I don’t remember the rabbit hole, the desire path that brought me to Michael Meade’s Living Myth podcast this summer, but I do remember how I felt. There was the calculation of timing. 20 minutes for an episode, a justifiable nugget. Looking through the images and titles. Hitting play. I’m normally in frenetic multi-tasking when I’m listening to something, dishes to wash, tidying to do, a companionable soundtrack or song to speed along whatever has to be done. Except I found myself slowing down to sit and listen. Found myself hitting play on another episode. Then another. Now I listen every week.
Meade is magic. There are two qualities I find myself drawn to over and over again with the teachers who call to me. Integrity and embodied lived wisdom. The depth of knowledge, craft and mastery that comes from dedicating your life to a soul calling, to being of service.
Michael Meade has spent his time studying rites of passage and mythology from cultures across the world. He takes them as medicine and offering to the gang kids getting shot in the ghettos he works with, to the seekers who come to his retreats. He holds up a prism to our world, all our challenges and griefs, and remind us of the bigger story, the great tapestry of all things. Creation, destruction, how to make sense of our troubled times, with African teaching tales, Japanese fables, Native American stories, and Amazonian myths.
I have a feeling if you spend enough time with the myths and poetry, you can’t help but live them. You can’t help but become them. If you choose to learn Rumi and Hafez and Rilke and more by heart, to carry them inside you, the word magic will change you. A lodestone, a pole star, a beacon inside you.
There’s one story that’s been echoing me. In the shadow of the deep cave that looks out onto the land in Turtle Island, the Old Woman of the World lives and sits. She is a weaver and spinner and she gives each soul passing through the cavern out into the world its own particular twist of fate. It is the work of a life to find out the pattern of your soul, your unique gifts and genius. It’s not about how much stuff you can acquire or to hold fast to a prescribed moral code. It is to become who you really are. There are no mistakes. All of us have our gifts, our genius, our magic. I look around me and I can see glimmers of others. Wild dance medicine woman. Silver tongued heart speaker. Fire hearth village builder.
When your earth walk comes to an end, you come back to the cave of the Old Woman of the World and in the dirt on ground, she sketches out half of your pattern of your soul. The life you lived imprints on the ground as the other half of the pattern. A mirror image, a harmony, the note, the song of soul. In some lifetimes, we get caught up in forgetting. In others we move towards the pattern, our soul’s purpose.
Which one am I choosing? What pattern am I making?