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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: January, 2022
Jan 26, 2022
This episode of Living Myth considers how we must find our way amidst the collapse of norms and rise of extremes that come at the end of an era.

 

The collective situation we are now in is overburdened with conflicts and oppositions; but also subject to sudden changes and extremes of all kinds. With each issue that becomes a source of conflict, we see how fragile life is, how the threads that weave things together can easily unravel. Increasingly, we see how the life maps we have been given do not match the terrains of confusion and places of upheaval we keep falling into.

 

Part of what drives people to extreme beliefs and behaviors is that many of our received ideas and common beliefs turn out to be unequal to the radical events we are witnessing. In the face of radical changes, people not only become disoriented, but can feel a loss of personal identity. This is especially true where people have over-identified with a collective point of view, a national identity or a particular ideology.

 

Normally suppressed feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and even dread become heightened as people feel more helpless and less able to have a meaningful plan or any sense of control of the course of their life. Yet, the situation we find ourselves in requires each individual to become consciously aware of far more aspects of reality that anyone expected. An expansion of self-identity as well as a deepening of understanding is required in order not to become part of the chaos or slip into a sense of psychic exhaustion, helplessness and despair.

 

Accepting that we are caught in the midst of a great turnaround that comes at the end of an era helps make sense of the tumultuous events and discordant feelings that surround us on a daily basis. It is also helpful to know that, at a psychological level, whatever tends to limit and restrict us will produce adverse reactions and extreme emotions when we face radical changes. Wherever we feel most constricted, we will feel most threatened by the presence of the archetypal energies of collapse and renewal that accompany the end of an era.

 

An old idea states that creation is the only outcome of conflict that can satisfy the human soul. In that sense, the stability and coherence we most desire involves a deeper connection to our own soul. And our souls require that we find ways to become part of a re-visioning of life and a re-creation of the world.

 

Rumi, that old master of understanding advises, "Look at birds, they make great sky circles of their freedom. And how do they learn to do that? They fall, and in falling, they are given wings."  We are like those birds, and we are falling, not of our own choosing, but because of the archetypal dynamic that begins with falling and collapse before it can find its way to a new sense of unity and renewal.

 

Sometimes we must find our way by falling. If we deny or resist the sense of loosening and falling that comes at the end of an era, we not only risk being caught in social or political extremes, we also risk losing our wings and the spirit of our own lives. And we can lose the possibility of becoming more conscious agents of a re-creation that is also trying to happen in the midst of all the uncertainty and upheaval that accompany times of change.

 

Thank you for listening to, and supporting, Living Myth.  You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members have access to the full archives of over 385 episodes, receive a 30% discount on all online events, courses and products and receive 3 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 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-being in this new year and we thank you for your support of our work.

 

Jan 19, 2022

Myth involves the underlying stories and secret histories of the soul. It helps reveal, not the facts of the matter, but the facts of life. Myth makes meaning of our life experiences. In that sense, myth is both ancient and immediate; it involves both remembering and making anew. When our experience increasingly involves feeling caught in confusions, restrictions and maddening twists and turns, mythic imagination can give us a poetic grasp of our own lives a s well as the world we live in.

 

Ancient myths of the labyrinth depict both being trapped in a complicated maze and following a thin thread that leads the way out. At this point, the contemporary world can seem a topsy-turvy labyrinth of confusion that we are all caught in. At the same time, Ariadne is always nearby, eternally offering us the thread of our own soul, which is the clue to how we find our way through life's obstacles and confusions.

 

Part of the worldwide labyrinth we are all caught within involves a pair of universally present, yet deeply contrasting myths. One saga involves epic tales of progress with the human species seen as climbing up from a primitive state to an enlightened condition. This “myth of progress” becomes a story of steady triumph over all obstacles with a goal of reaching a place of freedom from all limitations. When combined with ideas of evolution, many people simply believe that this heroic storyline is the essential human birthright and all that we need to know.

