My last two weeks in Lynchburg, VA were the busiest I have been in quite some time. I worked almost full time at an Irish Pub while attempting to finish sewing commissions, pack for an internship in West Virginia, complete my 12th week of the lifting program Barbaric Rites, see people I will miss dearly over the next 6 or 7 months, and wrap up unfinished business ventures. I was feeling that familiar pull at my atoms, the vibratory state of psychological exhaustion that threatens to rip me apart at the seams, and I was carefully managing my momentum, lest I completely crack up.
Luckily, lifting is an amazing tool for stress management, improving mood and mental function as well as convincing the brain that certain pressures and stressors are completely manageable. I would drive to the gym every morning feeling as if I could barely pull myself out of bed, and leave the gym feeling vivified and ready to tackle the day. In the friction of intense weight and sometimes imposing rep sets, a calm center arose and radiated out a power to carry on, with enthusiasm even. The act of lifting stoked an inner flame that burned away my exhaustion and left me bright and confident. Rather than having to make time for Barbaric Rites in a busy schedule, I prioritized it as one might prioritize eating or showering. It could be said that the act of pushing against my own exhaustion, and getting myself to the gym in the first place was the first stroke of stick against stick- the first gesture of the day towards the generation of fire. As momentum built from that point, the flames would grow steadily- but that first gesture was a necessity.
The other tool I used during this time is one that was presented to me twice by other women over the course of my last two weeks in Lynchburg; Lion’s mane mushroom. The first reminder of this fungus was gifted to me as a friend left town, in an attempt to empty her fridge. The second time was in the form of Four Sigmatic instant coffee mix, bestowed by an old coworker who wanted me to know they carried it at the local coop. It made such a difference in my mood and mental clarity that I myself sought out this mushroom, and acquired as much as possible, sharing it with some friends, and eating the rest systematically through the end of my stay. The difference in my brain’s capacity to handle stress and problem solve was palpable.
Sitting in a diner in downtown Lynchburg during that last week, I found myself discussing runes, specifically nauthiz, which happened to be on my radar during the month of February. As my friend and I considered it’s uses, and the ways it could be interpreted, I mused on the connections between magical draw and the capacity to control momentum and harness it effectively.
The N rune represents two sticks drawn together to create friction which generates fire. Historically, coals were kept and carried over- fires were rarely started from scratch on a daily basis, and the act of maintaining flame had sacred connotations to many Indo European cultures. In Europe, the generation of a Nidh fire was a magical act governed by certain stipulations and enacted in specific circumstances to magically call up what was needed. It was a sacred and new flame, generated with intent and for a purpose.
In our own lives, frictive forces, both metaphorical and material, can be used to generate what is needed with great affect – forcefully pushing us out of difficult situations into a plane of abundance. This is of course especially useful when entropic energies of laziness and defeatism begin to encroach on our consciousness. In these times, the push against despair, made physical in the very act of doing, is itself a gesture loaded with friction. To wield a flame it is necessary to begin to start a fire.
Occasionally, in stoking this fire, we may create such a roaring flame that it threatens to overtake us in a hellish and all too real manifestation of “be careful what you wish for.” for this reason, when entering into situations we know may serve this frictive and generative end, it is important to know our strengths, our weaknesses and our goals, and in acknowledging these, to create effective attack plans we can easily and confidently use as sub programs as we allow our conscious minds to focus on more important problem solving, to bolster ourselves up where we need extra support, and to make a mantra or an icon or some mental temple to our end goal, lest we become distracted in our exhaustion. Give yourself a time line, a specific end goal, and if your ordeal is a sprint of sorts, lay aside other goals momentarily until this major point of focus can be achieved.
Two things I offer you, as tools to manage the need fire, so that it can grow large and draw to you all you require: the first is vigorous exercise, which will refresh you, and create in you a flame which will burn within and allow you to meet the need fire’s heat with your own intensity. Perhaps it’s the testosterone- or maybe it’s like a battery you charge, generating that fiery energy and storing it in your personal furnace to power the war machine you are functioning as. The other tool is lion’s mane. A mushroom whose name appeals to solar connotations, and whose most noteable function is the improvement of cognition and repair of the physical structures of the brain.
Edred Thorsson associates nauthiz with beech , a deciduous tree that grows in asia, Europe and North America, which is well known for It’s value as a long burning firewood, and which is often a host for lion’s mane mushrooms. Generally, in nature and life, we find our solutions to problems nearby and in plain sight
Lion’s mane is anti inflammatory (the stress chemical cortisol is definitely a contributor to systemic inflammation) and has properties which can help protect against ulcers. It is a powerful adaptogen (natural medicine which aids in the body’s reaction to stress) and tastes amazing cooked with just garlic and butter or added to eggs in the morning. In addition, it has specific effects on brain structures and chemistry that protect against the real and metaphorical “burn out” we experience when overextended.
Lifting, which helps to strengthen the body and mind and improve one’s sense of capability, and adaptogens like lion’s mane, which aid and repair the brain and protect against oxidative stress, are two of the best tools at your disposal for handling and controlling a raging need fire of your own creation as you brace yourself in pursuit of the next step forward and up.
Do not believe that you cannot handle a raging fire, but instead recognize in yourself those places which need added support or firmer boundaries, and supplement yourself with strength training and powerful tools from nature, which present themselves in subtle ways suggesting their best uses.