Amidst all the confusion about building walls and assigning tariffs, amidst threats of violence and continuous upheaval, Michael Meade turns his attention to the old imagination of a guarding and guiding angel of the soul. Following the subtle trail of angels found in cultures throughout the world, Meade examines the role of inspiration in modern life and the need for intermediaries that connect us to nature and to the divine. In contrast to the modern notion of a world made of subjects separated from objects, the presence of angels adds more presence to the world and can help keep us aligned with beauty, wonder and life purpose.
It has often been said that The Odyssey is the defining story of Western culture. In this episode of Living Myth, Michael Meade tells parts of The Odyssey and draws connections to the current moment in which young people try to protect life and inspire the culture to change. In the ancient tale, the goddess Athena appears as the source of wisdom, but also as the essence of nobility and justice at the very heart of democracy. As we witness the awakening of youthful voices all around us, the sense of an American odyssey can help ground and deepen the present moment and reveal how genuine wisdom can come from young souls.
Michael Meade tells an old wisdom tale from India, the kind that would be used to offer guidance to young people heading out into the world trying to find themselves, but also used as a reminder to people of all ages what it is we’re truly looking for in this world. At a key point in the story, the door to the inner treasury of knowledge opens when an ancient sage asks the question, “What do you love most in this world?” Amidst all the troubles in the world, in the midst of the manipulation of mass data and falsification of facts, it is important to remember that what the heart loves is the cure.
Michael Meade focuses upon the actions of young people speaking up and leaving school to protest mass shootings and the cycle of violence that has not found a meaningful response from national leaders and institutions. He puts the current issues in the context of an old story where a youth suffering a great loss encounters an elder waiting to help. Introducing the presence of a knowing, compassionate elder moves things to a different level. Seen psychologically and in mythic terms, the passionate ideals of youth need to be supported by the generosity, wisdom and life-affirming courage of awakened elders.
Michael Meade answers questions about the soul, such as “what is the soul and why does it matter so much in the modern world”? Starting with the dangers of the loss of soul, Meade launches into a rhapsody of soul, a survey of the roots and the branches of the living soul in people, but also the animated soul of the world. This treatise on the necessity of the soul and tribute to its meaning leads to soul being imagined as the womb of life and source of the ongoing creation in the midst of all the troubles of the world.
This episode of Living Myth addresses the hollowing of institutions and the loss of values and principles that people expect to serve as guide posts in life. Taking up the theme of “creeping nihilism,” Michael Meade shows how a society can make enough false moves and sound enough false notes that life begins to feel empty of purpose and hollow of meaning. He offers that the antidote to nihilism must involve a return of idealism that involves both elders and youth. He reviews cultural movements like “never again”, “me too” and “black lives matter” as attempts to reclaim the force of idealism in a culture in turmoil.
This episode of Living Myth begins with the report on the increase of perfectionism in the world. Whether caused by comparisons found on social media or notions of meritocracy, young people especially suffer from perfectionism. Beginning with the idea that something perfect is finished, and therefore closer to death than to life, Michael Meade turns our attention instead to the value of trouble. Not just any trouble, but the importance of getting into the right trouble, the kind of trouble intended to grow our souls. The right kind of trouble serves to awaken inner capacities we didn’t know we had and draws upon resources we didn’t know were there. Recent studies in education indicate that the right kind of struggle makes all of us more resilient, creative and less anxious in general.
This episode of Living Myth takes up the issues of tragedy in America, specifically the latest mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. In considering the long history of men and guns, Michael Meade states an old Irish proverb: “You don’t give a man a weapon unless you’ve taught him how to dance.” After lamenting the lack of leadership when it comes to guns and violence, he introduces and an old idea from Africa. The term “litima” describes the volatile spirit found in youth that can either be the source of creativity and ideals or else become a trigger for violence and destruction. The difference is often decided by the amount of acceptance, care and guidance a culture brings or fails to bring to its youth.
This episode of Living Myth begins with the fantasies of huge military parades and the swirling of conspiracy theories in the nation’s capital. Michael Meade shifts the issues of collusion, delusion and transparency from politics to the deeper grounds of depth psychology and mythology. As the world seems to tip upside down, we experience a “lifting of the veil” that can reveal things usually hidden or covered up. Although old structures may collapse and once vital systems may fall apart; yet other patterns and barely imagined designs are on the verge of being revealed.