 

Yet, here on Earth, where things are paired like light and dark or up and down, there is a contradictory myth. The “myth of decline” begins with an ideal, golden age followed by a fall into descending periods of darkness and disorder. Under this narrative, all that people can look forward to is a collapse of the current civilization and its ruling ideas and a loss of order and civility as the energy of the world wears down, and the lights of creation go dim.

 

Each story can be seen as archetypal, each forming part of the natural inheritance of human imagination. Is there progress of some kind? Or is the whole thing going to hell in a hand basket? The answer is: Yes. For, each narrative depicts something essential about life on earth. We are the inheritors of both narratives and we are being asked to become conscious of both stories at the same time. That is part of the revelation of now, part of the apocalypse of now, and in many ways, part of awakening to the story of now.

 

If we willfully insist on the myth of progress, we are closing our eyes to all of the pain, loss and dissolution being suffered all over the earth at the level of climate crisis and the COVID crisis, at the level of the social disparities and the crisis of truth and meaning. If we take the myth of decline as a kind of nihilistic philosophy, that allows us to say there's nothing we can do, it's all just going to end any way. Then we are turning a blind eye to the presence of Ariadne's thread, and the continual invitation to find another way to see the dilemma and become part of the reweaving of the next version of the world.

 

From the place where our own souls try to awaken again and again, we can contribute to making meaning of the world we are in, no matter how chaotic it becomes. For chaos is connected to the imminence of creation. In the realm of myth, chaos is both the state that occurs at the end and also the state that occurs before things begin anew. We are being asked to be part of the creative tension of opposing energies and opposite stories that can lead to revelations about the living world and our role in assisting it to both come to an end and begin again.

 

Thank you for listening to, and supporting, Living Myth.  You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members have access to the full archives of over 385 episodes, receive a 30% discount on all online events, courses and products and receive 3 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 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-being in this new year and we thank you for your support of our work.

Jan 12, 2022

The word text can mean the definitive “written word,” as in scriptures considered to be the word of God. At this external level, texts are often taken literally, some even written in stone. However, root meanings of text are closer to a sense of “weaving, joining, fitting together.”

 

Whereas literalized texts tend to divide and polarize people; esoteric texts can carry subtle textures and symbolic threads that can weave things together at deeper levels. The text within the text can offer living textures for reweaving and rejoining all that has been literalized, polarized and torn asunder.

 

The trap of literal, exoteric texts came to mind when I read an article about a recent search to find Mount Sinai where the Bible tells how God spoke to Moses from within a burning bush. Hundreds of scientists and seekers set off on the solstice for a remote mountain in the desert in southern Israel. They hoped to witness a phenomenon that might prove to be the actual location of the burning bush at which Moses was appointed to lead the Israelites out of exile in Egypt.

 

The expedition included a 90-year-old archaeologist who had been seeking the historical location of the burning bush for decades. As he stated, "this is the story of the history of humankind." Another way to see it, an esoteric way to view it, is that this is part of an obsession with history, an example of the trap of the literal and the exoteric. When texts have to be taken literally and historically, revelatory events become trapped in the remote past and that tends to remove the divine from the present world. The more profound meanings and deeper connections to the divine and to the mystery of nature become lost.

 

Part of the wonder of the original event was the sense that the bush was on fire, yet was not consumed by the flames. When seen on a deeper, esoteric level, the burning bush can be any bush, any tree, almost anything that strikes us deeply, opens the eyes of our souls and allows us to see through the surface text to the deeper textures which include the mystical sense that everything in the world is burning in its own way. Any event can become an epiphany for the person who allows their soul to be struck by the presence of the divine in the things of this world at this time.

 

Nature can be seen as having its own esoteric language that can speak directly to our own inner nature. In that sense, the ecology movement may not change how people see and relate to the world unless it finds deeper, more esoteric levels of meaning and understanding. A genuine reweaving of human culture with great nature may require a more profound sense of the essential connection of the human soul to the living text of nature in which each moment is potentially an epiphany.

