New year’s resolutions happen for me at Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day, 1st August rather than 1st January. In traditional calendars this mid-point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox marks the “quickening” of the year, the date when the day length turns the corner and the days start lengthening by leaps and bounds, when chooks start laying and bulbs swell and life begins to stretch and wake. It’s a good time to look up from the daily one-foot-in-front-of-the-other and into the distance.
Most years I try to spend a couple of days around then with no chores, sometimes at the beach and sometimes just at home, walking and thinking, reading, writing, drawing. I try to come out of it not with a resolution so much as a talisman, a cue, something to bring into focus things that are relevant to what is important as they weave through my life. It’s the same kind of not very miraculous magic that makes you see red cars everywhere as soon as you buy a red car. My Imbolc ritual is just about deciding what are the red cars I want to see.
On the wall in front of my desk I have my Imbolc pictures from the last four years. The first one is a picture of green hills and gardens and little houses. I had decided I was in need of grounding, of bringing it all home. There is also an affirmation in there of the value in belonging to a place, in nurturing and tending and knowing it.
The second one is a picture of a wand with sparkles flying off it, all yellow and gold and glitter. It reminds me to expect magic, that random good fortune and marvelous experiences happen as often as those risks and hazards we plan for so carefully. It also reminds me that not everything must be earned and deserved, to let go of my stubborn, stoic, hard working streak sometimes and dance in the rain.
The third one is a collage of cut outs from newspapers and magazines. It has a lot of themes running through it, but I think the central one is to remember that we live in a place in history with, in Starhawk’s words “decisions made far away from us in inaccessible stratas of power.” It is a reminder to pay some attention to how best to ride the big waves of history that are coming at us, rather than keeping my attention on the close by.
And the forth one, this year’s, has just three words on it. Mow, Write, Love. All painted big and purple on a sun yellow background.
Mowing for me is meditation and fitness, exercise and garden making, home and domestics. It might seem mad, but mowing is how I take care of myself.
Writing is about being of use. Making a difference. Service. Writing is how I do something worthwhile beyond my own circles.
And loving is about remembering that life is its own purpose, and needs living.
So that’s my New Year’s Resolutions, made nearly half a year ago now, and they still feel like the right ones for this year.