The Mystic Cave
An exploration of the spiritual terrain on the far side of conventional religion. A sanctuary for seekers.
Vision Quest, Part I, with Vincenzo Falone: Preparing for a Soul Encounter
Eleven days camping on a Colorado mountainside, three of those days a solo fast, seeking an encounter with Nature that might grant us a vision of our mythopoetic identities, our unique place in the Universe: it would have been an ambitious undertaking for someone half our age. But somehow Vincenzo Falone, from New Jersey, and I, a Canadian from Alberta, felt drawn to be there, both of us in our late sixties (and one of us pushing seventy rather hard). This is the story of what got us there.
Links to Vincenzo Falone
Personal and Group...
The Look of Love: Vickie MacArthur's Life-Altering Encounter with Thich Nhat Hanh
A few gurus and spiritual leaders have given all the others a bad name. But yoga and meditation instructor Vickie MacArthur has a story to tell about Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen Master, whose gaze was all it took to change her life, filling her with divine love. It's a story we may need to hear.
Vickie's book and web sites
"A Lotus on Fire: How a Buddhist Monk Ignited my Heart": https://a.co/d/4PhkbLV
My web site (where...
The Way of the Artist: Janet Handy on our Need to Create
We might deny it, but we're all creative. We might not make a painting, but we might make a garden or a business or a home. Visual artist Jan Handy speaks with me about the challenges and the joys of following our Muse. It's everyone's calling.
Jan's email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Books mentioned in our conversation:
"The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity," by Julia Cameron; Jeremy P. Tarcher / Random House; 1992, 2002, 2016
"The Practice: Shipping Creative Work," by Seth Godin; Portfolio / Penguin, New York; 2020
"The Creative Act: A Way...
Psyche and Sex: Kevin Alderson on the Spirituality Behind our Sexuality
Is our spirituality shaped by our sexuality? Or are we shaped more by the social constructs of that sexuality? Counselling psychologist and professor emeritus Kevin Alderson has spent his career specializing in LGBTQ+ issues and helping people to accept themselves, whatever their sexuality. Only when we love ourselves can we learn how to be "givers" rather than "takers" and become the people we are capable of being.
Most recent book: Counselling Today: Bridging Art, Science, and Practice; Cognella Publications, January 2024.
Upcoming book: The New Sex: An Exposé of What You Could be Missing (a...
Soul Calling: Celia McBride's Road to Elsewhere
What if our place in the Universe isn't a job, or a role, or anything the world might recognize as useful? What if it's more subtle and more fundamental than how the world sees us? What would that look like? And how would we even know if we'd found it? Celia McBride's memoir, O My God: An Un-becoming Journey, explores this territory as she shares the story of her passionate desire to become a nun, only to have Soul lead her somewhere else.
Links to Celia McBride
Celia's book: O My God: An Un-becoming Journey
James Hollis: What Our Souls Ask of Us
Jesus told a parable about a wealthy man who increased his holdings and expanded his storage facilities for all his goods, until the day came when he was informed that his soul was required of him. Would that he had cared for his soul before it was taken away.
James Hollis has been counselling, writing, and teaching for over fifty years. His acquired wisdom is simple, which doesn't mean it's easy: get to know your soul ... before it leaves you. Soul comes to us every day--in our dreams, in our neuroses, in our psychic disturbances--with an invitation...
Stephen Jenkinson: The Voice of the Prophet
Prophets don't call themselves prophets. They speak their words or write their books until people start to notice. Then they may open a wisdom school or create magical live events or succumb to interviews with podcasters.
All this describes Stephen Jenkinson. When he writes, or speaks, or performs, you feel your world opening up, shifting, changing. You'd be hard pressed to describe exactly what's happening. But something is happening. And that something was captured in our recent conversation.
Links to the World of Stephen Jenkinson
Books, Music and Films...
Thomas Moore: “The Eloquence of Silence”
Out here on the far side of conventional religion it is important that the seeker find a few guideposts. Otherwise the open landscape can feel overwhelming. Thomas Moore has been a seeker's lodestar for over thirty years, ever since he reintroduced us to the language of “Soul” in his best-selling book, “Care of the Soul.”
His new book, "The Eloquence of Silence," gathers stories from around the globe and from across the spectrum of religious traditions to explore the spirituality of emptiness. Our conversation took us many places, from the need to let go of certainty and acquisiti...
Whence Wisdom: Filmmaker Darold Black on the Wisdom of Elders
Darold Black loves people and he loves pictures. So it's no surprise that our conversation about wisdom turned into personal stories about life. Wisdom doesn't come to us as lofty ideas. It comes to us as images from the heart.
Darold is working on a documentary series called "E5," an attempt to capture the wisdom of elders on film. It's not a gathering of wise sayings in twenty-second media clips. It's storytelling, where the seeds of wisdom have always been found.
Links & Resources
Darold's E5 project: https://e5.life
Darold's Media Company: https...
Holy Listening: Lois Huey-Heck on the Art of Spiritual Direction
Some would prefer to say spiritual "companionship" rather than "direction," and that would probably be more accurate. Because it's not about directing anyone anywhere, except, that is, to pay attention to the subtle movements within your own heart and soul. And that's what spiritual directors do.
My guest on this episode is Lois Huey-Heck, a seasoned spiritual director whose natural bent for compassion, whose aptitude for the ways of Soul, and whose deep experience and training coalesce to offer the world a unique gift: the gift of holy listening.
Spiritual Directors International: https...
Easter Poets: Rosemary Griebel, Paul Grindlay and Juleta Severson-Baker
Words fail us when we try to speak of the mysteries of life and death and the other soulful experiences of our lives. Except, that is, for the words of poets. In the modern age we turn to poetry as if to holy scripture, searching for the images and metaphors that help us express our deepest fears and our highest hopes.
