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The Genius Myth

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The conventions of both major political parties have taken place, not only amidst overheated political rhetoric; but also in the midst of what promises to be the hottest summer in recorded history. For the first time on record, every inch of all 50 states is forecast to see above-average temperatures for the entire period leading up to the election. In the Middle East, where extremism and endless wars can seem like “hell on earth,” temperatures have reached as high as 129 degrees.


“We’re in record breaking territory no matter how you look at it,” said Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, “the ice is really low, the temperatures are really high, the fire seasons have started earlier… it’s uncharted territory we’re finding ourselves in.” Truth be told, we are in uncharted territory in terms of human culture as well.  As surface temperatures reach new highs month after month, people all over the earth become over-exposed to the burning rays of a once friendly sun.


An Essay by Michael Meade

At the same time, once protective layers of social institutions wear thin and polarized political parties struggle to contain the raw forces of human emotion.  Between the rise of global warming and the spread of global terror it becomes difficult to avoid intense feelings and extreme thoughts as inner fears compete with outer threats.


Both political parties suffer intense internal divisions at the same time as the hostility towards the opposing party slips into spasms of revulsion. Mutual hatred may prove to be the biggest motivating force during this exceptionally overheated political season.  At a deeper level these are symptoms of an even greater tearing of the fabric of the world. To be alive at this time means to become a witness, willing or unwilling, to the loosening of the web of nature as well as the unraveling of the fabric of culture.


To be alive at this time means to be a witness to the cosmos melting into chaos; leaving us in a tumultuous state that James Joyce termed the “chaosmos.” Cosmos means order, as in the grand scheme of things; the whole thing seen as a whole with each piece in its natural place. The opposite of the cosmic arrangement is chaos [Gk khaos] meaning “chasm” or “gaping void.” Chaos is the primal emptiness, the abysmal abyss, the black hole from which all things appear and into which they can easily disappear.



The old Greek word tyrant could be applied to despotic kings, but was also used to describe popular usurpers who arrogate to themselves authority they have no right to use. In modern usage, a tyrant can be any imperious or domineering person who insists on complete obedience from others. And there lies the rub, for tyranny is not something simply imposed upon people without their agreement; the rise of tyranny requires consent from those about to be victimized. History abounds with examples of tyrants exploiting groups of people who believed they were about to be saved from the uncertainties of life.


The rule of divide and conquer has been a favorite tool of tyrants whether they are petty dictators or great pretenders. But, a tyrant ascends to power upon the proliferation of confusion, fear and chaos. Tyrants know no restraint and break all the rules, while those who enable the rise of tyranny restrain themselves from interceding because common rules and agreements seem to require self-restraint and moderation.  Thus, the rise of tyranny depends upon a lack of courage and conviction on the part of those who recognize the threat to common decency and order, but refuse to take a clear stand against it.



While the meaning of the word democracy remains a subject of much controversy, as does the practice of it; there is little doubt that democracy stands in opposition to all forms of tyranny. Fear not only causes people to abandon core principles; but it is said to be the parent of cruelty. Long before tyranny comes to rule, there is an escalation of both fear and cruelty. All cruelty comes from weakness and when people become overly fearful they not only support a would be “strong man,” but also become willing to overlook systematic cruelty.


Hubris is the term in ancient Greek for the condition of unrestrained pride and self-importance that leads to arrogance and insolence, but can also lead to violence and outrage. Hubris was seen as a human failure to remember the gods; but “titanism” is a form of hubris that happens when humans deny common decency and basic mortality and strive to be seen as gods. The Titans were primitive giants often called “the strainers;” for being full of hubris and presumption they strained to be like the gods. Titans know no laws, observe no limits and follow no natural order. They are mythic figures that parallel tyrants and usurpers on the human level, reckless giants who appear in times of chaos and in periods of cultural disruption and disorder.


The condition of titanism leads to excesses of arrogance and desires for power that produce blind ignorance, the destructive rejection of all empathy and increasing brutality. Titanic tendencies include extreme projections of guilt as all failures or weaknesses of those affected must be blamed on everyone and everything except themselves. Thus, the “strong man” who would be ruler must spread falsehoods and escalate fears in order to justify usurping power, breaking all the rules and being above the law.




