Ask around in Pagan circles, and you’ll get disagreement about when the year actually begins.

Some say at Hallows (Samhain): the new year is birthed at the very moment of the death of the old.

Some say Yule, with the rebirth of the “baby Sun”.

And some—not many, but some—go with the calendar year, January 1.

I fall in the second camp. To me, the period between Death at Hallows and Birth at Yule is the time of decomposition and recomposition, of decay, uptake into existing life, and spinoff through pregnancy or seed production into new individuals. I wrote about this recently.

We have come to the time of year when endings have happened and Beginnings are before us. After a grueling year like 2020, they are more than welcome.

I don’t believe in “New Year’s resolutions”. The idea of a new initiative as something that disappears like a soap bubble if it is strayed from at all doesn’t make sense to me.

Real change is a keep-at-it affair. You’ll fail, and succeed, and fail again. But the trick is to keep working at it despite the failures.

So instead of a “resolution”, which is so frail that it is destroyed if it is varied from, I set a theme for the new year. Last year’s was THRIVE, which I managed to do, more or less, despite all the misery the year flung at us. And this year, it is GROW.

Grow is a powerful word for me because it implies both that there are places to grow—places where I can improve myself and my interactions with others—and that I am able to make these changes. That even at my age, evolution can and does take place.

Now, I will set some specific goals under that general theme, and work on them. But the theme is the Polar Star, the guiding principle that keeps me at work on becoming better, healthier, wiser, kinder. And I will revisit it each Sabbath to see how things are progressing.

The dawn of the new year is a time for reflection on what has taken place, what has been learned, what work there is yet to do. A good time for a nice hard look at our lives.

So I commend to you this idea of the “year theme”.

What’s a word or short phrase that moves you, makes you feel motivated and aspirational?

5 thoughts on “Beginnings

  1. It occurs to me, chillingly, that far slighter disagreements than “When does the year start”, have led to the slaughter of millions, through the millennia. When we’re doing our gratitude practice, let’s all give a nod to living in a time and place in which this is, merely, an interesting discussion, rather than a justification for mayhem.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I have always found mantras helpful. I followed a pseudo-Buddhist path for a while and this is my holdover from that. So this year I wrote a mantra for myself for the following year: “I honor my spirit and respect the spirit of others.” For me this summarizes my desire to do things that make me spiritually, mentally and physically healthy as a way to honor myself, and cultivate authentic, kind, compassionate relationships with those around me, including humans, other animals, and “nature” herself.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m in camp two. It just feels right: On Samhain the old year goes. It is a time for rest, reviews and decompression.
    I see Yule as the time for beginnings and renewal.
    This year, however, on May 2, I’m hoping to bring to fruition a year and a day project. Yule refreshes me on this project.

    Liked by 1 person

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