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.”
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.
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.
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.