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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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Jun 22, 2022

Amongst the increasing number of divisions that we now find in the contemporary world, one of the most damaging separations develops where the modern world becomes separated from, and at odds with, the realm of nature on one hand and what people used to call the “world behind the world” on the other hand. The old wisdom shared by many traditions stated that what is broken or wounded in this world can only be healed by the Otherworld, the realm of spirit and great imagination. In denying or dismissing the nearby realm of the otherworld, modern cultures wind up, not just fenced in by fixed ideas and failing ideologies, but also blindly separated from the very sources from which healing might come.

 

As humans we are mythic by nature, living on the verge of wonder and but a step from the otherworld all the time. We visit it in sleep and become the bearers of dreams. We fall into it whenever we fall in love. We ascend to it when we allow ourselves to be inspired and lose touch with its grandeur and deep wisdom whenever we insist that things be seen as only factual, measurable or simply rational.

 

The betwixt and between, intermediary realm appears in all kinds of myths and stories when the main character has become disoriented or lost and does not know which way to turn. Typically, that is the place the helping animals or the wise old woman or the bird of spirit appear as guides, teachers and healers and Intermediaries from the otherworld. As characters in our own stories, we find ourselves in a time of great upheaval and in the betwixt and between condition that comes at the end of an era. If we accept the condition of “not knowing” and being vulnerable, we move closer to the otherworld which has always been the source of imagination, healing and potential renewal.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 425 episodes and 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

Jun 17, 2022

On this excerpt from a Living Myth Premium episode, Michael Meade considers how when the certainty of the world collapses around us, the danger of cynicism, isolation, and becoming numb inevitably increases. In looking for antidotes to these feelings of overwhelm and separation, he draws on themes and ideas including cosmology, genius and our inner gifts and wounds.

 

If you would like to hear the rest of this episode, and receive additional podcast content, you can become a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 425 episodes and a 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.

Jun 15, 2022

Currently, the common understanding of “streaming” means “listening to music or watching video in real time as part of a continuous stream of data.” An older idea describes a cosmic stream of essential knowledge constantly pouring through the world. This much needed knowledge about life on earth flows freely, but at such a fast rate of speed that most people cannot catch it or even see it.

 

On this in-depth episode, drawn from an event recording, Michael Meade suggests that when it comes to finding ways to respond to the climate crisis and all the humanitarian issues in the world, we may have to find ways to slow down and tap into the ancient stream of wisdom.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 425 episodes and 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

 

Jun 8, 2022

This episode brings a focus to the danger of feeling discouraged or overwhelmed by the pressure and weight of all that troubles the daily world. Something that is both primordial and enduring is trying to catch up to us, trying to inspire us and rejuvenate us so that we can become conscious keepers of the dream of our own souls and contributors to the healing of life on earth. In the dark times, when it's easy to become discouraged or lose our sense of self, we have to find our connections to the otherworld of great imagination and the underlying spirit of life itself.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his new online workshop “Myth and Emergent Truth” on Saturday, June 11. Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events.  

 

You can save 30% on this workshop and further support the podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 420 episodes and a 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during these challenging and uncertain times and we thank you for your support of our work.

Jun 1, 2022
On this episode, Michael Meade laments the agonizing loss of 19 innocent children’s lives in the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The shocking report of at least 12 more mass shootings during the long weekend that followed reveals a growing flood of needless deaths that signal, not just a loss of innocence, but an increasing loss of the value of life itself.

 

Sadly and tragically, those who manufacture, market and use politics to sell guns intended for war are part of a deadly cultural script that predicts an ongoing funeral march. And behind that script is a growing nihilism, as if the automatic weapons are shooting darkness from a void of inner emptiness that masquerades as power. Sensible gun laws are needed to stop the flood of killings; but also as a way to begin restoring a collective sense of the meaning and the value of each individual life.