 

Ancient ideas of the cosmos include the sense of continual revelation, the world seen as a living text, as the open book of the divine word of creation ongoing. In losing our connection to the esoteric realm, we lose the vertical imagination that connects us with both heaven and earth. In the modern world, with its exaggeration of the statistical, the technological and the historical, the soul itself is exiled.

 

Imagination is the key to the esoteric levels of understanding and is also the true spark of the divine in each soul which can suddenly connect us to the heart of nature, as well as to the presence of things divine. The divine spark within us is like the flame inside the burning bush. It is a gift of life, a burning birthright through which we each share in the illumination of stars, in the burning heat of animal life, and in the cool inner fire of trees and the blue smoldering of water that used to be known as the Green Fire and the Blue Fire.

 

The flame that burns at the center of our heart and soul is our own inner nature seen in its fiery form. Because this inner flame can take many forms, it goes by many names - spirit, imagination, purpose, consciousness, soul, genius.

 

In order to truly see the world, in order to genuinely help this troubled world, the eyes of the soul need to open and see, not simply the exoteric level of life, but to the profound levels of the esoteric in all of life. When we see the world that way, everything can light up, anything can flare with beauty and spark our inner joy and remind us that we are part of the mystery of creation, the eternal living flame that manifests through the constant changeability and mutability of existence.

 

Thank you for listening to, and supporting, Living Myth.  You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members have access to the full archives of over 380 episodes, receive a 30% discount on all online events, courses and products and receive 3 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 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-being in this new year and we thank you for your support of our work.

Jan 6, 2022

At the beginning of the third year of the Covid Pandemic the point can’t simply be that once a cure is found, everything goes back to normal. After two years of the pandemic, the uncertainty about it persists and may even continue to grow. And we can be seen to be riding up and down on waves of information in a topsy-turvy world where everything can seem uncertain and everything can change in an instant.

 

The breaking of the current cycle involves breaking the spell of normalcy itself. For an important realization at this point in the history of the world is that there cannot be a return to normal; that everything has already changed and that uncertainty may have to be accepted as a conscious element of reality.

 

The pandemic, and all of the uncertainty that surrounds it, can be seen as a demonstration of how the “information age” is not simply conducive to good information. New technologies make it easy to collect information and data and distribute it rapidly. However, assessing information and especially understanding it still depends on old fashioned human judgment. Information can go viral and be available in an instant; but actual knowledge and true understanding take much more time to develop.

 

Genuine knowledge comes from reflection and patience; but also requires that we accept the presence of uncertainty. An ancient idea states that maturity in the human psyche means an increased capacity to hold opposite ideas at the same time. The ancient Greeks called it being double-minded or even many-minded. The point is that if a person only holds a single idea, it's like seeing the world with one eye. And seeing with only one eye can bring a person closer to becoming blind to what's going on.

 

We could say that the thread of life is leading us further into the tension between all that we used to believe was so certain and the increasing waves of uncertainty that are penetrating all levels of the world right now. Part of finding our way in the midst of all the trouble involves being able to see the world differently and learning to hold contradictory ideas or competing notions at the same time.

 

The point becomes not so much about what happens in the end, as much as how to be present in the midst of the dramas, tensions and challenges. The real danger is losing the natural human capacity to hold a creative tension until life changes and renews itself. The point becomes how to hold our attention long enough to recognize the unseen third thing that is trying to emerge from the increasing tensions and polarizations of life on Earth.

 

The real risk in this world has always been becoming one's true self amidst all the uncertainties of existence. The “little self” or ego self feels that it can’t handle life’s uncertainties. Yet, the soul or deeper sense of our self is never simply defeated by the confusions of life. The knowing soul within us knows why we came here, and what we are intended to live for. Learning to live the life of the soul aligns us with paths of true meaning. While we are on those paths, we not only can survive the tensions of life, but we find ourselves able to contribute to the healing and renewal of life.

 

Thank you for listening to, and supporting, Living Myth.  You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.

 

On behalf of Michael Meade and the whole Mosaic staff, we send you peace and blessings in this New Year and we thank you for your support of our work.

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