Does anyone have any cool rituals or traditions they do for the new year? For me, every new year feels like twelve pristine months that I can create the way I want, and I do the same little rituals every year. Here are mine. I'd love to hear some of yours.
1. Around the Solstice, I send out notecards I've collected all year. If, say, an employee was extra helpful to me at the DMV, even though fifteen people ahead of me treated her like pond scum, I always end our interaction by saying something along the lines of, "I really appreciate how kind you were to me. Do you have a card? I'd like to drop a note to your supervisor." I write to the supervisor right away, but then I record the event on a notecard and tell the person how much of an impact they made on me through simple...kindness, or whatever it was. I address, stamp, and file it away. In December, when everyone's harried and rushing around, I send these cards out. Hopefully it'll put a smile on each recipient's face. I think people deserve to know their efforts are appreciated.
2. In the week leading up to December 31, I compile a list of what I accomplished in the coming year. You read that right--past tense. "In 2009, I wrote two new books." Like that. I want to send a message out to the universe that I *already* achieved these goals, not that I hope to. When I'm satisfied with the list, I seal it in an envelope and clip it to the back side of the December page in a new wall calendar. Inevitably, I forget about it (which is the point). And on to number three.
3. On New Year's Eve, I take down my old calendar, hang up the new one. Then I open the sealed envelope from the year coming to a close and I celebrate everything I accomplished. I don't beat myself up for the things I didn't. When I'm done, I always tuck the list away somewhere. I never throw it away. Why? In 2003, I found the (extremely ambitious and basically absurd) list I'd written in 1998, and I was stunned to realize I'd accomplished every single lofty thing listed except for daily exercise and an organized house (but let's not get crazy, now, folks). It served as a reminder that the goals we set don't always happen within our ideal timeframe, but they do come true eventually if your intention is solid.
4. My favorite part of ringing in the New Year has nothing to do with champagne and uncomfortable heels and kissing someone you might not want to. :-) It's a Native American inspired Arrow Ceremony I first read about in the ultra fabulous Write it Down, Make it Happen
, by Henriette Anne Klauser, a book I read at least once a year. But back to the ceremony. I actually start the preparation earlier, because I craft my own arrows out of pencils, which are representative of who I am--a writer. I make the arrowheads out of polymer clay and fire them in my craft oven. But really, you can go as simple or elaborate as you want, as long as you make the arrows with intention. I'm getting ahead of myself. I create six arrows. Three to eliminate things I no longer want in my life (procrastination is an example) and three for things I want to attract into my life. Death Arrows and Life Arrows, respectively. Native American lore has a person taking the Death Arrows to low ground and burying them, then taking the Life Arrows to the highest ground and doing the same, each time in a circle of tobacco and with great reverence for the ritual and a focus on the goal. My new millenium, Colorado version is similar, but without climbing a mountain at midnight or making the arrows with bird feathers. :-) I use ribbons, yarn, acrylic paint--whatever works, and it all happens in my yard. I uploaded a picture of my arrows from a couple of years ago. The rest of the ritual is after the picture:
So, although this is traditionally a Solstice thing, I like doing it on December 31. At midnight on New Year's Eve (or thereabouts, if I'm working at my non-writing job), I perform my own modified version. I make a big circle of tobacco in my yard. I enter from the north, look at each Death Arrow and really focus on what I want out of my life, and when I'm done, I step back out of the inscribed circle the same way I came, and I burn the arrows in a chimenea or my fireplace. I have a beagle, people. If I buried them, he'd dig them up--trust me--and that would bum me out. Then I inscribe another tobacco circle, but this time I enter from the south. I spend time focusing on the things I want to attract into my life with each arrow. When I'm done, I leave the circle the same way and "bury" them in a large planter. I like to think of it as planting seeds of intention.
This little ritual isn't religious or anti-Christian or controversial. Trust me, my devout Catholic little abuelita (grandma) isn't rolling over in the grave. It's just a way of getting in touch with the earth (grounding), with the power I have inside of me and universal mind (intention), and with knowing what I want (roadmap) and starting the new year fresh (shedding of the old). And besides, I have Comanche blood in my veins on the Sandoval side. ;-)
Okay, THEN I have champagne.
So what do all of you do to ring in the beautiful blank canvas of a new year?