 

Each mass shooting broadens and deepens the river of sorrow. Each mass casualty event marks a tragic turning point in which we either choose to continue the collective funeral march or take steps to substantiate a greater sense of the meaning of life. The only meaningful outcome of all the needless deaths and tragic loss of life can be that we find our way back to a deeper sense of compassion, to a more inclusive sense of humanity and to a greater sense of the meaning and value of the gift of life.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his new online workshop “Myth and Emergent Truth” on Saturday, June 11.

 

Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events.  

 

You can save 30% on this workshop and further support the podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 415 episodes and 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during these challenging and uncertain times and we thank you for your support of our work.

May 25, 2022

This episode considers the darkness and division which permeates so much of contemporary life through the lens of the liminal or betwixt and between stage of a traditional rite of passage.

 

We live betwixt and between a past world that is fast disappearing and a future that looks increasingly dark. When the outside world becomes full of darkness and uncertainty, the soul expects us to turn inward as we would in the soul-searching way of a vision quest.

 

When a society won't stop and face the darkness it has created; when a culture won't face up to its internal wounds and patterns of divisiveness, not only does it go blind to healing ways, but a distortion and diminishing of life itself occurs. We are in the dark phase of a collective rite of passage in which the meaning and the nobility of human life must be found and become known again.

 

In the dark times it is not the simple sense of civility that our souls long for; rather it is the older sense of “communitas” in which we see the deeper self in each other that we desperately need. Just as the spirit of hope must repeatedly be found in the depths of our souls, the lost sense of shared humanity must be retrieved from the darkness around us in order for age old wounds to be healed and meaningful visions of the future to arise.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his new online workshop “Myth and Emergent Truth” on Saturday, June 11. Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events.  

 

You can save 30% on this workshop and further support the podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 415 episodes and 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during these challenging and uncertain times and we thank you for your support of our work.

May 18, 2022

This episode begins with how easily we can feel overwhelmed and discouraged as each day seems to bring more fraying of the fabric of culture. As tragic violence keeps recurring and the weaponizing of religious beliefs and political ideologies increases, it becomes ever more important for us to find and hold the inner thread of life. “Amidst all of the unraveling, we have to each find a thread and figure out how to help re-weave the world.”

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his upcoming free online event “Hope and Imagination in Dark Times” on Thursday, May 19.

 

Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events.  

 

You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 415 episodes and 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

May 11, 2022

This episode begins with the uproar occasioned by the Supreme Court draft opinion on overturning Roe v Wade. Michael Meade turns to ancient stories in order to find ways to imagine breaking the spells of division and find ways that ”we each can bring a piece of lived truth and learn ways to more consciously inhabit the same story again.”

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his upcoming free online event “Hope and Imagination in Dark Times” on Thursday, May 19.

 

Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events.  

 

You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 410 episodes and 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

May 4, 2022

On this episode, Michael Meade looks at the current climate of polarization, fear and division and considers how we can navigate current challenges. In considering the root meanings of fear, Meade shows how in facing where we fear to go, we can find a greater sense of calling as well as a deeper connection to the soul of the world.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his upcoming free online event “Hope and Imagination in Dark Times” on Thursday, May 19.

 

Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events.   

 

You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 410 episodes and 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

Apr 27, 2022

“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 this replay of podcast in which Michael Meade considers 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.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 400 episodes and 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

Apr 20, 2022

This episode of  considers how Earth Day and the oldest traditions of Easter are secretly connected. “One of the open secrets trying to be rediscovered at this time is that a deep capacity for renewal exists in the depths of our own souls, just as it resides in the unseen depths of the earth itself.”

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 400 episodes and 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

 

Welcome to the Living Myth podcast with Michael Meade, where this shifting, changing world is looked at from a mythic perspective.

