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6 New Year’s Resolutions Every Heathen Should Make

6 New Year’s Resolutions Every Heathen Should Make

Well, that title is a bit of click-bait, isn’t it? Seriously though, as Heathens looking into the upcoming new year, we do have oaths, resolutions, or at least, things we’d like to accomplish next year. This is why I’ve come up with six resolutions we, as Heathens, should make for next year. See if you agree with me.

Take Better Care of Yourself

You may think it’s odd for me to tell you to to be selfish and take care of yourself first, but that’s exactly what I’m telling you. Your resolution should be to care for yourself better than you have been caring for yourself. This means getting more sleep, more rest, better quality food, and exercise. Why? Because if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. And if you care for others, i.e., children, animals, elderly, disabled, or sick, who will take care of them if you become sick? No one.

So, you need to care for yourself, in order to care for others in your life. Eat organic foods and less junk food. Exercise at least three times a week, preferably more. If you do get sick, stay home and get well–go to the doctor, if necessary. There are people who depend on you to be on top of your game; you won’t be 100 percent if you’re tired all the time, sick, or out-of-shape.

Did you know that 50 percent of Americans’ diets consist of processed food on average? Yes. All the soft drink, frozen meals, breakfast cereals, desserts, canned foods, and prepackaged whatever isn’t necessarily healthy for you and takes you away from your Heathen roots. I encourage you to buy local foods, which have ties to the land you live in, and will sustain you better and taste better than the shit that comes prepackaged.

Learn a New Skill

As Heathens, it’s important for us to keep our minds and bodies challenged. That means learning a new skill, whether it’s a new craft, a new language, a martial art, a musical instrument, or a new sport. Learning new things not only improves your mental function, it helps postpone the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. When we work on things that our ancestors did such as knife-making, hunting, knapping, leather tooling, farming, raising livestock, weaving, spinning, foraging, gardening, preserving food, and whatnot, you may find a greater understanding and link to the past.

Learn to Meditate

Meditation isn’t necessarily sitting cross-legged and saying “Ommm,” although you can do that, if you want to. Meditation is what is called “mindfulness,” which is being aware of your body and your surroundings. It’s being present within the moment.

Meditation allows you to pay attention to everything around you. It allows you to clear your thoughts and lower your heart rate. It allows you to reduce the stress in your life and your reaction to the stress. And it also enables us to forge a link between ourselves and the gods.

When we clear our thoughts, we open our minds to the gods and allow them to enter. Although they can overcome the constant chatter of our busy minds, they don’t like having to do that. Tyr, I know, isn’t thrilled with dealing with the chaotic “monkey mind” that we all have. He’ll do it when he has to, but he prefers an ordered mind. Loki, on the other hand, is great with distractions.

One good book worth considering is Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. There are other good meditation books as well, so if you’d like other referrals, I can provide them.

Get Outdoors More Often

It’s all too common for humans to become “box people,” as one friend used to call people who never stepped foot in nature. These people went from climate-controlled homes to climate-controlled cars to a climate-controlled workplace, and back again. They had safely encapsulated themselves in boxes that didn’t challenge them. Oh sure, they might enjoy a nice day outside during lunch or on the weekend, but rain, snow, wind, heat? No way.

It’s ridiculously easy becoming maudlin about nature from the 10th story of a high rise, or even on the manicured lawns of suburbia. When you’re out in it, you have to learn what nature requires you to do. That means planning and preparing to be out with it. The wild is not a kind mistress — some areas are downright dangerous for the unprepared. Heathens need to go to those places –wild and natural places–where there is both beauty and danger, and know what to do. I’m not telling you to risk your life, by any stretch; I’m asking you to claim what is your birthright as a creature of this Earth. This requires knowledge, preparation, and skill.

If you’re not ready for a wilderness experience, you need to start small. Go to a park and enjoy the grass underfoot and the trees overhead. Watch the animals, however tame they may act around humans. Take walks more outside. Pay attention to your surroundings. Read about places you’d want to visit and go there when funds are available. In the meantime, learn the national forests and parks in your area. Learn about the wildlife. Become a hunter and angler. The more you learn about nature, the better that knowledge will serve you as a Heathen.

Learn More About Your Ancestors

Love them or hate them, your relatives and ancestors say a lot about who you are. Without them, you would not exist. Whether you were adopted into your current family or whether the family who raised you were your actual birth parents, every Heathen should know where they came from. You should honor those ancestors whom you deem worthy of honoring. If you have no recent ancestors whom you feel are worthy of reverence, that’s okay. Go back further, or choose to honor more distant ancestors in general. Not all of them can be assholes.

Even if you can’t go back very far in your lineage, knowing and understanding the people whom your ancestry belongs to is a good idea. Why? Because you can add and incorporate customs, gods, and practices into your beliefs and honoring. That way, it becomes something more personal to you.

If you’re adopted, honoring the ancestors of your adopted parents can also bring meaning as well. After all, they chose you to be part of their family and kindred. Remember, we’re talking ethnicity here, and not race, because race is a construct. We’re all humans, which means if you were raised Swedish, even if your birth parents might have been Anglo Saxon, you’re Swedish in ethnicity, if not birth.

