January in the Wheel of the Year Part 1: Making the Month Magical - By Lucya Starza
The first month of the year is usually cold and grey in Britain, where I live. It feels like the heart of winter, even though the daylight hours are increasing. It can be hard to do anything except stay indoors in the warm, but hopefully I can offer some ideas for making January more magical.
Janus: A God for January
Janus is the Roman god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He has two faces; one looks back at the year just gone, and one looks forward. It’s Janus this month is named after. The Romans honoured him at the beginning of every religious ceremony, but at the start of the year they would bake cakes of spelt flour and salt as an offering to the deity. They exchanged gifts of dried fruit such as dates and figs, as well as honey, and wished each other well for the months to come.
After honouring Janus at the start of a January rite, it would be appropriate to honour Vesta, Roman goddess of the hearth, at the end, and give thanks for the warmth of fires – including modern central heating – within the home.
Mari Lwyd means ‘Grey Mare’ in Welsh. In South Wales there’s a New Year custom in which a decorated horse’s skull, known as a Mari, is paraded. People follow the Mari and win access to houses – and pubs – along the way by improvised sing-offs. Once inside, there’s food, drink and the exchange of best wishes.
A Scrapbook of Happiness
Many of us get the January blues. One way of combatting that is to each day try to recognise something that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be anything big. It could be a favourite mug, a book, fresh fruit, a favourite item of clothing, or the glow from a candle on an altar. You can go further and create a magical scrapbook. Photograph things that spark moments of happiness, print the pictures and paste them into a scrapbook. Visualise the happy memory as strongly as you can and ask your book to keep those memories safe. When you are feeling down, look back through the book and visualise the happy moments again.
I can’t talk about the magic of January without mentioning resolutions. Some love them, some hate them. I’m not telling anyone what’s right for them in that respect, but I will mention a tip I was given by a friend. Her idea is not to make a single resolution, but a list of many things to do over the year. With a long list you’re bound to succeed at some of them. You shouldn’t just resolve to do chores or give stuff up. It should include fun things too like visiting new places, crafting projects, and magical intentions. You don’t have to only set resolutions on the 1st. Any time in January is good, particularly around the full moon, or when the sun enters Aquarius later in the month, which is great for new ideas. In the community book Every Day Magic - A Pagan Book of Days, Brendan Howlin points out that January is more a time for thinking than acting:
“Think More, Act Later: In the northern hemisphere, people are just becoming aware of the small growing spark of light of the returning Sun. Think about what you would like to grow in your life this year. Is there a personal goal that you would like to accomplish? Do you want to spend more time with your family and/or friends or less time? Now is the time to think about it, not do it, because it is the wrong time for doing, that time is Imbolc (February 1), which is why New Year’s resolutions often fail.”
Don’t feel guilty if you tried a New Year’s resolution earlier on and feel you’ve failed already. You haven’t. Just set it as the first attempt at a goal you don’t have to achieve until the year’s end. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself a second chance, and even a third chance. Three’s a magic number, after all.
A Three-knot Spell
Thinking about three being a magic number, here’s a three-knot spell to add magical energy to resolutions or wishes for the year ahead. Knot magic is traditional – there many kinds of knot spells, and some work in different ways, but this one is intended to help you fix your intention. You need a piece of cord, string, wool or something similar – even parcel ribbon from a Yule gift. I’m a fan of reusing things. Tie three knots in the cord, with the first knot visualise your first steps towards whatever you are wishing for. With the second knot visualise yourself achieving your goal. With the third knot visualise the forces of the universe helping your wish become reality. You can say these words:
By knot of one, my spell’s begun
By knot of two, my wish comes true
By knot of three, so mote it be.
You don’t only have to use that spell in January. You can do it at any time of year. Keep your cord safe – perhaps use it as a bookmark in your scrapbook. After your wish has come true, thank the universe and untie the knots. It’s always good to make an offering after making a wish and when your wishes have been granted. In January, one suitable offering is to put food and water out for birds and other wildlife.
This is part of a series of posts I’m writing for the Moon Books Blog on the theme of the Wheel of the Year. They will be compiled and edited into a book: Pagan Portals – Wheel of the Year. Other books by Lucya Starza in the Pagan Portals series include Candle Magic, Guided Visualisations, Poppets and Magical Dolls, and Scrying. Lucya edited the community book Every Day Magic – A Pagan Book of Days.
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