Back to: [Proteus
Midsummer to Lunasa - the season of hope
by Judy Harrow
At Midsummer, after half a year's increase, the light peaks and
begins to recede. Now, on the down side of the Wheel, we begin
to encounter limits. Our joy is tinged with wistfulness: this
is as bright as it gets. The solar year has begun its long descent.
At Midsummer, the winter begins to return.
Although we may not like them, limits are life-sustaining. Unlimited
growth kills both individuals and ecosystems. Any system without
limits is a system in runaway. By defining our boundaries, limits
give us both identity and wholesome balance, and keep us from
crashing out of control.
The need to do useful work is one such limit on humankind. We
cannot play, rest, or meditate forever. Most of us draw a large
part of our identity from the useful work that we do.
In the agricultural cycle, this is the time when farmers work
without any immediate reward. Spring's bright promise is faded.
Most of the blossoms have fallen now, but the fruits are not yet
ripe. The potentiality is yet unmanifest, and its manifestation
depends upon our ability to sustain hope in the face of uncertainty,
to keep on keeping on. We can't just wait for the harvest. We
must work for it, in the burning sun and the drenching rain, and
despite the terrifying knowledge that drought, hail, disease or
fire may snatch the harvest away. Hope sustains our work until
the harvest comes.
The two great concerns of human life are said to be love and work.
After Beltane, in the time of flowers and promises, love filled
our thoughts. Now, in the season of hope is a good time to focus
on some of the issues around work.
Work may seem like a four-letter word sometimes, and yet it fulfills
two very different needs for us: self- support and the sense of
accomplishment. Although these needs are not contradictory, their
fulfillments are definitely independent of one another. They can
coincide, but most often they do not. Here are some things to
think about under both headings:
1. Right Livelihood
In our time and place, all healthy adults are expected to support
themselves. As a result, a large part of our sense of dignity
and autonomy comes from not being dependent on or beholden to
other people. When we meet new people, we often introduce ourselves
by what we do for a living or what we hope to do after completing
school. For Witches, who are committed not to take pay for our
religious activities, the need to earn a secular living becomes
even more obvious. And yet, not all means of livelihood are
- Is your job congruent with your basic values? If your job
demands that you do something you consider to be wrong, look for
another job. In extreme cases, you might even need to leave this
job before you have found another. Also consider that you may
be doing something morally neutral, like operating a switchboard,
in an organization whose overall purpose is contrary to your values.
Do you know what the values of your organization really are? Find
- Do your employers respect you as a human being and as a worker?
Are you being treated fairly at work? If not, there are a variety
of ways to respond:
- If you feel a basic underlying sense of trust and respect
with your supervisor, you can try open discussion of specific
concerns. Proceed with caution -- today many managers and supervisors
are trained to actively listen without any intention of doing
anything about what they hear. This is a manipulative technique
intended to de-fuse your legitimate anger, or even to identify,
and later eliminate, "trouble makers."
- You can discuss your concerns with trusted co-workers, perhaps
even organize a union (better yet, call in an already-established
one), and, by working together, deal with management from a position
of much greater strength.
- Always remember that your rights as a citizen extend into
the workplace. If your hours and wages are not in accord with
legal standards, if your workplace is hazardous or working conditions
are bad for your health, if you are being subjected to discrimination
on the basis of race, religion, age, gender (or, in the more enlightened
jurisdictions, sexual preference), do not hesitate to call in
the relevant government agency.
- If you are really unhappy with your job, and your efforts
at improvement are not producing satisfactory results, you can
look for another job. Update your resume, get an interview outfit
together, and start watching the ads. Also, discreetly ask around.
Most job openings are not advertised.
- Remember, you have a job. The bills are being paid. There's
no need to grab the first thing that comes along. Be clear about
exactly why you want to leave your present job, exactly what you
want to be different about the next one. Be patient and careful.
Don't make a change until you have good reason to believe it will
bring the improvement you want.
- If your job is OK, but you're still not happy, you may want
to think about a change of occupation. This is a lot more
drastic change, and may take years to accomplish. You should start
exploring the possibilities while you are employed by working
through the exercises in a book like What Color is Your Parachute?
or even consulting a vocational counselor. Exercises like these
can also make interesting coven activities.
Many occupational changes require that you go back to school.
Taking some of the introductory courses at night is another way
to both explore and get a head start on the change if you decide
you really want to do it. Some new careers can also be explored
through volunteer work.
