This year, I spent my New Year’s Eve in isolation. A possible COVID-19 exposure had turned into a fever, leading to a test, and culminating in a positive test result three days before New Year’s Eve. If I was to spend the holiday alone, I wanted it to be meaningful. New Year’s is a symbol of transition: it’s a time to release the past, to reground ourselves in our values and intentions, and to look ahead towards manifesting our future.
What better way to honor the holiday than to invite a new practice into my home that honors its essence? I decided to draw from the tradition of Shamanism, a spiritual practice that I had been introduced to as a child and found myself more and more curious about in recent years. A quick google search for “Shaman New Year’s practice” drew up a result from Kripalu Institute, the spiritual retreat center I had been blessed to perform at early last year. The title of the link read “A Shamanic New Year Ritual for Creating Change.”
Intrigued, I clicked.
The article drew from a Peruvian Shaman background, a perspective which was rooted in three animal symbols: the serpent, the jaguar, and the condor. The serpent represents the ability to stay grounded and let go of the past through the ritual of shedding skin. The jaguar represents the ability to traverse the world with courage, power, and grace. The condor represents the ability to rise above and see the big picture.
The full article offers instructions for how to incorporate these perspectives into a New Year’s ceremony and can be read at the link below:
Read on to see how I incorporated the practice into my 2021 New Year’s Resolutions.
The Serpent: Shedding what no longer serves us
The serpent ritual involves a cord-cutting ceremony: the symbolic cutting of the energetic cord tying us to our past, old patterns, or old relationships. In order to prepare for myself for the process of release, I first wrote down a list of things in my journal that I felt were standing in the way of my well-being and growth. After about five minutes of journaling, I looked over my list and looked for the core themes that seemed to be popping up.
I had written about my fear about becoming irreversibly sick with Covid-19, about risking vulnerability in love and being hurt; my grief over the recent demise of a relationship with a loved one, over my lost sense of safety in the wake of past life traumas, over the current state of societal upheaval; my anger towards those who I felt had wronged me, towards that which I felt was unjust in our society.
The core themes, then, seemed to be a stagnant state of fear, anger, and grief. Though all of these feelings had their place and value, lately I had felt weighed down by them. Instead of serving as a call to action, I was allowing them to pull me down into a state of depression. In order to clear the way for my new year’s intentions, I would have to shed my skin of stagnant fear, anger, and grief, and allow a new layer to shine through.
The Jaguar: Finding one’s power
The jaguar ritual involves connecting to our inner power through a meeting with our power animal. Connecting with our inner power allows us to step forward into our new selves with courage and grace. In order to prepare for the jaguar ceremony, I decided to set myself up for a traditional Shaman journey (read this Medium article to learn more about Shaman journeying), incorporating a hand drum recording that would help guide me into the trance state where I would meet my spirit animal.
When I arrived in the spirit world, I asked my spirit animal to help me release my past and guide me towards my future purpose. He carried me on a journey of symbolic imagery through the spirit world that culminated in a message about what my path in the new year would be.
When I returned from my spirit journey, I wrote down my resolution for 2021 on a slip of paper, tied it to a ribbon, and tied the ribbon to my prayer tree (read more about prayer trees here). This would serve as a reminder throughout the year for my New Year’s intentions. My New Year’s intention for 2021 was to “serve as a advocate and voice for the voiceless through my work as a creative artist.”
The Condor: Looking at the big picture
The condor ritual involves floating above so we can see the big picture of our lives. In order to prepare for the condor ceremony, I settled into my meditation cushion, closed my eyes, and readied myself for visualization.
For the condor ceremony, I imagined myself living out my intentions throughout the New Year. I allowed myself to get curious. What specific tasks did I see myself taking on as an advocate and creative artist? What was the sense of purpose that would fuel my motivation for the year? What habits and routines would I create to ensure I would fulfill my purpose?
When my visualization was complete, I came back to the room and wrote down a few more notes about what I imagined my new year looked like from a bird’s eye view.
I closed my Shaman New Year’s ritual with a fire ceremony, symbolizing the process of shedding and transformation by setting flame to the list of that which had been holding me back. 2020 had been depleting in a multitude of ways, but by the end of the evening, I felt refreshed, purified, and noticeably lighter than I had before. I felt myself looking forward to the new year with a renewed sense of hope.
After this experience, I can say with confidence that the serpent, jaguar, and condor have earned a permanent place on my spiritual altar. I’ve resolved to hold their image close throughout the coming year, and I plan to revisit their world time and again — to honor them as guides from beyond whose wisdom might lead me back to my center and intentions when I fall astray. I think I might just have a new New Year’s tradition that I will be returning to again and again as well!
In closing, I invite you to reflect on your turn of the year through the lens of the serpent, jaguar, and condor. What will you be shedding this year that no longer serves you? Where does your power lie and how can you tap into that in order to manifest this year’s intentions? Where do you see yourself as 2021 progresses?
Happy manifesting, friends!
Previously published on medium
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