An essay by Michael Meade

Amidst the speed of changes occurring in both nature and culture it takes very little to tear the skin of civilization and reveal massive and festering emotional wounds full of fear, rage, resentment and vengeance. We are not just in the midst of an unusual election or a surprising political period. We are not simply in the middle of the hottest summer on record. We are in an extended period of the radical churning of the world in which all the toxicities and poisons that are usually held back appear on the stage of life at the same time.


There is growing “collective trauma” as news of tragic shootings, terrorist atrocities and cultural unrest come from all sides and in a rapid succession that allows little time to process, much less integrate the effects of trauma. Amidst all the radical changes and deepening tragedies, anxiety becomes a free-floating collective state.

This collective anxiety causes increasing marginalization of those who are most unstable as well as overreactions and divisive rhetoric from those seeking to rise to power upon the waves of chaos and uncertainty.


As archaic fears and hatreds rise to the surface, typical societal containers rattle and crack, becoming less able to contain the flood of extreme ideas, raw energies and dark emotions that surge through the world. Facing intractable problems and lacking internal stability, cultural institutions can fail to contain the unconscious energies arising from the depths and become instead vehicles for acting out the growing insecurities and increasing fears of people.


Seen in the context of an existential crisis, this is not simply a bitter political season; rather this is an extraordinary time that demands that people respond in ways that enhance life, reduce the extremes of hatred and fear and reject the politics of personal grandiosity and cultural division. For, there is an increasing danger of would be leaders as well as emotional followers being devoured by the huge energies that rise from the depths being churned by the tides of global changes.


The flood of reports depicting horrific terrorism and wide scale tragedies along with environmental disasters cannot be contained by the individual psyche, nor can they be simply dismissed. Feeling helpless in the face of huge and intractable forces, more people become anxious and angry and obsessed with an ideology or a person that promises them salvation in one form or another. Assisted by technologies of isolation and encouraged by the politics of identity and division, people suffer increasing states of dissociation as well as extremes of emotion and fanaticism.



New Interview with Michael Meade

The World is in Trouble and it Needs Your Genius

Beyond Awakening with Terry Patten

Michael Meade and Terry Patten talk about how, whether rich or poor, we are all being pushed to the margins to face our brokenness during this time of “apocalypsis” — in which both collapse and renewal are unveiling all that has been hidden.

Each person born, in some unique way, participates in the genius of life and the world at this time is in great need of an awakening of the genius qualities hidden in each of us. The future of this world is so much in question that each person needs to be considered a potential subject of a genuine “calling” to serve in some meaningful way.


Rather than a heroic journey undertaken by a select few, the genius myth imagines that everyone by virtue of bearing some genius qualities is subject to a genuine calling in life. In this old way of seeing, each person has some form of genius, each also has a calling or vocation and a purpose in life. Everyone has something to give if they give from their essential nature.

From Michael Meade's "The Genius Myth"

Because each soul is unique, calling comes differently to each person. There is no pattern into which we must fit, because it is the unique pattern at the core of each soul that is the aim of the calling. Because what calls to us is timeless, the calling can come at any time. At each turn in the road our life’s work awaits us; thus, our calling keeps calling no matter our age, position, or condition in life.


Answering the call opens pathways of genius and imagination that can lead to finding one’s “dharma” or natural way of being in life and serving in the world. When seen as an archetypal presence in the soul, human genius marks each person—regardless of age, gender orientation, ethnicity, or social status—as being essentially unique and inherently valuable. More than raw talent or potential ability, genius gives a person their unique way of being in and contributing to the world.


The genius myth offers the sense that each soul enters this world gifted in certain ways and distinctly shaped from within. In the same way that each infant arrives with a unique set of fingerprints as well as precise brain printing, each soul bears an inner imprint and unique psychic pattern.



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to Mosaic's Genius Project.

New Book by


The Genius Myth proposes that each person born participates in the genius of life and the world at this time is in great need of an awakening of the genius qualities hidden in each of us. In a rapidly changing world faced with seemingly impossible problems, it becomes important to understand that each person has something to contribute to the solutions.


Both timely and timeless, this book is essential for anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or social status, who seeks to awaken their own genius and learn how they can help heal nature and renew culture.


