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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Journal Preparations

If you know me, you know I love to journal. Love it. I have been journaling for nearly 30 years. It is, in my experience, one of the most magickally healing processes I have ever encountered. To journal it takes more than words written upon a piece of paper. It takes courage. You have to show up for yourself. You have to show up in your Truth. You must be willing to be transparent, vulnerable, and nonjudgmental. It’s about completely disrobing and allowing all your parts to be seen and held, in sacredness, where there is the safe mechanism for you to divulge and let go.

Release and surrender are huge parts of journaling, as are manifestations and moments of brilliancy and inspiration. What manifests within a journal can be profound. What we heal can be profound. Who knew “just writing” could be so therapeutic, right?

In my nearly 30-years of journaling what I have uncovered is just how many journals I have been through. They are of varying sizes and styles, some more creative than others, some more painful than others. They all have their own theme and vibrations associated with them. And there is both delight and mock horror to how much space they take up in my home. While differing to many degrees, they all share the same process of how they are created. I shared some of these in an older entry on journaling, but this particular preparation is one that I haven’t shared before until recently. It is a simple process, and yet it brings me much simplistic joy.

I shared on Instagram a picture on one of the ways I cover my journal:

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I love yarn (that’s a completely different post!), and this is a great way to use up scrap yarn. Why do I create a holder for my journal as part of my preparation? Because…

  1. It’s practical. It’s a holder! It houses my journal.
  2. Most of my journals don’t have pen holders, and several years ago my then-toddler found my journal pen and destroyed the clip that was attached to it (momentary pause for the horror my journaling pen was subject to and the loss of its limb). I can keep my pen in here with my journal. Holder benefit #2!
  3. Did I mention that it serves as a fantastic holder? Well, it does. I keep something sacred in this holder as well that I either hold while journaling or have it laying out near me during journaling. This could be a small pocket Goddess, a stone or crystal, my Moonwheel calendar, or other sacred tool gifted to me.

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I create these journal holders/covers/sweaters so I can protect my journal — either from general wear and tear from use and taking it from place to place, psychic energies that may interrupt the vibration of my magickal tool, and because when we treat our magickal tools like sacred companions, it is helpful to create a sacredness around how you ‘carry’ that tool. This is just one way.

What if you don’t knit or crochet? You could lovingly ask a friend who does if they’d be willing (happy bribery could benefit in your favor, too… libations… chocolates…) For years I used those bandanas you can find in local craft stores if my journal is small enough. For the larger ones? I’ve used scarves. In fact I have a purple one in particular that never gets used as a scarf, its sole purpose is to cover my larger journals that a regular bandana is just too small for. Altar cloths work well also, or even finding fabric and wrapping it around your journal. The point is that it gets the same treatment as other magickal tools, like your divination tools, for example, that many wrap sacredly. Why not your journal?

Aside from the practical uses a journal covering can provide, it also sets the tone from going from one activity into the next one, shifting our mindset that we are preparing for spiritual work. Depending on your daily activities, this can be beneficial in preparation for your regular practice. I know it’s been beneficial to mine!

Like any other tool, smudge it, cleanse it, consecrate it, then love it! Happy journaling!

Truth Week 4: Staying Open

This is what I know about Truth: it takes courage to stand in it, whether it’s your own Truth (particularly if it’s your own!) or another. Sure, we sometimes face it fearfully, with anger, or agitation, but the question becomes, can we lean into those areas of trepidation and stand in Truth, anyway?

I believe so. Some days I’m more courageous than others, having to redraw and redefine my own lines around boundaries, I first have to uncover what my Truth was.

I often think about the Sufi wisdom around Truth:

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.

At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it true?’

At the second gate ask, ‘Is it necessary?’

At the third gate ask ‘Is it kind?’

– Sufi saying

I love this saying, and I reflect on it often, particularly when it comes to my Truth. I often picture the gatekeepers in my mind standing at their assigned gates, asking me these questions. The first asks me if it’s true, and more often than not I am allowed passage to the next gate, where the gatekeeper asks if it’s necessary. This gatekeeper has a serious face, standing before the gate, intent on not allowing anything unnecessary to pass. Sometimes I don’t get past this gate. I often pull up a bench nearby, stop and ask myself if it’s necessary, when the inner dialogue emerges and follows it with “Necessary to whom?” 

I take a deep breath and reflect further. I have often pictured the third gatekeeper playing a delightful game of Solitaire, waiting for me to approach him. When I do, he smiles joyfully and playfully, giving me the sense of satisfaction that I have successfully passed through the previous two gates. Then he says with a smile, “Is it kind?”

I’ll be honest that I sometimes never get passed this gate. Sometimes I’m unable to, truthfully, answer this question — is it kind, for you, for me? In these situations, I take my petition back to my journal, where I am able to release while not crossing the gate. Sometimes the passage from the second gatekeeper leaves me with the gift of discernment.

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The truth is that, given enough time, life bestows its gifts, a drop at a time, if we can find the courage to stay open to the mysterious flow that is larger than any one event. — Mark Nepo

The quest becomes about staying open to our Truth. When we know it, understand it, embrace it, we can then receive it more clearly from others.

In the end, this is what I know about Truth: it is an act of courage, and it is an act of self-love.

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Next week we’ll explore where Truth will take us in our Intention series!