For some of us 2016 has been a pretty rubbish year for a variety of reasons. Change happens, whether we want it to or not. The best we can do in the aftermath is to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, take a deep breath and start again.
Sometimes the slate is wiped clean, you along with it; old constructs and ways of living dead in the water. When someone dear to you dies there is often a ceremony to say goodbye, but what if it is a piece of yourself? What if it is a year of turmoil you would rather forget? Perhaps set up a ceremony to say goodbye to all the things that have happened that you’d rather leave behind.
Try writing, pouring your grief/anger/regrets/pain onto the page, then burn it. Find an object or create a representation of the piece(s) of yourself that have ‘died’ and bury them – entrust them to your favoured Underworld Deity. Carve a symbol, word or name into a candle that represents what you need to let go of and burn it until there is nothing left. Sit in contemplation with your Divine Beloved(s) and hand over your grievances into Their care. Take a shower and scrub with sea salt, imagining the negativity, hurt and pain being cleansed from your body, heart and mind. Use incense to smudge yourself with the intention of releasing and dissolving what needs to go.
These are just a few ideas but there are so many ways to release and say goodbye, to start the healing process. When you are ready to say goodbye, for whatever reason, you are ready to start making your way forward again. This time you have a different mind set, this time you have the intention to start over. You have drawn a line in the sand, created a division between what has been and what will be.
Echoes of the past may well show up to haunt you, some will ever be present in one form or another, but you have decided to look at things anew. You have taken a deliberate step into a brave new world and you are prepared to move through it.
Some things will never completely be ‘the past’ but you can move through it, you can move forward. Some things will never be the same again, including ourselves and the world around us. This doesn’t neccesarily have to be a bad thing. Sometimes our greatest lessons about who we are and what is important to us come from the greatest losses and moments of adversity. Sometimes as we lose ourselves we discover who we are in the here and now.
Things crumble and fall, turning to dust and ash around us, and it can be painful, it can be terrible. In the aftermath we may feel there is no way forward, but there can be. If we are ready to face this new life with fresh eyes, to draw that line in the sand and step over it, there is hope. Hope is not some blind, unattainable thing; wishful thinking. Hope is the belief that no matter how hard or terrible things may seem or be there is a way forward. Hope is when all we know falls away but we are willing to find a way through the devastation, to find a new path through the rubble. Hope is the seed we plant that blossoms as we find a way to make this new world work. Sometimes it wilts with pieces of us over the years, but if you carry it in your heart it will never be extinguished.
If you look at everything wrong and terrible in the world and take it upon your shoulders it is all too easy to become overwhelmed. No one person can take all of that upon themselves and succeed. What you can do is make little changes, declarations of your intent to make a difference.
Support a cause that helps in an area where you feel there is a need for change, and donate regularly if you can afford it. Volunteer your services to a worthy cause, organisation or aid agency. Support petitions for change. Start a fundraiser. Be aware of your own impact (if any) on the situation. Buy from companies who pay fair wages and value the environment. Boycott companies and products whose ethics don’t match yours. Be more aware of where your money goes. Support smaller local businesses. Be more mindful of the resources, electricity and water you use. Plant trees. Recycle. Read to inform yourself of important issues so you can make educated decisions.
Most important of all, do what you feel is right, do something that makes a difference, because if everyone contributes just one raindrop soon we will have an ocean. That is hope, not just on a personal level, but on a level that can affect others too.
Here’s to 2017 and all the seeds of hope yet to flourish.