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The Mystic Cave

Religion & Spirituality Podcasts

An exploration of the spiritual journey. Stories, conversations, and reflections from the other side of conventional religious belief and practice. A sanctuary for seekers along the Unknown Path.

An exploration of the spiritual journey. Stories, conversations, and reflections from the other side of conventional religious belief and practice. A sanctuary for seekers along the Unknown Path.




An exploration of the spiritual journey. Stories, conversations, and reflections from the other side of conventional religious belief and practice. A sanctuary for seekers along the Unknown Path.






Getting Lost: Michael Trotta on the Art of Being in Nature

Becoming reacquainted with the natural world seems daunting at first. We've lived so long indoors, amusing ourselves to death with things that go Ping!, we've almost forgotten what it's like to be part of nature, how to be, what to do. Michael Trotta, with whom I spoke last fall about myths and fairy tales, agreed to return to The Mystic Cave to give me a hand. A survivalist teacher and personal coach, Michael walked me through a program of reentry. First, I had to lose my busy brain with...


Into the Wild: Ageing, Nature, and a Horse Named Jackson

I had started to think that my Nature Boy days were over. For one thing, I wasn't a boy anymore. And Nature seemed a lot less friendly than it used to, perhaps even malevolent. So why go out at all? Except, that way death lies. A slow death, my body atrophying by degree. But Nature has begun calling to me anew, as if we weren't through with each other yet. In fact, my spiritual path "on the other side of church land" might be leading me, not just beyond the walls of the church, but right...


Raising Hope: Poet Juleta Severson-Baker on the Power of Words

Hope is sometimes harder to define, out here "on the other side of church land," but it's not hard to find. At Easter, in church services across the land, worshipers joyfully rise to sing "Jesus Christ is Risen Today! Alleluia!" as if that's all the hope we really need. Meanwhile, among those of us who feel less sure about what Jesus' resurrection has to do with the rest of us, we look instead, not to some eventual rising from the grave, but to the seeds of new life hidden deep within this...


Getting Free: Mitch T's Recovery from Drugs, Gangs and Crime

People respond differently to childhood trauma. For some, addiction seems to promise something it cannot actually deliver: relief from suffering. The initial high, with its accompanying delusions of power and invincibility, soon dissipates, leaving the addict alone with their pain ... and therefore with the compulsion to drink or to use again. It took Mitch T years to learn this. Drawn into drug addiction, then to crime, and then sentenced to serious jail time, it took a life-threatening...


'The Secret Tribe': Social Activist Jan Handy on Recovering from Child Abuse

It is perhaps the ultimate betrayal, the abuse of a child by their own parent. It offends every ounce of decency within us, and hints at a darkness so horrible we don't want to hear about it, much less talk about it. Yet, talking about it is the way we will eradicate it. After over thirty years of working with victims and survivors, Jan Handy has written a beautiful and thoughtful book, titled, The Secret Tribe, about her own childhood abuse and about the "tribe" of abuse survivors who offer...


'Brain Betrayal': Mental Health Advocate Allan Cooper on Finding a New Life with Bipolar Disorder

If we want to look our enemy in the eye, we needn't look any further than the mirror. Our ego beguiles us, puffing us up, and our fears taunt us, pulling us down, and in some ways we really are our own worst enemy. But a line gets crossed when our delusions scramble our measure of what is real and what is fantasy. For those who suffer from bipolar disorder, this disconnect can drive them to despair, fuelled by manic accomplishment, at one end of the spectrum, and debilitating depression, at...


'She Persisted': Artist and Writer Louise Gallagher on Surviving an Abusive Relationship

Abuse is one person's cruel and calculating control over another, the self-aggrandizement of the abuser purchased at the humiliating expense of the abused. It is soul damaging. But it need not be soul destroying. Louise Gallagher's story is a shining illustration of that. Finally free of a four-and-a-half year relationship with a man who spoke like a lover but acted like a puppeteer, Louise discovered that he had left part of her intact, the part that was still able to love. It was that love...


Lent: A Lamentation for the Season of Sin

Is Lent necessary? A cornerstone of Christian practice, this season of penitential preparation reminds believers not only that they are frail mortals, but also that they are miserable sinners. Does this have any place in a modern-day spirituality? Is it in any way helpful? After leading my congregations through almost forty seasons of Lenten observance, I look back and reflect that, no, Lent seems actually to be a pretty bad idea. Hear me out. And then let me know what you think. Making a...


Into the Mystic: Christian Contemplative Arthur Aghajanian

Catholic theologian Karl Rahner said that the Christian of the future will be a mystic, or nothing at all. Could mysticism save Christianity? Could contemplative spirituality give the church back its life? Could it be a lifeline for those who've left the church but retain their faith? These are the questions I pursued with art educator, writer, and contemplative Arthur Aghajanian. His spiritual path of non-dualistic thinking and Eastern meditation eventually led him back to the deep,...