Apr 13, 2022

This episode of Living Myth considers the increasing sense of weight and pressure that comes from all the tensions and conflicts in the world. Michael Meade uses ancient ideas of fate and destiny to shift the way we might understand our collective fate at this time and also open the sense of individual calling and destiny.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 400 episodes and 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

Apr 6, 2022

This episode of Living Myth begins with the sense of incurable wounds found in both the tragic war in Ukraine and within the embattled issues of ever-growing, worldwide climate crisis. Michael Meade turns to ancient understandings of both seemingly incurable wounds and the way new paths of healing are found.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his upcoming free online event “Coping in a World Gone Wrong” on Thursday, April 7.

 

Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events. 

 

You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 400 episodes and a 30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles.

 

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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

Mar 30, 2022

This episode of Living Myth begins with the sense that “most stories about the future of the world have become fatalistic” and “some great confusion and mass forgetting has fallen like a shadow over the earth.” It then dives into the ancient waters of the soul in search of the source of deep memory and great imagination that was connected to Mnemosyne, once known as the Well of Rejuvenation and the Mother of the Muses.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his upcoming free online event “Coping in a World Gone Wrong” on Thursday, April 7.

 

Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events. 

 

You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 400 episodes and a  30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles. 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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

Mar 23, 2022

On this episode of Living Myth, Michael Meade addresses the question of how can we hold things together when the world around us is falling apart. He finds surprising insights and compelling answers in the ancient tales of the recreation of the world known as Earth Diver myths.

We live in a world that is falling apart; climate crisis says that, the brutal war in the Ukraine says that, and the fact that almost anything can divide people says that in a painful way every day. It makes sense that it can be hard for any of us to “get it together” during these turbulent times. So, what does it mean to get it together when everything around us is falling apart?
 
One answer comes from the tradition of alchemy where Coagulatio refers to the element of earth and the process for bringing things together through creative practice. It makes sense to look to things that are stable, like the solid earth beneath our feet. Yet, part of what unsettles us now is that the Earth itself is in danger. How do we, as frail beings in this upside down world, get it together when it is not even clear that the earth itself can hold together?
 
Surprisingly, coagulatio describes how the creative process begins with facing the chaos and consciously descending into darkness to find the source of renewal. In mythology, the process of conscious descent into darkness appears in the themes of the Earth Diver stories found in traditions from ancient India to Native North America.
 
Some versions of the Earth Diver myths appear as tales of a second creation or a re-creation that occurs when the created world has become worn and corrupted. Amongst the first peoples of North America, some variants tell of a time when a rend or tear in the world caused a young woman named Earth to fall from the heavens. As she fell there was nothing below except the dark primeval waters; but the birds and animals arranged for her to land on the back of a turtle. Then, the woman who fell from the sky instructed the animals to dive down into the dark waters and find some mud that could be used to continue creation.
 
Many animals descended to find the mud of creation, but all failed until a muskrat managed to bring a little ball of mud from the darkness below. Then, the woman who fell from the sky took the mud and spread it out in all directions until it became the earth. After that she directed the process through which the earth was seeded with trees, grains and vegetables and other plants.
 
It is significant that Mother Earth comes from the heavens above, but also generates the creative energy that arises from the darkest, deepest place. When seen as a collective dream of humanity, Earth Diver myths depict the emergence of creative energy and greater consciousness that comes from below. The earth itself, as the source of life ongoing, shows us how to serve creation and preserve life by descending into the unknown or unconscious depths in search of more bits of “prima materia.”
 
In alchemy, prima materia signifies the primal materials and core energies from which life on earth is formed. Prima materia was also the name of that bit of hidden matter in the psyche of each person which, if brought into conscious awareness, turns out to be what truly matters when the world turns dark. In the other words, something meaningful is trying to emerge from the very confusions and conflicts inside each person’s psyche or soul.
 
The emergence metaphor continues when the mud of creation is handled by someone at the surface; it becomes activated and begins to grow and spread. In these troubled times, when darkness has fallen over the earth, each of us are potential earth divers. If we would descend into our own psyches, we would find something to bring from unconsciousness into conscious awareness. In that sense, we each have something to offer that can spread in its own way and contribute to bringing things back together again.
 
