I love the season of Yule and Christmas. Spending time with family and friends….Hibernating with a pile of books…Gazing at the candles in the Yule log or the twinkling lights that comprise traditional Christmas decor. And don’t even get me started on the food!
Yet around the 27th of December and through a good chunk of January, my energy and mood begin to change. I lose track of the days of the week. The build-up of the holidays is suddenly gone and I am left in a limbo-like state. My energy is low and I feel aimless. I have been struck with the post-holiday funk.
I am not the only one who deals these feelings at the end of the holiday season each year. There have been several articles in well-known publications that reference these feelings with terms like “Post-Holiday Blues” and “After-Holiday Letdown”. The period of time that exists from the end of the winter holidays until the secular new year gets well underway is a very liminal period.
We are in a space between the worlds, so to speak. Add to this mix a hodgepodge of confusing and sometimes painful feelings that many of us encounter during the holidays and it can leave you feeling a lot like you are trudging aimlessly through the darkness each day, without a specific destination.
The good news is that this liminal time period can also be very freeing and provides an excellent energetic space in which to release the old and bring in the new. Below are ten magickal techniques that have helped me to better utilize this time period with intent and turn that depressing post-holiday funk into the optimism and expectation that comes with releasing the old and looking forward to the new.
1. Get Clean.
I am not referring to bathing (as hopefully you are doing that on a regular basis anyway). I am also not referring to a deep cleaning which requires you to undertake tasks such as scrubbing toilets or mopping your floors. Unless that’s your thing, of course, in which case I would like to invite you to my house. What I am referring to is cleaning your spiritual space(s). Recently, I was preparing to do a short rite for writing inspiration and while I had all of my materials ready, something just felt off. I realized that the space in which I was planning on performing this task was cluttered.
I am a reader and an author and thus it is not at all uncommon for me to have a few books in various places around my house. Did I say a few books? I meant a few stacks of books (with “few” defined as several). I would have put them on book shelves but, well, my book shelves are all full. I realized that if I wanted to achieve clarity not only for my task at hand but for engaging the muse, I had to clear away the clutter in my work and spiritual spaces. This follows the basic magickal principal of as within, so without. The post-holiday liminal time is a great time to clean our spiritual spaces, dust our altars, sweep our temples, and provide the deities we worship with fresh offerings. Not only does this act help our energy become more focused and settled, it’s also a great way to re-dedicate ourselves to our spiritual practice.
2. Clear the Air.
Cleaning is great, but clearing after we have cleaned is even better. This can be done in any number of ways including but not limited to using herbs, oils, sprays, salt bowls, and/or energy-clearing techniques such as Reiki. I have also found music and aural techniques to be very effective at clearing as well. So, break out your singing bowls, your tuning forks, your drums, or perhaps just sit in the area you intend to clear and tone or chant. Clearing does not simply refer to physical space, it is also very healing and uplifting to clear any of our own energy that is weighing us down as well. Any of the techniques mentioned above can be effective for self-clearing as can activities such as a salt bath or massage.
3. Hit the Refresh Button.
As well as cleansing and clearing, this is also a perfect time to refresh and re-activate any wards or other protections that you have instilled in your home and on your property. I tend to find this is most powerful when done after I cleanse and clear my space and myself.
4. Spiraling into the Center.
Another great way to release old, stagnant energy and stimulate optimism for the future is through walking a labyrinth. I find walking a labyrinth to be a very powerful spiritual tool at any time of the year, yet there is something about walking a labyrinth that particularly lends itself to transitional periods. I recommend that as you walk towards the center of the labyrinth, you reflect on the year that is ending or has just ended and any energy, patterns, and/or feelings you wish to release so that they do not follow you into the new year. You may even feel compelled to create a representation of these energies, patterns and/or feelings which can be buried or burned at the center of the labyrinth. As you make your way out of the labyrinth, concentrate on that which you are looking forward to in the coming year and what you wish to manifest.
It’s not only important to release the negative from our recent past, it is also important to celebrate the positives. Think about the top ten highlights that occurred in the year that is ending. What did you accomplish? What small steps did you take towards a goal? What did you learn? When did you feel inspired? What made you laugh out loud? What made you feel joyous, serene, and free? What new places did you go and what new experiences did you have? Which wonderful people did you get to spend time with this past year? What one thing about yourself and your life is better as compared to the previous year(s)? These are all good questions to ask yourself as they help us to focus on the positives and acknowledge that even in the most troubling and darkest of times there are always some flashes of light. This activity can also quell some of the fear and anxiety that the new year’s promise of unknown brings.
6. Visions of Sugarplums.
OK, so perhaps Sugarplums aren’t in your future, but this is a great time to figure out what is. Doing a tarot reading during this time of year can help you to pull together the threads of the past with the potential of the future. One way of doing this is to do a two-card pull, with the first card representing the lesson or challenge that was the theme of the previous year. The second card represents the gift inherent in this lesson and how it may serve you well in the coming year.
