self within us requires the courage to feel and face inner wounds and seek their healing. This can lead to discovering the genius hidden behind our wounds and understanding how to fully express our genius in the world. We live at a time when everyone’s gifts are needed, but also a time when both culture and nature need healing. The world needs us to awaken to our innate gifts and we need genuine “friends of the self” who can help us stay on the path of giving our gifts and healing our souls.

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