I find it interesting that the beginning of the Gregorian calendar (in my hemisphere) is not in Spring, the traditional season of beginnings, but in the Winter, which we usually consider the “ending” season – the season in which things die. This year, that seems especially poignant… and hopeful.
This past year seemed to be filled with never-ending distress, and a constant expectation of “now what?”. Yet, with the election season out of the way, there is a definite feeling of change in the air. There are little signs of hope, if we know where to look, in the midst of what seems to be crashing down around us. Like the sighting of a robin in February, or a small shoot poking up through the snowy ground, signs that we may have the opportunity for a fresh start are starting to pop up around us.
Of course, we’re not done with calamities. Our experience tells us that, as has happened in the past, bad times are a part of our existence. So how do we keep going? Some folks, of course, can’t bear to face the future knowing that terrible things might happen. Some won’t leave their homes, or turn to substances to help them cope, or become angry and paranoid. Some try to take matters into their own hands by trying to force a future that feels palatable to them, regardless of the effect it may have on others. If these people can get enough like-minded others to join them, things could definitely change. For the better… or worse. That’s how the lifetime of a nation and a planet progresses – the push and pull of ideologies and the evolution of social collective consciousnesses and their effects on society; even if the process is painful, destructive and, sometimes, catastrophic for a while. Then add a deadly disease, the effects of a changing climate, the inherent inequities of our society and culture – and we get the perfect storm of upheaval that now has us feeling that we need to “do” something to get back on track.
How do we put one foot in front of the other, moving ahead, knowing that things can go sideways at any moment, changing our lives forever? The knowledge that comes from experience, for one thing. Patience. Trust. Resilience. Hope. And, sometimes, Ritual.
As a witch, I’ve performed my share of rituals. Of course, every spiritual tradition and religion has its rituals (even those which eschew ritual… which could be seen as a ritual of sorts as well). These practices are often based on historical events or stories handed down in books or via oral tradition. They can be as simple as magic words (“so mote it be,” “amen,” “God bless you,” to name just a few), or as complex as an elaborate cyclical affair involving certain clothing, songs/prayers/spoken words or readings, traditional foods or drink (or fasting), dancing, and so on. Some of them last days, weeks, or months, or just moments. Rituals give us community, comfort and a sense of control – a familiar routine in the midst of chaos.
So, in these times of plague and insurrection, what are some rituals that could help us feel calmer, and our surroundings more manageable? Well, witchy rituals usually involve meditation, words, movements and … yeah, setting stuff on fire. Here’s a simple ritual that helps me when I feel like I need a reboot:
- The first step in performing any ritual is to get into the right mindset. I find that centering myself, doing some slow and rhythmic deep breathing, clearing my mind and getting into a dimly-lit, quiet, private space, perhaps with music playing softly, helps.
- The timing of a ritual for new beginnings depends on intention. Traditionally, rituals are performed during a Full or waxing Moon to draw in good auspices, and the New or waning Moon when banishing the bad stuff. But I’ve found that the moon phase doesn’t matter as much as the deliberateness of the intention you set.
- Now it’s time to start striking matches. The smoke from incense and candles wafts your intention upward into the Universe. The color and scent of the incense and candles that you use (there are lots of books and websites about ritual colors to be used for particular purposes) can help narrow your purpose. Of course, burning healing and cleansing herbs such as sage, rosemary, copal, cinnamon and palo santo are tried-and-true methods of clearing psychic space – banishing negativity and inviting positive vibrations – and may always be used as the first or only preparation of space.
- While the materials burn, state your intention. You may choose to chant or sing it, simply say it, think it in your head or write it on paper and burn the paper in the flame. If you have multiple good vibes to manifest, repeat for each.
- Sit for a while and imagine through visualization the change you want to see in your life, or in the world. See it happening NOW, not in the future. Feel the emotions that flow from being in that moment. Let them wash over you, and embrace them. This is an important part of making it real. If you can imagine and feel it, you can make it happen.
- When you feel that you’ve completed what you want to manifest, end with words that symbolize that you’ve accomplished your goal. “Amen,” “So Be It,” “May it come to pass,” or simply “Done!” work equally well. Say what works for you.
The most important thing to remember about rituals is that there is no right or wrong way to do them. Anything that feels comfortable, has meaning to you and is done with good intention is just fine. You may make it as elaborate (with the addition of crystals, broom, athame, spells, casting, opening and closing the sacred circle, etc.) or as simple (just a few moments in quiet meditation focusing on what you would like to see come to pass) as you wish. The key is the intention, and the “doing.” Often, through a meditative practice and ritual, we feel a little bit more control – that we’re doing something, while we tap into our higher-self trust that, in the end, all will be well, and for the greatest and highest good of the Universe, no matter how uncomfortable is the path to get us there.
Rituals may help us to move to a place of renewal and help us to move to our next steps – a New Beginning. Whatever you choose to help you to move forward, may it be comforting and restful. As Miss Stacy, Anne’s loving and understanding teacher in the beloved book Anne of Green Gables said: “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.” And it is what we make of it.
To purchase your Robin – New Beginnings Suncatcher, go here.