LEAVE IT BEHIND & CROSS OVER: Our Guide to New Year Ceremonies
The daughter of a good friend of ours was getting teased in middle school by all her classmates. She came home every day feeling lonely, left out, and misunderstood. When she would crawl into bed every night, she would tell her Mom that as she fell asleep, she would imagine erasing an etch-a-sketch in her mind, as if she was erasing the day of teasing she had endured.
She did this so that she could wake up with a fresh mind and not let the painful moments continue to burden her heart. She was clearing out the imprints of the past, and making space for a new day to begin. We were quite impressed to hear this wise daily practice emerged from the mind of a 12 year old.
It’s been a big year of lessons for many of us. We don’t know a single person who has sailed through 2015 unscathed. Whether you follow the Western calendar’s marking of a “New Year” or not, everyone seems to be ready for the opportunity to ritualistically close out all we have learned this year and open a new chapter.
Here are some of our favorite ways to acknowledge the passing of time, let go of the past, and clear space for new trails to reveal themselves as we step into a new year.
We at YFBP are big believers in using simple, ancient practices, like fire ceremonies, to mark the ending of one phase and transition into another. Fire ceremonies are believed to remove obstacles, open new doors, and clear negative emotions and resentments. They are found in numerous spiritual traditions around the world, but no matter what you believe, this basic elemental practice can be modified to fit your personal needs in almost any setting, with just a few simple tools.
What You Need:
· Paper & Pens
· Fire Pit with firewood, kindling, matches (or equivalent safe space)
· Black Mustard Seeds (optional)
· Sage Stick
- Write (in letter form) to yourself, to someone or to a higher being: what you want to manifest in the coming year, what you want to purify from this past year, what you are willing to give up to make space for the things you want, and what you are willing to offer others to create the causes to receive what it is you want.
- Sage the space where the fire ceremony will take place. Move the sage stick clockwise and ask for all the spirits of the place to support you in clearing negative energies and emotions and welcoming the new. Then sage yourself from front to back and head to toe, and ask to be cleared of any negative thinking.
- Then fill the palms of your hands with little handfuls of mustard seeds and blow your mental afflictions and negative deeds into the seeds. The seeds will absorb those energies from your breath. Follow by throwing them in the fire. You can repeat this as many times as you feel is necessary. This is a powerful practice, and the more concentration and clarity you bring to it, the better the result. Be in a space in your heart and mind that is truly ready for change, clinging to nothing.
- Then burn the letter, slowly with good intentions and concentration. See the smoke and the flames purify what you don’t need, what no longer supports your evolution. As it dissolves into the air, see it becoming the things you want to attract to your life.
- Take a moment to be grateful for all the lessons you have received, no matter how difficult or heartbreaking, and with that gratitude, allow yourself to feel the completion of those lessons.
- Sage the space and yourself one more time and thank the spirits of the place for their support. Sit quietly in meditation and visualize a clear white light around you and inside you.
There is no way to prove that these ceremonies work. But what we have found is that when you imbue objects - like sage, mustard seeds or the fire - with certain power and place your faith in this meaning, the easier it is for these elements and objects to create powerful transformations in your life. As much as you put in with your preparation and concentration, is as much as you can get out. These ceremonies plant the seeds in your perception to perceive change in the new year.
BRAZILIAN NEW YEARS RITUALS
As many of you know, our first official YFBP retreat was in Brazil. We have, as a company and team, taken on many of the rituals we have learned traveling to Brazil year after year. New Years is a big deal in Brazil, and if you ever have the chance to be there during this time, make sure to take yourself to the beach, where thousands of Brazilians, dressed in white, celebrate the Ocean Goddess Yemaya and partake in special rituals with the ocean waves to bring good fortune into the new year.
What You Need:
· White Attire
· White Flowers/ Other Offerings
· Floating Candles
· Colorful Underwear to Represent your Resolutions
· Pomegranate Seeds
· Ocean with Waves (or equivalent creative replacement)
Yemaya is an African-Brazilian deity from the Candomblé and Umbanda religions. She is held to be the patron of fishermen and also of the survivors of shipwrecks, the spirit of moonlight, and the feminine principle of creation. She is portrayed as this stunning woman with long hair and a flowing white dress rising from the sea.
During the New Year celebration, it is customary to throw white flowers, jewelry, rice, perfume, mirrors, and other gifts into the ocean, and send out floating candles onto the waves, as offerings to her. It is believed that if your offerings are sent back, your wish will not be granted because she is not pleased with your offering(s).
In Brazilian culture, all are expected to wear white attire to welcome the New Year, in order to attract peace and happiness. It is also encouraged to wear bright colored underwear to represent New Year’s resolutions. A few color choices are orange for professional success, blue for harmony, yellow for prosperity, red or pink for romance, purple for inspiration, and green for health.
A few other rituals that occur in Brazil, specifically based around the adoration of the number 7 are: eating 7 grapes for abundance and chewing 7 pomegranate seeds to ensure that your wallet will be full of money in the upcoming year. Our personal favorite is jumping over 7 waves in the ocean, making a specific wish for the new year with each wave.
TAKE A BATH & PRACTICE SILENCE
If you need a simple, quiet evening, there is nothing wrong with taking the New Year to yourself to be quiet. Run a bath, write in your journal, turn off your phone, and decide to not talk from 12pm December 31st till 12pm January 1st. There is nothing wrong in not having a wild evening, and being the one to contribute to the stillness in the world. You can do a personal fire ceremony or your own remake of the Brazilian offerings to Yemeya.
The new year may end up being one of the only times you can take a solid 24 hours to turn off and spend some time listening to you, so you might as well. Hold the space for letting go, giving thanks, and opening to the new year ahead.
Wishing you the most magical evening as we cross over into 2016! We look forward to continuing to celebrate together around the world, RETREAT LIFE style of course.