63 episodes

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.

Living Myth Michael Meade

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 490 Ratings

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.

    Episode 263 - The Labyrinth of Now

    Episode 263 - The Labyrinth of Now

    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

    • 24 min
    Episode 262 - The Burning Bush and the Flame in the Heart

    Episode 262 - The Burning Bush and the Flame in the Heart

    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

    • 28 min
    Episode 261 - Living with Uncertainty

    Episode 261 - Living with Uncertainty

    At the beginning of the third year of the Covid Pandemic the point can’t simply be that once a cure is found, everything goes back to normal. After two years of the pandemic, the uncertainty about it persists and may even continue to grow. And we can be seen to be riding up and down on waves of information in a topsy-turvy world where everything can seem uncertain and everything can change in an instant.
     
    The breaking of the current cycle involves breaking the spell of normalcy itself. For an important realization at this point in the history of the world is that there cannot be a return to normal; that everything has already changed and that uncertainty may have to be accepted as a conscious element of reality.
     
    The pandemic, and all of the uncertainty that surrounds it, can be seen as a demonstration of how the “information age” is not simply conducive to good information. New technologies make it easy to collect information and data and distribute it rapidly. However, assessing information and especially understanding it still depends on old fashioned human judgment. Information can go viral and be available in an instant; but actual knowledge and true understanding take much more time to develop.
     
    Genuine knowledge comes from reflection and patience; but also requires that we accept the presence of uncertainty. An ancient idea states that maturity in the human psyche means an increased capacity to hold opposite ideas at the same time. The ancient Greeks called it being double-minded or even many-minded. The point is that if a person only holds a single idea, it's like seeing the world with one eye. And seeing with only one eye can bring a person closer to becoming blind to what's going on.
     
    We could say that the thread of life is leading us further into the tension between all that we used to believe was so certain and the increasing waves of uncertainty that are penetrating all levels of the world right now. Part of finding our way in the midst of all the trouble involves being able to see the world differently and learning to hold contradictory ideas or competing notions at the same time.
     
    The point becomes not so much about what happens in the end, as much as how to be present in the midst of the dramas, tensions and challenges. The real danger is losing the natural human capacity to hold a creative tension until life changes and renews itself. The point becomes how to hold our attention long enough to recognize the unseen third thing that is trying to emerge from the increasing tensions and polarizations of life on Earth.
     
    The real risk in this world has always been becoming one's true self amidst all the uncertainties of existence. The “little self” or ego self feels that it can’t handle life’s uncertainties. Yet, the soul or deeper sense of our self is never simply defeated by the confusions of life. The knowing soul within us knows why we came here, and what we are intended to live for. Learning to live the life of the soul aligns us with paths of true meaning. While we are on those paths, we not only can survive the tensions of life, but we find ourselves able to contribute to the healing and renewal of life.
     
    Thank you for listening to, and supporting, Living Myth.  You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.
     
    On behalf of Michael Meade and the whole Mosaic staff, we send you peace and blessings in this New Year and we thank you for your support of our work.

    • 26 min
    Episode 260 - Myth Makes Meaning

    Episode 260 - Myth Makes Meaning

    Michael Meade describes myth as being ancient and immediate at the same time.  Whereas most people imagine myth to be something old and of a past time, Meade explains how myth serves to break the trap of linear time and can return the human soul to a living sense of connection to both the cosmos and the deep self.  “We are in a mythic condition again and myth makes meaning,” states mythologist Meade as he shows how the shedding of forms in the world can bring us closer to the origins of life and the sources of renewal and recreation.
     
    Thank you for listening to, and supporting, Living Myth.  You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.
     
    On behalf of Michael Meade and the whole Mosaic staff, we send you peace and blessings for the New Year and we thank you for your support of our work.

    • 24 min
    Episode 259 - Solstice and the Tree of Life

    Episode 259 - Solstice and the Tree of Life

    On this replay of an episode on the winter solstice, Michael Meade states at the beginning: “This is not just the dark time of the year, but increasingly dark times for everyone, especially for those who care for the souls of other people and for the well-being of the earth we all live on.” He goes on to describe how ancient symbols and practices at the Winter Solstice served as a reminder of the cosmological connection between the human soul and the hidden unity of life.
     
    Symbols have the power to bring the mind and the heart together and connect us to the deepest truths of life. A Christmas tree can stand for the Tree of Life, as it represents both the still point at the center and the power of life to change and renew itself. Simply lighting a single candle in the midst of darkness can be a reminder of the eternal process of renewal and restoration that is an essential, yet easily forgotten aspect of all of life.
     
    This has been a dark year, yet, despite all the increasing divides in the world, we are all secretly connected, and we are each a part of the living substance of creation. Solstice coming at the darkest time of the year is a reminder of this cosmological connection between the human soul and the hidden unity of life.
     
    Thank you for listening to, and supporting, Living Myth.  You can further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.
     
    On behalf of Michael Meade and the whole Mosaic staff, we send you peace and blessings for the New Year and we thank you for your support of our work.

