public programs past

Labyrinths of Soul
Where Spirit and Nature Meet

A Workshop Retreat with Michael Meade
in Santa Barbara

Friday, December 5
from 5:00-9:00 pm
Check in 3:00-5:00 pm 
Saturday, December 6
from 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Plus an Evening Session
Sunday, December 7
from 9:00 am-12:00 pm

PSYCHE'S PLACE is where the mythic mind resonates with dreams and stories and the body breaks open to nature's undying song. Be it doleful lament or sudden dance, psyche attends to 'betwixt and between' places where myth and nature conspire, where inner and outer converse emphatically, where spells are broken and meaningful change can occur.

The modern world holds spirit and nature/mind and body in fierce opposition, causing people to be lost in matter and materialism on one side and deluded by mind and spirit on the other. Neither way taken alone can build the soul-substance which preserves the immanent
energies of instinct and intuition while sustaining the transcendent breath of spirit. In psychology, this is the stuck place of the complex; in stories, it appears as spells which encase people in animal skins, cause them to serve the wrong master or marry a false spouse. The spell captures spirit in a form of nature or suppresses one's inner nature through the presence of 'wrong-headed' ideas. Then, something is needed to shape an uncommon ground where spirit and nature can meet anew and shift shapes. That something must participate in both spheres, be of the body and of the spirit, be natural and super-natural. It must be immediate, yet threaded to the eternal. Thus, soul (psyche) becomes the middle-ground of being, the locus of longing and of transcendence, but also the place of immanence, the ground of pleasure and of healing.

The old tradition was to enter the 'dark season' of the year on the feet of stories and in the presence of dreams, to seek again soulful images of the underlying unities of life and the world, to allow a closer presence of the 'other', intensifying the sense of life purpose, adding feet and paws, fins and wings to psyche's work in the forest of symbols. In allowing spirit and nature to meet consciously in us, we shift the plane of being and things begin to conspire in our favor. To consciously reach a point of change, a crossing-point between the usual world and the realm of spirit, between the surround of great nature and awakenings trying to happen within our own natures, we use the concentration of arts and practices, the felt tension of psychic issues and the support of reckless companions.

On the threshold of the darkest season, we enter a retreat to consider the inner light of spirit and the regenerative nature of soul. We dwell in the fragrant uncertainties that can attract spirit and awaken the healing instincts and intuitions of our inner natures.

Michael Meade has studied myth, anthropology, history of religion, and cross-cultural rituals for over 35 years. His hypnotic and fiery storytelling, street savvy perceptiveness, and spellbinding interpretations of ancient myths and symbols illuminate many crises in current culture. He has the unusual ability to synthesize this material, tapping ancestral sources of wisdom and connecting them to the stories people are living today. He is the author of Men and the Water of Life; editor, with James Hillman and Robert Bly, of Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart; and editor of Crossroads:A Quest for Rites of Passage. Meade is Founder/Director of Mosaic Multicultural Foundation, a network of artists, teachers, and activists that fosters community healing and development efforts (for more information visit

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