Another important aspect of Earth Diver stories occurs where the animals who take on the mission of diving into darkness are not themselves heroic. They possess no supernatural powers and even those who succeed only manage to bring up a bit of the mud of creation. In other words, helping creation to continue on earth is not a matter of willful heroics. In this time of upheaval and collapse, no one is required to save the world. Yet, we each are implicated in the process of diving down and bringing back our bit of the mud of creation, our contribution to ongoing creation on earth.
 
In some versions of the myth, the woman who fell from the sky was pregnant with twins intended to assist in the continuing process of creation on Earth. Yet, it turns out that the twins are opposites, sometimes described as “good mind’ and “bad mind.” Whatever the good twin does to enhance life, the bad twin does the exact opposite; so that life on earth involves conflicting energies that can become intensified.
 
Eventually, the twins must face off against each other. At the point of almost losing, the good twin is encouraged by the voice of Mother Earth speaking directly to him, encouraging and reminding him of the importance of continuing creation. Inspired and strengthened by the energy coming to him from below, the good twin wins the battle. Thus, creation can continue; but not even the best intentions or good deeds can cancel the opposing energies and darker thoughts of his twin from being part of the world.
 
At times on earth, the dynamic balance between light and dark falters. The darkness in the world grows and begins to shift things back towards the primal chaos at the beginning. During such a shift, the earth becomes plagued with an overshadowing of the light as the forces of arrogance and ignorance expand. There comes to be a darkening of the way that blocks the living path, a faltering of the dream of life ever trying to be born in the depths of each human soul.
 
In one sense, Earth Diver myths serve as warning tales about the dangers that can upset the entire world. On another level, they offer ways of understanding times like these when the troubles have already become so great as to be worldwide, and so deep as to be existential. On yet another level, Earth Diver stories become teaching tales intended to awaken, to inspire and to embolden each human soul.
 
Diving down to make conscious our deepest inner gifts shows how we must surrender to a path or a project that requires all our goodness and positive energies, while also bringing to light all the negatives and oppositions within us. In order to be fully alive, we must bring up our best and worst selves, as being tossed back and forth by extreme changes and conflicting issues serves to awaken the sleeping potentials in each person's life.
 
In that sense, we either add to the growing darkness in the world or else become agents of creation and help bring back to consciousness the essential life forces and the healing energies that have become lost. In that kind of consciousness making process, we rejoin creation. We learn again how to serve the Earth, which is secretly trying to inspire and embolden us to become part of a radical transformation in which the earth revives and the world renews itself again.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his upcoming free online event “Coping in a World Gone Wrong” on Thursday, April 7.

 

Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events. 

 

You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Members receive bonus episodes each month, access to the full archives of over 400 episodes and a  30% discount on all events, courses and book and audio titles. 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 during this challenging and uncertain times and thank you for your support of our work.

Mar 16, 2022

This episode of Living Myth begins with the deepening of the war in Ukraine and the growing sense of anxiety in the world. Michael Meade turns to depth psychology to consider instinctive ways of coping with insecurity, uncertainty and the tragedies of life.

 

"If a person wishes to be sure of the road they tread, they must close their eyes and walk in the dark." That statement comes from St. John of the Cross, who also coined the phrase “the dark night of the soul.” Often, I wake up thinking about the hordes of people who now find themselves treading through darkness, like those caught in the ever-deepening tragedy of the war in Ukraine.

 

An old tension exists between the presence of tragedy and the loss of innocence. And there's a way in which this clearly unnecessary, coldly destructive and brutal war enacts a daily assault on human innocence. When the Russian army heavily bombed a maternity hospital, people all over the world saw images of a very pregnant mother being hurriedly carried through smoking rubble on a makeshift stretcher. The sense of tragedy deepened when desperate attempts to save the mother failed and both innocent lives were lost.

