For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, we are at the height of summer, on our way to Lughnasadh or Lammas, the Catholic variant. Our social media feeds fill with pictures first fruits. Hopefully in any other year, we would be celebrating at local, state or district fairs.
Lughnasadh (August 1 or August 3, 2020, the first full moon) is rich with history, so rich. Fairs and festivals brought the local pagans (country dwellers) together. Trial marriages of a year and a day often began at Lugnasadh, your young couple having met and thoroughly enjoyed Beltane just a few months ago. Lugh, or Lewy Long Hand, has quite a mythic history too — and he’s a fun guy. (Links below) Now that I have filled your mind, and feed, with all kinds of information, what does that mean for us?
I love Lugh — he was a master of all trades out of necessity. He made himself of value to his king. Lugh fought in battles successfully, even against family. He had a difficult journey and I believe there is something in his mythology for everyone. And he could also throw a d. fine party, given what we know, including horse races and banquets, and then he may have disappeared all night or, a year and a day, with the faeries, because… why not? Lugh spent a long time building his life after considerable challenges. If you are here, reading this, I feel confident you have also faced challenges. My sympathies as we wander through this healing journey together.
Changing My Religion
Many people come to Wicca or paganism FROM a family religion that did not serve them well. Many others feel comfortable within their religious framework, but had a hard time with the other people in that group. (I’m reluctant to use the word “community” there.) More people coming to alternative religions today are un-churched, meaning they may have had caregivers who felt faith but were ambivalent about passing that tradition along to their children. In the fullness of understanding, all of this is okay. Humans feel better when they have a comfortable faith base.
People are seeking, and people are troubled today. There is no getting around this. Public discourse is unkind, and impatient. People are dying. Words like “unprecedented” and “fluid” are tossed around leaving us all feeling as if we have lost a part or our foundation. We are behaving oddly because not only is our stress higher, nearly six months into the US handling of the pandemic, but our stressors have shifted so hugely. At the outset, mortgages could be placed on hold (for a price) and landlords were not evicting tenants and that is starting to change. So many people are home for months, or in new living arrangements for this time period because of cultural changes and a “new normal.”
How is Lugh Relevant for Today
Much like Lugh, we are learning to shift to meet the times at hand. How can you help that shift work for you? I am so incredibly blessed –I have a stable professional job that simply switched to working from home quite suddenly, a mostly comfortable home, hobbies and a community that understands that an introvert like me is actually pretty happy in the new normal.
You can also be happier, I hope, in the new normal. These are not essentially Wicca based practices, but I’ve been researching becoming your most authentic self, which does follow the tenet “Power Through Knowledge.” I have pages of research and self-help guides (ugh).
What has stayed with me from that research? First of all, for those of you that like lists, here are some ideas:
Aspirational versus Actual
What are your aspirational versus your actual plans? I aspire to do yoga and meditate every day, but once a week is much more realistic. As I shift my life to one that is more reflective of me, there is more yoga and meditation, but I am an imperfect practitioner.
What is actual? Gardening, as you know, and being a maker. I have to budget my crochet and cooking time — I have to be realistic that these can get in the way of paying gigs, because I will lose track of time.
That is what I actually do — I breathe into weeding and thank the garden for the abundance our Mother offers me although I may not be thankful enough for bamboo…
That leads us into the next idea: what makes you lose track of time. What makes you forget to eat and pee? I lose track of time making — I work hard in the kitchen, but some of that is based in a desire to provide for others. As my family becomes smaller, I don’t feel as compelled to cook as much. I still care about what we put in our bodies, but I’m not spending as much time in the kitchen. Fermented foods are so important to me: when a student asks a question in a fermented foods class, I say “give me your email” or I will talk more about this next year in class. Why? Because I am going to spend time over the winter, between festival seasons, researching that question. I want to give that seeker the best information possible. With yogurt, for instance, I spent all winter trying different milks for vegan yogurt. I have a method that makes me happy so I can comfortably help others make a better vegan yogurt. This is an external motivation and practice, but I love doing it for others so they can help improve their internal biome. Like, Lugh, I could disappear into the mountain with fae for a year and a day to explore nourishing their giant souls in their “tiny” bodies.
