Out with the Old . . .

Haviland Lake
Haviland Lake, Colorado (I grew up near Durango – this was a favorite spot!)

The end of the year brings with it many things: Yule, or Midwinter as many refer to it, the Winter Solstice, festivals, New Year celebrations and much more.  Before I get in very deep in this conversation, I need to clarify that most Americans, as well as Europeans, celebrate the new year on January 1, rather than on Samhain. Despite being a Pagan, this is generally when I choose to celebrate it as well. This is likely due to the fact that Samhain has actually never felt like the beginning of a New Year with me – but rather the beginning of the end.  The fall tends to mark a slower pace, time to relax a bit, take a breath and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor from the summer months. It’s the beginning of the darkest part of the year.  And so, New Year’s just felt a bit better to me.

Plus, I enjoy the parties!

This happens to be the best time of year to focus on letting go of the old and begin to welcome the new. This includes letting go of negative energies from a personal level, but also a metaphysical level. In order to do this, you need to acknowledge, but also accept, goals and desired manifestations that you feel you may have failed at during the past year. It is important to work through feelings of sadness, guilt, anger or resentment. Let it go. Do the same for every aspect of your life.  Anything, or anyone, that you feel is a negative influence or places emotional baggage on you, unhealthy relationships, etc. – let it (them) go.  Unsatisfied with your job, let it go! Take the first steps to a new you, for the new year.


My family has always done a burning ceremony near the end of the year.  We clean out our lives – from top to bottom.  Take inventory of everything from closets and cabinets to our own headspace. Anything tangible that cannot be donated, given or reused, we place in a large fire pit. Over the course of several days, this pile grows. We donate and give away what we can, of course, but the rest gets placed in the pit. (If you aren’t burning in an outdoor type pit, use a large heat proof bowl or vessel.) Things that are non-tangible, such as negative thoughts and things you wish to let go of, write them down. Fold each one and place it in the pit, as well.  Be clear and specific, but also realistic, about what you are ready to let go of.

Remember – whether it is good or bad, if it is holding you back – you need to LET GO OF IT!

Doing this over the course of several days actually serves two purposes. First, it ensures that you are not caught up in the ‘heat’ of the moment or too emotionally charged and not thinking clearly.  It allows you time to truly think and process what it is that you are writing down.  Second, this also means that you will not torch something out of straight up spite and anger. Some memories or heirlooms would be difficult to replace. This thinking things through and truly understanding the letting go aspect is all part of the greater process.

It is much more cathartic and cleansing than you think.

Once all is ready – we choose an evening and set it ablaze! We stand or sit around, drink mead or mulled cider and watch the fire cleanse take place. All those things from the year that we harbored inside or swallowed emotionally, are released and let go.  A new year is coming – and with it, new adventures, new journeys, new energy.

Another aspect of this process is to write down things we wish to bring into our lives in the coming new year, or things we would like to continue/maintain.  Write them down.  Place these things in a small ziplock bag or something of that nature. Add to it – we add photos, blessings, business cards for business success and want ads for a job we may want, small tokens of good health, money and success (coins, stones, herbs).  Lastly, we write on a piece of paper, the following:

‘Out with the old,

In with the new,

May prosperity and abundance

Come to you

On this New Year’

Fold this little petition up and place it inside the bag, as well. Now, take this bag outside your home and hide it somewhere that you will be able to find it again later – but passersby won’t disturb it. We place everything inside a Ziploc bag so the weather will not affect it either.

On the evening of December 31, a bit before midnight, light a candle (of any color). Focus on letting go of the old, ushering away things from the past and replacing them with prospects, adventures and abundance. As you do this, speak the following:

‘As I light this candle,

I bid the Old Year farewell.

With gratitude for milestones passed,

And memories cherished.

I welcome in the New Year

With love and warmth and blessings.

That the quality of this new year be assured,

I now dedicate a moment to envisioning

Some way to make this year

A year of excellent,

A year of fortune.’

Pause for a moment to envision the kind of year that you want to have and the kind of person that you want to be. Enhance these visualizations by imagining your objectives charged with energy and bathed in light. Then continue:

‘And thus do my wishes for the year 
take on their own life and purpose. 
So does the year itself 
take on a glowing life and power; 
A bright year, a bold year, 
a golden year, a year of magic! 
So may this year bring luck, 
and peace, and prosperity 
to one and all.’   


Allow the candle to burn continuously or relight it every morning to reactivate the energies of your eve celebration. Whether the candle takes a few days or a few months to burn down, you can be satisfied that its flames will radiate your blessings to last twelve months out.

The morning of January 1, go outside and bring the zip-lock bag back inside your home. Symbolically, you will be bringing all these wonderful opportunities into your new year!


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