Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times for August 2021
Lughnasadh is upon us, and is it ever hot! We are due to have heat advisories the next two, possibly three days in my town, and the dog is displeased with how short of a distance I allow her for walks. Exacerbating that is the fact they decided to pour asphalt on our street, so I don’t even want to go outside at all. I spend a lot of time outdoors but truthfully, I don’t remember ever having the issues with heat that I have this year.
Have I ever changed! I can remember I thought my mother was ridiculous for keeping the air conditioner set at 55 degrees some years. Well, mine is set at 66. Maybe I am approaching MY first harvest- menopause- and heat is not helpful!
As Pagans, we hear and talk about transformation a lot. If some of the self-help gurus are to be believed, transformation is blissful, fun, easy, and something you can do fast. It is also supposed to make us feel good and happy the whole time.
Sayings such as “You’re always one decision away from a totally different life,” and “I just woke up one day and decided I didn’t ever want to feel like that anymore or ever again, so I changed, just like that,” and “You change your life by changing your heart!” These positive thinking quotes, while not completely untrue, don’t fully express the mess that goes into transformation.
I much prefer what Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelo said. “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Another quote I like comes to us from Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.”
Transformation CAN be healing, and for our own good, but sometimes, it is a long, painful, yucky process, and does not feel that good at all. It can be hell on earth getting through it, and at the end, once the transformation is complete, the difficulties from this can leave you wondering if it was all worth it.
A popular image to express transformation is the beautiful butterfly, going from caterpillar phase, and mysteriously disappearing into a self-made cocoon, only to emerge gloriously changed!
Instead of exploring Lughnasadh in depth as I have in past years, we will explore just HOW a butterfly transformation happens, and talk about our own transformation processes. The working I will include is one that will help you with your own transformation process. I will say more about how it ties in with the Sabbat below.
Scientific American has a great article, and says “To become a butterfly, a caterpillar first digests itself. But certain groups of cells survive, turning the soup into eyes, wings, antennae, and other adult structures.”
We talk about sacrifice to attain change, but to turn to soup?
But this is not the first stage the caterpillar goes through. First of course, it’s an egg. When it hatches, it immediately starts stuffing itself full of whatever it is that kind of caterpillar eats- MY plants, for example!!!!! It does this diligently, as it has to work very hard to bulk up, and become strong enough to even begin the process to shut down and become soup! They also shed their skin at least once during this stage.
So many changes!
Next, they form their cocoon, or chrysalis. The dissolving happens, and what is left within the soup is something called imaginal discs for each body part that will form the butterfly. From these discs grow each piece on the butterfly’s body. This whole process will take between 3 days and 6 weeks depending on species.
Monarch butterflies, for example, take close to a month to transform. This is a long time considering they live about nine months or less after that! Some only live a couple of weeks after emerging as butterflies.
Imagine all that work for so long to only enjoy it for such a short time.
I am sure, to the butterflies, it is completely worth it. If you think their transformation takes a lot, know that it takes 3-4 generations of monarchs to make their famous migratory trip over thousands of miles.
Imagine how driven these little butterflies must be, and how it must feel, knowing you won’t necessarily make it all the way, but some of your loved ones will. They lay eggs in multiple places along the way, and somehow the hatchlings just intrinsically KNOW all they must do.
Imagine the gentle power of this tiny creature to do so much and go so far in such a short life. Imagine how much you can do!
What This Means at Lughnasadh
Lughnasadh is the first Harvest celebration in The Wheel of the Year. In ancient times, the celebrations revolved around WHAT was being harvested. For some it was corn, others, wheat. In my garden, I have some dwarf corn that is not ready yet, but the beans are. The dog is happily munching on those right off the vine, and one of my cats chews on the leaves! We have squirrels, birds, and chipmunks, so the corn will probably get snatched up some night by them if the local raccoons don’t beat them to it. I have one pitiful tomato plant that resents the fact I put it in a pot as opposed to the ground, and my blackberries are loaded abundantly, but I’m letting whatever birds my youngest cat does not catch have the berries.
