A few years ago I began the personal tradition of celebrating the New Year in early February. Getting it all together before January 1st is just too much pressure: reflection on the past year, dreams for the new one, resolutions, intentions. Yule tree down, calendar up, house cleaned/heart cleaned, all in readiness for the Fresh New Year. All of this just days after beloved relatives have vacated the festive holiday table, and my head is still reeling from the work and the delight.
I love to ponder all of these things, to go forth into the new year reflectively, thoughtfully, brightly, and with focused intention. But the idea of January 1st as a deadline is the last thing I need. So these days I acknowledge a New Year’s grace period, and take all of January to allow such visioning to unfold. This year I spent the three days around Epiphany (January 6, appropriately a day of seeking and following the Star) making a little personal retreat at St. Placid Priory, a women’s Benedictine monastery where I often go to write and to think. I wandered their woodland trails (maintained by my own cute dad—that’s another story), wrote in my diary, daydreamed, meditated, and napped. I came to some clarity, and wrote it all down.
Last year was a difficult one, demanding my attention in unexpected ways, and taking me down a path I never imagined I’d be traveling. Work was slow and intermittent. But the universe is benevolent, the earth finally feels firm beneath my feet once again, and onward we go. Thanks to my understanding editor and publisher, the book I’m working on has a new deadline (it was originally due a few days from now, and is now due the end of the year), and The Tangled Nest, which has been waiting in hibernation, is waking back up. (And just in time: we have a new non-human housemate I am dying to tell you about!)
And so here it is February 2nd, the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. This is the Gaelic Feast of Imbolc, and Saint Brigid’s Day. The Christian Feast of Candlemas, the Festival of Lights, the Presentation at the Temple. And of course, Groundhog’s Day—the day we contemplate our future as we stand between shadow and light, and turn for insight to an animal guide. What better day to celebrate the new year?
As I turn the fresh calendar page, I feel tempered by my experience of the past year. Paging through my diary from early January 2014, I find myself blissfully unaware, with sunny butterfly visions for a new year of radiant joy. This year, the creatures that draw me as as guides are not daylight creatures—not butterflies sipping nectar from flower petals as their wings open and close under the sun’s warmth—but creatures that wander between worlds, with a foot in both light and darkness. Moths, foxes, owls. These are the animals that currently visit my dreams, imaginings, and writing. And if that sounds dark, it doesn’t feel dark. It feels comforting.
Happy new year to all. Anyone care to join me in starting it again?