New Year Medicinal Themes

To resolve or not resolve… that is the question…

Happy 2017!

Welcome to the New Year, where we reach the beginning and decide: resolutions, or not? There are many thoughts on each end, whether to have a resolution or not. I don’t have an opinion, personally, one way or the other, I just know that each new year brings for me an opportunity to explore, REevaluate (perfect as we’re still in Mercury Retrograde), and plan. We all have goals we want to reach, and whether we resolve to shift, change, or transform, the sentiment is still the same: create anew for our best year. Isn’t that what we ultimately hope for? A year that is better than before? Better than the rest? Well, that can feel like a lot of pressure, which is why many choose to forgo the resolution road, because it feels like a lot of self-imposed pressure.

I create themes each year for what I am personally aiming for. It becomes a focal point for the year, while also allowing me to digest parts throughout each month, making sure that I set myself up with attainable goals. Setting yourself up for success is the most beneficial way to achieve anything. Sometimes I can add too much to my list in a month, feeling like I need to wear my Wonder Woman cape at all times. The roles we each tend to, the many hats we wear, somehow we’re afraid or even discouraged from putting them up from time to time. Even Wonder Woman needed rest!

For those who know me, I’ve talked about how I create my New Year’s. It’s a three-part step:

  1. I begin at Samhain, the Witches New Year, where we complete one Turn of the Wheel and take time in the dark to reevaluate and set new goals. For me, I look at what I have completed in this Wheel (from Samhain to Samhain), and what I would like to achieve by next Samhain. I feel my roots of inspiration digging deeply into the soil, nestling against the Great Mother and drawing up the life force energies of creativity into my bones. Sometimes I am able to access them immediately, though come December it begins its own regeneration, much like our preparation for the Light’s return…
  2. Leading up to calendar New Year, I take time to feel the newness as Yule/Winter Solstice approaches. This year I took a “13 Days of Darkness” practice leading up to Solstice, which allowed me to sit in the shadow of things that I might still be holding onto since Samhain. What were the shadowy parts telling me? Could I begin to release them in preparation for the Light’s return? Then on Solstice I offered them up in gratitude, and there was certainly a “lightness” that emerged within me as well. Being in your darkness does not mean you have to be your darkness. Then on New Year’s Eve I reflect on the calendar year coming to an end. What were my goals? What did I achieve? What where my challenges? Can I lay to rest one year in gratitude and bring in another?
  3. My final phase begins (and ends) with my birthday this month. Even just the few days after the calendar year has shifted gives me time to finalize my “theme” for the coming year, and I put them into action come my birthday.

This has been a practice of mine for as long as I can remember. Some years I am in more alignment with that process, or the results are more to my liking, than other. It’s all compost in the end, offering me opportunity to turn the soil in the next year and get my hands ready for digging into my roots.

How do I create my theme? It seems more like a collaboration between me, my Higher Self, the Goddess, the Universe, Nature Herself… and so on. I don’t necessarily “choose” anything, I feel more like it is chasing me, similar to the Rumi quote: “What you seek is seeking you.”

Between Samhain and my birthday I begin to listen, truly listen, to what is seeking me. This means I must not only pause, I must surrender. Samhaintime offers such a great opportunity to pause in the stillness of the dark. What sought me just as much as I sought it? One word narrated the entire thing:

RISING

Everything would then be sculpted around my Word of the Year. What seeks you? What will create your personal 2017 theme? Here are some ways that I am working with it:

  • Word of the Year — one word, like a seed, that offers you guidance, kinship, encouragement for what is to come. A statement can even work here, though I like the idea of one word, as many know I often teach with my preference for “one word medicine”.
  • Element of the Year — what element calls to you in conjunction with your word? Is there an element that you seek to attune yourself more to, that can heighten your experience for your theme? Do you seek Sovereignty through Earth? Will through Fire? Truth through Air? Love or Compassion through Water?
  • Goddess of the Year — I will often dedicate my year to a particular Goddess*, not in the sense that they become my Matron deity, but one I may learn from, one that I may offer my service to, one that may allow me to not only aid my personal word, but the collective world as well. This year it was pretty obvious to me, though in prior years it took deep meditation and communing to hear. Sometimes I pull a deity card from a divination deck and will receive the appropriate Goddess to work with. It can be such a humbling experience to work on a deeper level with deity and create a sustainable relationship with Divinity. *For those working in dual relationships you can certainly work with a God of the Year as well. I have done this in year’s past as well when it felt appropriate.
  • Mantra of the Year — I am a chanter. I love my malas. It is one of my go-to sacred tools next to my journal. For me chanting and doing mantra recitations is so helpful for me. This may not suit everyone. Sometimes you can use your Word of the Year as a mantra focus, allowing yourself to use a set of malas to continually reinforce this Word Medicine into your energy field. However, you may also meditate on a particular word, or seed syllable, or look up some until you get that feeling in your gut that says “this is the one”, and then meditate on it further to decipher if it is correct for you. Then work with it throughout your year. At least once a week to keep those energies flowing.
  • Song of the Year — Yes, I am such a music lover. I love music. I need it. Each year a song claims me, and I am unable to shake it from my core. In there, no matter how many times I listen to it, I learn something new, I hear something different than from the time before. It’s amazing. A couple of years ago my Song of the Year was played nonstop at home, and I heard it every time I put on the radio whenever I was in need of guidance. It would either play at the beginning, for me to soak in the medicine in its entirety, or it would play at one particular part, always perfectly in sync with what I needed to hear.
  • Quote of the Year — Much like a song, I find that there is a quote I can’t shake. It clings to me and roots itself into my brain, repeating itself over and over and becoming integral to my yearly theme. Mine tend to make its way into my teachings, so after a while my students are sometimes able to tell which one it is if they listen closely enough.
  • Sacred Tool of the Year — This doesn’t have to be in alignment with your Element of the Year, though sometimes it just might be. Each year I have one particular tool that I either can’t leave home without, or becomes the focal point on my altar; either way it is centralized in my practice.

