This is a collection of tidbits old and new, with special thanks to Waverly FitzGerald, who is my favorite holiday Muse. Blessings to you, Waverly, for your faithful, invaluable service as a Priestess of Time and Keeper of Wisdom of the Ancient Ways.
Out with the old and in with the new!
There’s magic on New Year’s in all that you do!
Rejoice, my dears! We arrive at the crossroads of saying goodbye to what was for many, a difficult 2016, and ringing in the new year of 2017!
I suggest that you spend some time today in sacred space, setting your intention for the shining promise of this new beginning. In this turning time, all forms of manifesting magic, spells, and rituals are amplified today.
You can prepare by knowing that everything you do on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is loaded with magical significance.
Rituals and Preparations
As I discussed in our Card of the Week, the Page of Wands would suggest you get crazy creative, make plans for a project you are passionate about, or have an uncomplicated, fun celebration with lots of playfulness and laughter.
Some ways that people ritually prepare to release the old year can include writing down a list of all you do not want to carry forward into the new year. A toss into the fire or a smoldering, cleansing-herb filled cauldron will disperse those energies and is a time-honored tradition.
Although, as I mentioned, 2016 has been a difficult time, this would also be a very good time to make a list of your gifts and accomplishments. Too often, we focus on what went wrong, and forget to celebrate the highlights. I love what creativity guru Jill Badonsky wrote in her most recent newsletter:
2016 Awards Ceremony
Take a moment and have an end of 2016 personal awards ceremony.
Light a candle, pour some Bailey’s into your coffee, wear a tiara and reflect on the memorable moments of your year before they disappear into the cosmos.
Honor your life.
Who was your: person or pet of the year, experience of the year, learning moment, adventure, book, movie, live entertainment, epiphany, and what were you most grateful for?
Please feel free to share some of your thoughts in the comments below!
Then, armed with these insights, you might want to create a vision board for what you’d like to manifest in the coming year.
Or you might like to pick a word that will be your inspiration and guidepost for the days ahead. Write it down or make it into art. Just be sure to put it somewhere that you will be reminded of it every day. Here is a post by my friend, Lunaea Weatherstone about how she goes about this.
In many parts of the world, the New Year is greeted with a lot of noise, sometimes made by church bells. Originally this was to frighten away evil spirits that might try to sneak into the New Year and try to spoil it. People in the Northern Hemisphere sometimes lit bonfires for the same reason.
Our neighbors out here in the woods of Durham County, North Carolina like to shoot off guns and bottle rockets.
But I prefer to ring bells and sing to the Guardians.
Before midnight tonight, sweep and clean your house and take out all the trash. You don’t want to sweep tomorrow or take anything out of the house, or else you will sweep away the new beginning that tomorrow brings.
And doing laundry is extremely bad luck on New Year’s Day. Just so you know. (More tomorrow!)
Also, be sure you finish any projects you still have to complete, for they say that a task carried over will never prosper.
However, using that same sympathetic magic, you might follow the custom of leaving some money just outside your door, so that you can bring it in first thing tomorrow, setting a prosperity spell for the entire year! This has worked beautifully for us for a number of years.
The American custom of spending the night with the one you love and kissing them at midnight assures that the relationship will thrive in the coming year.
In Vienna, the pig (sacred to the Goddess Freya, whose time this is) is the symbol of good luck. Pigs are let loose in restaurants and everyone tries to touch it for luck, as it runs by. In private homes, a marzipan pig, with a gold piece in its mouth, is suspended from a ribbon and touched instead.
Since ancient times in Scotland, this night has been celebrated as Hogmanay. Outshining even Christmas celebrations (which were banned for over 400 years in Scotland), this is a time for rich feasting, drinking, dancing, tale-telling, and music.
The first person to cross your threshold after midnight brings luck into the house. Since medieval times, then, the best possible first-footer would be a tall, dark-haired, handsome man, who brought gifts of whisky, bread, a piece of coal or firewood and a silver coin.
He enters in silence and no one speaks to him until he puts the coal on the fire, pours a glass for the head of the house and wishes everyone a Happy New Year.
Then, of course, the revelries explode and continue into the wee hours, even for several more days in some cases!
I highly recommend adapting this practice at your parties tonight. It is a magical moment you will never forget, and rich rewards may be yours in the coming year!
Divination and Magic
Naturally, this a wonderful night for divination. Since I am not available for Tarot readings for the time being, an alternative way to determine your future in the new year is to prick a newly-laid egg at the smaller end with a pin. Let three drops of the egg white fall into a bowl of water.
Then use your powers of scrying to interpret the designs it makes. This will give you a glimpse of what the new year holds in store for you.
Another tradition for the young people is one that comes to us by way of Russia. Put a thread through a golden ring. Pour some water into a glass and then lower the thread with the ring into it. Wait quietly until it begins to swing and knock against the borders. Count the number of strikes – they denote the age when you’ll get married.
Ancestors and Modern Times Entwined
And you know those resolutions we make year in and year out (or else resolve not to make anymore)? We are not alone!
There are records from 4,000 years ago in Babylon of New Year’s resolutions. Often they were announced publicly. The most common were to make good any outstanding debts and return anything borrowed.
Nowadays, the most common resolutions are to lose weight and give up smoking, closely followed by .. guess what! .. making good any outstanding debts and returning borrowed goods!
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all had the tradition of showing off the first babies born in the year. In the 14th century the custom of showing a baby entwined with a banner of the New Year began, in Germany.
New Year’s Eve is sacred to Yemaya, the Mother of the Sea. In Brazil, people dress in white, go down to the ocean, light candles in the sand and throw white flowers into the waves for Her.
In the ancient Egyptian traditions, today is the sacred day of Sekhmet, the lion-headed Goddess whose worship center was Memphis, Egypt. Nursing mothers would pray to Her to let down their milk and to protect their wee babes.
And this day is also set aside for honoring Vesta – the Roman Goddess of the hearth. Known by the Greeks as Hestia, She was credited with the art of building houses (since every home was built around the sacred central fire). A good energetic cleansing and blessing of your hearth would be a most rewarding activity today. Remember — NOT tomorrow!!
Perhaps echoing that custom, this is the day that many put away their Solstice decorations, for some say it is bad luck for them to still be up in the New Year.
Others, of course, prefer to leave them until Twelfth Night.
At least be sure to give thanks on this night for the benevolence of Hestia, for the roof above your head, and the plenty in your life. Far too many women, men, and children across the globe are enduring the loss of their homelands and basic shelter. Let us never forget that home is a precious, sometimes precarious gift.
Blessed be to your holy home, that gives you the nurturing and comfort that enables you to go out into the world.
Gracious Blessings in the Name of Hecate
And as you know if you visit here often, the last day of every month is sacred to Hecate. Hecate is the Goddess of Witches and the psychopomp, who shows the way to those crossing to the lands of the dead.
As such, She is the Guardian of the Crossroads, including all mundane road crossings as well as the crossroads between life and death. We also welcome Her as She presides at this crossroads of the Year.
She is the Triple Goddess in Her most ancient form, the trinity of Artemis the Maiden, Selene, the Mother, and by Her own name, Hecate, the Crone.
On this night, leave food at a crossroads in Her name. If you are especially wise, you will pick a crossroads where She can see to it that the hungry may eat it, whether they know it is in Her name or not.
Hecate also rules over prophecy, healing, visions and magic. This amplifies even more the magic of New Year’s Eve as an outstanding night for divination, meditation and spellwork.
So raise a glass with me, and bid farewell to 2016:
This chapter is closed, it is no more.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses.
2017 waits at our door.