Wisdom Workshops: Finding the Muses in Personal and Ancient Mythologies with Leigh Melander

Wisdom Workshops at City Lore this fall!

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

– Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Myths can inspire revolutions. Bring us to our knees. Fire the greatest works of art. How do myths work in your life? What stories do you tell, and what stories tell you? Together, through reading, writing, and dialogue, we’ll dive into myths both ancient and modern that burst our creativity open and help us make meaning in our lives.

Taught by Leigh Melander, Spillian’s co-founder. Leigh has a doctorate in cultural mythology and psychology; serves on the board of the Joseph Campbell Foundation; hosts a weekly NPR affiliate show, Myth America; and is the co-founder of Spillian, a creative retreat center in the Catskills.

Wisdom Workshops are a series of classes taught by scholars and artists at City Lore an extraordinary place celebrating culture in, by, and of NYC and its inhabitants.

Six sessions on Tuesdays: October 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th, and November 1st and 8th



City Lore – 56 East 1st Street, New York, NY 10003 – View Map

Join Spillian co-founder Leigh Melander for a six week exploration into myth in your life at City Lore in NYC starting in October. Register now!


More on City Lore

Founded in 1986, City Lore’s mission is to foster New York City – and America’s – living cultural heritage through education and public programs.  We document, present, and advocate for New York City’s grassroots cultures to ensure their living legacy in stories and histories, places and traditions.  We work in four cultural domains:  urban folklore and history; preservation; arts  education; and grassroots poetry traditions. In each of these realms, we see ourselves as furthering cultural equity and modeling a better world with projects as dynamic and diverse as New York City itself.

At City Lore, we abide by the definition set forth by Don Adams and Arlene Goldbard for cultural democracy,  a society which allows many cultural traditions to co-exist on an equal footing and encourages active participation in cultural life, not just passive consumption of cultural products. We seek to foster webs of cultural meaning, linking past and present through tradition and creativity, encouraging the process whereby human beings, as sociolinguist Dell Hymes suggests, “shape deeply felt values into meaningful forms.”

Just as New York City is one of the so?called “high culture” (e.g., opera, classical ballet) centers of the world, so is it one of the richest and most diverse centers of traditional culture. New York City may well boast the most diverse aggregate of ethnic groups in the world.  We work with a wide range of communities along with grassroots, folk and traditional artists.  Yet, we do not see ourselves simply as presenters or documenters of these artists and communities, but as their collaborators.  They are not our “informants” but our partners.  We work collaboratively with marginalized, folk, ethnic and community artists to accomplish shared ends.  By embracing different aesthetics for the creation of art, we seek to democratize the arts, and foster a wider range of communities, artists, and forms of artistic expression.


More About Leigh Melander

My work and play in the world is to help people imagine past what they think is possible.

I am a story weaver, a creator, a ridiculous revolutionary (I wrote my doctoral dissertation on frivolity as an opening into imagination – they actually let me get away with that!). Most importantly, I work to help people bring their most beloved wild ideas to life as a fomenter, coach, and speaker.

I am so lucky to have the most extraordinary launching pad, a Catskills retreat center on a remarkable historic estate, called Spillian: A Place to Revel. We offer public and private events to mark moments of deep imagination and celebration in people’s lives, and it’s the place I share with my clients when we’re doing deep face-to-face work. (And, incidentally, is my wild idea.)

I’ve been writer as well as a performer in theater, dance and music around the world; a strategic planning and marketing consultant for hundreds of commercial and nonprofit ventures; and have worked in community in a host of ways, from building sustainability tools to asset-based family resource centers.

My doctorate is in cultural mythology and psychology, and I’m proud to serve on the Board of Directors of the Joseph Campbell Foundation as that organization works with partners bringing myth to life around the world.

I’ve been featured on the History Channel as an expert on myth and story, and host two radio programs on myth and imagination on an NPR affiliate in New York state (Myth America and The Reveling Radio Hour) and am readying a book for publication – Just That Side of Crazy, a collection of ideas to help you bring your wild idea to life. Hoping by next June, but that hope may be slightly on that side of crazy itself…