Tracking Yes: A Conversation with Liz Wiltzen

It would be understandable, and perhaps forgivable, if we entered the New Year with fear in our hearts. All we'd have to do is begin listing the troubles confronting us: a worsening climate crisis; festering justice issues; the darkening geo-political landscape. But artist, life coach, and podcaster Liz Wiltzen thinks there's another way to face an uncertain future, a way that beckons rather than threatens, that inspires hope rather than fear. That is the way of curiosity. And Liz should...


The Christmas Story You Never Heard: A Conversation with Nick Coates

Every year I'd rise in the pulpit on Christmas Eve and try to make sense of a story about a baby born two thousand years ago, and attempt to offer an interpretation of what that story means to us now. Every year I failed. Its meaning eluded me. But hidden within that story were other stories that the original hearers would have recognized, stories that told them their laments were heard by God, their oppression was over, and that there was hope for a new future. Where was Nick Coates when I...


The Way of Wisdom: A Conversation with Don McLeod

Reluctant to move on too quickly from my recent conversations with Michael Trotta and Philip Shepherd, I invited my friend Don McLeod to spend some time with me processing what we'd heard. Don, the co-founder of the Wisdom Centre, sees connections between what Michael and Philip were saying and the ancient Wisdom tradition--a way of knowing that is imaginal, embodied, and holistic. Jesus himself, Don believes, was a Wisdom teacher. In the end we found ourselves feeling new hope for the world...


Radical Wholeness: A Conversation with Philip Shepherd

It's not that we think too much; it's that we think too much using only our heads! We have cut ourselves off at the neck, losing touch with the natural intelligence of our bodies. Philip Shepherd wants to remove the barriers between the head and body and return to a wholeness we have not known since the Neolithic revolution had us subduing the earth and, by extension, becoming alienated from our own bodies. The head and body need to be reunited not just for our own sakes, but for the sake of...


The Life-Changing Power of Story: A Conversation with Michael Trotta

Myths and ancestral stories don't tell us who we are. But they set our feet on a journey to find out. Storyteller Michael Trotta left the confines of the education system to explore and to teach these deeper life-changing tales. Wherever we find them, myths and stories contain the power to open us to wonder and to the unique life waiting within each of us, to be born. Links: Michael's web site: Michael's Podcast: Story Mischief Errata: The book I mentioned...


Success is a Mytho-Logical Quest: Storyteller Michael Trotta

Why is it so difficult to find our way in the world, our true way? Why is a feeling of success, of having arrived, having made it, so elusive? And why can no one ever answer these questions? Storyteller Michael Trotta thinks it's because we trust logic when we should be trusting something else--stories. In the myth, the magic, and the mischief of the stories we tell are hidden the answers to life's most persistent questions. Only, they're not answers to be grasped; they're questions to be...


And in the End: Some Personal Reflections on Death and Dying

It's been a rich exploration, these past six weeks, talking about death and dying. But what does it all mean? What have we learned? Where does it lead us on the spiritual journey? Perhaps, right back to where we started ... to the path stretching out beneath our feet, to this life. Live well now, in other words--purposefully, lovingly, gratefully--and the rest will take care of itself. Credits: Closing Song: "I'm Going to Miss all This"; words and music by Brian Pearson; performed by Brian...


A Lamp Unto our Feet: A Conversation with Spiritualist Jane Fleming

Spiritualists like Jane Fleming are well acquainted with the strange phenomena associated with death and dying. But they know that the larger purpose of that phenomena is to help us on our spiritual journey toward our ultimate union with the Creator. In this lifetime we may get glimpses from beyond the veil, but our steps return us to the path at our feet, here and now. Books mentioned in this conversation: "Hands-on Healing" by Jack Angelo "Hands of Light" by Barbara Ann Brennan "Why...


In the Beginning: A Conversation with Margot McKinnon, PhD

We might ask, "What happens when we die?" in order to gain wisdom about how to live. But finding out, at the end, might prove too late. What if we asked, "Why was I born in the first place?" If "heaven" is the same at both the beginning and the end of life, it might be the same question. Contacts: Margot's Web Site: Margot's Email: Credits: Closing Song: "There's A Light" from the album So Far ...; words and music by Brian...


Shall We Gather at the River: A Conversation with Sarah Kerr

Deathwalkers, psychopomps, ancestors--we may be alone on our final voyage, but we needn't be lonely. The Universe itself will welcome us home, just as it birthed us in the first place. Death, it turns out, is a wondrous window on life itself, and who better to remind us of this than a death doula and ritual healing practitioner. Contacts: Sarah's work with the dying and their families: Sarah's courses and workshops on death care:...


Ghost of 'Boy Meets Girl': A Conversation with Jessica Waite

It was difficult enough when Jessica's husband Sean died suddenly, leaving her as a widow and a single mom. But posthumous revelations about his secret life turned her grief into rage. When it appeared he was trying to reach out to her from beyond the grave, she might not have returned his calls; but something compelled her to start paying attention. Perhaps they could help one another heal, from both sides of the Great Divide we call death. Contact: Jessica's grief-related storytelling...