The story written on the walls of our soul is intended to be lived out as the great experiment of each life. ~ Michael Meade
If I was the kind of person to have a guru, Michael Meade would be it. After spending three hours at his Maryland lecture on Fate and Destiny and eight hours at his workshop called The Initiated Soul and The Awakened Self, my concluding thought was ‘I don’t know whether I want to date this man or have him as a therapist.’
Of course, that was a joke and neither will happen (I’m married and he lives in Washington State), but it’s a thought that speaks to my draw to the man and his message, and to the resonance of his teachings that so beautifully expands on the inner work I have already done.
Shaman/poet/storyteller, Irish wise guy, mentor to the troubled, author, mythologist, drummer, and scholar of psychology and language, Michael explains in his book Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul and in his workshops that the soul likes a little trouble because that’s where its greatest opportunity to come forth is. He gave an example of when he was thirteen and growing up working class in New York. Faced with possible death, about to be knifed by gang members, his soul’s destiny revealed itself as he began to tell his assailants a story. His story held the gang members attention and showed them that he was not the person they thought he was. No cutting took place.
Meade’s storytelling was inspired by a book that he had received from an aunt for his thirteenth birthday. She meant to buy him a book on history but got one on mythology by mistake, which of course was not really a mistake, but more a twist of fate.
Michael describes the soul as each person’s unique gift/genius that is seeded in us from the birth and meant to bring wholeness to ourselves and the community. After birth, we get busy with the needs of life and lose track of our deeper selves. But our “original agreement” must be remembered because sharing our unique gifts and living our unique life, one that can never be repeated, is our purpose and the only way to have a fulfilled life.
Fate is whatever gets in your way. Destiny is what you came here to do. Both are intrinsically entwined. “The gifts are near the wounds. In order to get to the gifts you have to go near the wounds,” Michael said. He explained that the French word for wound is “blessure” and has the same root as “blessing” and that the words and actions that hurt us most are those that touch into our unique gifts because our gifts and our wounds are secretly connected.
“Fate is where we must go. Rather than moving away from one’s fated life, I’m suggesting you go into it further. It travels with you wherever you go. Eventually we re-encounter it anyways,” Michael reminded us. About trouble, which is really another word for fate, he has said, “I’m not wishing trouble on anyone, but I have noticed how trouble keeps knocking at every door and how it knocks louder each time it is simply ignored or denied.”
Spirit rises. Soul descends. There is an excess of focus on spirit over soul in our culture. Churches are all about going up there, one God, light, male and transcendence. The soul resides in the realm of shadow, water and emotions. It’s authentic, encompasses many ways and is related to what we love. “When the soul is engaged there is vitality and what was uncomfortable becomes a non-issue because the soul is dealing with meaningful things,” Michael said. Comfort doesn’t help the soul grow and can actually get in the way. True wisdom is the unity of spirit and soul, darkness and light.
The story goes: if a goldfish is taken out of its fish bowl and put into a bathtub it will swim in the same limited pattern that it did in the bowl, out of habit. The interactive part of the workshop consisted of a question for the 50 or so participants: Where would you be swimming if the bowl wasn’t there? In what direction do you want your life to expand now? After some shared exploration, Michael fielded our related questions and comments with the wisdom of an empath.
Thoughts on initiation, the world fate we share, word play, drumming, poetry, song and stories were all woven into the mix and delivered by Michael with the humor of a stand-up comic. I was on the edge of my seat and sometimes nearly falling off it. It must have been the right curriculum for my soul because, as someone who manages a variety of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I’m not normally able to sit for 5 hours at a time listening to someone talk. In this case, I couldn’t get enough and every part was quotable.
Post notes: Watch a video clip of Michael explaining how fate and destiny intertwine and talking about his Irish upbringing HERE. He talks about how people live half-hearted lives out of fear, but our work is to become whole enough to live full-hearted lives and share our unique gifts with the world HERE.