- As you work through these decisions and changes, remember
that you are a Witch. Do not ignore or disconnect your magic while
approaching such apparently secular areas of your life. Divination
and pathworking can help you extrapolate the possible outcomes
of various choices. Spellwork can help awaken and strengthen the
energies you need in order make any desired changes, or simply
to keep your secular career going in a direction you like. There
are Deities Who guide and empower the working world. All this
is your heritage and a very useful resource.
2. Meaningful contributions
Self-actualized adults need to know that what they do matters
in this world. We need a sense of accomplishment. To really focus
in on this issue, two clear distinctions are required:
- Meaningful contribution has nothing to do with whether or
not we are paid for this work. Our modern habit of evaluating
activities by their earning power often distracts us from their
real worth. Remember, reading with a young child is an equally
profound contribution to that child's development whether it is
being done by a salaried schoolteacher or an unpaid parent. On
the other hand, the kind of endless paper- pushing that many of
us do all day may bring in the bacon, but it leaves us at quitting
time with no real sense of accomplishment at all. What do you
do as a priest/ess that brings you that sense of accomplishment?
- Meaningful contribution is equally independent of creative
self-expression. You can have a valid art practice without sharing
your work with anyone else. On the other hand, most of the ordinary
chores of home care - dusting, washing the dishes, laundry - are
real contributions to a family's well-being that involve little
or no creativity. And you can feel good looking at a clean kitchen.
What are the ordinary chores that sustain the life of a coven,
a community, the Earth?
Priest/esses get a great deal of satisfaction from our religious
work. For those of us who follow the Old Ways, that's all
we get -- no extrinsic rewards follow. It's helpful, then, to
remember that a sense of real accomplishment is an equally important
need, and one that many day-jobs leave unfulfilled.
Since our religion is not at all organized -- and most of us prefer
it that way -- there's no central authority to assess our talents
and strengths and assign us to places where our work is most needed.
The tasks of knowing oneself and developing one's own religious
career devolves on each individual Witch.
Another way of saying this: we're not getting paid for this, nor
are we being bossed. That leaves us free. We can do the things
that we enjoy doing, and that we believe are really needed. We
can do the things through which we continue to learn and grow.
We can -- and we should -- be self-directed as priest/esses.
Here are some questions to ask ourselves as we reflect on our
work during this season of hope.
- What are your talents? What subjects did you like best (and
least) in school? What are your hobbies (or what were your hobbies
when you had them)? What were the results of any aptitude tests
- How might those relate to any needs that you perceive among
the Wicca or within the more general Pagan community? How might
they address the needs of the Earth?
- What are your temperaments? What kinds of work do you most
(and least) enjoy? Would you rather work alone or as part of a
team? Do you prefer to work with information, people or things?
Are you more drawn to building Pagan community or creating Pagan
- In the past year, did you do any Craft-related project that
you feel particularly good about? What about it feels best to
you? Would you like to do more of the same? How might you build
on what you learned doing that project?
- Through doing that project, did you identify any subject you
would like to learn more about, or any skills or talents that
you would like to develop (or develop further) in yourself?
- As you figure out what you want to do for the community, where
will you offer these gifts? Is there an existing organization
or institution through which you can work, or will you need to
devise your own venue?
[note: a lot of the information you will glean from answering
these questions will also be useful as you make decisions concerning
your secular career]
The work we do as priest/esses grows out of our spirituality and
our magic. Without those roots, it cannot flourish, cannot bring
forth sweet fruit. That would not be religion. At best it's religious
bureaucracy. But those who think priesthood consists of meditating
in a cave, ignoring the community and the world, are also missing
a point. Religion means connection -- the connection of the Sacred
with the world of form.
In Buddhist tradition, there are a series of pictures called the
"ox-herding" pictures. Like our Tarot trumps, they have
been presented many times in many different artistic styles, but
the basic ideas stay the same. The ox-herding pictures depict
the process of spiritual growth. One of them represents total
merger of the self with the Sacred. It's not the last picture.
There's one more to go. The final picture is called "returning
to the village with helping hands." There, and here, and
always, the circle is completed by service, by good work.
In July, we work and hope for the harvest that grows from Mother
Earth's sweet body under our watchful care.
written by Judy Harrow
updated: January 19, 2000; © 1998, 2000, by Judy Harrow
the address of this page is: proteuscoven.com/Season-6.htm
You may go on to:
You may go back to:
You may also go to:
Walking our Talk:
the Seasons between the Sabbats.
or off site to visit Wychwood Temple, where you will find Doug and Sandy
Kopf's excellent essay on the
folklore of Lunasa
or begin again at Proteus Home or Library