I’ve not harvested anything but the lavender this year, all of which I gave away, and that suits me just fine. All I did was plant, and I am watering. There are plenty more plants left, so we shall see if I decide to harvest anything.
My story of harvest here is quite personal. Usually, the harvest celebrations are communal, and revolving around events, gatherings, and fellowship.
But as Pagans, much of what we do, even within our Communities is very personal and private.
So, in honor of this, I have a small thing to add to your Lughnasadh workings for whatever transformation you are working towards.
Saoirse’s Transformation Working
All you need to do is take stock of your process of transformation, and think of all the frustrations, obstacles, and disappointments. What did you plan and what is actually happening that is not going according to that plan? What is taking longer than expected? What have you seen no results for at all?
Write it all down on paper. ALL of it. Bitch, moan, complain and just get all frustrations there may be out.
Now sit back and read it all.
Say you wanted to be done with whatever this is by age 30, and you are now 37. Or say you wanted to have something done before an event, and that event passed three years ago.
Whatever is not going according to plan, accept how you feel, give yourself permission to feel that way, and then just tell yourself “It is going to take as long as it is supposed to.”
I know that is not what we like to hear. We like to hear tips for speeding things up, and making things go just as we want to.
It doesn’t work like that.
For years, I have loved the quote, “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.” A Thomas la Mance is credited with that saying. I don’t know who he is, but he’s right.
Patience to stick with the long, drawn out transformation is crucial. The ability to stop, still yourself, and just give yourself permission to be in the chrysalis phase for as long as you need to be is one thing that is going to keep you going.
I don’t care if you have to do this every single day, or multiple times a day. Do it.
You’ve got this, whatever your transformation is, and I promise it is every bit worth all the hard work.
The beginning of harvest is JUST the beginning, not the end. That comes at Samhain- but then again, Samhain, the final harvest is the first Sabbat and the beginning of the new year. We are ever evolving, always moving along, and being reborn all the time.
May you be blessed in all the forms you take in this journey we call life. May your transformations be filled with joy inbetween the frustration or exhaustion, and may you never stop growing, reaching, dreaming, and doing.
Blessed First Harvest.
About the Author:
Saoirse is a practicing witch, and initiated Wiccan of an Eclectic Tradition.
A recovered Catholic, she was raised to believe in heaven and hell, that there is only one god, and only one way to believe. As she approached her late 20’s, little things started to show her this was all wrong. She was most inspired by the saying “God is too big to fit into one religion” and after a heated exchange with the then associate pastor of the last Xtian church she attended, she finally realized she was in no way Xtian, and decided to move on to see where she could find her spiritual home.
Her homecoming to her Path was after many years of being called to The Old Ways and the Goddess, and happened in Phoenix, Arizona. She really did rise from her own ashes!
Upon returning to Ohio, she thought Chaos Magic was the answer, and soon discovered it was actually Wicca. She was blessed with a marvelous mentor, Lord Shadow, and started a Magical Discussion Group at local Metaphysical Shop Fly By Night. The group was later dubbed A Gathering of Paths. For a few years, this group met, discussed, did rituals, fellowship, and volunteering together, and even marched as a Pagan group with members of other groups at the local gay Pride Parade for eight years.
All the while, she continued studying with her mentor, and is still studying for Third Degree, making it to Second Degree thus far.
She is a gifted tarot reader, spellworker, teacher, and was even a resident Witch at a Westerville place dubbed The Parlor for a time.
Aside from her magical practice, she is a crocheter, beader, painter, and a good cook. She has been a clown and children’s entertainer, a Nursing Home Activities Professional, a Cavern Tour Guide, a Retail Cashier, and a reader in local shops. Her college degree is a BA in English Writing. She tried her hand at both singing and playing bagpipes, and…well…let’s just say her gifts lie elsewhere! She loves gardening, reading, antiques, time with friends and soul kin, and lots and lots of glorious color bedecking her small home!
On the encouragement of a loved one several years back, she searched for a publication to write for, and is right at home at PaganPagesOrg.
She is currently residing in Central Ohio with her husband, and furbabies.
Saoirse can be contacted at [email protected].