Samildánach

Oct 8th, 2018 | By | Category: Articles

I wonder about Lugh’s epithet of Samildánach, the master of all arts. The best at everything he chooses to do. It can be dangerous to see this as something to aspire to. We are only human, after all, and Lugh is a god. Who knows how long he has had to hone his skills. Maybe he spent an aeon at the harp, fine-tuning his fingering and mastering the melodies of the geantrai, goltrai and suantrai. Perhaps his skill as a smith was honed in the brazier at the heart of the world, or even the stars themselves. We, however, only have a paltry portion of a century to master the skills that mean something to us. And there is so much to do! Languages and crafts and musical instruments and food and science and magic and everything above and beyond. So exciting. I find it enormously difficult to focus on one skill and stay with it until it’s perfect, because there’s always something else to distract me.

I am a writer; that’s my main focus, for sure. But I also play music. For many years, that was my primary  focus. Before that, I was sure I was going to be an artist. I wonder if these things go in cycles, as recently, I started drawing again for absolutely no reason that I can discern. I was so out of practice yet absurdly pleased with my childlike creations. I sent them to my sister, an actual artist of some renown, and she was pleased with my efforts so that gave me a boost, for sure. She particularly liked my scratchy efforts at a chicken for ‘Inktober’ (pictured above), which I had though a bit wild and mutated.

But this is how all skills start, isn’t it; a bit wild, a bit rough around the edges, but yearning to be refined and focused into something useful. And we all do this in different ways. Some of us lock ourselves away and do nothing but practice and practice until the act of artistry is almost pure muscle memory. Others are able to let themselves be flushed with what the druids call awen; pure inspiration. I am somewhere in between, practicing, experimenting, but prone to bouts of raucous and random creativity that cannot be stifled.

I find that a relationship with Lugh lends itself to an almost annoying tendency towards perfectionism. One which I have never achieved, and probably never will, but I look at all I do and think, ‘Hmm, that could be better!’ This is definitely a downside of honouring Samildánach, especially if, like me, you’re prone to the kind of toxic depression that calls everything you do into question. However, feeling that I can improve upon everything I do keeps me creating, and that is a priceless motivation for me.

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