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Churning the Milky Ocean

Making Mythic Sense of Crises in Nature and Culture

A Workshop with Michael Meade 

Friday, September 7
7:00-9:00 PM
Saturday, September 8
9:00 AM–5:00 PM
Sunday, September 9
9:00 AM–12:00 PM

$360 General Admission
$310 Special Admission (Full-Time Students, Pacifica Alumni, and Seniors)
$285 Active Pacifica Students
(Fees include Friday dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner; Sunday breakfast and lunch)

Churning the Milky Ocean is a re-creation story, a vast myth depicting how beauty and meaning become drained from the world and all levels of life become threatened. It’s a tale of lost and found on a cosmological scale, a drama where only a strange cooperation between the gods and demons can bring the psychic treasures that sustain both nature and culture back from the blind depths. It’s the story of the rebirth of Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty and fortune and the reflective light of lunar wisdom. Churning the ocean of consciousness and unconsciousness can raise the eternal elixir that sustains life, but it also stirs up poisons that threaten existence as chaos and cosmos contend.

The modern world suffers a double exposure as culture and nature, the two great garments of life seem about to unravel at the same time. Culture no longer acts as a protection against the growing threats of global terror and societal greed, while Nature becomes increasingly endangered through holes in the ozone and the effects of global warming.

Myth makes the most sense when all sense is lost and everything seems headed for destruction. When life seems to mean less and less it is mythic sense that is missing and mythic imagination that is needed. Returning to Myth returns us to Nature, for the world and the humans in it are mythic by nature. Moment to moment the unseen world of myth offers hints of meaning, healing, and renewal; yet we can only catch such visions when aware of the story that we are intended to live.

The loss of meaning so evident in modern culture not only adds to, but stems from a loss of meaning within individual lives. As the collective sense of unity collapses, the uniqueness within individuals becomes an essential source of unifying imagination. Meaning is an expectation of the soul and each person carries a hidden poetic unity that reflects the mysterious continuity of the Soul of the World.

Humans are the makeweights in the scales of time and eternity and the psychic ground on which the essential oppositions of life become conscious and available to change and healing. Either we find the courage to live the dream that brought us to life or we live a half-life of fear and resignation in the face of growing uncertainty and increased exposures.

At the end of an era mythic imagination tries to enter the world again. At the ends of time we find the roots of eternity. Right at the end it becomes important to have a mythic sense, a story-mind, an awareness of imaginal things, not simply a fantasy to escape with, but a sense of mythic imagination that can hold the ends and the beginnings together.

Themes will include: The World Behind the World • Culture, Nature, Inner Nature • Literalism, Fundamentalism, and Terrorism • Holding the Tension of the Opposites • The Pathless Path • Global Warming and Religious Fervor • Layers of the Tree of Life

Michael Meade, D.H.L., 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 The Water of Life: Initiation and the Tempering of the Soul; 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. Recent audio recordings include: Initiation and the Soul: The Sacred and the Profane; The Alchemy of Fire: Libido and the Divine Spark; and The Branches of Mentoring. Meade is Founder of Mosaic Multicultural Foundation, a network of artists, teachers, and activists that fosters community healing and development efforts. For more information visit  

*NEW FROM MOSAIC AUDIO* The Ends of Time, the Roots of Eternity
Tales of Myth, Nature, & Culture with storyteller & mythologist Michael Meade

Visit Mosaic online at 
for streaming audio excerpts of this live and timely recording.

General Information

Workshop Location, Accommodations, and Meals  

The workshop will be held at Pacifica Graduate Institute at Ladera Lane. Located on 35 acres in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this residential retreat center provides a unique and peaceful environment for this event. The center has lodging and dining facilities as well as a swimming pool and hiking trails.

A limited number of sleeping rooms are available at the Ladera Campus for participants on a first-come, first-served basis at a special rate of $80 per night single occupancy, $115 per night couple occupancy, and $125 per night double occupancy, plus 10% occupancy tax. Accommodations are simple, dormitory-style rooms with shared bath and shower. Reservations for rooms must be made through Pacifica’s Public Programs office. Please reserve your room on the registration form. Other accommodations in the Santa Barbara area may be arranged by calling one of these services: Coastal Escapes at 800.292.2222 or Hot Spot Accommodations at 800.793.7666.

Meals are provided to encourage ongoing dialogue and community exchange throughout the weekend. Included in your registration fee is Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Sunday breakfast and lunch. If you are arriving early, the following meals are available for an additional fee and must be ordered in advance: Monday continental breakfast ($8), lunch ($16.50), and dinner ($20) No other meals will be available. 


Major airlines provide service into the Los Angeles International Airport located 90 miles south of Santa Barbara. Some flights are also available directly into the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. Both airports have shuttle service between the airport and Santa Barbara. Information on ground transportation will be included with your confirmation letter.

Registration and Cancellation

Space is limited; register early. To register, please click here to register online, or print out the form and mail it with your payment to Pacifica Graduate Institute, Public Programs, 249 Lambert Road, Carpinteria, CA 93013; fax to 805.565.5796; e-mail to; call 805.969.3626, ext. 103, or at

A limited number of partial scholarships are available to those who find it prohibitive to pay the full cost of the workshop. To apply, send a letter of request with your registration and payment. Please be specific regarding your financial circumstances. If accepted, you will be contacted to approve processing payment.

To obtain a refund on your registration fee, send a written cancellation request postmarked no later than August 7. Tuition less a $50 processing fee will be refunded. No exceptions will be made. For refund on accommodations, cancellation with full refund will be accepted up to 5 days before the event. Cancellations made 1-4 days before the event will receive a 50% refund. There will be no refund for cancellation on the day of the event.

Continuing Education Credit

For licensed professionals, 11 hours of continuing education credit are available for RNs through the California Board of Registered Nurses (provider #CEP 7177), for MFTs and LCSWs (provider #PCE 2278) through the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, and for National Certified Counselors (provider #5436), through the National Board of Certified Counselors. Pacifica adheres to NBCC continuing education guidelines. A $15 processing fee will be charged for each certificate requested. A license number will be required to obtain a certificate.

A General Certificate of Attendance is available for non-licensed participants at no additional charge.

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