 

At times, I try to turn away from the ongoing tragedy, but mostly I cannot manage to turn away. It's as if averting my eyes might add to the anguish and abandonment of all those who are suffering. Part of me wants to see all the video clips of the thousands and thousands of children being hurried fearfully into an unknown, uncertain future. And part of me wants to witness with my own eyes the filling in of mass graves in the city of Mariupol, where an actual witness said that “the land is now soaked in blood, bitterness, and despair.”

 

When I do close my eyes, I continue to see some of the tragic images. I also see and feel the darkness that fell over me and our country during the Vietnam War. I was torn open at that time and become torn again each time an unjustified war turns the living world upside down. When I hear the dark propaganda and the massive misinformation coming out of Russia, I viscerally remember the distortions and lies used to deny the actual death tolls and the massive destruction unleashed during the Vietnam era.

 

To this day, I feel compelled to witness war coverage and often fail to know when I've seen enough or how I might find a way of withdrawing and escaping the numbing presence of mindless war. Yesterday, I was at the point of feeling torn between witnessing and turning away when an interview with a Ukrainian man, who lives in war torn Ukraine but is Russian in origin, caught my full attention. He spoke passionately about trying to inform his parents in Russia about the horrors of Putin’s war. He then described how distressing and enraging it was to have his own parents tell him that he was not telling the truth when he described all of the destruction and unnecessary death that is tearing Ukraine apart.

 

His parents get their news from Russian state television and believe that the Russian army entered Ukraine to drive the Nazis out and create humanitarian corridors to safety. After expressing outrage about the fact that the Russian army had actually attacked those trying to use the humanitarian corridors, his passion shifted to a sense of compassion for those trapped under the spell of many years of propaganda.

 

He explained that he came to realize how important it remains, for both Ukrainian and Russian people, that he and others find ways to communicate the ongoing tragedy to their parents and older relatives. He described how they were continuing to reach out and expressed genuine hope that the Russian people could awaken from the heavy spell of propaganda. I found myself released from the immediate tensions and searing presence of the war. I also realized why Karen Horney’s theories about human anxiety and instinctive coping strategies had been on my mind.

 

 

 

Horney was an early follower of Sigmund Freud, but broke away in order to consider the psychology of infants and parents, which she thought had a great bearing on how we cope with fears and anxiety later in life. She suggests that each infant must develop a strategy for coping with “basic anxiety.” She also argues that we tend to use the same coping strategy from our infancy when we encounter crises later in life. In other words, there is a psychological connection between intense fears and anxieties that overtake us in life, and the way we survived traumas early on.

 

A big surprise came when Horney pointed to “parental indifference” as the root cause of basic anxiety early in each life, but also a key factor in neurotic conditions later in life. A child doesn't have to be treated harshly or be severely rejected in order to experience anxiety and insecurity at a basic level. Indifference on the part of parents at critical points is enough to trigger a deep sense of anxiety that seems to be an inevitable human condition.

 

That kind of parental indifference seemed to be present in the experience of the man in Ukraine whose parents would not accept their own son's evident feelings of fear, anxiety and loss. In the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the attitude of indifference must be present in millions, including the parents and relatives of those actually under attack. At the same time, that kind of indifference appears in people all over the world who manage to deny the evident tragedies and rampant injustice that characterize all of the human suffering in these troubled times.

 

Horney states that the first reaction to parental indifference tends to be frustration and anger. Being frustrated by the sense of abandonment causes a child to protest the injustice by crying out. If the parents respond to this angry cry, the child has found a coping strategy that is likely to become their habitual response to life's trials and troubles.

 

When a child’s “aggressive reaction” does not bring the help they need, they are thrown back into basic anxiety and fears of abandonment. In order to survive, the child must then suppress the anger and somehow win the over the parents. If this strategy works, “compliance” becomes the preferred means of coping for that person. If neither the aggressive strategy nor the compliance strategy works, children cope with basic anxiety by means of withdrawal. In coping with anxiety by withdrawal, the child moves away from the parents, retreats inwardly and tries to become self-sufficient.

