Dissertating!

So much for the grand “live-blog my quals” plan. I passed my exams in May and took the summer mostly off. I read a few things, enough to explode my original dissertation plan, but not with any particular strategy. But school starts up again this week, and even though I’m not taking classes, it’s a good starting point and a good way to mark the transition into my own work. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks gearing up–making lists, getting books out of the library, getting up in the morning, etc.–and now, today, I’m starting. Monday and Friday mornings I’ll be in Starbucks (respectively) planning and reflecting on my work for the week. I might be posting more here, since I’m told that just WRITING is an important part of the dissertation process.

My OBOD group had a very free-form ritual for Lughnasadh about a month ago. While we were in circle we had the “what Lughnasadh means to me/my personal harvest” conversation. I raised some eyebrows (in a good way) when I explained that since my life is pretty solidly tied to the academic calendar, Lughnasadh isn’t a harvest festival for me. My whole wheel is flipped to some extent: summer is my dark time, and Lughnasadh marks the time when I start preparing for the planting.

It works on multiple levels. I think a lot of people function at least partly on the academic calendar–anyone who has kids, for one thing, and even if you’re not in school and don’t know anyone in school, the idea of summer as a time for breaks is pretty deeply ingrained in us, at least in America. Winter, in Western culture, is traditionally a very busy time of year. Even if we take time off from work and school, there’s a lot of emphasis on The Holidays, which come with their own obligations, plans, and stress. Summer is when we think about vacation.

There’s also the issue of climate. I live on roughly the same latitude as northern Africa. We’re famous for having a so-called “Mediterranean climate” that really does have more in common with Greece than the northern European patterns the classic Pagan wheel of the year is based on. Winter is a time of green and growth, and in the summer you hide in your house, or go from air-conditioned place to air-conditioned place with as little time outside as possible, lest you burst into flame.

I’ll try to write about this more in a few weeks, since my celebration of Mabon/Alban Elfed is closely connected to the Eleusinian mysteries and the emergence of Persephone from the underworld after a hot, dry summer. But for now, it’s enough to say that the dark time, the season of rest and waiting, is over, and it’s time to get to work.

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