This episode of Living Myth begins in the aftermath of the recent State of the Union address and tries to turn our attention to the state of the soul, both the soul of the country and the individual souls within it. Michael Meade describes the importance of the second adventure of life, the soul’s great adventure, which is unique to each person and must be risked despite, and because, of the state of the country and the world. As he states, “often the choice comes down to adventure or complacency, since life is rarely neutral, complacency does not simply lead to stasis, but to decay and increasing loss of life purpose.” In the face of life’s challenges, either we grow bigger lives or become smaller people.
This episode of Living Myth focuses upon the idea that a genuine tension of opposites can produce something imaginative, vital and unifying. “Meaningful transformation is the secret aim of the tension inside life,” Michael Meade states while considering the current political impasse that pits “the dreamers” against “the wall.” Surprisingly, he argues that the solution cannot be found in simple negotiation or compromise, and certainly not in the art of the deal. Rather, imagination, as the “hidden third,” is the key to meaningful change and creative progress.
This episode of Living Myth focuses upon the growing distance between the speeding up of time in the modern world and the lost connection to time eternal. Michael Meade tracks the fall of time from its ancient connection to the timeless expanse of night to its breaking down into minuscule bytes and bits. After considering the workings of the sundial, he follows the fall of time into the sands of the hourglass and the surprising origin of alarm clocks in practices of prayer in the dark ages intended to prevent the end of the world. All along, the story of time has been secretly trying to find again the connection to “once upon a time” and the blessing of time’s secret relation to all that is eternal and able to restore and renew the world.
This episode of Living Myth is about meaningful words and how words really matter. Beginning with Donald Trump’s claim that he is a “stable genius”, Michael Meade begins to open up the meaning of words like stable and genius, fate and fame. He follows the old roots of words and winds up at the intersection where an obsession with fame turns into the danger of living in infamy. Whereas genuine fame would involve a revelation of one’s natural genius, infamy involves an inevitable fall into disrepute, discredit and ultimately disgrace. Infamy proclaims the underside of fame, the shadow side of power and the hollow shell of seeming success.
This episode of Living Myth begins with a question asked by two young people feeling overwhelmed by the troubles of the world. Meade responds sympathetically, offering a discourse on the importance of the human soul and showing how the modern world suffers from a loss of soul on many levels. The growing loss of soul leads to increasing disconnections between people and widespread intensification of oppositions and conflicts.
Not knowing or not trusting the presence and power of the soul leads to the common idea that we can’t change ourselves, much less change the conditions of the world. Using a story of a lonely woman and a golden fish, Meade offers the critical idea that the individual soul can grow, and in growing help add soul back to the world.
This episode of Living Myth, drawn from a recent evening event in Santa Cruz, CA, begins with an ancient myth from a tribe along the Amazon River. The story tells how the inner soul of each person travels at night all the way the center of the cosmos. Once there, the soul receives a message that is brought back and shared with the tribe as a dream. Meade draws on this link between the individual soul and the cosmos to describe how ancient cultures imagined each person to be born with a speck of star hidden in their soul, buried in their heart, just waiting to become a person’s “guiding star.”
Each person is intended to contribute presence and meaning to the world and liberation happens each time we become conscious of the contents of our soul. We are here to awaken and learn how to express the uniqueness of our souls, and if we do that we add presence, being and creativity to the world and we become irreplaceable. If we don’t find the meanings hidden in our souls, the world loses presence and people who have no idea who they are come to dominate society.
Rumi wrote that: “The world inside is bigger than the world outside.” Meade argues that in this time of darkness and conflict, hatred and bigotry, we have to revive the sense of the inner magnanimity and enduring brilliance of the individual soul.
This episode of Living Myth focuses on initiation and the vital need for awakening the soul. Michael Meade suggests that one way to view the chaos in the world around us is to imagine we are in a collective initiation of the soul. The storms and tragedies of contemporary life can be seen as a spiritual crisis where we must find a greater sense of self or become more subject to increasing feelings of anxiety and helplessness. Initiation means to awaken to who we are at our core. Amidst chaos and confusion, the soul instinctively seeks to awaken and grow the original design that it carried to life. Meade shows how the exacting struggles encountered in life open pathways to the center of the self where purpose waits to be found, where vitality can ever be renewed, where spirit whispers its precise calling.
This episode considers practices of gift-giving from mythological and psychological perspectives. Starting with an old Mayan tale about a child born with gifts that only the midwife can see, we begin a journey that leads to the reclaiming of natural gifts in the holy hills of imagination. When the misuse of power throws the entire world into a period of massive storms, torrential rains and extensive dislocation, a re-imagination of human giftedness is required. Drawing on the ancient roots of the word gift, Meade reveals how the practice of gift-giving is related to inner giftedness.