Three poets offer their own words in this episode as together we explore the Eastertide theme of death and resurrection. Rosemary Griebel, Paul Grindlay, and Juleta Severson-Baker consider the classic movement of an Easter weekend from...
Men Talking: Marv Westwood on the Modern Male
Many men, having inherited the cultural expectations of former generations, feel they are being shamed in the modern age. Traditional male traits, such as protectiveness, leadership, and strength, are now denigrated for their toxic potential rather than celebrated for their social value. It's a difficult time for men as they try to break the old molds and discover a new way of being themselves in the world.
Therapist Marv Westwood has spent years working at the very heart of traditional male culture--male military personnel who have been traumatized by war. In groups designed to provide therapeutic release...
The Soul's Instrument: Jennifer Mason on the Human Voice
If we're searching for a connection with our souls, we needn’t look any further than our voice. Quite apart from the words we use and the intentions behind those words, our voice reveals the state of things within. Are we anxious, are we confident, are we restful? The voice knows. Consequently, so does the world.
Jennifer Mason is a trained singer and vocal coach who helps people discover and utilize the full dynamic range of their voice. As to her own voice, Jennifer is releasing a re-mastered version of "Mothers of the World," her haunting album of...
'Circles of Rhythm': Julien Lepage on the Call of the Drum
Some say before we could sing, we drummed. Whether or not that's accurate, drumming is one of our most primitive forms of communication. Perhaps, it once helped us to "talk" across great distances. Perhaps, it brought us together to unify and strengthen the community. Perhaps, it was just ... fun.
Julien Lepage leads modern-day drumming circles where we can re-experience a deep resonation with our own bodies, with one another, and with the Earth. There are no ideologies to label us, no religion or politics to divide us, and no boundaries to keep us out, not when we...
Wild Yoga: Rebecca Wildbear on an Embodied Way of Being
Yoga is not just about poses and posers. It's about a soulful engagement with our own lives that includes both our bodies and our dreams. It's about the rediscovery of the connection we have lost with the Earth, and about the purpose that the Earth itself is dreaming for us.
Rebecca Wildbear is a soul guide, a wilderness therapist, and a yoga instructor. Wild Yoga: A Practice of Initiation, Veneration And Advocacy for the Earth is her new book on, in her words, "an embodied practice to help us love ourselves, deepen our relationship with the natural w...
The Soul of Wall Street: Howard Fischer on Investing in the Planet
"You can be so heavenly minded," the saying goes, "that you're of no earthly use." Ouch for all us lofty-headed idealists! But bringing together heavenly ideals and earthly resources--now that's useful!
And that's what Howard Fischer is doing with Gratitude Railroad, his impact investment firm he started with his friend Eric Jacobsen: move investment capital from the safe and conventional financial world to a whole new world of environmental protection and social justice. It might not be heaven on earth ... yet. But it's a start.
Gratitude Railroad: https://gratituderailroad.com
Old Souls: Judy Steiert on Conscious and Positive Aging
Many of us fear aging. We suppose that the long slow slide on the other side of the hill is a negation of the one life we've been given to live. But what if it's the opposite? What if aging is our crowning glory, all that experience finally adding up to something: meaning, depth, and even wisdom?
Judy Steiert trains "sage-ing" guides and leaders, and she herself mentors those who want to welcome aging, rather than to fear it. For those of us retiring from our jobs and facing the next chapter of our lives, this is...
Beyond Hope: Jodi Lammiman on the Challenges of Eco-Grief
What if the Earth is beyond saving? What if only the abandonment of hope will deliver us to the new world we seek? What if eco-grief is the portal we need to rediscover our role in the natural world, and in its healing? Jodi Lammiman is an eco-awareness counsellor and spiritual guide who connects our fears and sorrows to the work we've each been given ... to be in communion with the living Earth. This connection, in the end, may be our only hope.
"On Being" Podcast: https://onbeing.org...
A Wreath on the Door: A Christmas Story in Real Time
Bob had decided to lock Christmas out this year. Given the events of the past year who could blame him? But Christmas had other ideas and snuck in the back door instead, leaving the door ajar. As it must be, if we're to let the Christ Child in.
Music Credits (under license by SOCAN 2022)
"O Holy Night," from the album Noël by Terry McDade & the McDades
"In the Bleak Midwinter," from Midwinter by Terry McDade & the McDades
"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," from Winter Rose by Terry McDade & the McDades
"Silent Night," f...
Romancing the Moon: Inside a "Soulcraft Intensive," as shared with Liz Wiltzen
It was indeed intense, but I was learning the ways of Soul and shedding the fears that prevented me from knowing and living out, fully, my purpose on the earth. As we camped in the woods and wandered and drummed and danced and dreamed, I knew something important was happening. I was becoming ... myself. Naturally.
To be guided through the threads of my conversation with Liz Wiltzen, click on the Chapters tab, above.
Liz Wiltzen, Life Coach: https://www.lizwiltzen.com
Liz Wiltzen, "Tracking Yes" podcast: https://www.trackingyes.com
Paying Attention: John Griffith on a Spiritual Practice of His Own
Morning coffee with one's spouse? Listening to other people's stories? Reading whatever you want? This is spiritual practice? If you've been on the spiritual path all your life, then, yes. Because in the end spiritual practice is whatever works, not whatever others have told you to do.
My conversation with retired minister and former spiritual director John Griffith is filled with wise insights into the spiritual journey. There's a reason we've been taught to listen to our elders.
Referenced in this episode
Hillhurst United Church: https://hillhurstunited.com