This, this blog and this research has already consumed hours of my life. I spent hours on the phone with a trusted friend working through these ideas for myself (thank you, Z). Someone is nearby, granted that person will be trapped listening to me work through these ideas. I’m entering hour 3 in a 90 degree office working to make this a decent summary to help you be more authentic too (this was a full work day as it turns out). As many writers will tell you, a one-page blog post can take days while they craft their work. I do not view myself as a writer, just as I have not viewed myself as particularly creative. (The pallet project I just redid would beg to differ.)
What Depletes You? What Energizes You?
Another opportunity for a comparison list: what depletes you/ what energizes you? Writing this blog, creating materials for children either here or in my professional content area, painting in a remodel energizes me. What depletes me? Gracious, revisiting and improving my parents’ writings. There’s not enoug
h candy in the world to do behavioral rewards while I sit at the computer rewriting content — but while I work on the blog, I have water. Simple because I’m contented. I don’t need an extra reward to do this work for you.
Reframing or Asking Better Questions
My friend, Z, and I, in our lengthy discussion said, “Let’s reframe these questions in a more positive way.” We are not avoiding shadow work, but we can still do shadow work (on the New Moon) helping us integrate our more authentic self.
What DO you care about? What engages your imagination (forgetting to eat and pee)? What’s your favorite flavor of love? What is your favorite flavor of humble pie sandwich? (How can you best embarrass yourself?) What are you willing to fail at in order to succeed? What part of Lugh’s path would you pick for your own: a warrior and a king, a master of art and science, a master of peace and war — his talents were balanced. How does Lugh’s story of struggle bring you to your own more authentic place?
You may change, you may change a lot. Do not feel shame if your journey takes you to a new place. This time, this time at home, where we are having a cultural reset, may allow you time to chart a path to a more authentic you. You may not need to change careers but you may need to rearrange your home. You may need to change careers, so do so carefully if you are the primary earner in your home. If you cannot do so easily, chart a path so that when you are able to interview, you are so deeply prepared for that interview or that job that you have little doubt you are ready. If the image helps, imagine yourself as a pallet, thrown away picked up for a cherished upcycling project as I am doing here.
Authenticity and the Shadow
I find this change and working for my more authentic self is bringing up a lot of shadow work for me. As I read recently in a really great article, this work is ongoing. Sometimes this work is easier and the universe releases some pressure. Sometimes, like in the picture above, a person will present a pretty wall where the real work is hidden behind an object and the pretty wall is incomplete. Right now, like a time of Cancer Sun/Cancer Moon when we are obligated to stay home, this work is deep. I have researched, I have so many notes, I need to wander out to the garden to dig in the dirt to ground myself, and then I need to meditate and sleep. The more I replenish my cup, the more I have to share with you which will in turn replenish my personal cup. It’s part of the reason why I have been an unpredictable spiritual support for you all — because after care taking for my mother, interacting with hundreds of students, and taking care of family, there was not much left in my personal cup to share with you.
The more authentic I am, the more I explore Lugh’s journey picking out the parts essential for me, the more I will have to give because I will understand how I can refill my cup to give to you. It’s a complicated thought. Its a thought that can benefit you. And your self-care may look vastly different from mine: it may include working in your book of shadows or dancing away the pain. Another pagan has reached out to me and we are looking to collaborate on a ritual to… help others in our community. I am energized by this, and I have been energized by working with her before because she is so authentic as she shares her journey.
Quiet Authentic Work
For us, in this stage of the wheel of the year, it is hot enough that I do not mind staying inside to research. It is as much a time to be still as the depths of winter. Not every hot sunny day is a wonderful day to be a human outside, just as not every wintry day is a wonderful day to play in the snow. And feel free to share, appropriately, in the comments below how your authenticity journey is progressing for you.
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