Another approach is one that I have adapted from a method shared with me by a talented reader who goes by the name of Tou Tarot. With this approach, three cards are drawn, with the first card representing what has been working well for you and/or is a strength you have acquired or honed over the previous year. The second card represents a challenge, obstacle, or lesson you are likely to encounter this coming year, and the third card provides some advice as to how you can use your strength as well as other talents or resources to address the impending challenge or obstacle.
Of course, one is not limited to using tarot cards. Any number of divinatory practices -including but not limited to runes and oghams – can be used as well.
Rather than wandering around in an aimless post-holiday stupor, I have found it to be quite cathartic and energizing to do some intentional manifesting. While it may not be the most original approach, I have found doing a manifestation board each year to be highly effective. I create a collage of symbols representing what I wish to manifest in the year ahead and place it in a prominent area near my bed so that I see it every day. I have continually been amazed at how many things on this board come to fruition throughout the year.
I know there are many people out there who cringe at the thought of making a collage. Fortunately, there are many other methods for working simple manifestation magick with a yearly focus. These include but are not limited to creation of a manifestation box, altar, or even a talisman or bag that can be carried with you on a daily basis. The symbolism need not be complex or multi-faceted. Something as simple as a sigil, rune or ogham representing what you wish to manifest can work quite well.
The key is to be able to encapsulate what you wish to manifest into some sort of medium that you can interact with on a regular basis. I have found that it is also important when envisioning what you wish to manifest to focus in broader terms of what you desire and what success looks like to you. Traditional New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on actions we are going to take and often times are big goals with ambitious measures which may not be realistic and may not even be what we really need. I have found manifestation work to be quite empowering when I focus on the what and not the how, when I incorporate how I want to feel, and when I leave some wiggle room for the universe to do its magick.
For example, I, like many others, have unsuccessfully made resolutions over the years about working out more and losing weight only to crash and burn within the first month or so. These days, I instead might do a manifestation board that focuses on how I wish to be healthier than the previous year and feel more vitality or comfort within my physical body. This focus is less likely to let the curse of perfectionism set in and discourage me and I am more likely to manifest this vision. Ultimately, feeling healthier is the underlying reason for my wanting to lose weight in the first place; thus, I am actually manifesting what I desire in a way that serves me and my body.
8. Ready. Set. Go!
Now that you have started to envision your future and work towards manifesting what you want, what better way to set the energy in motion than by breaking out of your funk and doing something magickal. What better time than now to take stock of your magickal inventory and replenish your supplies of herbs, crystals, and/or other ingredients for your practice? This is also a great time to make stuff, be it art, bath salts, candles, music, crafts – whatever you enjoy creating. The simple acts of creating and preparing can send a tangible cue to our minds and bodies to “wake us up” and dispel the cloud of confusion and listlessness that sometimes hovers over us post-holiday season.
9. An Act A Day Keeps the Funk Away.
I love those little desk calendars with a new word, game, or other tidbit for each day. The few minutes it takes to look at the day’s offering can act as a centering “reset” button for me. We can do something similar from a spiritual perspective. Why not create a daily devotional jar?
Fill the jar with scraps of paper which have one daily devotional idea that takes no more than 5-10 minutes to do and yet helps you connect with your spiritual practice in a grounding way. Examples include but are not limited to activities such as sitting outside in nature, chanting, pulling a tarot card or rune, expressing gratitude for food or other necessities, spending a few minutes at one of your altars, listening to a Youtube meditation, anointing yourself with sacred oil, and/or lighting a candle in dedication to a deity. If you are someone who regularly exercises, consider dedicating your practice to a deity you honor. For example, you could dedicate activities such as martial arts, kickboxing, or even yoga to the Morrigan.
10. Commit to Being Uncomfortable.
When you think about it, isn’t this what our gods ask us to do regularly so that we can learn, grow, and fulfill our potential? Why not take the initiative to do something simple along these lines on a regular basis? The options can range from something simple and different – such as parking in a different spot or learning something new each day – to the more adventurous pursuit of committing acts that might be intimidating. I recently read a book about a die-hard introvert who decided to take the plunge and hone her skills of extroversion through such radical acts as talking to at least one stranger a day, speaking publicly, taking an improv class, hosting a dinner party and doing a stand-up comedy routine at an open mic night. Amazingly, she survived!
You can tailor your commitment to counteract a simple challenge you have been having. For example, if you find yourself having a difficult time shaking negative energy, commit to finding and noting one thing or act of beauty each day. Feeling stagnant? Commit to learning something new about a topic of interest at least once a week. A fun way to try out this technique is through the use of a mystery magick box. You can find relatively inexpensive “Mystery Witch” or “Mystery Magick” boxes on sites such as Etsy. These boxes usually contain a variety of items such as herbs, crystals, bones, oils, or altar tools but you don’t know what you are going to get. Sign up for a mystery box and commit to learning more about each of the items and actually using each item in some capacity in your practice. If the items you receive are ones you are already knowledgeable about, see if you can find a new way to use these tools in your practice.
Stepping outside of our comfort zone not only helps us to “wake up” from the post-holiday funk it also broadens our horizons in a way that makes our spiritual and magickal practices all the more powerful.