“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them orselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first page is New Year’s Day” – Edith Lovejoy Pierce.
I hope you all had a restful and happy festive season, whatever you celebrate, and happy New Year to you all!
While the Pagan New Year may have already been and gone, whether you reckon it from Samhain or from the Winter Solstice, it is the first day of January that most of us in Western cultures see as New Year’s Day, and it’s as good a time as any to take stock, look ahead and make plans to forge dreams into reality.
That isn’t to say make New Year’s Resolutions. They rarely work. One number I’ve seen floating around the internet (so take it with a pinch of salt) is that around 90% of people don’t keep their New Year’s Resolutions all year. There is really no such thing as “new year, new me”. While the date change itself, especially one so significant as a new decade, can act as a call to action, it is just another day. The problems of 2019, both personal and geopolitical, will not magically disappear once the calendar changes to 2020.
But we can change, indeed we are all always changing because to live is to change. Sometimes people really do have that Ebenezer Scrooge moment and turn their whole lives around overnight. For most of us, however, I expect that change is more of a slow and ongoing process of growth, like a tree slowly putting out shoots and roots, adding new rings to its trunk each year. And like a tree, growth is not steady or linear. There will be periods of growth spurts and fallow times, and nothing in nature that I know of ever grows in straight lines.
2019 was a difficult year, and one look at the news tells us that 2020 is going to be difficult too. There are still many battles to be fought, for equality, human and animal rights, and most pressingly of all for the future climate of our shared world. It is easy in the face of all of this, so big and so seemingly inevitable, to wonder what one small person can do.
I am reminded of a line from Resistance member Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love”.
Look to what you love. Find that, and hold on to it. Save what you can, protect what you can. Love, however small, can change the world.
While it’s important to be informed, one thing I found over the holidays by taking a break from social media, is how much less scared and angry I was. I read the news headlines every day, but not having a constant live-feed of people’s often divisive opinions pouring into my head made a huge difference. Spending quality time with loved ones, spending time in nature, focusing on the here and now and my small corner of the world was more useful than being frightened into inaction by the endless litany of horrors in the media.
“Be so busy living your life that you have no time for hate, or regret, or fear” – Anon.
We may only be able to make small changes, small acts of kindness and love, but if everyone did that, imagine how the world would change as a result.
And, as I’ve said before on here, Self-Work Is Not Selfish. It’s essential.
So instead of boring New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, or big grand goals to start a global revolution, what can we do, today, to practically set the year on a good path?
Philip Carr Gomm has an in-depth Janus Ritual on his blog, which is really inspiring. He shows how you can look at your life in terms of the four elements and see what changes you want to make for each one:
“Begin with Earth, and ask yourself (or yourselves if you are doing this as a couple, family or group) what you would like to achieve, resolve or create for your body, your health, your home, and your finances.
Then with Water – what would you like to achieve, resolve or create for your relationships, the life of your heart, your social life?
Air – what would you like to achieve, resolve or create for your cultural and intellectual life, for your life of learning and growing?
Fire – what would you like to achieve, resolve or create for your creative life?
Spirit – what would you like to achieve, resolve or create for your spiritual life?”
Perhaps from this exercise, you can distil your thoughts down into a word or phrase that can act as a guide for the year ahead.
For me, given that I have recently been re-initiated with my local Druid group to take up the path of the Bard with OBOD, my word of intention for 2020 is Creation.
This could even be turned into a sigil and drawn in a diary, notebook, or memorable place around the home as a reminder.
Speaking personally, 2019 was a hard time for me, marked with deep depression and its associated trips to doctors, therapists and the like. I washed up on the shores of the Winter Solstice battered and broken. The holidays have brought healing, and I am resolved to make the new year a better one, by working to create myself anew, forged in Awen, stronger and braver, and kinder.
Whatever your intention for the year ahead, may 2020 bring peace amidst the struggle, beauty amidst the ruins, love amidst the rage, and that deep and nameless joy that surpasses and overcomes all things.