New Year’s resolutions like losing vanity weight or making more money take us further away from our inner lives.
Try a spiritually based resolution instead to create a richer, fuller life experience.
Here’s some inspiration.
Start a meditation practice. Want to acquire that razor-sharp concentration of an expert spell practitioner? Meditation is like boot camp for the mind. Start you new year right by committing to a daily meditation practice. Even if it’s only 5 minutes in the morning before you get out of bed, the benefits are astonishing.
Eat seasonally. Considering the emphasis pagan culture places on staying in tune with the Wheel of the Year, eating seasonally rarely gets the attention it deserves in the context of spiritual life. Strengthen your connection to the seasons by eating locally and seasonally. Join a co-op for fresh vegetables. Find a beekeeper to get honey for cereal and coffee. If you eat meat, know when deer season is and try incorporating local venison or beef into your diet. These lifestyle adjustments go a long way to helping you stay close to nature, not to mention the health, environmental and social benefits.
Commit to celebrating all the Sabbats for one year. Pagans tend towards a lax holiday schedule. With 8 holidays on The Wheel, many of which fall on weekdays and aren’t widely recognized (the only exception being Samhain), it’s easy to skip a few every year. I’m the same way. But one year, I committed to celebrating all the Sabbats, and it proved extremely rewarding! My advice is to plan in advance. If you have a job that typically requires you to be at work during”normal” or mainstream holidays like Christmas, you can even get your holidays off. Co-workers are usually very happy to work for you on the winter solstice if you work Christmas, or give you Ostara off if you work on Easter. But even if you can’t get off, plan something special for every Sabbat.
Find your tribe. Many people find satisfaction as lifelong solitary practitioners in the purest sense. Festivals aren’t their things, group rituals are too noisy and their practice is best done in quiet, personal contemplation. Awesome. But most of us prefer at least some human interaction in our spiritual life. If you’ve been going it solo for a while, maybe this is the year to branch out. Unitarian Universalist congregations usually offer some pagan services, and Meet Up almost certainly has something “pagan flavored” available in your area. If not, there’s probably a hunger in your community for a pagan group, so start one yourself and become a leader.
Learn tarot. Many practitioners look longingly at me when I pick up a deck and pull cards like old friends. “I wish I had that gift” is something I often hear. I don’t know where this comes from. No one was born reading the tarot, and I wasn’t, either! With diligent practice, a year is enough time to master the deck. See my recent article on “Getting to Know Your Tarot Deck.”
Become a healer. Whether it’s perfecting your at-home massage technique, learning Reiki or getting better at using essential oils and herbs to promote wellness, learn a new way to heal and experience the rewards of bringing comfort to those around you.
Contribute. The pagan community thrives on participants from all walks of life. Agree to volunteer your time at least once a month to making our shared world richer. Teach a workshop at your local occult shop, volunteer at festivals, or organize your coven to help out at a soup kitchen. Whatever you have to offer, offer it. The world needs you.
Go on a weekly nature walk. Most people only walk outside in ideal conditions—warm, dry weather that’s only available in most places during certain times of the year. But nature offers so much more in the “off” season. Rainy weather means the perfect opportunity to go mushroom hunting. A snowy day makes for a quiet, contemplative time for a walking meditation. Commit to a weekly nature walk for one year and see what it teaches you.
Maintain your altar. For one year, commit to keeping your altar fresh and rotated. Decide what means to you. Does it mean decorating for the Sabbats? Keeping the offering bowl freshly offered? Lighting a nightly candle or stick of incense as a daily devotion? Try maintaining your altar “religiously” (pardon the pun) for one year and notice how much more spiritually mindful you become.
Train a familiar. I saved this one for last because I believe of all these suggestions, it is by far the most serious commitment. Involving a living creature is not a light endeavor. While I certainly wish you luck, all the above New Year’s resolutions may be broken with no harm to anyone. But taking responsibility for an animal does carry with it the potential for harm should you decide it isn’t for you. Please be certain you are prepared to care for an animal for the entire duration of its life.
If this is something you’ve considered deeply and you feel you are ready, there are many options. Some are quite obvious and amusing (a witch with a black cat is always hilarious). But birds, tarantulas, rats, snakes, fish and turtles all make excellent familiars, depending on your time constraints and spiritual inclinations.