It has been said, in many traditions, that the way you begin each new year will set the tone for the year ahead. Every country honors this calendrical change differently. Some folks celebrate with soul food and champagne, while others may focus on avoiding bad luck or tending their livestock.
In the US, we find ourselves living in a culture that focuses more on the celebration than the cleansing, don’t we? It’s important to know that each has their important role within the New Year experience. Of course, ringing in the New Year* with celebratory optimism and good cheer is a big win. Equally victorious, however, is the under-emphasized cleansing and clearing of our spaces.
There are some cultures that hold superstitions that cleaning on New Year’s Day will bring misfortune in the year ahead. Whether or not you’re superstitious, why not clean now, in December? It will surely feel better to celebrate with clean energy.
In this blog post, we’re going to cover some basics when it comes to ritualistic cleansing and purification for the end of the year. Our hope is that you read this and feel empowered to purify your space (and your Self, in the process), in order to enter into 2023 with optimal good fortune.
As Outside, so Inside…
When it comes to the clearing and cleansing, there’s a dance of reciprocity to acknowledge. We first decide, internally, that we’d like to cleanse ourselves and start the year with energy anew. Next, we go through a process of cleansing our outer world.
This could look like removing any clutter from our home and office and sweeping the floors (always moving towards, & eventually out your door, energetically). After clearing the space of physical objects that aren’t necessary or are holding denser energies that aren’t aiding in your development and evolution, we can then move into the subtle realms.
Smudging your home and office is an essential aspect of purification. White sage is a wonderful plant ally for this work; burning the sage and focusing your intention on clearing your space of any negative energy, you can move around your space, allowing the smoke to purify every corner, nook and cranny.
Burning and Bathing
Now that the physical space has been cleared, the non-physical can be cleansed as well. Clearing the skies of our hearts and minds is an integral component of our spiritual evolution.
Perhaps you experienced some hardship this last year. Perhaps there’s some lingering feelings that are weighing you down. This is the perfect time for a cleansing in all realms! So write it down; any phrases that include words like ‘ought’, ‘should’, ‘have to’ or ‘must’…draft them and prepare your fire. Wherever you can create a safe place to have a fire, create it with intention. Offer any burnable items that you found in your cleansing process, and allow for the transmutation to take shape.
After holding space for a transformational fire, one can then move into relationship with water. If you have access to a natural body of water, like a lake, river or the ocean, that is wonderful. If not, a shower or bath can work wonders, as well. The key aspect here is setting the intention to be cleansed, asking for support for this cleansing for the Highest Good, and entering with a willfulness to be changed.
There you have it, a simple guide to working with the elements to cleanse in preparation for the New Year. May this serve you, and those around you!
*Where does this phrase even come from, you may ask? In 1850, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote “Ring Out, Wild Bells”; a poem that emphasized the importance of honoring beginning and endings with the sounding of bells. Share with your friends and loved ones this holiday season; who doesn’t love a poetry reading!?
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.