52 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
    • 5.0 • 2 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.

    Semele, Kuṇḍalinī, and the Path of Interiorized Lightning

    Semele, Kuṇḍalinī, and the Path of Interiorized Lightning

    Stories of lightning and lightning-bearers pervade global mythology.  With so many tales of mighty gods who punish mortals with lightning it can be easy to view the presence of lightning in the myths as simply a metaphor for power or brute force. Yet the lightning myths go a lot deeper than this. Across the world, the traditions most familiar with states of ecstatic rapture  use a common language of lightning. This lyrical episode re-awakens the story of Semele, mother of Dionysus — herself incinerated by lightning — and uses it as an entry point into a network of global myths and traditions that sing of lightning as a central aspect of the rapturous experience. Across the globe, we find a common somatic language of interiorized lightning from the Dionysian mysteries to the Kuṇḍalinī traditions of India to the Sufi illuminationist traditions to the trance practices of the Kalahari. In an era when Kuṇḍalinī is a buzzword, Zeus is a scorned adulterer/patriarch, and the story of Semele is a scholar's footnote, this episode seeks to restore somatic sanctity to the force of living lightning that has guided ecstatic practice for millennia. Listen with headphones, preferably in a quiet meditative space, and maybe even in the dark. 
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    • 1 hr 13 min
    Trickster Jumps Sides: Disruption and the Anatomy of Culture

    Trickster Jumps Sides: Disruption and the Anatomy of Culture

    Tricksters and culture disruptors populate global mythology. From Loki to Coyote to Èṣù and Hermes, they bend rules, cross boundaries, commit deliberate and unintentional offenses and generally mess with established orders. Yet they are often seen as indispensable to these orders — they are renewers and cultural innovators and often pave the way for great change. So in many cultures, Tricksters, despite their shenanigans, are seen as sacred. In modern society, we have no such ritualization of cultural disruption. Trickster is relegated to the margins. So when Trickster comes along these days, he tends to upend everything. Sometimes, we welcome that change — it's a wonderful thing when Trickster shows up and topples the gods that we want toppled. It's a lot more disconcerting when it's our gods being toppled. And ultimately... Trickster isn't on our side. He's the mythic embodiment of the other side.  From ritualized mockery in Ancient Greece to the Merry Pranksters to Ol' Dirty Bastard to the Capitol riot, this episode explores how a society acts in relation to its own dirt...and how, when Trickster is not honored by keeping a society fed and renewed, he shows up in darker ways.  Warning: This episode contains explicit subject matter — because that's how Trickster rolls.
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    The Many Voices of Water, Part 2: Imagining Water Beyond Lines

    The Many Voices of Water, Part 2: Imagining Water Beyond Lines

    With the announcement that water futures have begun trading on the stock market, it's time to take a deeper look at our relationship with water. Water challenges us to ask how we are in relationship to something that is both continuous and discrete, something that flows, moves, evaporates, seeps, and pours forth. Yet rather than honor this multivalent nature of water, humans have tended to treat water as an object and a servant. Water is compartmentalized, sequestered, and marginalized, bottled and sold in plastic, all in the effort to make it 'just another commodity.' This episode examines what right relationship with water looks like and advocates a relationship not simply based in metrics of quantity but in metrics of quality — in feeling, in longing, in reciprocity, in reliance, in ritual, in art, in song, in bodies — a relationship in which we construct our lives around water instead of expecting it to serve us, in which the mutable aspects of water are honored. Water, beyond plastic, beyond lines. Special guests include Water Activist Isabel Friend, Designer and Professor Dilip Da Cunha, and Greenpeace USA's Oceans Director John Hocevar.
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    • 1 hr 23 min
    How Trance States Shape the World

    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 38 min
    The Many Voices of Water, Part 1: Oceans of Melancholy and Bliss

    The Many Voices of Water, Part 1: Oceans of Melancholy and Bliss

    Water is life — all life on planet earth depends on it. So it is no surprise that in the mythic visions of all peoples, water teems with personhood and agency and speaks with many voices. The Ancient Greek world was populated with water beings, who existed not just as abstract concepts but as living entities that were deeply tied with ecstatic trance rituals. The Greeks heard the voices of hundreds of distinct animate forces in the sea, voices of melancholy and bliss and rapture. This joyous longing is also present in the profound Afro-Brazilian traditions that honor Iemanja, the Queen of the Sea. The songs sung to Iemanja from Nigeria to Benin to Brazil to Cuba invoke qualities of the sea that are also qualities of consciousness itself — and many are the traditions that have viewed consciousness as an ocean. This understanding of consciousness is more than a mythopoetic metaphor, when we consider that all of the conscious processes of the human being happen in a matrix of water. With a range of diverse voices, including water activists, scholars of water traditions, free divers, and more, this first installment of a series of three episodes on water explores the ocean's many voices, and sets the stage for a deeper look at some of the profound issues facing our planet's waters today.
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    • 59 min
    Give the Drummer Some: Trance, Danger, and Rapture in the Oldest Instrument of All

    Give the Drummer Some: Trance, Danger, and Rapture in the Oldest Instrument of All

    The link between music and trance is so deep that many ethnomusicologists will say that every single culture on the planet has some form of musically-driven trance tradition. Right at the heart of these traditions sits the drum. Far from being a 'primitive' instrument, the drum is advanced technology — more often than not, it is the essential instrument that opens up the doorway to states of rapture. This long-known power has led to the development of intricate cultures of trance drumming from West Africa to Cuba to Tibet to Scandinavia. This power has also led the drum to be vilified, even banned. 17th century European witch trials banned ritual drumming, even, in some cases, executing drummers. But as ritual drumming and trance traditions reached the New World via the slave trade, they rose to prominence again, in the new musical forms of blues, jazz, and rock 'n roll. European and American youth went crazy for the trance states offered by the rhythms of amplified music, and the same culture that once vilified drumming now came to adulate it. It is no exaggeration to say that all popular modern music is based on what were once African ritual trance rhythms. In this way, the recent history of drumming has a lot to teach us about how the postmodern mind — in a culture that outwardly marginalizes trance states — still longs for trance, and what it looks like when trance rituals are taken out of their traditional context and become more of a free-for-all. Anthropologist Wade Davis and producer/DJ Walker Barnard chime in on this episode that takes us from the Orixá traditions of Brazil to the Tibetan Bönpo shamans to John Bonham and Clyde Stubblefield. Take a journey on the wings of the drum. This time, on The Emerald. 
    Support the show (http://www.patreon.com/theemeraldpodcast)

    • 1 hr 3 min

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