Endings and Beginnings

We’ve come to the end of one year, which brings the beginning of the next. It is always a good idea at this juncture to consider what you want to call forth in the new year and what you are willing to relinquish and leave behind in the old.

There’s a very simple ceremony I use to do this important work. It’s good if you can do it around the first, that adds to the impact of the ritual. It helps to do this before the new year, but it doesn’t matter.

Obviously, you’ll have to spend some time taking stock of what has helped and hindered you in the past. Then set some time aside for yourself and do this ritual. Just as with those tests in grade school, it helps to read all the way to the bottom before you do the ritual. Enjoy a wonderful year to come! Happy New Year!

  1. Take three small slips of paper. On each one, list one thing you are willing to leave behind in the year that is ending.
  2.  Put those slips in the pocket of your dominant hand. (if you’re right handed, your right pocket; if left, your left.
  3.  Consider for a bit what it will mean to release these three things. What have you gotten from them? What have they cost you? What will you feel like without them?
  4.  Take three more slips of paper. On each of these, list one thing you for which you are willing to take responsibility during the coming year.
  5.  Put those slips in your non-dominant pocket.
  6.  What will it mean to you to have these things in your life? What will you receive? What will be different? What will make life better?
  7. Walk around for a day or two with the slips in the pocket. Allow yourself to really imagine life without the things you’re releasing. Envision the new life brought to you by the things you’re inviting in.
  8.  A walk is always a good next step, or a labyrinth, or simply do your ritual at home. If you can, walk in silence. If you’re doing a seated ritual with others, then introduce yourself by name, claiming your place in the circle. (You move clockwise with the introduction and counterclockwise with the release.)
  9. If you’re walking, walk to your destination, take out the release slips and read them aloud (unless you’re in a silent place) in this fashion. “Today I relinquish xxxxxxxxxxxx. I’m grateful for the lessons I learned from it. From this day forward it is no longer a part of my life.” Now burn (safely, please!), crinkle or discard the three scraps. (If walking, you can stick them in another pocket until you get home.)
  10.  Then read the calling-in slips. Use this format (again, pay attention as to whether silence is requested): Today I welcome xxxxxxxxxxx. This is now the way I live my life. In living this way, I increase my health and free my heart to respond to my community’s needs. I am grateful for the chance to enrich my life.” Put the slips in your dominant hand pocket. (Live with them for a few days and then put them on a dresser or table top or bathroom mirror to remind you how you have undertaken to live this year.
  11.  If you’ve been walking, turn about and walk silently back to your beginning. If you’re in the labyrinth, leave the release slip. If you’re in a group, say, moving from right to left “My name is XXX, in leaving this circle I walk my own path.”
  12.  Go out and have a very happy New Year. Lift a glass for Peace!

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