Wordsmithing Magic from the Crossroads

Happy New Year’s Magic and Lore – Now We Welcome 2024!

Happy New Year 2024

May the Graces Bless Us with Joyful New Beginnings!

The beginning of anything is an augury of the whole thing.
RJ Stewart and Anastacia Nutt, Janus Meditation

Blessings to you for the Tarot Year of Strength (or is it Justice?), which last came calling in 2015.  I’ll be writing much more about this in the coming week.

But meantime, today is a very magical day, full of lore and custom.

As I wrote yesterday, everything you do on this day has magical implications for the coming year. So don’t throw anything out (even the trash), or lend money or pay bills.

If you must carry something out, be sure to bring something else in first, preferably the coin or cash you concealed outside last night!

Since whatever we do on this day will be repeated throughout the year, I like to make New Year’s Day an ideal day, and do a little of all the things I most want to enjoy in the coming year.

For instance, it is good luck to do a little bit of work on the first day of the year, as long as you enjoy and are successful at whatever it is. But more than a token amount of work today is very unlucky.

Wiki Commons image of a washing machineAlso, I will not be doing any laundry today, lest someone I love be ‘washed away’ (die) in the upcoming months. The more cautious warn against even washing dishes, which is just fine with me.

Naturally, I will wear something new, to ensure that new clothes will be coming my way in the new year, and, just like my mama taught me, I will be speaking only sweet words.

A Little History

New Year’s, as we now celebrate it, comes from the Romans, who moved the New Year from Spring Equinox to January in 153 BCE and celebrated with six days of carousing and rejoicing, ending just as the Twelve Days of Christmas do, on January 6.

They got drunk, wore disguises, and kept their tables laden with food all night long to ensure plenty in the coming year (and perhaps to appease the Fates).Wikipedia image of the two-headed God Janus

The ancient Romans also gave each other small gifts (called strenae) on this day, symbolic of good luck for the new year, like coins with the faces of the God Janus on one side and a ship on the other (for He was considered the patron of ships and trade). The modern Roman ritual is a plunge in the icy Tiber River.

The English archbishop Boniface, visiting Rome in 742 C.E., complained about how the Kalends of January were celebrated in Rome with “dancing in the streets, heathenish cries, sacrilegious songs, tables laden with food and women wearing amulets and offering them for sale.”

Therefore, to somewhat dampen the enthusiasm, the Roman Catholic Church declared this the Day of the Circumcision. The less said about this dour decision, the better.

New Year’s Around the World

In England, gloves and pins were the traditional New Year’s gifts up until the 19th century. In France, children give their parents handmade gifts with a wish of “Bonne Année!”

Food eaten on New Year’s Day always has significance, as it also affects the quality of the coming year. In ancient times, the Romans gave friends a glass jar full of dates and dried figs in honey, along with a bay leaf branch, so the coming year would be sweet and full of good fortune.

The Year God Toshigami by HeshbiThroughout Japan, preparing and serving special New Year’s foods are important rituals. This sacred meal is shared with the kami (spirits) as well as family members.

Rice is one of the most important foods served. It is specially prepared and shared with the ancestors and the Gods, like Toshigami, the rather fierce Year God, who each family hopes will smile upon them, bringing good fortune for the coming year.

Hoppin’ John

One of the most famous magical foods to be eaten on New Year’s comes from the American South. Hoppin’ John is an old favorite dish that was a staple of slaves in the antebellum Carolinas, where African bean stews (also found in the Caribbean) met the local American rice industry and came deliciously together.

Possibly the earliest appearance of the dish by the name Hopping John was in an 1847 cookbook called The Carolina Housewife. No one knows for sure how the name originated, but one reasonable suggestion is that it’s a corruption of the French-Caribbean words pois à pigeon, or pigeon pea, a relative of the black-eyed pea, and which would be pronounced “pwah-ah-pee-john.”Traditional Hoppin John with rice beans greens and cornbread for New Years

Every Southern cook (and cookbook) I know has a recipe for Hoppin’ John, but there are three basic ingredients that never vary (unless you are a vegetarian). The black-eyed peas (sometimes field peas or crowder peas may be substituted) are the most important symbolic food. In many cultures, beans and other legumes are thought to bring good luck because of their resemblance to coins (which means the promise of wealth).

The rice is for fertility (which is why we throw rice at newlyweds with such gusto). And of course, most old Southern recipes require that fatback, ham bone, or bacon is used to flavor the stew, since pigs are lucky and cooking up a pig in a pot is a sign of prosperity. Usually, just to ensure plenty of extra folding cash, collards or mustard greens are also served on the side.

While nowadays, you can find Hoppin’ John recipes that are all chic and gussied-up, with tomatoes, artichoke hearts, black beans, or made with a fancy rice pilaf, I think that plain and simple is the real spirit of it. It is just a mix of cooked rice, black-eyed peas, and some kind of seasoning (pork, if you eat it).