Illuminating the deeper meanings of gift-giving naturally leads to seeing that what we commonly call holidays were originally an essential period of holy days and holy nights intended to reconnect us to the gifts of the human soul.
This episode of Living Myth begins begins with the fierce fires burning in the hills around Los Angeles and moves to the flames of trouble newly ignited in the divided city of Jerusalem. Then it descends into the more personal crises and wounds tearing at the heart of culture. Meade works into the deep ground of poetry in order to find ways of genuinely witnessing the widespread revelations of betrayal and corruption in the halls of power and the corridors and backrooms of institutions.
Meade asks: Are we not in that moment when the veil lifts and deep levels of wounding are uncovered. And the betrayal appears not simply in the denial that it happened at all, but also in the cultural sanctification of it? And are we not in a moment that calls for deep healing and a cultural shift that views each soul as noble and renews the sense that each person deserves dignity and respect.
This episode of Living Myth begins with a Native American story of the origin of healing rituals. In telling the tale Michael Meade emphasizes a remarkable point in the story when knowledge, healing and songs all enter the world at the same time. The songs become central elements in the original healing ritual which brings those that are sick or wounded to the center of the community. Having established the importance of healing songs, Meade introduces an excerpt from Mosaic’s new recording “A Song is a Road”. The podcast concludes with a chorus singing a song of praise and gratitude to the healing energy of the Earth.
This episode of Living Myth draws upon the Mayan origin story which describes human beings as the missing ingredient in creation. Specifically, humans were fashioned to be the conscious witnesses to the wonder of the world and to express gratitude for the gift of life. The big problem in the story, which is reflected in the increasing dilemmas of the modern world, is that humans tend to be too soft-headed or too hard-hearted to be vessels for genuine imagination. The old tale tries to help us find new ways to recover the gift of life and live with genuine vision.
This episode of Living Myth begins with the flood of revelations of sexual harassment and abuse being revealed in all areas of contemporary culture. Michael Meade uses the metaphor of lifting a veil that reveals the structural and pervasive imbalance between men in positions of power and women who are wounded by their actions. He asks the question: how long is the road from the place where men have often stood to the areas of deep wounding where the hearts of so many women reside? Things take a mythic turn and lead to one of the great myths from India in which the loss of the feminine and spread of poison brings the entire world to the brink of disaster.
This episode of Living Myth begins in the sorrowful aftermath of the latest mass shooting in America. The dark atmosphere becomes compounded by the realization that the United States is now the only country in the world that has not signed the Paris Climate Accord. After considering the grief and fear caused by the procession of tragedies and the practices of denial, Meade turns to the old idea of the Friends of the Soul as a way for people to find meaningful levels of support and encouragement in the midst of these troubling times. He draws upon ancient traditions from around the world to bring back to life the sense that we need soul friends, whether it be in the form of a confidant or companion, a mentor, teacher or lover.
If we are to survive the flood of tragedies and growing climate threats it becomes more important than ever that we find genuine Friends of the Soul. If we are to create a collective transformation of culture we need genuine friends who can help nourish our inner spirit and sustain the true aim of each other’s lives.
This episode of Living Myth begins in the midst of all the chaos in the world that includes terrorism, misogyny, bigotry and social injustice. It tracks the origins of human resentment and misdeeds to a shared alienation that derives from the loss of a meaningful cosmology and a shared mythology. A consideration of the universal dynamic of chaos and cosmos leads to the edge of the world where the human soul waits for a new vision of the interconnectedness of all life.
This episode of Living Myth looks at the darkest time of the year and considers the ancient ideas of facing the darkness to find the hidden light of inspiration and renewal. Michael Meade looks at the origins of Halloween and the Day of the Dead and follows threads of mythology and cosmology all the way back to the beginning of the world. In the course of this journey, Meade weaves a personal story of facing darkness with an ancient Celtic story, leading to “the drop of eternity that is the threshold and hinge between darkness and light, between time and eternity.”
This episode of Living Myth focuses upon abuses of power and the shadow that forms when power is given to those who remain unconscious of their own wounds and neediness. Michael Meade follows an ancient story into the village under the world where a person in power undergoes a ceremony of cleansing and healing.
Those who rise to great heights and handle power have need for repeated healing if they are to develop some inner nobility. For whoever rises closest to the light must also cast the greatest shadow. Whoever would become elected would best submit to continual cleansing and healing or else suffer a great fall when the shadow erupts and the inner decay becomes revealed.