You can certainly add to this list, yet somehow these seven feel auspicious, like they are tailored to the chakra system, making its way through me to create ultimate balance and harmony in my new year. All of these have their own unique vibration, allowing creativity to flourish, inspiration to birth, and any sense of stagnation to be moved. Like any medicine, sometimes you’ll be willing to take it whole, other times resistant. This is okay, it’s the journey of self that we uncover these parts and listen to ourselves, even in spite of our themes. If these themes call to you, make them your own, challenge yourself to make it part of your practice, to not create guilt or blame if there are days you don’t feel in alignment with it, and continue practicing.

A sample of my Sacred Tool of the Year with my Word of the Year:

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Joy Week 5: Completion

This week completes this month’s intention of working with JOY. My experience in this month has brought much clarity to a single month than I think I’ve intently focused on before, which is essentially the purpose of this Intention series: to be able to carry out a clear plan each month to attune to our highest selves.

I’ve documented each week where Joy has led me — letting myself be more vulnerable by genuinely smiling at people and not withholding a friendly gesture; to the choice to be in Joy despite those moments that feel like they may take me away from it; to the commitment of being an explorer of Joy.

The post-its in my journal reflect not only my intention in this series, but has also been a trigger to return to my intention when I need it. I flip to the pages of my post-its, read them, breathe them in, and remind myself why I chose to work with Joy this month: I wanted to actively cultivate the kind of life I want to live — one with happiness, on all levels.

As this month comes to completion, what will happen with those post-its? Take them and write on the back of your intention painting/art all of the things you’ve written down on your post-its. Whether they were just one a week, or more, have them on the back of your intention art.

Let this begin an art journal of your experience with your intentions –

  • How did you navigate Joy?
  • What brought you most Joy in this month?
  • What things felt like they took you away from Joy, and how did you find your way back?
  • What is one thing that you learned about yourself in this month?
  • How will you commit to continuing to cultivate Joy in your life?

While this series focuses on one month at a time, the intention is to carry this forward for the year, and being able to, in one year from now, look back on your journey to cultivating your best life through this Intention art series.

As I type this with the cloudiness and fog permeating my environment, this is what ties together my journey through this month’s intention:

joy shadow

The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it.
It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows. — Brené Brown

Let’s embrace the dark with beauty and embrace our Joy instead of casting it out.

Next week will begin May’s intention series… where will Joy lead us to?

An opening through completion

We as human beings have this amazing capacity to be reborn at breakfast every day and say, “This is a new day. Who will I be?” – Jack Kornfield

This weekend I stepped into completion with a program I have been journeying with for five years. There have been elements of nostalgia — remembering where I sat the first day (the metal folding chair), or the familiar nervousness and excitement of stepping into a shared experience with new people, as well as elements of joy through completion and embracing a discipline within my personal practice.

It made me think about how we honor completion in our lives. There are celebrations, gratitude, joy, and a sense of accomplishment, yet how do we carry that energy forward to propel us? How do we allow that momentum to flow with us? It reinforces the impermanence of life and how these big moments most certainly deserve to be celebrated, but how beautiful it would be to celebrate all moments — I know I do an internal cheer for myself when laundry is washed, folded, and put away… small accomplishments deserve joy, too!

I think of the Jack Kornfield quote above, and that essence of being reborn at any moment, asking ourselves “Who will I be?” After these five years of studies, practice, and discipline, I sit here and ask myself, “Who will I be”, though adding in the flow of choice to the mix.

Who will I choose to be? How will I choose to enact my Great Work into the world? I’m inspired by these moments of choice and the human capacity to enact our will into the world through simple and large acts, inevitably embracing the essence of renewal and getting the opportunity to see clearly that each moment is new, and that we can be reborn again in every moment. That’s a powerful recognition. After these five years I am complete. In that completion I am opening the way to who I will be. For me it adds a clearer intention to my service as healing facilitator and minister.

Speaking of clarity through intention, next week starts my monthly Intention series. It’s something I am really looking forward to sharing with others as a way to connect deeply with ourselves.