Ah, New Year — the holiday most likely to inspire extreme cynicism in even the most open hearted of us. Like most of you, I have a long list of resolutions that I’ve made and almost immediately broken in the past. I honestly don’t remember a single resolution that I’ve actually kept. Oops.
However, in spite of its dubious distinction as the “failed resolution holiday,” I like the New Year. It’s like filling an old, well loved journal and getting to pick out a new one with a pretty new cover and crisp, blank pages just waiting to be filled. And no matter how messy your handwriting or lazy your grammar was in your last journal, there’s always the magical potential in those fresh pages that you’ll accomplish something truly beautiful.
To a large degree, my affinity for the New Year holiday was made possible by finding rituals that are meaningful and sacred to me. My favorite is smudging, the burning of sage or other ritual herbs. I use smudging as a way to mindfully let go of any negative energy that I may be holding onto and making room for something more positive. Is it magic? Personally, I choose not to get hung up on philosophical questions like that. The simple fact that I’m taking time to reflect on what I want to let go of and what I want to invite in is magical in and of itself.
To smudge, I typically use sage. I like the way it smells, and it’s easy to find. I light the end of the bundle and let the flame burn out, and then I’ll blow on it as needed to release smoke. I choose to move clockwise through each room, reciting a prayer or intention as I do so. For the transition from 2013 to 2014, the blessing I recited was, “Bless this home with love, laughter, and good health. Let any negativity be released to make room for better things to come.”
I was introduced to the practice of smudging by my dear friend Kristin, who smudged our home when we moved into it in 2012. She and my other close female friends came over to help me unpack boxes and nest in our new house – I was seven months pregnant at the time – and they filled our new space with their love and hope. Every time I smudge our house now, which I do seasonally, I am reminded of that night, the laughter, teasing, and helping hands, and I feel surrounded by the support of my girlfriends. And that is the sacred power of sisterhood.