71 episodes

Hi everyone. I'm Josh. I'm a writer. A teacher. A lifelong student of world mythologies and cosmologies. This podcast is called The Emerald: Currents and Trends Through a Mythic Lens. Offering perspectives on everything from current global events to cultural movements in art, science, music, literature, yoga practice, and politics, all through the framework of myth, story and imagination. The Emerald. All that's happening on this green jewel in space.

The Emerald Joshua Schrei

    • Arts
    • 4.9 • 43 Ratings

Hi everyone. I'm Josh. I'm a writer. A teacher. A lifelong student of world mythologies and cosmologies. This podcast is called The Emerald: Currents and Trends Through a Mythic Lens. Offering perspectives on everything from current global events to cultural movements in art, science, music, literature, yoga practice, and politics, all through the framework of myth, story and imagination. The Emerald. All that's happening on this green jewel in space.

    No One Here Gets Out Alive (The Death Episode)

    No One Here Gets Out Alive (The Death Episode)

    Death is universal, an undeniable fact of existence that every single one of our ancestors faced, just as we will. So mythic traditions around the world are full of stories of death. Many initiatory rituals directly enact death, taking the initiate through a process of dying while alive. For Ancient Egyptians and Tibetan Tantrikas, death was not something to run from, but something to actively embrace, as acolytes regularly plunged into the intermediary state. Yet modern culture tries to run from the reality of death. For in an individualistic world, what could be more terrifying than individual death? So billionaires feverishly seek to reverse the aging process and 'solve death.' And yet, in seeking to stave off death at all costs, and in the absence of a healthy intimate relationship with death, modern consumerism also enacts death on a massive scale. For modern culture to reconcile its terror of death requires a deep re-orientation around the place of the individual within the universe. For if “I” am not an isolated unit but rather a continuum of ancestry, then what actually dies? If "I" am water molecules momentarily repurposed as a human on my way to become streams and summer thunderstorms, then what actually dies? So death, as described by tradition after tradition, is a great continuance, a great cycling of matter... and perhaps more. This episode dives deep into the mytho-somatics of death, providing a felt journey into a place many fear to tread, but a place that for many traditions was absolutely essential to navigate while alive. Join us as we explore Tantric death texts, Japanese death poems, Siberian death realms, heroic death epics and culminate with a journey into 4500-year-old Egyptian funerary texts in which death and spoken poetry are intimately linked. Rising Appalachia reprise the old folk classic 'Oh Death' specifically for this episode. Note — The Emerald podcast is meant to be listened to with good headphones or on a high quality sound system, at a time when you can give it your full attention.
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    • 1 hr 44 min
    Reissue: How Trance States Shape the World

    Reissue: How Trance States Shape the World

    Human beings need ecstatic trance. Trance states have played a vital and necessary role in human culture and in the shaping of human history, causing some anthropologists to label the attainment of these states the 'main need' of the 'ceremonial animal' that is the human being. Trance states traditionally help communities reinforce shared bonds, establish values, gain insight into the nature of reality, establish reciprocal relation with the natural world, and even heal. Yet in the modern world, trance states have been pathologized by both institutionalized religion and science, and ecstatic ritual has lost its centrality. Finally, anthropologists are recognizing what many cultures have known all along — that trance states are essential for human thriving, and that when we lose access to these states we seek ecstasy in darker, more destructive ways. This episode goes deep into the trance states that have defined cultures and traditions for thousands of years. We look at trance in India, Ancient Greece, Africa, South America, and beyond and explore what it means when a culture loses its ecstasy.
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    • 1 hr 43 min
    I Wish It Could Have Been Another Way (A Lament w/ Peia Luzzi)

    I Wish It Could Have Been Another Way (A Lament w/ Peia Luzzi)

    Not easy listening, but possibly necessary listening — this episode of The Emerald dives deep into the heart of the grief many are feeling over the social and environmental ills that are plaguing the planet. The consequences of ecosystem destruction, species loss, industrialization, social inequality, and rising extremism can be felt everywhere — acutely, in the bodies of those affected by environmental toxicity, armed conflict, and class divide, and more subtly in the gnawing sense of anxiety that pervades the modern psyche. Our experience of the world feels diminished. A vastness and wonder, a fundamental hope has been seemingly lost. Faced with such devastation, what is there for us to do? The mythic traditions have much to say about grief and woe. Rather than simply being 'about' grief, this episode takes us on a direct journey into the tears, into heartwrenching mythologies of lamentation and woe, through rivers that weep and fields of flowers that cry to the skies. The journey follows Demeter's search for her missing daughter, weaving its way through the story of the sirens, who were fated to sing forever of the violation of the world. Featuring original music by Peia Luzzi and Serena Joy, this is one great keening for the loss of the world, a journey through the depths that emerges at last into the morning meadows where grief and joy are one. It is recommended to listen to this episode on a good sound system or with headphones, when you have dedicated time to feel. 
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    • 1 hr 27 min
    Your Consciousness Comes From the Moon

