Are You Ready For This New Year?

January 5, 2024

by Hagar Harpak

It feels good inside this cocoon. The year ended. A new one began. The kids went back to school yesterday. We all felt sad saying goodbye to the gentle embrace of our cave. Not ready to butterfly our way out yet. I am still a messy soup swirling inside the chrysalis. I’m still a creature of the inbetween. Not in the mood to emerge. What about you? Are you ready for this new year?

Sometimes liminal spaces feel energized by desires and inspirations that propel us forward. Sometimes, as we stand at a crossroad, fear and hesitation charges at us, or churns within us, and we’re stopped by trepidation, hanging in the uncertainty of the next step. Other times, the cozy cavern we found refuge in is so comforting, and life out there is a lot, and we just want to linger in there for another moment, or another month . . .

I hear a deep call to take it slow. I feel a pull to move, but not at a pace that charges forward, rather in a way that is more like a jellyfish; liquidy, multidirectional, pulsing, undulating. 

So many of us are programmed to plow forward as soon as January arrives. Some of us have clear goals for the new year, some of us set intentions, some of us don’t, and still, we’re never gonna be more ready than we are on January 2nd.

I’m wondering how much of it is the overculture, and how much of it comes from inside, how much of it is because we’re used to orienting ourselves toward the Gregorian New Year, because that’s the rhythm we’re all agreeing to – after the holidays we gotta jump back into the race, and do it better, stronger, prettier, healthier, with more pizazz. 

Feeling inspired and going for it in January is wonderful! And there’s also nothing wrong with needing more time. 

Not all of us have the privilege of keeping things spacious and slow at the beginning of the year. But it’s still helpful to notice what your body is asking for, what your mind needs, what your heart wants, and what would feed your creativity.

Winter has only just begun in the Northern Hemisphere. The earth is in her quiet phase. The queen of the underworld still reigns. It’s not yet time to emerge. This is the time of incubation, of nourishing the inner life, of tending to the fire within. It’s time for dreaming, for reflection. Modernity doesn’t like this, but nature is still in rest mode. 

If you notice that you need more time to contemplate, to be unfocused, more time in silence, a gentle pace, more spaciousness around the entrance into the new year, that’s valuable information. How can you create little pockets of reflection, little meditative moments for yourself? 

And if you’re feeling fired up about what you want to create this year, that’s also important information. Go with the collective momentum and ride the wave. 

I’m trying to move away from things needing to be a certain way at a certain time, and guide myself to listen to what’s going on both within me and around me. 

Midnight yoga felt amazing during this Winter break. It’s not recommended to do sun salutations late at night, but my body loved it, so I went with it. Moving, reading, journaling, listening to music, and doing breathwork till 2am was what my system needed. 

We can tune to the rhythm of the earth. Check in with the sun, with the clouds, with the moon. Our experience doesn’t always line up with the lunar phase, or with the season, or with the time of day. We have our own personal seasons in life, our own rhythms, our own phases, and they don’t always align with what’s happening in the sky or on the earth. We certainly don’t always align with the rhythms that society imposes. But our bodies are always in relationship with other bodies, our minds are never in isolation, our hearts, our nervous systems, and our creative impulse are intertwined with other beings. 

The earth is still in darkness in the Northern Hemisphere right now. Nothing in the natural world wants to move much. It’s Winter. 

There’s an ancient Irish/Scottish old hag goddess who is the personification of Winter. Her name is Cailleach, and she is fierce and fearsome. She creates mountains and forms the land, gives rise to storms, and she roams the wild places with a hammer in her hand, to shape the hills and the big boulders, and also to smack down and destroy anything that tries to grow during the Winter months. 

(You can still sign up for the Winter Solstice Somatic Ceremony, and dive into conversation with the Cailleach, as well as other archetypes and mythic beings, bring the seasonal symbolic language into your body, contemplate, reflect, breathe, chant, and move. Even though it’s past the Solstice, we’re still in this dark phase of Winter, when this crone goddess, the spirit of death, and the power of the night are at their peak, so this ceremony is still a great way to anchor into the season). 

It isn’t always time to grow upward, to move forward, to keep going. There is value in pausing, treasures waiting for us, if we only learn how to wait. There is richness in the time that we take to stay beneath the surface. It’s not about taking permanent residence under the ground, under the skin, deep within, but the overculture wants us to skip over those landscapes fast, if at all, so little moments of connection with the realms within the soil, the regions of the soul, the depth of thought and feeling, the consideration of sensation, and the wisdom we can root into when we are not in a hurry to return to the hamster wheel, can be immensely supportive of what we want to create. 

The last three months of 2023 were heartbreaking, horrifying, and devastating in the world. For some, the terror hit home, for others, no home or loved ones were left to comfort, for some the attacks hit very close, for others, speaking in slogans, using certain emojis, and tik-toking about it is a fashion statement. Some are under the rubble, others are under the weight of trauma. And others still are riding the trendy train. There are layers upon layers of suffering, of fear, of trauma. And hatred is on the rise worldwide. 

This Winter break wasn’t social, or celebratory for me. It felt like a refuge from a burning world. And I am grateful for the privilege. 

I think many of us are feeling the heavy grief and horror of war, disgusted by leaderships that fail the people, raging and mourning the loss of innocent lives. Some of us are nervous and disturbed by the amount of misinformation. Some of us are experiencing a threat to our survival. Some of us are not surviving. 

And yet life wants to live. 

So what are some of the things you can do, or not do right now, to support the power of life as it flows through you? What kind of energy do you need to cultivate in this year’s beginning, during the first phase of winter? What’s within you that can support you exactly where you are right now? What in your life is helpful for what you want to create? What do you need to surrender to? And in what ways can you contribute to the world? 

We can use the slow pace of this season to contemplate those questions, to sit in the pondering space, to simmer slowly instead of rushing to answer and to action right away. We can conjure the kind of strength that we need, the kind of softness that we need, if we allow ourselves the time. 

Sending you love, spaciousness, and tenderness, and wishes of health and fulfillment for the new year.

XOXO

Hagar

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