    • 20 min
    Episode 258 - Living in Two Worlds: A Tribute to Malidoma Some

    Episode 258 - Living in Two Worlds: A Tribute to Malidoma Some

    This episode is a tribute to the life and work of Malidoma Patrice Some, a spiritual teacher and healer who brought the wisdom traditions and ritual practices of West Africa to the Western world.
     
    The name Malidoma can mean “to make friends with the stranger or enemy.” Following that sense, Malidoma served as an ambassador from the tribal realms of Africa to the world of modernity. He had access to traditional practices of wisdom and healing, and also had a rare intelligence that made him able to shape meaningful pathways between ancient ways of knowing and the needs and longings of contemporary cultures.
     
    There were many elements of his natural genius; of course, his ability to use ancient ways of connecting to nature and spirit; but also the courage to bring healing rituals to the modern world. His radical intelligence could spark at any moment, quickly becoming a forceful fountain of ideas that could include insights into the human psyche as well as visions that could open the realms of nature and spirit.
     
    You could say that the fire element of his genius involved his great intelligence as well as a way of seeing that connected to the ancestral realm. But, his genius was also connected to water as natural element of his soul. At times, he would seem to become water, as he could be fluid and gentle, like a forest stream. And from that stream of inner water would come a great generosity and a deep sense of care.
     
    Once he said that "…the quest constantly imposing itself upon me has been more of a search for a home in the hearts of people." In that statement, you can sense of his presence as a gentle spirit, but also as a person on the eternal quest to find a genuine home. In that regard, Malidoma was uniquely attuned to the electricity that comes from the invisible wires strung between the common world and the otherworld of spirit, imagination and the ancestors.
     
    I am eternally grateful for the friendship we had and the many ritual collaborations and times spent talking and singing and drumming together. Now, in his terms, as in the ancient understanding of things, I imagine Malidoma as having stepped onto the road that road leads back to the ancestors. On the path that will carry him back to the hidden unity of humanity and the place that is a true home for the spirit and soul of someone who remained connected to and inspired by the otherworld.
     
    With prayers and songs I am imagining Malidoma finding the waters of peace and a deep sense of home in the otherworld that his soul and spirit had known all along.
     
    You can hear Michael Meade live by joining his free online solstice ritual “In This Darkness Singing” on Sunday, December 19. Register and learn more at mosaicvoices.org/events. 
     
    You can support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.
     
    We’d love to hear your feedback on the podcast.  You can leave a review wherever you listen or send a question or comment to info@mosaicvoices.org. On behalf of Michael Meade and the whole Mosaic staff, we wish you continued well-being and deep community connection during this period of great uncertainty and transformation.

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
490 Ratings

490 Ratings

Jeff from boulder ,

reponse to Russ Lockhart's story of Robert Bly

What a loving tribute to Robert. Doesn’t every poet long to be heard? Though some like Wallace Stevens preferred to be read. Stevens was more introverted and a student symbolists Stéphane Mallarmé..I certainly prefer to hear Robert read his own poems aloud, for sure... There is an added significance for me, since I am a poet and was told that words, literature even symbolic thinking was out of bounds for someone of my limited intelligence. Poetry and literature were only the realm of English majors. Thank goodness for Charles Bukowski and Simic ! I did have one English teacher at Downers Grove North High School in 1974 ( He had long hair and wore a colorful vest) that taught the transcendentalist and had us read George Orwell and listen to Johnny Winters. He didn’t give a damned if we read fast or slow or memorized. He was interested in what we thought and felt in our heart. In some ways Bly spoke to me, in other ways He was a little too untouchable. I had a significant learning difference ( dyslexia ) so in a sense, I was one of the developmentally disabled children that Bly mentioned in his dream and wrote about in his famous poem. But yes I appreciated Robert’s pace, cadence and mostly raw talent. You’re fortunate you got to know him, a bit. This is certainly the greatest gift of all, friendship. I read my poems in analysis for the first time in 1995. This became an important practice, like dreams. This gave me the confidence to read at Penny lane and a few larger gatherings. It is so healing to be heard. And can be electrifying. Like whitewater kayaking a big Western River. I wouldn’t place Bly in the pantheon of Seamus Heaney, Czesław Milosz, Robert Graves or even Richard’s relative Siegfried Sassoon. But Robert definitely touched me. Thank you for your touching tribute Russell. I would love to read you and Murray one my poems one day. And hear one of yours.

NoraNaus ,

So helpful in these times

Myth and current political and cultural situation intertwined is so helpful. Michael Meade has a great voice even reassuring while he's telling us the truth, but using a wide angle lens, poetry and myth. I'm so grateful.

KarenInReedsport ,

Episode 254!

Oh God Michael, did you really nail it this time! What wisdom, depth you have! Beautiful. Your best episode since I’ve been listening. I will listen to this over and over and over again. Certainly eases my personal trauma. Now I understand. Thank You! You are beautiful*

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