 

The child that adopts the strategy of anger and aggression concludes that “if I have power no one can hurt me.” The child using the strategy of compliance or connecting carries the sense that “if I can make you love me, you will not hurt me.” The child who must cope with a strategy of withdrawal follows the idea that "if I withdraw, nothing can hurt me."

 

The three ways of coping with basic anxiety can also be seen as three distinct conceptions of a child's inner self. The first being, I am as big as or bigger than the world. The second being, I must adjust to the world. And the third being, I must appear smaller in the world.

 

These psychological insights ring true, partly because they parallel defensive strategies found throughout the animal realm in patterns of fight, submission or flight in the face of danger. Being conscious of these deeply ingrained attitudes becomes more important as the world around becomes more troubled and both collective and personal anxieties increase.

 

Part of what intrigued me with the Ukrainian son trying to communicate with his parents in Russia, was that he seemed to go through all three strategies. At first, he was angry and frustrated and outraged that his parents were indifferent to his suffering and the suffering of all the other people in Ukraine. After that, he went through a sense of withdrawal before realizing that over time a way of compassion would be needed to reestablish some kind of basic connection with parents and other relatives.

 

 

As someone who learned the aggressive coping strategy early on, I do not instinctively go to a withdrawal strategy to get some respite or relief from tragic events. But, I do remember that in the midst of intense protests that used aggressive strategies against war, the compelling cry of "make love, not war" would arise as if on cue from the collective psyche. There had to be a limit to strategies that were solely against war. There needs to be a conscious strategy to stay connected to love and mutual care, even in the midst of war.

 

It seems highly unlikely that Putin or Trump or any of the other overly forceful characters on the world stage, who continually double-down on raw aggression will adopt one of the other modes. However, the rest of us who must suffer through and struggle with the great crises and sorrowful tragedies of these dark times will need to learn ways to keep finding love and building interconnectedness, even while we stand up against the war on humanity, freedom, and justice.

 

We need to learn new ways to retreat and find refuge for our own souls, just as we pray for those being forced to tread in the darkness of this troubled world. At this critical point in the collective life of humanity, when we are all subject to a cascade of worldwide, anxiety-inducing issues like the climate crisis, the Covid crisis and the crisis of wars against our basic humanity, we each need all three strategies to survive, to heal and to help transform the world.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth.  You can further support the 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.

Mar 9, 2022

On this episode, Michael Meade addresses the war within the war being waged on Ukraine. In order to justify the cold-hearted attacks on civilians and mindless destruction of towns in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has waged an insidious war on truth in the minds of the Russian people.

There are times when it becomes clear that there is more overt suffering in the world. There are times when the suffering of some people equals the suffering of all people. There are times when all of our good intentions and hopes that things will get better are at odds with the world as it is. There are times when helplessness and hopelessness cannot simply be driven from the door.

I feel a great sadness for all the suffering and heavy losses befalling the people of Ukraine. I also feel a deep respect for the way so many Ukrainians are standing for the ideas of freedom, facing down the engines of war with a kind of nobility of spirit that can only come from the part of the human heart that values truth, beauty and the meaningfulness of life.

As the Ukrainian people suffer from the rain of bombs and reign of terror that Vladimir Putin has unleashed upon them, it can be shown to be not just an invasion of Ukraine, but also an attack on democracy, on the ideals of freedom and on the soul of humanity. For, there is another war, a war within the war, an insidious war that came before the invasion began and that will continue after the current battles are over.

As millions seek safety from the mindless destruction of towns and cities, Putin is persecuting other people and prosecuting another war. The war within the war is being waged inside Russian territory and inside the minds and hearts of the Russian people. The warfare undertaken before the invasion involved a massive effort to indoctrinate an entire nation and set them against the world.

The shocking military assault could not have begun unless the blitzkrieg against truth had penetrated the psyches of a majority of the Russian population. In the parallel universe where many Russians now reside, Putin's propaganda machine grinds night and day to convince the Russian people that Ukraine and NATO provoked the invasion, that his “special military operation” is actually a liberation campaign to purge Ukraine of Nazis. Truth has always been the first casualty in a war; now wars against truth are waged long before any battles begin.