The culmination of decades of work with at-risk youth and at-risk people, this book combines dramatic real life experiences with compelling mythic tales and a profound exploration of the wisdom of genius.



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Upcoming Summer Retreats

The first adventure of life requires that we survive basic challenges and strive to establish ourselves in the common world. However, the Second Adventure leads in a different direction as it involves a descent to find the original project of the soul and the unique style that each person brings to life. This deeper adventure may require that we risk all that we have in order to learn the destination our soul is aimed at.  The Second Adventure leads to the bridge that connects the mind and the heart as well as the individual soul and the Soul of the World. Crossing the bridge requires that we recognize our deepest longings and find some healing for our essential wounds.

Tuesday, August 16 - Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Retreat for Younger and Older Men

Mendocino Woodlands Camp, Mendocino, CA

Registration for the Mendocino  Mentoring Retreat is currently full and we have begun a waiting list.  Please email or call to add your name to the waiting list.  We can be reached at info@mosaicvoices.org and 206-935-3665.  We expect some people to be added from the Waiting List.  Thank you for your interest and your support.

The Pathless Path

A Retreat for Women, Men, Mentors and Teachers, Artists and Activists

September 22 - 25, 2016

Pilgrim Firs Conference & Retreat Center, Port Orchard, WA


Join mythologist and storyteller Michael Meade for an intensive four-day retreat.  Because each soul is unique in some way, each person’s path through life takes on a unique shape. We may follow a particular practice or system of belief, but one day we must step off the given path in order to learn where our inner spirit would have us go and how our soul would have us contribute to the continuance of the world.


Spirit would have us reach for the heights of imagination, follow the flights of genuine thought, and touch the mysterious unity of the world; while soul would have us descend to a deep knowledge of earthly beauty and the essential diversity that sustains both human community as well as nature’s enormous vitality. In the betwixt and between where spirit and soul meet the forces of mythic imagination and great nature conspire to shape ever renewing ways for the individual to grow and the creation of the world to continue.

Registration for The Pathless Path Retreat is currently full and we have begun a waiting list.  Please email or call to add your name to the waiting list.  We can be reached at info@mosaicvoices.org and 206-935-3665.  We expect some people to be added from the Waiting List.  Thank you for your interest and your support.

"We must step onto the pathless path in order to learn where our inner spirit would have us go and how our soul would have us contribute to the continuance of the world."


      - Michael Meade

Michael Meade - MosaicVoices

Who We Are

Mosaic is a network of artists, activists, community builders, healers, and spiritual teachers working in innovative ways to develop cross-cultural alliances, mentoring relationships, and forms of community healing.

Our Vision

Amid the rattling of cultural institutions and radical changes in nature, it may be time turn again to valuable traditional methods of cultural healing and individual mentoring. Shaping new forms from separate, estranged, or even broken pieces is a dynamic remedy for the personal isolation and spiritual dislocation that increasingly characterize modern life. The creative act of finding and fitting together the divergent yet necessary elements of a diverse culture can produce “moments of wholeness” in times of great uncertainty.

Michael Meade is a renowned storyteller, author, and scholar of mythology, anthropology, and psychology. He combines hypnotic storytelling, street-savvy perceptiveness, and spellbinding interpretations of ancient myths with a deep knowledge of cross-cultural rituals. He has an unusual ability to distill and synthesize these disciplines, tapping into ancestral sources of wisdom and connecting them to the stories we are living today. Michael is the founder of Mosaic Multicultural Foundation.

He is the author of Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of The Soul, Why the World Doesn't End, and The Water of Life: Initiation and the Tempering of the Soul.

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"No single idea or social movement can solve the daunting problems facing the modern world.  Imagination is the deepest power of the human soul and what the world needs now is more people awakening to the power of imagination in their own soul."

         - "Michael Meade

The Power of Imagination

Related Books & CDs

Touching the Soul of the World

Genius and the Soul of the World

"When things fall apart or become polarized in the extreme, it's soul that's missing. History is not outside people. History is made in the depths of the human soul. If we want the world to change, the healing of culture and greater balance in nature, it has to start inside the human soul."


         - Michael Meade


 © 2016   Mosaic Multicultural Foundation

Mosaic Multicultural Foundation