Sunday, 4 January 2015

Entering the New Year: Gifts and Action

I have ambivalent feelings towards the festive season. My primary reason for hating it is the commercial side of Christmas. Whereas Christmas presents held appeal when I was a child, working in marketing for more than five years has cured me of the need to buy things and exchange gifts for the sake of tradition. The one part I like about the festive season is that the bustling of working life comes to a halt. This gives me time to reflect and do introspection without feeling guilty for not being productive. In this post I will share some of my reflections on the turn of the year in the light of existing traditions.

This festive season has been different from former ones because I am on the brink of major life changes. Pending immigration related admin my plan is to be fully self-employed as a healer in the very near future. I used to face the year ahead of me wondering how on earth I made it through another twelve months of wasting effort not getting anywhere. I felt despair as I asked myself how I could get out of the cycle I felt so stuck in. This year I felt excited about the prospect of directing myself in future, but the part of me that feels afraid wanted to put brakes on the rolling in of the new tide. Feeling that I am about to throw myself off a cliff and hope I’ll fly is daunting, but I know that it is time to give more energy to the wheels that have been set in motion.

Although I’m not sure about the exact historical origins, I believe that most religious festivals that are still celebrated today share roots with pagan traditions. The Christmas and New Year festive season more or less coincides with the winter solstice, which marks the beginning of a new cycle. For me this is a good time to think about my goals for the next year. Since I do shamanic work, I spent  some time journeying, which to those not familiar with shamanism I would describe as a way of accessing the unconscious to work with the intelligence of the universe. A year ago I wrote about the association of trees with Christmas. I haven’t done much research about the tradition of Father Christmas, but I have read articles proposing that it originates from the use of psychedelic mushrooms (see for instance this interesting article). Seeing the symbol of Father Christmas in one of my recent meditations however got me thinking about the concept of manifestation through the shamanic upper world: that layer of the unconscious where creativity and wisdom come from. I have come to despise the tradition of over-indulgence associated with the festive season because from my perspective it serves as a justification to spend one’s entire year doing meaningless things for the sake of gaining money, which again needs to be spent to have meaning. But the concept of gifts delivered from the upper realms reminded me that the unconscious finds expression even in the Western world where we have become profoundly disconnected from the spiritual aspect of Nature. Applying the concept of gifts to New Year’s resolutions, my belief is that gifts come from Spirit, but it is what we do with it that will determine how it manifests in our reality. I journeyed to my future self a year from now to ask about practical goals I could work towards achieving. The advice was to lay strong foundations for my life work. Although it would not be easy, I would become stronger as I applied all my effort to building what I would like to see grow. Working on publishing the books I have written is a priority, as is practical shamanic healing work.

The Eagle: Symbol of Courage, Focus and
Communion with the Higher Self
I also have to look back and honour the help I have had along the way, as well as express gratitude for the gifts from Spirit that have manifested. My first novel was inspired by my knowledge of shamanism and initiated by a journey to the shamanic upper world in order to find a story that needed to be told. The eagle emerged as the primary symbol in my first book. On 1 January 2014 I drew this picture of the eagle with the intent to get my first book published. It so happens that exactly a year later, on 1 January 2015, I was offered a publishing contract. Those who would like to access other realms through fiction can watch this space…