Say Goodbye to 2020: A Ritual for the New Year
Right now, too many people I know, witches and otherwise, have fallen into a constant state of depression, anxiety and despair. This year has gone down hard, disrupting our sense of normalcy, individually and as a culture. As a whole, people have found themselves isolated from friends and family. Many have lost or changed jobs. On a very personal level, almost every magickal practitioner I have spoken with feels out of touch with their own practice. Moreover, they are detached from their deities and the creative pursuits they had planned on bringing into focus during all of this “free time.” In order to help move through this, I offer this ritual way to say goodbye to 2020 and welcome the new year with a clear heart, open mind and a rekindled witch fire.
A Ritual to Make Peace
I don’t think I speak out of turn when I say we are all desperately ready to say goodbye to 2020, a complete dumpster fire of a year. It feels like an unexpected detour we’ve hit on a dark night on an unfamiliar road. Those of us who have experienced some form of lockdown in 2020 have suffered social isolation unlike anything we’ve dealt with in the past. Many of us are now working from home, schooling our kids from their bedrooms or the kitchen table. To top that off, much of our social lives takes place on video chat or through phone calls. This is not “normal”
In reality, this anomaly will not end anytime soon. The number of people in the country with Covid or who have died of or have suffered long-term injury from the virus continues to rise. Even with promising vaccines on the horizon, many of us will not get the opportunity to inoculate for months. So while we wish to say “goodbye 2020, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here,” can we doubt that its effects will linger into 2021?
2020: The Apocalypse
It’s safe to say that during 2020, nothing has gone according to plan. In the US, political polarization has continued and feeds a sense of hopelessness and despair. The FBI has thwarted plots against the public and government officials that have resembled badly planned episodes of 24. Throughout the year, protests have turned violent. Businesses have boarded their windows because of looting. The police and federal government have responded with force. Because of these acts of civil unrest, some Americans fear Civil War. In other countries, greater disruptions create political chaos. Economies have “shut down.” As a result, many around the globe can’t afford basic things. These disruptions tear at the illusion that market based capitalism is the only way to thrive. The veil enshrouding our political system has fallen to the point where the emperor stands completely naked.
2020 does not exist in a vacuum although it has often felt like it.
This vacuum presents itself as nihilism. We read the despair in newspaper headlines and see it on the faces of CNN’s most stalwart reporters. The pandemic and social/political unrest of this year has yanked us abruptly from the “norm.” Now, even the seers among us have difficulty trusting their vision. Meet “Apocalypsis,” a Jungian archetype that fits these times perfectly. Apocalypsis represents a painful time of opposing forces that threaten to pull us apart. That same Apocalypsis removes veils of deception. The existential fear comes from realizing that some of the “permanent fixtures” of our lives have been little more than shams. For the purpose of our ritual, let’s make note of how these things we now see as shams have affected our lives both before and during this year.
The Time Thief
It is perfectly natural to mourn what we have lost during a period of Apocalypsis. The narrative that suited us until we faced the chaos, disappointment and loss of control has found its way to the paper shredder. Almost all of us have sacrificed the intentions we set at the beginning of the year, before we knew about the pandemic. Many of us lost the plot on plans we made for how to use all of this “extra time” away from work, school and socializing. Time went all David Lynch throughout the year, sometimes passing unbearably slowly while at other times zooming by in a blur. We must recognize that this lost time is not personal failure. We were all just surviving.
I know I spent many hours streaming Buffy and playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Many nights, I zipped off to the land of Hyrule, foraging for digital mushrooms when I really wanted to be tromping through the forest. These coping mechanisms kept me from teetering on the edge of limitless depression. As a result, my 2020 “OneNote of Shadows” is awfully skimpy. During the following ritual, I will be offering this loss and any associated guilt or grief. Think back to your plans for the year before you knew that it was not going to be normal. What intentions, routines, plans, vacations, jobs, relationships or other things found themselves on the dumpster fire of 2020? Note any feelings you may have about these losses.
