Okay so I know that I’m not simply late but the guts of two weeks late but as I’ve not managed to catch up with even the most local of you in this sweet cyber-circle, I want to say ‘Hi, I hope your summer is as magical as mine’. As soon as we reach the start of August my thoughts turn winterward with the counting of the harvest and the planning of autumn activities.
So for Lughnasadh itself, I was in Embercombe. Not the easiest of places to fulfil my bardic duty to perform at the fire festivals but I managed to find an audience of two the Full Moon on the 2nd, lunar Lughnasadh for those who count it that way. We were sitting round a fire, three of us, and the night that was in it, the setting was perfect and the audience appreciative. It was hard not being at the Green Gathering but I had to chose and this time Embercombe won out.
Lughnasadh, the season rather than just the day that opens it, is a time of gathering together in celebration and song, the time of harvest and back in the day, we’d be partying for at least a fortnight. It has struck me that how fitting it is that the Olympic Games were this last fortnight, an event totally in tune with ‘the rhythm of the seasons’. Not that I’ve paid that much attention to them, truth to tell, but there are dark days ahead so I think it’s helpful in that context to have the restoration of pride in national identity the outstanding success of ‘team GB’ in these games has generated. It makes me miss teaching for the Open University SO MUCH. I can just see how I could use this to illustrate the material on identity.
Following on from our successful collaboration at Buddhafields, Debbie Warrener and I are running a Council of All Beings here. I’m so excited. If running one in Ireland was a dream fulfilled, holding one here is an even bigger deal. About half the circle have signed up already, so it’s definitely a runner. Before that I’m working at Embercombe at the West Country Story-telling Festival. I’m not officially performing there but I’m hoping to have a chance to sit round a fire and spin a yarn or two when not on duty and am producing versions of some of my favourite stories in anticipation of the opportunity.
It’s been such a contrast to this winter, this summer. I spent the winter in the underworld, just about hanging on, doing battle with demons, verging on the suicidal and then I’ve had a whirligig of a summer, dancing from one thing to the next, piling up the happy memories, feeling better than I’ve felt in years, returned to health and happiness. Wealth I’m working on. I went in to ask about renewing my car insurance and the girl said (in the listless tone of someone who spends too much of their time being bored) ‘Are you still the managing director of a training consultancy?’
‘Well ‘I replied, ‘it’s a bit of a fancy way of describing a free-lance facilitator but I’m happy with it’. And the more I think about it the more I like it. I sound like someone who has lots of lolly and I’d like that to be true.
I’ve realised that my resistance to having money has had to do with how unhappy I was in Derry when in financial terms I was at my most successful but isolated, alien. The way I live now leaves room for miracles, for the delights of discounts, for the sweet joys of friendship and how you shower me with gifts, for the generosity of my brother to make an impact on my life. I live abundantly and know I am blessed. Right now though, I’d like to locate the money trees so I can pick the leaves and share out the goodies. I know so many truly good people who are struggling to survive. Still I think my decision to stop looking for work and just enjoy the summer was a good call. I’ve had such a fantastic time.
So what else is in the pipe-line? Given enough people, I’m running an ‘Opening to the Awen’ creative writing course over six weeks this autumn. I’d love to have someone else to promote my work and for all I was a miserable sod in Derry, I was fortunate that all I had to do then was write the spiel, send it in to the wonderful woman in the office at the University of Ulster and once they liked what I’d proposed, they produced the room full of people and away we went. So I’ve fingers crossed as I’d really like it to happen and the workshop I offered as part of ‘Glastonbury Fringe’ didn’t. If you’re local, think about doing it and/or tell the people you know to whom it might appeal about it (please).
So that’s me. I haven’t mentioned the eco-psychology conference I went to at Green and Away. The venue was perfect, the conference was great and perhaps the highlight of my entire summer so far was the ‘Irish circle’. One of the truly intelligent things the organisers did at this conference was left us lots of space to make our own connections, have the conversations that our shared interest in eco-psychology would lead to and these I enjoyed as I did the workshops I attended. But the best experience of all was when they asked people to suggest discussion topics and split into groups and Neil from ‘home’ proposed that there would be an Irish interest group. To hear other people who grew up through the Troubles say the things I feel was such a healing, we who are oddballs in exile have so much in common. It was wonderful to hear the poetry of others and to say ‘Speaking of Tongues’ to people who know what a drumlin is and don’t need to be told that the I.R.A. conducted their business in Irish. The only person there now living in Ireland was from the South but had spent time in Belfast this year so could update us on how much remains unchanged. And the love of Donegal runs through us all. At the end Neil says ‘Let’s break all the rules. Let’s hug each other.’ And only we know what he meant when said it, and all of us felt the magic that was in it. Wonderful. So many treasures in my store house for this coming winter, such a rich harvest as I’ve had this summer.
As I hope you have too. I wish you all health, happiness and abundance.