Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Beginning

"Sacred living is living in the knowledge that we are part of something larger than ourselves. It is being grateful for life while we live it. It is observing and celebrating changes as they come every day, whether they are seasonal or personal. It is being with what is and creating commemorative moments through rituals or ceremonies when it feels right.
Life is a mystery - awe inspiring like nothing humans can create or invent. It is self-cleansing, self-balancing, and constantly nurturing. Celebrating that mystery brings us into closer communion with life and with each other."
Sacred Living: A Daily Guide by Robin Hereens Lysne

Tomorrow begins a new year. With each new year brings a fresh start, a clear path, a new beginning.
All around the world people have special rituals and celebrations to bring in the new year and ensure that it is a great one. One custom holds that placing coins on your windowsills at night on New Year's Eve will draw more prosperity your way in the coming year. Charge some coins by placing one on each windowsill in your home. Pick them up the following evening, and be sure to use them over the course of the week when making purchases. The idea is that by using them, they will return you multiplied.

It is considered bad luck to engage in marriage proposals, break glass, spin flax, sweep or carry out the trash on New Year's Eve.

In some parts of the country a large bird is constructed from chicken wire, and participants attach pieces of paper on which they have written their hopes for the new year. The following new year's eve, the bird is set on fire, and a new one is constructed. Think phoenix rising from the ashes.

A slightly different version of this is weaving wish or blessing strips into a Yule wreath.. At midnight, during a round of toasts, oaths are made. These oaths are taken very seriously, the term for this is orlog - what is done and said sets the tone for the coming year. Orlog can be thought of as the law of how things will be, laid down by wyrd or fate. Suffice it to say the oaths are not said in jest, but meant. At dawn of the new year, the Yule wreath is burned amidst great noise, such as bell ringing.

One ritual that I have participated in myself, is the Burning Bowl Ritual. On strips of paper, write down anything you want to release from the past year - bad habits, ways of thinking or being that no longer serve you, relationships that have ended. Burn these strips of paper in a fire, either in the fireplace or a firepit outdoors. Once these strips have been burned to ash, make a new list on a new sheet of paper, writing down those things you want to keep or improve upon or accomplish. Fold it up and keep it in your pocket.

As always, my family makes sure we welcome the First Footer. It just wouldn't be right if we didn't!

Some rituals I came upon that are wonderful ways to wind down the old year before beginning the new:

As we all know, the end of the year is an excellent time for new beginnings. Cleansing yourself with complementary alchemical agents can enhance this opportunity for rebirth by drawing on the basic elements of life. In a large pot, bring the following ingredients to a boil, then strain, cover, and let cool until warm to the touch.
1 bottle of red wine
1 apple, diced
1 book of matches (for the sulphur)
1 T. anise seed
3 T. sea salt
1 cup of apple juice
2 cups of pure spring water or fresh river water
When ready, stand naked in a full, warm bathtub. Lift the pot over your head and drench your body in the brew of rebirth. (Do not drink the body wash). Feel the water embrace you as you return to the womb of the Great Mother. Allow your pains and sorrows to leave you, let her take them from you. When you have finished, drain the tub. Feel this water break as the inevitable force of change and when the water is all gone, slide or crawl from the tub and learn to stand once again.
(Rebirth - Estha McNevin, Llewellyn, December 31, 2010)

A few minutes before midnight, light a white candle to symbolize the new year. Then set it in a prominent place and move to your front door. Open the door wide and say the spell as the new year is born.
"As the clock strikes twelve, so begins a new calendar year.
Now ring in prosperity, health, happiness, and good cheer.
I welcome this magical year with hope and open arms.
May I keep my vows to help, to heal, and to cause no harm.
By the powers of hearth and home this spell is spun,
As I will it so shall it be, and let it harm none."
(A New Year s Affirmation - By Ellen Dugan, Llewellyn's Spell-a-Day, December 31, 2007)

To make a magical money charm to attract wealth to your own empty pockets you will need a small square of green or gold cloth and a matching ribbon, several coins, a few small cinnamon sticks, and some patchouli oil. Early on New Year's Eve spend some time fondling the coins, infusing them with your desire for prosperity. When you have done this for as long as you can, place a drop of patchouli oil on each of them and place them, with the cinnamon sticks, in the center of the cloth. Pull up the ends of the fabric and tie the top shut. Place the charm in your pocket or purse which will be with you when the year turns.
At midnight, or whenever else you (or your magical tradition) observe the change of time, hold it tight and remember that it is there for you, releasing its wealth of magic for the coming year.
(A Prosperity Charm for the New Year - Edain McCoy, 1994)

But what if you just plain want to have some fun? The past is the past, you say, and you just want a night to play?

Well, you'll need hats. And confetti. And things that make noise. Get some of those otherwise obnoxious, but perfectly acceptable for tonight, kazoo horns. String tiny bells on nylon thread and make jingly, tinkly bracelets.

Make or buy a piƱata that looks like the face of a clock. Fill it accordingly to suit your guest list, from candy for kids (and adults!) to cheap jewelry.

If you have already removed all the ornaments from your Christmas tree, consider leaving it up, but this time decorated with items related to New Year's Eve. This is limited only by your imagination.

If your celebration is just you and your kids, play board games and write the name of the winner inside the box lid. Next year see if a new champion can be found.

At midnight, after you sing Auld Lang Syne, consider having a candlelit breakfast and talk about your hopes for the new year.

And never, ever, forget to have plenty of food to snack on and drinks to quench your thirst. Have fun, but keep it safe. Invite friends and family to stay the night, if you need to, in order to make sure everyone remains not only safe, but sound.

And remember, make every day a day to celebrate. Happy New Year!

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