When you're looking to make changes in your life, like resolutions and goal setting, it needs to be more than in your head. You need to get involved with these goals and resolutions on multiple levels: mental, physical, and spiritual.
The mental is what most people do already. Physical is making the adjustments you can touch, feel, and interact with – and that really deserves a post of its own. Spiritual is what I'm focusing on here.
Some people create the spiritual ties to their goals and resolutions through organized religion. I remember New Year's masses that included a section dedicated to asking God to help us with [insert resolution here], for example. And, of course, other cultures include goals and resolutions in their celebrations of the new year.
But, it's been a while since I've gone to a mass or felt spiritually tied to any church in the area.
A few years ago, when I was starting my own business, I created a fire ritual.
I was raised Catholic, and the older I got, and the more conservative the Church grew, the more I felt my faith was betrayed.
I was working as a customer service representative for a financial firm that was suffering and whose practices – especially concerning their employee treatment – I was growing increasingly uncomfortable with.
On a whim, I applied for grad school and got in on a full scholarship, so I said "adios" to work… and then had a huge gaping summer to fill.
My sister in law had also lost her job at this time. The two of us started meeting every week for lunch and to frequent the many "New Age" and pagan shops in the area. I was rekindled to start back with my Tarot reading, realized I was pretty damn good at it, and found a new spiritual tie to many of the pagan rituals, the love of earth, and the kindness of so many that I met. In fact, I learned that a lot of the churc rituals that had meant so much to me, that moved me to my core, were originally pagan rituals.
From there, I started on the often rough journey of rebuilding and redefining "What I Believe In."
Tie that spiritual overhaul with my work-life overhaul (Thank all that is holy that my husband stayed the same and needed no overhaul!), and I needed to create my own ritual.
And its still under construction.
I was up last night, talking to a good friend of mine, Sunder, about the ritual. Normally, I'd do this ritual with the New Moon, but everything this year has seemed to get in the way of that. And last year, well, while I still feel it was a positive year, I felt the ritual hadn't had the same impact as it had in prior years.
The problem is that I didn't really have a good understanding of the moon's energy. (It's still not great, so I'll suggest if you want a better explanation, do research or talk to a proper pagan who uses the moon.) In any case, this year, the ritual will happen on the full moon, the first day of the full moon (while it's still waxing). I need to look up that date, but I've got a few days to do so.
In the meantime, let me tell you what I do.
I give my wood stove a good cleaning – physically and with sage. I also cleanse and sage the wood I will use for that night. That night, the only things that go into the fire are for this ritual.
Now, weeks and months before, I've been collecting burnable trash that represents things I need to change and transform to make this year better than last, things that I need to move past, and things that I just want to "set aflame" with energy. I organize and sort all of this into those categories, and then sub-categories, meditating and considering and visualizing what I wanted the fire of these things to become.
(I should have said it before, but this is a pretty involved ritual.)
The night I do the ritual, upon the cleansing of the stove, I start the fire with some sage and other herbs as kindling. I also continually add incense and resins to bring my intentions heavenward. I re-sage and re-incense between each of the abovementioned categories.
I invoke my guides and angels and saints and God and the spirits of the world - because I have fait in all these things – as I start my fire. Then, slowly, and deliberately, I burn each piece, cleanse the flame, burn the next… and so on.
The ritual usually takes 2-3 hours.
When it's done, I re-cleanse the flame and then let it burn itself out (usually about the time I go to bed.) In the morning (er, when I wake up, which may or may not be what most people consider "morning," I clean out all the ash and clean the stove and take a moment to intentionally rededicate it to just being the tool that helps me warm my house.
It's powerful ritual; I'm usually in tears for most of it, and I truly feel the magic within it.
In that burning power, I wish you a positively transformative New Year.