Strategies for a Successful New Year

2008 was not a good year for me. First I lost my wonderful horse. Then my father suffered health problems which have kept him in the hospital over the holidays. For the past few months economic strains have made us all worried and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is still concerned.

However, today is the first day of the New Year and I’m hoping that 2009 will bring a change for the better. To help ensure that, I’m looking at a few rituals to tilt the scales. Okay, so maybe they won’t work, but they certainly won’t hurt! Here are a few that I’ve found. I hope you don’t have to do them all!

New Year’s Rituals

  • Spend the day on December 31st by taking some time to be quiet and reflect on the year that is drawing to a close. Think about the people that mattered most to you, your greatest accomplishment, challenging difficulties and the lessons you learned.
  • Take a purification bath. Scrub yourself with sea salt and wash yourself thoroughly in the water. Feel free to anoint yourself with your favorite oil or perfume.
  • Contemplate the patterns in your life that keep you stuck. Write down the limiting beliefs or habits that you wish to leave behind with the old year. In a fireproof bowl or fireplace, safely burn the paper. As the paper burns, be aware that you have just made space for new ideas people, and opportunities to enter your life. Carefully, throw out the ashes when they cool.
  • Light a candle for those who have passed on to spirit.
  • Light a candle for your new potential in the coming year.
  • Light a candle to acknowledge the earth.
  • Contribute to your community by planting a tree, helping a homeless family or baking cookies for your local nursing home.
  • Share your holiday with others: invite friends to a New Year’s ceremony that honors your individual path. Have each person light a candle and share his or her vision for the year. It is powerful to have witnesses to your dreams
  • Forgive, forgive, forgive – end the old year by opening your heart to yourself and others.
  • Stocking Up:   The new year must not be seen in with bare cupboards, lest that be the way of things for the year. Larders must be topped up and plenty of money must be placed in every wallet in the home to guarantee prosperity.
  • First Footing:  The first person to enter your home after the stroke of midnight will influence the year you’re about to have. Ideally, he should be dark-haired, tall, and good-looking, and it would be even better if he came bearing certain small gifts such as a lump of coal, a silver coin, a bit of bread, a sprig of evergreen, and some salt. Blonde and redhead first footers bring bad luck, and female first footers should be shooed away before they bring disaster down on the household. Aim a gun at them if you have to, but don’t let them near your door before a man crosses the threshold. The first footer (sometimes called the “Lucky Bird”) should knock and be let in rather than unceremoniously use a key, even if he is one of the householders. After greeting those in the house and dropping off whatever small tokens of luck he has brought with him, he should make his way through the house and leave by a different door than the one through which he entered. No one should leave the premises before the first footer arrives — the first traffic across the threshold must be headed in rather than striking out. First footers must not be cross-eyed or have flat feet or eyebrows that meet in the middle. Nothing prevents the cagey householder from stationing a dark-haired man outside the home just before midnight to ensure the speedy arrival of a suitable first footer as soon as the chimes sound. If one of the party goers is recruited for this purpose, impress upon him the need to slip out quietly just prior to the witching hour.
  • Nothing Goes Out: Nothing — absolutely nothing, not even garbage — is to leave the
    house on the first day of the year. If you’ve presents to deliver on New Year’s Day, leave them in the car overnight. Don’t so much as shake out a rug or take the empties to the recycle bin.
  • Food:  A tradition common to the southern states of the USA dictates that the eating of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day will attract both general good luck (financial in particular) to the one doing the dining. Some choose to add other Southern fare (such as ham hocks, collard greens, or cabbage) to this tradition, but the black-eyed peas are key. Other “lucky” foods are lentil soup (because lentils supposedly look like coins), pork (because poultry scratches backwards, a cow stands still, but a pig roots forward, ergo those who dine upon pork will be moving forward in the new year), and sauerkraut (probably because it goes so well with pork). Another oft-repeated belief holds that one must not eat chicken or turkey on the first day of the year lest, like the birds in question, diners fate themselves to scratch in the dirt all year for their dinner (that is, bring poverty upon themselves).
  • Work: Make sure to do — and be successful at — something related to your work on the first day of the year, even if you don’t go near your place of employment that day. Limit your activity to a token amount, though, because to engage in a serious work project on that day is very unlucky.
  • New Clothes:   Wear something new on January 1 to increase the likelihood of your receiving more new garments during the year to follow.
  • Money:   Do not pay back loans or lend money or other precious items on New Year’s Day. To do so is to guarantee you’ll be paying out all year.
  • Breakage:  Avoid breaking things on that first day lest wreckage be part of your year. Also, avoid crying on the first day of the year lest that activity set the tone for the next twelve months.
  • “clean the house” (or the whole property) by first literally tidying up (do the dishes, wash the floors, straighten up piles of messy equipment by the barn, etc.), then starting at the door or main entrance walk around the perimeter of the place “sweeping” the bad luck away with a bunch of sweet herbs (basil is always good, mint, rosemary, lavendar, that sort of thing). When you get back to the beginning, step outside and tear the bundle of herbs up and throw it in running water or in a storm drain or in front of your icky neighbor’s property. Throwing salt around is good too. A new broom is a good way to sweep away bad luck in the past.Clean the place top to bottom, use a new broom to sweep out the nasty juju, and smudge the whole property with sage. If you use a broom, you don’t have to touch the ground with it – you’re sweeping out the bad vibes, not the dust. Go in a clockwise direction with everything. If you burn something  you want to toss the ashes AWAY – best way is in a running stream or storm drain. If you don’t the bad stuff is just going to linger.

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