Many of us are taking a collective sigh of relief while we watch the final days of 2020 fade away. We don’t need to get into the specifics, we are living the details of this dumpster-fire every day, but I think we can all agree that this year has sucked and that even something as arbitrary as changing the wall calendar feels like a radical act of defiance. This is the time of year that we traditionally have change and transformation on our minds as the promise of a new year brings the promise of a fresh start and, if you partake in the annual act of taking on a New Year’s Resolution, the chance to become the more “ideal” version of ourselves.
I see the new year’s resolution as a magical act that one can participate in regardless of their faith. To set goals for yourself and then to resolve your will power so that you achieve those goals is nothing short of magic. This is also a particularly magical time of year because people all over the world are observing the same sort of shift and the air is thick with the energy of transformation. “It’s easier to do something if a lot of people around you are doing the same thing. Witches are smart, take advantage of that energy!” encourages author, blogger, and ritualist Jason Mankey.
“In the occult order I trained in, we always spent New Year’s Day together doing a goals workshop for the coming year. Even after leaving, I’ve continued with that ritual, and I love what it adds to my life. It’s a time for reflection on the previous year as well as intention-setting for the new one.” Says Durgadas Allon Duriel, author of The Little Work. “…Astrologically, the Sun being well into Capricorn makes it a fitting time for things like resolutions.”
As witches we can draw obvious connections between spells and ritual work to the process of the new year’s resolution. Duriel goes on to say, “I think goal-setting and spell work/ritual work can certainly dovetail together, and spell work often involves some kind of set intention or resolution. In that way, they can be natural bedfellows. I see goals as magical processes and approach them that way.”
Making it Magical
Approaching your resolution this year as an act of magic can also help you fine-tune your praxis. “I think it’s important to look at our relationship to transformation and goal achievement: have we participated in our process as we would’ve liked? Or is something not working? I think part of what hinders people from transformation in the ways they desire, with transformations that are available to them, is self-sabotage, which is often unconscious. The first step in navigating that is to recognize that it’s happening, which we can usually infer via reflection.” Duriel advises, “In the moment, it can feel like “I know I intended to do _______ each day, but I’ll just take today off and then get back to it.” Then it’s been three months without doing it and we wonder what happened. If we don’t examine those kinds of situations, we’re more likely not to recognize the dynamics at play in them.”
Jason Mankey adds, “Evaluating our habits is never a bad thing. Most of us could probably do a lot of things better. But it’s also important to examine those habits in a way that doesn’t make things worse. It’s easy to beat yourself up right now in the age of COVID-19. Many of us have probably been sitting on our coaches a bit too much, or maybe drinking too much or eating too much. There’s a lot to grieve right now, and we all deal with grief in a variety of ways. Right now, if you want to eat a giant bag of chips and watch Lord of the Rings it’s OK to do so, and you shouldn’t hate yourself for doing so.”
This doesn’t have to be overwhelming and while you may have tried and failed in the past, that doesn’t mean you are bad at being a witch. It means you weren’t ready to succeed. For those of you who are ready to get back on the horse and want to give new year’s resolutions another chance, I have compiled as much information as possible to help you achieve your goals this time around. With a little preparation, truly incredible things can happen. Let’s take a look at the things that often go wrong and what we can do to combat them.
According to an interview for Business Insider with psychotherapist Dr. Johnathen Alpert, the three main reasons our resolutions fail are that they aren’t specific enough, we aren’t framing them positively, and they aren’t about us. Each of these things are known problems in fundamental spellcasting!
A resolution is something that will unfold throughout the coming year (or set time frame) and getting specific requires us to understand what that timeframe looks like. We often fail because we keep things vague and allow for too much energetic resistance in the process. “I want to lose weight” or “I want to read more” are so loose in concept that you can’t even hang a coat on them. Magic follows the path of least resistance, so sorting out how you want the energy to flow is essential for any working. Instead, think in terms of “I will lose 15lbs by Beltane.” or “Each month in 2021 I am going to read a new book.”
Once you know your timeframe, break it down further into small, manageable, segments and determine how exactly you are going to proceed from step to step. It is a good idea to do a little investigating at this point. Meditate on how you failed in the past when approaching the goal if you have already tried, or on how you have failed at similar tasks in the past. The point isn’t to berate yourself but instead to survey your behavior for potential weaknesses that might develop during this attempt. Write those down and come up with contingency plans if those things were to pop up again. Do not let them sneak up on you, instead be prepared.
You should also do a reading to determine the best course of action to take. The goal is to check for any blocks or potential upsets and ways around them. Here is a simple tarot spread that I use every year to help me determine just that.
Draw four cards and place them as shown in the picture.
Card 1 represents the starting position. This will tell you what you need to do in order to prepare for take-off. Are you all set up? Is there something to tackle first before proceeding?
Card 2 represents initial flow. This will tell you how things will start out and what it will feel like as you move to lay the foundation for the overall goal as you take your first steps forward. Look here to get insight into what may develop as a result of your push for change in your immediate environment.
Card 3 represents the long-term energetic influence of the working/resolution. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing and you will need to determine what shifts might need to take place to keep things moving in the direction you want them to be.
Card 4 represents the outcome of the resolution as the path currently stands. We look here to determine the final result of our efforts if everything goes according to the present plan. This will give you all the information you need to know about the chances of success for your plan and let you know if you need to revise.
At any point if you find that you need clarity on a card or do not like where the energy of that position is flowing, pull three more cards to get direction on how best to move forward. This isn’t you pulling cards until you get one you like, this is you gaining intel on the situation at hand. Adjust your plans as needed.
From a practical perspective, this is about getting organized and understanding what you need to do so you can focus and not get overwhelmed. I have found that working with the right planner can be incredibly useful and that setting deadlines makes a huge difference. The planner I stick with is the Panda Planner and, of course, have found ways to keep myself real with Google Calendar. I also HIGHLY recommend starting a Bullet Journal to help keep yourself organized as you switch between tasks and move from step to step along your path. All of these tools help to plan the flow of your energy and ground your thoughts in reality.
Here are a handful of YouTube videos that I have found which have helped me get a grip on my own systems of organization and time management.
Read on for Part Two, where we will explore ways to reframe our approach for optimum success as well as the best resources to help you have break throughs in your practice!