Residing in the Celtic heritage (and thus imagination) there are emblems of feminine power, resilience and guardianship. I met these figures of Sile NaGig in the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork last week, and once again was struck by the strength of the symbolism. The female, open vulva, open breasted, were placed on sacred ground, perhaps representing portals to the otherworld—fertile thresholds into creativity and receptivity, or as empowered emblems of the Goddess. No shame, no guilt, no corporeal covering or body blaming. Here, the feminine as sacred ground too– wedded to the land and wedded to the Gods, — the feminine of intuition, protection, fecundity, and power.
We see the feminine voice rising again, claiming back it’s power through referendum and marches, movements and turning points in our collective history, and now too, I think, a time to deeply reclaim the feminine in not only our institutions and laws but also how we create each day we have been gifted and how we use our gifts. Whether male or female, we can honour the feminine (the intuition and power) by noticing all the ways we are giving it away. The ‘always on’, ‘badge of busy’, is based on linear models of growth and productivity. It comes from the industrial era, where to be productive was to been deemed efficient and thus worthy. But it’s not efficient. It’s eating our land’s resources, it’s constantly selling us things we don’t need, it’s advertising subverts the feminine form and feminine spirit in so many ways.
When we are in our creative bodies, tapped into deep core needs of belonging and ‘aliveness’; when we are writing or painting or creating organisations, businesses, or projects which honour cycles of time, and cycles of growth; when we refuse to define our worth by how busy we are or how much we can produce, this is the reclamation. And that’s a radical thing, because it can topple these linear growth models. A woman in her full power, is not a full-on capitalist consumer- instead she is creating, sharing, connecting, yeilding, resting, opening her body and breast to the land and to the sky, realising her body is enough, and her creativity is her birthright. And as men, in their feminine, their emotions are their path and power, their worth too is not defined by how much they can earn or produce or contribute to the economy, but by their wholeness and their beauty too.
We all have so much to (re)learn. For me; it means creating the ‘things’ even when it doesn’t make ‘rational sense’, for the sake of it. Does it make me come alive? Does it connect me to a deeper power and a deeper voice.
Then that, follow that…. this is my own personal revolution. And yours?
For those who have been following along this year, you may remember we started the year with an invitation to set our intentions for the months ahead. Then, over the course of the year, I have been sharing rituals, inspired by the celtic calendar, to help us tune into the gifts of the season and stay close to our intentions.
Tonight is Lughnasa in the Celtic Calendar- a time that signals the beginning of the harvest. And so, an offering and a gift from me to you- a short ritual for reflection on your own gifts, that you may honour them, embrace them and have the confidence to offer them outwards and onwards.
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Below, the introduction to the guide, happy reading, and savouring, and harvesting of your wonderful and important gifts.
From the Lughnasa Ritual
‘The ripening is upon us. Along the roads the blackberries are changing their form, from tight knots to full of summer swell, their juicy bulbous domes are rising for the picking. The thought of blackberries also brings thoughts of poetry, their sight is so coupled with Seamus Heaney’s remembrances that his are also my own. Moving into the memories of when ‘briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots’, ‘Blackberry Picking’, the poem, is now synonymous with blackberry picking, the act.
All year I’ve been collecting jars. What once was filled with pickle is soon to be filled with jam. I’m awaiting the days when the berries are at their best, perhaps a few weeks from now, when a day will be given over to the picking and jam-making. I’m thinking already of who I’d like to invite along and what pot I’ll use. I’m thinking of being able to give the jam-filled jars away, as gifts, and I’m thinking of the winter ahead, when a dollop of sweet jam will be added to warm porridge, to ride the winter tide with sweetness and let the gift of the harvest extend it’s time. For what is a harvest but a gathering of the gifts, in extension.
As the blackberries turn, so to does the season. We have reached another turning point on the celtic calendar,moving into Lughnasa (pronounced Lu-na-sa), a time that signals the beginning of the annual harvest. Lughnasa, a cross-quarter celebration in the celtic wheel, rests mid-way between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox and is named after the sun God Lugh, of the Tuatha De Dannan. Lugh was said to be a God of many gifts and talents, a Master of the Arts and Culture, who yielded a cunning sword and a swopping presence which harnessed the light energy of the sun.
The festival of Lughnasa (July 31- August 1) is a time to celebrate and give thanks and praise for the coming harvest, that which has been ripened by the sun, as if the dance and the joy will aid the final stages of growth and quicken the ripening. After months of tending barren soil, then tending seeds, the land now offers it’s fruits. In the offering is also the gift, and with any gift comes the invitation to rejoice. Yet how often do we see our gifts as offerings, as things to rejoice? How often do we really honour our own gifts so that they may be quickened?
Thinking of Lugh today, we might say that he was ‘gifted’. However if Lugh claimed it for himself, if he declared his own giftedness, we’d perhaps call him egotistic, or obnoxious, or a little bit full of himself! In contemporary society to honour our own gift, to really own it and to declare it, requires a confidence and a defiance. So often we dismiss the gifts we have been given, for fear of being labelled too full of ourselves, or sure of ourselves. Instead, inside we hide, keeping our gifts close, and in keeping them close we don’t reap the opportunity to share them with others.
So perhaps there are deeper lessons from the blackberries too: if they are not picked, shared and savoured- either by humans or animals, their fruit will go to rot, not serving their full potential. Similarly if we do not learn to harvest and share our own gifts, they too go underground, even to rot. And so in reclaiming the festival of Lughnasa we are also given this opportunity to reclaim and to declare our own gifts. It does not need to be a loud declaration, or even a public one, but an inward appreciation of the gifts given, from which we can share and serve, and seed the future we long to create.
So this Lughnasa, let’s take some pause to harvest and to celebrate. Let’s take time to name our gifts, claim them, declare them, so we may move outwards again, with a knowing that our gifts are also our generosity; that our gifts are our offerings, in extension’.
Sending love, onwards and outwards from my heart to yours,
I’ve heard several people say that they have ‘melty brain’ syndrome at the moment, finding it hard to focus and ‘push on’. It is high summer. The air is warm and the invitation is to move our bodies and being in rhythm with the summer flow- time to be embodied, present to the delights and offerings of the season. My ‘work’ has also shifted gear with much walking, sitting, swimming, spontaneity, moving inwards to move outwards again. The ‘push on’ mode just isn’t working anymore. The ‘push on’ comes from a linear, patriarchal system of production and functioning, scaling economics and industrial model of efficiency. We are not machines, and linear time models are not functioning any more either. So we need ways to honour the intrinsic cyclical flow of time; the exchange between contemplation and output; pause and response.
This symbiosis or reciprocity is embedded into our ancient time systems, like the celtic and lunar calendars, but also into the creative process. Creativity arises in the gaps- the magic of the space between. It’s when you are out on a walk and an idea pops, or while fully engaged in another activity, a whole inner paradigm shifts. I’ve heard the production driven system of work being described as one of the greatest violences mankind has inflicted upon itself. With little room for pause, how can we expect the creative solutions and responses our world so desperately needs right now?
So what does a non-violent approach to time look like instead? Maybe it starts with giving ourselves some pause, not checking our phones so much. Maybe it starts with paying attention to how we are using our precious attention. If you are having ‘melty brain’, what part of yourself is not being honoured? What part of your being is craving attention? The opposite of ‘push on’ is not necessarily ‘slow down’ but ‘tune in’.
Melty brain? Maybe it is the best invitation we’ve ever received.