Setting the Tone with Janus

Setting the Tone with Janus December 29, 2018

Image Credit: Kiselev Andrey | Edit by Mat Auryn | Standard License

Do you have a New Years resolution? A lot of people give up on making New Years resolutions. Part of the problem is that people tend to pick drastic changes that they want to make in their lives. They tend to set huge goals and try tackling them completely right at the start of New Years and then when they slip and fail they give up completely on the resolution and end up beating themselves up over it for the rest of the year. New Years resolutions are thought to come from Ancient Rome. New Years is sacred to the Roman god Janus (Pronounced ‘Yah-Noos’ not ‘Jan-us’). The month January is named after the god Janus. In January Romans would make sacred vows and pledges to Janus about how they were going to change and what they were going to set out to do for the rest of the year.

Janus is a very complex and mysterious god and one of my personal favorites. He’s unique in the sense that unlike most Roman deities, he doesn’t have a Greek counterpart. For example Venus’ Greek counterpart is Aphrodite, Mercury’s is Hermes, and so on. Janus is often depicted as a double faced man, one bearded and looking backwards towards the past and one young and clean-shaven looking forward to the future. Though there are variations of this depiction such as two bearded men or two clean shaven men. Later depictions showed him as one male face and one female face and this was popular in Alchemy and was depicted as The Rebis, which was the end product of the Magnum Opus of Alchemy.

Janus is a god of time, changes, transitions, beginnings and endings. He’s also a god of doorways, passages, bridges, and portals. I find this very interesting, a deity of time and change and doorways. Janus was invoked before any other deity in Roman religion. Anytime they would work with any deity, perform any ritual, or pray they would invoke Janus. This is interesting to me in regards to the idea of Janus being the god of initiations and beginnings. Perhaps we could say on another level that change as a deity would be invoked before performing religious and spiritual petitions that prompted changes.


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We often don’t realize time as change unless we’re looking back to the past with retrospection. We are constantly changing yet we tend to fail to see all the constant changes that are occurring in our lives moment by moment. Think about all the changes that you’ve gone through in the last couple years. Most likely there’s been drastic changes to who you are and what your life is like, yet most don’t come about as monumental recognizable changes but rather small incremental changes that built up and lead you to where you are.

Every moment is a doorway, a decision, and an opportunity for change. Yet, for the most part many of us operate as if on autopilot, unconscious of all the potentials available to us when it comes to making changes. We’re very reactionary as opposed to responding to the moment as a sacred decision of opening and closing doors of who we are becoming and what we’re making of our lives.

The first hour of the day was sacred to Janus, and I find a lot of significance in this. The day starts with change. As witches, we strive to embrace every moment of life as sacred. A lot of us also have daily practices that we perform to start our days, whether it’s devotionals, affirmations, divination, meditation, or simple spells to start our day – and while it may not be the first hour of the day itself, it’s usually performed on our first hour of waking. It’s within this time that we have the opportunity to set the tone of our day and to transform ourselves and our world.

This year instead of making huge goals to tackle as New Years Resolutions, I’m setting big goals at the end of the year and thinking about what small steps of transformation I can incorporate into my daily practices that will eventually lead me to that major goal. I’m incorporating into my meditations, affirmations, devotionals, reflections, prayers, and morning spellcraft how I want to change myself and my world to set the tone every single day.

Hopefully when the next New Years comes around, I can look back down the corridor of subtle doors that I’ve chosen to pass through and see how it’s affected my transformation and helped me come closer to my goals and who I am striving to become. My main resolution itself is to begin every day reflecting on Janus and the sacred connection between time and change. I am going to begin every daily practice honoring conscious awareness and use of time as the conscious steering of my own life through minor changes.

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