A collection of tidbits from my posts in years past, with heartfelt thanks in memory of our beloved Waverly FitzGerald, who was the source for much of this lore. Blessings to you always, Waverly, for your faithful, invaluable service as a Priestess of Time and Keeper of Wisdom of the Ancient Ways. What is remembered lives.
Out with the old and in with the new!
There’s magic on New Year’s in all that you do!
Rejoice, my dears, or breathe a sigh of relief. For better or worse, 2020 is headed for the history books and we now stand at the crossroads of a new year. And what a year this has been – so strange and sad, and contentious, and heart-breaking on so many levels.
One of those markers in history that we will always think of, like 9/11, or Kennedy’s assassination. We will always remember where we were, who we lost, what we did, how we got by.
But unlike those one-day pivots of history, this has been month after month of shock, upheaval, tragedy, and death. And it has been day in and day out witnessing unbridled hatreds spilling out into the streets, and gleeful hacking away at the roots of America’s democracy, by the very people who are sworn to protect and uphold it.
This year broke us in half, and changed the course of our lives, our communities, and our countries — forever.
Yet waiting in the wings, with no one allowed to be there, a glittering ball will drop tonight in Times Square. Fireworks will shoot off round the world. And the smart survivors will be sequestered safely in our homes, maybe watching it all on television, or maybe finding something else more peaceful to do, to mark this turning.
But wait! There’s more!
As so many have been explaining (myself included), we have arrived not only at the turning of the calendar year, but the changeover of the age, as the conjunction and Great Mutation of Jupiter and Saturn last week heralded. So as you pause tonight to say goodbye to this Year of the Plague (and pray that next year is the Year of Healing), let us recognize that we are all undergoing a profound rite of passage that is nothing less than an epochal transformation guided by Cosmos.
However you decide to observe it, the age is turning.
Except for one unfortunately powerful, but pathetic and mentally ill Orange Dementor who will not acknowledge any form of reality that he doesn’t like, I think the rest of us are desperately ready to be escorted across the threshold by Ianus, ancient God of Time, new beginnings, endings, gateways, and passages.
Thus, although I am trying (with little success!) to take some much-needed time off, I feel called to encore some of the New Year’s Eve lore that I have been posting for many years.
After all, there are many magickal ways to mark this very important doorway time.
First, let me suggest that you spend some time today in sacred space, not asking, not planning, but listening for the promise of this new beginning. Set aside time for stillness, the profoundly important ingredient before commencing any form of magick.
For as my beloved heart-sister Sally Nurney so wisely explains, this is not the shiny, sparkly untouched reboot we may have hoped for, and old habits of setting intentions and goals and resolutions may simply be too much for us, in such dark times. Be gentle with yourself, given all of the exhaustion and worry and death that each of our receptive hearts can’t help but carry.
Yet this is still a gift of great good and promise to us. If you are able to sit up, and breathe, and read this, then know: You are now given a threshold moment brimming with extraordinary change. And therefore, possibility.
You can prepare for this moment of initiation by knowing that everything you do on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is loaded with magical significance.
May you be safe and at peace as we put 2020 to its final rest.
Rituals and Preparations
One way to get started is to make a ritual of 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 release those energies and is a time-honored tradition.
Additionally, although many folks might feel too flattened to do this, and that is perfectly okay and understandable, you might still like to rouse yourself and make a vision board for what you’d like to manifest in the coming year.
Having harvested some tough lessons this year about life’s unpredictable truths, it might be a good time to pick a word that will be an inspiration and life raft for the uncertain 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.
Things Are Bad Enough, Right?
So no one needs to accidentally bring more bad luck down on themselves.
That’s why, 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 insures that the relationship will thrive in the coming year. And yes, I hereby declare by the Powers vested in me that smooches on Zoom count!
And don’t forget: Rabbit, rabbit!
In Vienna, the pig (sacred to the Goddess Freya, whose time this is) is the symbol of good luck. Pigs would be let loose in restaurants and everyone would try 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. So this works perfectly for the world we now find ourselves in.
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 (who this year needs to be part of your sequestered pod) 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 tonight, although obviously group partying is OUT. Still, even if that lovely stranger is actually your partner you’ve been locked up with since March, this can be a magical moment, and rich rewards may be yours in the coming year!
Divination and Magic
Naturally, this a wonderful night for divination. Since I am currently completely booked up (Wow! Thank you!), 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.
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, my own mama being one.
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. As we have learned this year, home is a precious, sometimes precarious gift.
Blessed be to your holy home, that gives you the safety, nurturing, and comfort to survive, whether it has also become your workplace, or if you are obliged to go out from its refuge and work in the world.
This Year, Perhaps More Than Ever Before, Let Us Honor Hecate
And as you know, the last day of every month is sacred to our dear Hecate. Hecate is the Goddess of Witches and is the Divine psychopomp, Who shows the way to those crossing to the lands of the dead.
She has been more busy this year than at any other time in human history, and to Her we give our deepest thanks and honor.
For in most of the global deaths now approaching 2 million, no family, no priestess or priest, no loved one is there to observe and bless their crossing. And no funeral gatherings can be safely held afterwards. At best, only a heavily shrouded, exhausted nurse or doctor is present, to hold their hand and say goodbye. And then on to the next one. And the next.
But in every case, our beloved Hecate is there, for She is the Guardian of the Crossroads, from mundane road crossings, all the way to the ultimate crossroads between life and death. She presides over mothers in childbirth, and she holds her torch high, to escort the beloved dead to the lands of their Ancestors.
And now comes the moment when we may especially 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 2020: a year that has tested us down to our deepest core.
For better or worse, it is now a closed chapter.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses. 2021 is knocking on our door.