As a vegetarian, I skip the ham hocks. But I have found that original Ben’s Wild Rice® (read the ingredients carefully – some kinds have chicken flavoring), simmered with black-eyed peas, served with sides of greens and cornbread makes a nourishing, satisfying meal that has brought plenty of luck to our table. And as a bonus, I won’t set the tone of the coming year by having to spend lots of time in the kitchen.

Alessandro Filipepi alias Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), The three Graces Detail from Primavera (springtime), 1478-1482 circa, Tempera on panel. Uffizi galleries, Florence, Italy.

Blessings of Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia

Thank you, my dear reader, for subscribing to my newsletter, for all the generous comments you’ve offered in my “Luminous Sparks,” and especially the encouragement you send, which I treasure more than I can express.

As we cross the threshold of this New Year, I call upon the Three Gratiae (Graces) who are the three Goddesses who were always invoked in ancient times to ensure good fortune at new beginnings.

May the Graces illuminate all the days of this year for you.

May the Gods of plenty bestow upon you more and finer abundance than you could imagine.

And may peace, prosperity, and harmony embrace all the days ahead, for ourselves and all our relations.

Happy New Year! Welcome, 2024!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Alicia Bay Laurel January 1, 2024, 1:40 am

Interesting! Since my 20s, I have had a personal habit/belief about birthdays that is the same as what you wrote here about New Year’s Day. I try to do things on my birthday that set a new pattern for the next year of my life in a positive way.

Beth January 1, 2024, 1:12 pm

It’s the birthday of your new year! More reasons to celebrate! 🎉

Kathy January 1, 2024, 7:21 am

new year blessings to you.
thank you.

Beth January 1, 2024, 1:13 pm

And to you, Kathy! 🎊

nofixedstars January 1, 2024, 10:38 am

a black eyed pea dish was part of last night’s dinner and will be amongst the leftovers consumed today, along with greens, some of the delicious country ham gifted us at xmas, and other good food, before returning to my mainly vegetarian diet on the morrow. laundry and cleaning was done on the 30th so no housework is happening today. i read tarot and runes this morning (wearing my new dressing gown!), and resumed my daily mini-yoga practise and meditation. i will not spend money today, but i will enjoy the abundance already in my possession, including another bottle of champagne this evening before kicking off a ‘dry january’. really trying to set a balanced pattern of good habits and good fortune on this day. 🙂

Beth January 1, 2024, 1:15 pm

All bases beautifully covered, sounds like! May you be showered with good fortune and well-being in the coming year!🥂

Jean Manley January 1, 2024, 11:09 am

Thank you for the wonderful blessing and information about this wonderful day. May you day and coming year be filled with abundance.

Beth January 1, 2024, 1:16 pm

Thanks, Jean! Wishing you fabulous health and happiness all the days to come 🌟

Amy January 1, 2024, 11:38 am

Thank you Beth for sharing your wisdom with us. Happy and Prosperous New Year to you and this community. 💕

Beth January 1, 2024, 1:17 pm

I love thinking of us as a community! Of course we are!

Thank you so much, Amy! May 2024 be a HUGE year of happiness and amazing good fortune for you! ✨🥳✨

TWYLIA WESTLING January 1, 2024, 2:58 pm

Really appreciate the comment about hopping John – my family always eats blackeyed peas on New Years (sometimes cooked with a penny in the pot) and I was never really sure why. Swept the floor last night but forgot to put the money out, dangit. I’m leaning into the signs which tell me that this will be a good year (8 year – my life card, 10 year – my growth year, in an 8 year). 🙂

Beth January 1, 2024, 4:45 pm

Wow! That’s so cool about the penny in the pot. I’ve never heard of that, but it makes SO much sense.

And sounds like the numbers are definitely working for you, Twylia! May it be an extra, extra special and wonderful year for you! 💚

Michelle M Pino January 1, 2024, 6:37 pm

I always look forward to your words, which are always so beautifully strewn together. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I’m looking forward to lots of beneficial change this coming year, and to opening up to wildly abundant receiving. Lots of love, health and bountiful blessings of abundance, adventure and joy to you!!!

Kate Stockman January 1, 2024, 6:55 pm

Happy New Year, sistah! I woke up yesterday morning and realized I didn’t have beans for Hoppin’ John! So, much as I hated to, I drove into town to stock up on all those delicious “must-haves” for New Year’s dinner: pork roast cooked with potatoes, onions, and carrots; applesauce; Hoppin’ John; and broccoli (for luck and money… anything green, according to my family traditions). Whew! It’s a joy to follow THIS tradition! xoxo

Alicia Bay Laurel January 2, 2024, 2:33 am

I’m so glad that green vegetables summon luck and money, because I have been fasting from protein and starch for three days now, and will continue until my sniffles dry up. So, I’ve been eating LOTS OF GREENS. How perfect. Magic is afoot.

The point of power
is always in
the present moment.

~ Louise Hay

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