2020's Hard Knocks
Apocalypsis is not a mere thief. It doesn’t only offer a void of time-sucking nothingness. It takes a sledgehammer to the narrative of our lives and the larger story of society, but not to vandalize it nor to loot it. These turbulent times reshape society as well as our lives as individuals. By removing the veil, we can see the deception beneath it, even in our personal lives. Many people I have spoken to over the past few months have had significant realizations about work, life, money, school, family and their places within the (changing) scheme of things. These conclusions were not given easily nor held lightly. On top of its role as reshaper, Apocalypsis assumes the role of teacher. Like my 10th grade English teacher, Apocalypsis doesn’t coddle but the gifts it gives if you do the work can change you for the better. (Thank you, Ms. Rocchino!)
2020 has taught me how much strength I have. By plunging the world into uncertainty, it has reiterated my role as a guide for those seeking creative or spiritual growth. Additionally, by removing the possibility of me finding outside work, the pandemic allows me to focus on The Way of Witch. I have also been able to find others who share my passion for this work. While the pandemic stole my ability to socialize in person with my local friends, it offered me a chance to get to know my long distance ones much more deeply. These are “boons” or immaterial gains that can not be traded for money or goods.
Audit 2020 in depth. What were your intentions at the beginning of the year? Write down what you achieved as well as what you had to sacrifice. What gifts did you receive amid these losses? Write these down. Include your thoughts about them. Can you bring them or some part of them with you into 2021 and forward? In addition, consider ways your perspective changes when you see through the illusions
The following is everything you will need to complete the Goodbye 2020 Ritual.
- Notebook or Book of Shadows
- Pens of various colors
- Purple candle (for transmutation)
- Cauldron, fire pit or fireproof bowl
- Purifying and enlivening herbs or oils to dress the candle. (suggestion: pine, rosemary and orange).
Five Lists for the Ritual
- Lost Intentions and Associated Feelings
- “Big Illusions” I No Longer Believe
- The Lessons and Gifts of 2020
- What I Will Carry With Me to 2021 and Beyond
- New Intentions
Now, place the notes you took while reading this article before you. If they are in your book of shadows, copy them onto 5 separate pieces of paper that you can burn.
After you copy/examine the notes you took during while reading the article, discover your intention. This intention will not focus on the future but on how you will grieve what you have lost, process what you have learned, recognize what you have gained and move forward despite uncertainty.
- Evoke your deities, ancestors, allies, guides, the Universe, the elements or whatever lends power to your rituals.
- Light the candles.
- State your intention
- Read each loss and how you feel about it, visualize each of the losses as if they are dark creatures flying from your heart, emptying it of its darkness bit by bit. Burn the list
- Read each “big illusion” you no longer believe in and release your attachment to it. Visualize these as dark cords that connect you to those outmoded beliefs. Burn the list.
- With each item you read, imagine a darkness within the flame growing.
- After you finish reading, purging and burning the lists imagine the brightness of the fire consuming the darkness from the creatures and cords until they are completely clear.
- Call back your energy, cleansed of these feelings of guilt, free of a sense of loss and accepting whatever visions you may receive of the reality beneath the sham.
- Pull this energy into your sacral Chakra and imagine it lighting the orange ball of your inner witch fire.
- With hands over heart, state “I am grateful for…” and read each of the lessons and gifts you have written down. As you speak these, feel a sense of gratitude filling the empty space in your heart.
- In this state of gratitude, name the things you will be bringing with you into 2021 and beyond.
- Restate your intention, heart now cleansed from harmful emotions and attachments and full of the bright energy of gratitude.
- Thank whomever you have called on for assistance. Extinguish the candle or let them burn down.. This ritual can be repeated as needed.
Write your experience in your notebook or Book of Shadows. Attach your list of the things you will be taking with you to 2021 and beyond. Also include your ritual intention.