As safety has become ever harder to find throughout Ukraine, truth has become ever more scarce inside Russia. Recently, Putin issued a draconian law that criminalizes any speech that contradicts the official Kremlin line which insists that the deadly offensive against Ukraine is not a war at all. Merely referring to it as a war can put a person in prison for 15 years, making them a casualty of the war on truth.

Putin’s state has become a testament to how authoritarian leaders can stage manage false narratives and big lies as the first stage in wars against humanity. Many Ukrainians recount stories of their older relatives in Russia expressing profound disbelief about the war; saying that there is no shelling of Kyiv and that Russian forces are only in Ukraine to help people. The campaign against truth does not spare innocent children either, as those in grade schools receive sessions reinforcing the official government line that the war is not a war, but a special operation intended to save lives.

Researchers say that those creating propaganda in Russia understand the grievances and the tendencies of their audience. They know how to make their stories dramatic, but also entertaining. The sad truth that they do embrace is that when people see the same false message repeatedly, it becomes easier and easier to believe it.

Being alive at this time, we all suffer a cascade of crises that weigh heavily on our souls. The climate crisis affects the entire planet, the Covid pandemic affects everyone to some degree and the many crises of social injustice affect all of humanity at this time. Yet, the root of our troubles can be seen in the crisis of truth and meaning which can both obscure as well as deepen all other crises. In the war on Ukraine we can see the crisis of truth and meaning being coldly converted into rockets and bombs and methods of destruction that must chill the heart of humanity.

Some people talk about a post-truth world as if the repetition of big lies and misinformation can erase the longing for truth and meaning that has been an essential part of humanity from the very beginning. The core ideals of humanity are intended to serve as a light to follow, especially when the dark times come round and we become more exposed to the extremes of life and to the winds of despair. And, we are the current inheritors of the deep human longings for truth, for beauty and for the life sustaining capacity to truly transform.

An old idea states that nothing but truth can hold the truth. In other words, we can only hold to ideals like truth, beauty and justice, if we find ways to embody the truth of our own lives. Finding antidotes to the epidemic of falsity, to the onslaught of misinformation, and the weaponizing of big lies, means being willing to be open to radical changes in our lives while finding ways to live in truth.

It is not that we each have to be heroic; rather that we each somehow must find ways to stand in the truth of our own lives, in the truth of our own being. In doing that, we begin to rewrite the story of humanity at a time when the entire planet needs a renewal of truth, beauty and the meaning of life.

Thank you for listening to and supporting Living Myth. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his upcoming online workshop “Creative Paths in Chaotic Times” on Saturday, March 12. Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events. 

You can save 30% on this workshop 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.

Mar 2, 2022

This episode of Living Myth focuses upon Vladimir Putin’s tragic invasion of Ukraine and the archetypal pattern of the “negative senex” or sick and dying old king.  Psychologically, the negative old ruler represents a dominant position in consciousness which has outlived its usefulness and has become an obstacle to, and even an enemy of, a greater sense of consciousness. 

 

It is the same to live in a tragic time as it is to be in a tragic place, a poet once said. And we now live amongst growing tragedies the world over with the latest being the war in which Russia targets innocents and aims to terrorize everyone in Ukraine. Because we live in a time of mass communications as well as mass casualties, we are all witnesses to the carnage and the madness of war. In that sense, we are all subjects of a cold-hearted attack on all who hold human liberty and human dignity to be essential to human culture.

There is a manifestation of the nobility and courage of the human soul coming from the people in Ukraine, who not only choose to fight to save their homes and their sense of liberty, they also enter a battle to save their sense of self in the face of a darkness that can cause despair. And, we are all implicated in that battle; for we all live on the border of  uncertainty, that can in a moment, become the edge of despair.