Learn More About Our Gods and Our Past

Thanks to Hugin’s Heathen Hof for this.

As Heathens, it’s important to read the Eddas, stories about our gods, and important literature that has made up much of what we know about the Heathens who came before us and Heathenry. Learning how to translate and read old manuscripts is a part of it, certainly, but even if you can’t pony up for a course in Old Icelandic, Old Norse, or Anglo Saxon, just reading the translated stories will provide richness to your life and your beliefs. It’s a good idea to do your own research and formulate your own thoughts–lots of recon wankers will tell you what to believe because they have a “theory.” Trust me, you can decide for yourself.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on resolutions. If you did, consider buying me a coffee for my hard work. See you here in 2019. May you have a wonderful and safe New Year!

Honoring the New Year

Honoring the New Year

I started doing research about New Year’s celebrations and ended up laughing at Christian pages that talk about how pagan celebrating the New Year is and how “good Christians” shouldn’t celebrate it.  Whatever, bro.  Tell that to the millions–if not billions–of partiers who are happy to ring in the New Year.

Holy Days of Obligation and the History Behind New Year’s Day Celebrations

Technically, New Year’s Day is a Christian celebration.  Granted, a co-opted Christian celebration, but one just the same.  The Roman Catholic Church couldn’t get past the Roman tradition of celebrating Saturnalia and the the first day of the month honoring the god, Janus, so it co-opted the celebrations and made New Year’s Day the celebration of Jesus’s circumcision. Vatican II made it a holy day of obligation in 1969 to venerate the “Virgin” Mary.  Just so you would go to mass with a hell of a hangover and hear the priest rail against those who indulged the night before.

But to a large degree, those Christian web pages are right.  Celebrating New Year’s Day is technically pagan.  The first celebrations of the New Year happened during Mesopotamian times some 4000 years ago on the vernal equinox (that being their new year.) The Romans celebrated New Year’s on the Ides of March (remember Julius Caesar?) The Romans eventually switched their calendar over to January 1st since that was the day when they inaugurated new consuls and tended to keep track of years by consul terms.

A Holiday for the World

You look at just about any civilization that kept a calendar and you’ll find some sort of New Year’s celebration or observance. The Hindus recognize New Year during different times depending on the region. We Heathens recognize December 21st as our new year where the veil between the worlds are at their thinnest.  The Wiccans recognize Samhain as being their new year.  The Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate their own version of New Year’s sometime between January 20th and February 20th, depending on when their year ends. That’s a lot of non-Christians celebrating the beginning of a new year.

Why Celebrate the Ending of an Old Year and the Coming of a New One?

I think the reason why the new year is so appealing is to turn over a new leaf, as it were.  It’s a time to reflect on the past year and hope for a better year ahead.  It’s as if we collectively want to step back and take a breath from what we’re doing to celebrate the possibilities that lie ahead.  We, as humans, need a time to say good-bye to the old and hello to the new.  Hence, we celebrate the coming of the new year.

Happy New Year, my friends and readers!  I hope 2018 is filled with wonder and magic for you.

The Last Breath of the Old Year

The Last Breath of the Old Year

Yule feels more powerful up north.  I say that from experience.  While you could feel the race of the season towards the longest night of the year in lower latitudes, it is definitive the further north you travel. Toward yule, we lose around 4 minutes of sunlight a day, but on the flip side, we start gaining it back at the same rate.

The Entire World Takes a Breath

This time of the year feels as though the entire world has slowed down and is taking a long breath.  If that makes any sense, whatsoever. The days are short.  The stars are bright in the frosty sky. The quality of light is different too.  Animals are working hard to find food; many of them have shown up on my land in the hopes of finding something edible.

This year, I’ve been working hard to get things done before the sun sets in the southwest horizon.  Even on the opposite side of the solstice, it feels like the magic of this special time of year is still in effect.

Return of the Light

Even as I say this,  on New Year’s Day it feels like the light is finally returning. It’s 12 days after Yule and we’ve gained more than a half hour of light.  Still, winter is here and Skadi will be bringing us some of the coldest days we’ve had in awhile. 

This year, we’re prepared for the worst of it (we hope) with enough firewood for the winter.  Still, it is often a close run thing.   But the sun is returning, and every day is growing longer.  So, we have the promise of spring during this dark and cold time.

New Year’s Celebrations

I’ve never really been one for New Year’s celebrations.  We’ve often avoided “amateur night,” as my husband blithely puts it. The fact that it is simply a man-made date on a calendar has much to do with it. Where you decide to end one year and start the next is largely subjective. Yet, much of the celebrations seem to follow our Yule.  New Year’s marks the end of our Yule, and the beginning of our next year in our modern calendar.  (I write this as I hear fireworks and gunshots from my neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party from a quarter mile away. I’m in a rural area; gunshots are expected.)  It seems fitting to say goodbye to the year with the end of our Yule. 

I had written how Yule had been primarily a non-event.  That much is true.  Yet, I used the time to observe nature around me while I was getting the farm chores done. It really does seem like nature does take a breath during this dark time as we turn the corner and head into the light.

Hope you had a good Yule, and I wish you the best for next year.  See you on the other side.

Images courtesy of Magickal Graphics.