31 Days of Lu(gh)nasa(dh): Care-taking



Blessed Lughnasadh to you! And a Blessed Imbolc to you in the South! This post begins a 30-day series for August 2021.

A theme that came to me in meditation this morning is caretaking. We ask others we cherish to “take care”. And these days, to take care of themselves. If you’re like me, you tend to think of taking care as a kind of opposite of passionate engagement. You take care when things, including yourself, need tending, need slowing down and nurturing. Caretaking becomes a form of caution.

The god Lugh for whom Lughnasadh is named has always manifested to me as a figure of passionate engagement. He’s given the epithet samildanach in Irish — equally skilled (in many things) — for a reason. Not much room for caution, when I consider the god. He throws himself into experience because that’s how you harvest it for what it offers. His caretaking is involvement, is testing himself against others — against the spiritual status quo?

When I don’t connect with one deity among a pantheon, it’s helpful to look at another. Longtime readers here know I’m not really polytheist so much as animist. The whole cosmos is talking, and different voices find me at different times. I’ve noted in previous posts how the hemispheres teach us to look at what’s happening across the world. As the north arrives at Lunasa, to give the more modern spelling, the south greets Brighid at Imbolc, as winter begins to yield to spring. The Lunasa harvest feeds awakening earth, awakening consciousness of Imbolc. What do my harvests feed? What do the fruits of my words, thoughts, deeds and feelings earn me and nourish in me? What awakens as a consequence? Where has my life shaped me to become more samildanach, more equally skilled, much as I may resist it at the time?

I include this image of the Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park in western New York because it’s my childhood spiritual home. A friend just took this shot on 26 July. A 20-minute bike ride from my father’s farm used to bring me to one of the park entrances, and another few minutes would bring me to this cascade. I’m a Druid today in part because I was blessed with such beauty in my youth.

Waterfalls signal abundance for me. The excess, the vast volume of water over a large falls like this one, reminds me how much happens every moment beyond my little circle of awareness. One of the benefits of ritual observance is its enlarging quality. We’re lifted, even if only briefly and momentarily, into larger worlds.

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