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrates a wicked truth about the human condition. For, a single person, should they have enough power and enough darkness in their heart, can dream up a war and impose that nightmare on everyone. Other nations can send weapons and supplies and set sanctions against Putin and Russia, but there is no effective mechanism to stop someone from misusing power, even if they announce their intention to wreak unholy havoc on humanity and the world.

I am not criticizing political responses or the meaningful efforts being made to stop mass destruction and potential genocide. Rather, what strikes me in this tragedy is how the psyche and the pathology of one person can hold everyone hostage and then coldly unleash darkness and terror on a massive scale.

Before the war started, those who study Putin questioned which side of the autocratic leader would take charge. Would it be the cold, strategic side of Putin’s mind or the ideological, nationalistic side of him that would decide the fate of Ukrainian as well as Russian people?

Once the invasion began, the question rapidly shifted to whether Putin was of stable mind. Had he become mentally unstable and paranoid after being isolated by COVID-19? Was he diminished because he had turned 70 years old or was he simply crazy? Some of those conditions may be present, however dismissing Putin’s behavior as crazy obscures important psychological issues and collective energies that are playing out throughout the world at this time.

Putin and other would be autocrats can be seen to be caught in the archetypal patterns of the “negative senex,” the sick and dying old king. In mythology, this dark side of Saturn or Cronos appears as the oppressive autocrat who exploits every crisis precisely to acquire more power. The shadow side of this psychological complex appears in the crushing patriarchal figures who seek to cling to power at any cost, just as Cronos ate his own children in order to avoid losing power and control.

Throughout history, autocrats have sought to manipulate and control a fearful populace with promises to restore idealized conditions of the past, while restricting freedoms in the present. Tragically, mass communications and weapons of mass destruction have made the powers of manipulation as well as the levels of destruction much greater.

Psychologically, the negative old ruler represents a dominant position in consciousness which has outlived its usefulness and has become an obstacle to, and even an enemy of, a greater sense of consciousness. There is a symbolic coincidence in which Putin individually represents the archetype of the sick, reckless, autocratic ruler; while at the same time, the negative side of the archetype manifests in other would be rulers and in extreme political parties.

Part of the darkness of these dark times involves the negative patriarchal energies that threaten the health and safety of the entire world. This cynical senex energy rejects the feminine capacity for relatedness as weakness, as it has lost touch with intimate feelings and all sense of human compassion and love. The absence of the feminine can be seen and felt in the dryness and coldness of a consciousness that only wants to be in touch with power, while increasingly becoming out of touch with life itself.

And yet, the archetype of the controlling and dividing ruler can be initiatory, in the sense that it indicates the nature of changes trying to happen in the human psyche as a whole. The dark side of Saturn-Cronos, with its willful lust for and abuse of power, challenges us to connect with our own deepest feelings of nobility, unity and care for the earth we share.

What is playing out dramatically and tragically on the world stage is also being played out as a struggle in the heart of humanity. The instinctive feeling of connection to and support for the vulnerable people of Ukraine is connected to our collective vulnerability at this time. What Putin cannot grasp and will not understand is the expansion of consciousness that is needed to dissolve the rigid, vengeful forces that entrap his soul, the souls of many of his people, and at some level, all of our souls.

In the dark times the eye begins to see, said a poet. At the dark edge of fear for the future of humanity and for the earth, a vision tries to form as past and future seek to clarify at the same time. The hope to be found at the edge of despair must involve new ways of seeing the world and our place within it. For, we are also standing at the edge of nobility and despair, in the collective shadow of not knowing what might come next.

Although it cannot diminish the suffering and loss occurring to the people of Ukraine, I want to end with a poem from Hafiz. "I have come into the world to see this, the swords drop from man's hands, even at the top of their arc of anger, because we have finally realized that there is just one flesh that we can wound.

 

Thank you for listening to and supporting this podcast. You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his new online workshop “A Self in Training” on Saturday, March 12. Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events. 

 

You can save 30% on this workshop 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 during these challenging times and thank you for your support of our work.

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.

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.

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