11-steps ceremony for stepping into 2015

Greeting and salutations. Happy Tuesday. Happy eve of the eve of the new year. In some ways it's an arbitrary marker; the calendar year begins on a day that's 365.25 days after the last year began, when the Earth is approximately at the same place in its orbit around the sun, and the sun has completed its course through the zodiac along the ecliptic, and some measure of 4ish seasons of have passed (getting stranger and stranger... #climatechange). But did you know that there are over 40 different calendars and systems of counting time either currently in use or that have been absorbed into the Gregorian calendar year?!

Happy New Year!

Regardless of whether or when you celebrate the passing of time and changing of cycles, the notion of a year is the same. It is the symbol of a full cycle, a circle, a completion of a process. This process is seasonal, solar, lunar, planetary, plant and animal. This process is life. Everything has a pre-beginning, birth, growth, reaching-of-full-potential, release, dissemination, eventual death and reabsorption into the stuff that things come from... Cosmic dust, dirt, God, etc. And we know that nothing really ends; the dust and dirt become matter, God is infinite and her creations are constantly manifesting and changing form. The history of a year doesn't end when the numbers change, but keeps on keeping on through other passings of time; generations, eras, decades...

But symbolism is also the stuff that we are made of. Our personal rituals and shared ceremonies give us the anchoring and recognition that we need. Recognizing beginnings, middles and endings help us make sense of our lives, because we are each one cycle within an infinity of cycles that share the same patterns we will grow through. Breathing in, breathing out, turn, turn, turn, your beginning is my ending, my learning is your knowledge, your earned humor is my adolescent drama, my hard work is your stepping stone . So it is.

Something that I have been tending in my own life is the need for ritual and ceremony. Being a non-religious person who deeply longs for spiritual connection, I have found solace in creating my own rituals and recreating rituals of other traditions (in ways that might suit me a bit better). I have no need to be precious. Indeed, I think that preciousness around our rituals is what makes them stale and stifling. I've always loved collage and it makes sense to me to create rituals in the same way, collecting gestures, sacraments, altar objects and songs- stringing them together into a moment that becomes an open door in my imagination- walking through the door and connecting to whatever powers I find there...

"Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic." - Jim Jarmusch

On this day that's a doorway and a symbolic ending/beginning my offering to you is this:

1.) Take some time to be bored. Lie around for a while and let all your goings-on go.

2.) Just watch your thoughts and instincts float in and out. Notice when one thought becomes powerful. Notice when a thought becomes so powerful it becomes an urge. Notice what that urge feels like in your body and in your emotional quality.

3.) Make the urge into a gesture. Make an interpretive dance of the urge. Make it comical, big, ridiculous, hyperbolic. Make it a cartoon of itself.

4.) If this urge had a color, sound, scent, name... what would it be? Write those words down so you remember.

5.) Repeat this process at least 2 more times.

6.) Find objects in your house that symbolize these urges, that embody the theatrics, that are meaningful to you because they point to a quality that lives inside you.

7.) Make an altar with the objects

8.) Now add other objects that are meaningful- things that symbolize what this year has been: what have you learned? What have you loved? What have you lost? Add things that symbolize your vision and desires for what's next. Add pictures of the ones you love and wish to take with you. Add fruits and treats as offerings to the spirits whose aid you will need. Add a dish of salt to protect you from spirits whose aid you don't want. Add pieces of nature to stay connected. Continue until your altar feels complete.

9.) Create a prayer that includes the following:

- Recognition of the space you are in- 4 directions, Heaven/Earth, your home and the hands who have built it etc. - Venerate and honor those who have come before and brought you to this place, ancestors, your teachers, your loves, anyone anywhere who has ever had anything to do with the food you have consumed or anything else that has nourished you. - Offer your most sincere and humble thanks - Without shame, without second-guessing, and without any competitiveness please announce what you know to be true about your talents, passions, uniqueness and best qualities. Announce out loud, hear them and feel good about yourself. - Request support and assistance from your guides - the strangers who will offer you help and advice, the mentors who will help you refine, those who will advocate for you, those who will resist and deny you so that you can see your weaknesses and improve. Request assistance in growing into your best-ness. Request the support that you need. - Offer you best in return. From a place of self-respect please offer your best. Know that your best will always be evolving and dependent upon context. Be ok with that. Offer it as the most precious offering on your altar. Commit to it.

10.) Dance, meditate, draw, write, lie down and fall asleep... Find a way to be in your creative mind, right brain, intuitive self. Don't judge anything. Just let whatever is there come out.

11.) When you feel tired or done then let it be so. Trust that your offerings have been received. Thank all the spirits- those whose company you want and even those who you want to leave you alone. Thank your benefactors. Thank the space. Let them all go. Imagine their presence drawing back and clear space around you opening up. Trust that they will remain available.

Trust that everything you need has already been given.

We would love you to celebrate this time and join our ceremony TONIGHT! We'll be honoring the spirit of Capricorn- the wise one who sees the path to right action. And we'll be practicing body, breath, creative being-ness as offerings to the New Year intentions. Please join.

7-9PM Be Space - 211 SE 11th $15 (cash/check only at the door. Tickets available online here)

And if you make your altars take a picture! #embodiedastrology #embodyingthezodiac We're now on Instagram @embodiedastrology

Melina's altar for the new year. Sacred sage to cleanse the spirit moving through the passage, a die to cast- one foot in front of the other, never know why these choices until you can look back, a hammer for your hard work, a tambourine to make your work a joyful dance, a candle to keep your mind illuminated and pinecones to build the fires of your passion.

Renee's altar for the new year. Grandmothers, mother and grandfather Henry watching over. Offerings of abundance, salt for protection, crystals of clarity and compassion, beeswax candles to burn away impurities, scissors to cut away what's no longer needed, a backbone, sacred stones, cedar incense, willingness, spontaneity, and the fool