Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year!

This year the full moon in the Birth Moon in this year happened to fall on New Years Eve of 2009. I didn't get to see the moon, it was a wet, cloudy, drizzly night here in Portland, OR, but my flickr friends all over the world captured some amazing photos. Not only was New Years eve a full moon, it was a blue moon, or the second full moon in a calendar month. It was also a partial lunar eclipse (not visible in the Western Hemisphere) and a magically powerful moon by all other measures. My friend Riana from the south of France wrote eloquently about the magic of this moon here.

Photo by Bourbon Familia.
Magic is all around on a night like New Years, isn't it? I was out with friends, surrounded by love, liquor and music ringing in 2010 with style. The evening was auspicious, especially considering we hitched a ride home in a stretch hummer limo! I woke up in the morning feeling much better than I had expected (also auspicious!), had a fantastic breakfast with friends, got my change in two dollar bills (!) and went home to make black eyed peas and greens. How can 2010 not be fantastic?

Early on New Years morning (well, not THAT early, but early) I was laying on my friend's couch, listening to the sounds of the city, when a thought came to me about time. What is it that makes this day special? On one level, nothing makes it special. By any objective measure of time this sunrise is exactly the same as yesterday's sunrise. Different cultures all over the world celebrate the "new year" in different seasons - the Celts celebrate in the late fall/early winter, the Jewish calendar starts in the early fall/late summer, the Chinese calendar starts later in the winter and many cultures celebrate a new year in the spring. Our New Year right after the solstice is a hold over from the Roman calendar, and like our day, week and month labels is all pretty arbitrary.

At the same time, the day is different. It is special and unique. We have declared it unique and celebrate that uniqueness as a community. This is why I am so interested in integrating my practice of following the Wheel of the Year with "the real world". I don't want to celebrate by going out into the woods, naked and alone and worshipping a deity (though woods, alone and deity are all important parts of my practice, and can be very fulfilling for other people). I want my celebrations to include my friends and family who maybe have not thought about spirituality the way I have, or not come to the same conclusions. And that communal celebration is a strong kind of magic.

*** *** ***
Ring Out, Wild Bells
by Alfred Tennyson (England 1809-1892)

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

*** *** ***

I followed my tradition of eating black eyed peas and greens for dinner on New Year's Day but cooked the peas differently this year than last. I made some goals and reflected on the year and went to bed early ready to face the new year. What bells did you ring to celebrate the New Year? How do "secular" celebrations fit into your spiritual practice? Did you make beans and greens this year? Oh.. and just because I didn't have another photo to post, here is one of me and my dog Tumalo sometime close to the Full Birth Moon.

P.S. I have been thinking about trying to come up with a non-number naming scheme for YEARS to compliment the seasonal names of the moons. In one of my favorite kids books, Redwall by Brian Jaques, the animals that live at Redwall Abbey name the years after events that happen such as The Year of the Late Rose, or The Year of The Giant Perch or some such. Do any of you have any thoughts on naming years? Have you ever named a year? What would you submit for 2009? For 2010?

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