    Your Consciousness Comes From the Moon

    Traditional mythic, animist, and astrological systems have long told us that the moon is more than a distant, detached object in space, but rather plays an active role in governing the daily rhythms of life. The moon — in its repetitive pulse — gave early humans the first systems of measurement and the first calendars. So the word 'moon' is directly related to the words meter, measure, and memory, and is tied to all human endeavors that repeat. Repetitive ritual enactment — humanity's primal means of remembering — is something we learned from the moon. Poetic meter, in its repetitive cycles, is similarly lunar. But the influence of the moon goes far deeper than this. Scientists now find this lunar influence in all bodies, aquatic and terrestrial. "It is plausible that… the first life forms adapted to the different rhythms controlled by the moon," says one new study published in the Journal of Molecular Biology, and it is becoming increasingly clear that living bodies — all of which are made of liquid — have fundamentally tidal, lunar structures. Our somatic ancestry is lunar. The pulse of the moon lives in the valve structures that formed the very first sea life, and the very fact that cells pulse and breathe at all can be attributed to the moon. Within human bodies, the tides of hormones, neurological signals, and the feelings and thoughts of consciousness are built around the lunar rhythm. This lunar structure to consciousness has implications for everything from how we align our lives around ritual, to how we navigate cycles of thought and feeling, to the 'hard problem' of consciousness itself. In diving into lunar mythologies and Tantric understandings of lunar goddesses, we start to see consciousness not just as an isolated function of individual biological units, but a billion year agreement between bodies across time and space. The moon begs the question — if an 'inanimate object' is the source of so much animacy, is it really inanimate at all? Come, let us build a ladder to the moon. Featuring music by Sidibe and Robby Rothschild.




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    • 1 hr 27 min
    Awake in the Forest of Dangers and Wonders

    Awake in the Forest of Dangers and Wonders

    How many myths and stories and fairy tales take place in... the forest? The forest in these stories is more than just setting or backdrop. It is a character of its own, alive, awake, animate, both treacherous and beautiful. The forest doesn't 'represent' something abstract in the myths, it is exactly what it was for our ancestors — a place of beauty and peril, of life and death, of food and devouring, of danger and wonder. To step into the forest is to step outside of linear, organized time and space into the liminality of trance. In the forest, sounds are different, everything is immediate and up close, and every choice matters. To navigate the forest well — like the protagonists of so many fairy tales show us — is to use discernment, to cultivate sensory wakefulness and a deep respect for protocols of animacy. Animism, therefore, is not simply about acknowledging nature's beauty. It is about cultivating a deep relationality with the varying forces of the forest — some of which are perilous. Traditional forest-dwelling cultures recognized the danger of the forest, while the modern world tends to flatten the forest into something either to be destroyed or to be adored from a distance.  But to deeply know the forest also means knowing how to navigate unfriendly forces.  It's easy in the modern world to view traditional understandings of malevolent forces as 'primitive,' or 'superstitious.' Yet for cultures who actually navigate the forest and its intricacies, knowing how to navigate these forces means survival. And so — if we value animism, it means not looking at the forces of the forest as an 'illusion', or as something to 'move beyond' but something to be treated with deep discernment and respect. Take a step into the forest, this time on The Emerald. Featuring music from Rising Appalachia, Charlotte Malin, and Nivedita Gunturi. 
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    • 1 hr 22 min
    War and Ritual Ecstasy

    War and Ritual Ecstasy

    The horrors of war have been part of the human story since the beginning. While there have been differences in how different cultures have done it, war is so widespread that it is impossible to see it as anything other than a primal human drive that fulfills some type of deep somatic need. What is that somatic need? It is easy to chalk war up to a base and 'primitive' aggression or to cold, calculated policy objectives. But an increasing number of scholars and thinkers are finding something else when they examine the roots of war — war involves many of the same protocols and therefore serves much of the same purpose that traditional ecstatic ritual once served. Both traditionally involve group syncopation, drumming, invocation, consciousness alteration, all built around a ritual enactment within a dedicated time and space that leads participants towards a sacrificial catharsis that follows a mythic narrative. So war becomes a way of fulfilling the human need for ritual intensity. In a day when we live without initiation rites, when we have no ecstatic ritual outlet for the intensities we crave, war becomes — sadly, tragically — the acceptable way for people (men, particularly) to feel ecstasy. So to truly understand war involves understanding why human beings crave ritual intensity to begin with. This inquiry takes us deep into our ancestral past, when the intense ecstasies and traumas we felt were hardwired into us as the basic experience of being within the cycle of predator and prey. Drawing heavily on the book Blood Rites by Barbara Ehrenreich, this episode goes into the origins of war, and as we understand more its ritual, ecstatic foundations, leads to the conclusion that the way to peace is not a process of 'reason' triumphing over the 'primitive'  — for humanity' s worst wars have come during the age of 'reason' — but rather in looking to rediscover ecstatic ritual outlets for our need for intensity. 
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    • 1 hr 10 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
43 Ratings

43 Ratings

loren_kristie ,

My favourite podcast

Calling this work a podcast is a great underestimation of the beautiful artistry that goes into its production. It reaches into my deep places and helps me touch parts of myself that I can’t always find on my own, but that once visited, leaves a path that I can follow again

Kid_random_mars ,

Many moments of wow

A beautiful delivery of ancientry and us

chloeariell ,

Wow 🤩

Recommended by a friend I’m not disappointed 😊 he takes you through a visual journey and you are sharing his vision in tandem a great storyteller and researcher

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