Reflections on Lammas/Lughnasadh and Imbolc

 

Imbolc and Lammas/Lughnasadh are the two Sabbats I struggle with the most. It’s not that I flat out hate these Sabbats, it’s just that I feel incredibly uninspired by them. I think it’s worth noting that these two complement each other on the Wheel of the Year. Perhaps it because of the climate here. At Imbolc, it’s still bitterly cold, possibly the coldest time of the year- you can’t really get out and stomp on the ground to awaken- the ground is still covered in snow. With Lammas/Lughnasadh, the opposite applies; it doesn’t feel nor look like the first harvest, it’s still overwhelmingly hot and humid. I’m also much more of a “lesser Sabbat” kind of gal, especially in regards to the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes; the temperature has finally mellowed out, you can feel the shift in the life-forces all around you. I know the Veil is supposed to be at its thinnest at Beltane and Samhain, but for me, I feel more connected than ever at times when light and dark are balanced. Imbolc and Lammas/Lughnasadh are feel like they are the last vestiges of their respective seasons, clinging stubbornly to the winter and summer.

This year, these two Sabbats mark a bit of a rough patch for me. At Imbolc, I was entering into a new, well-paying job, a job which could’ve led to a very rewarding career, and a job that fit my educational background and values quite well. I wanted this job and was nervous about taking on new responsibilities. The thought of my opinion actually mattering, of having the opportunity to effect change, was thrilling and terrifying at the same time. I decided to go for it, and in early February, I went on my first business trip to go through employee orientation and start training.

Sadly, by May 1st, I was out of work, though not by my own doing. Something out of my control happened; the State reneged on the contract, and awarded it to another company.

Now, here I am, at the cross-quarter, still searching for gainful employment. I have yet to find a job comparable to the previous one, and I don’t imagine I will find one anytime soon.

For this turn of the wheel, Imbolc and Lammas/Lughnasadh  have shown me to not define myself by my work. At the first part of the year, I was nervous about having a well-paying job, and now at this point of the year, I am nervous about not having a job at all.  Up until this point, I had always been the primary bread winner in my household, and had carried the insurance for myself and spouse. Now, I am the dependent. This whole adventure has been quite the humbling experience. My spouse, on the other hand, has flourished at his job, and has been promoted.

In some ways, unemployment has been beneficial to me. I am able to take my full dose of medicine for my seizure disorder, (when I was working, I typically only took half the dosage because I felt so tired/sluggish when I took the full dose,) I’ve had more time to create via painting and writing, and to catch up on reading. I’ve finally decided to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and enrolled in a certificate program via a Pagan seminary. I’m attempting once more to pick up Ogham. Probably most importantly, I find myself more receptive to messages from the Divine. When I do become gainfully employed again, I need to make sure that I keep these developments going.

In what has become an annual tradition, my church’s open Circle for the month of August is the Games of Lugh. My thoughts are drawn to Tailtiu, step-mother of Lugh, and how she died of exhaustion from trying to plow all the fields of Ireland.  The Games were created by Lugh in Tailtiu’s honor at the beginning of the harvest season. It is easy to become like Tailtiu, to see the fields as work to be done, to neglect self-care, to do whatever is necessary to produce, produce, produce. At some point, one has to consider the law of diminishing returns- when do you exhaust yourself so fully that you can’t plant every field, nor tend every plant that grows, nor harvest every crop? What good is it to work so hard and have no life outside of it?

In regards to the Lammas side of the holiday, (which is typically how I think of the Sabbat; more emphasis on the harvesting significance) I think of what it means to share the first bread baked with the newly harvested crops, specifically placing four pieces of bread at the corners of a barn to protect the grain; a gift for a gift. While I do not have a barn, I can share actual bread with each direction. Lammas is a time of accounting; an introspective glance into what was planted, how it was tended, and how it has been received. I seem to be doing most of my planting now, rather than harvesting. Reflecting on Lammas is also encouraging me to be more mindful, more giving when making offerings, and being more mindful about carving out time to experience the Divine more fully.

I was hired at a cross-quarter, laid off at a cross-quarter, and am hoping that this cross-quarter will see me employed once more, but I take with me the knowledge to no longer define myself by the amount of money I bring home.

 

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