New Year’s Ceremonies

These are from Mary Katherine Spain. For further information about Mary Katherine and her work


Fire cleanses us, purifies us. Incorporating fire into a New Year’s ritual is very powerful. Here are a few ideas:

Write a letter to 2022 describing the 1) lessons you learned, 2) confessing the hard stuff, 3) and the deep gratitude for any new teacher, discovery, or habit you have gained. Send 2022 off with a big ole thank you for this stuff! No year is without its gifts. *If you have other people who are creating this sacred space with you, read the letter out loud. (Also, if you are alone, read the letter out loud anyway, to yourself!) Make sure everyone is in full active listening mode and honor a minute to two minutes of complete silence after each letter is read. Then, you can burn them one by one, offering the fire some sort of offering before you place the letter in the fire (tobacco, fir needles, rosemary, cornmeal, etc). If you are feeling creative, you can construct prayer bundles and place all letters in a big bundle, after which you could decorate with herbs, pine boughs, etc, tie with a beautiful (and organic) thread or string. Then burn. If someone among you has a drum, Drum while the letters/ bundle burns, but facing AWAY from the fire–you are symbolically walking away from the old and welcoming the new and yet-to-be.

If you do not have a fire pit (or the weather is inclement on 12/31), you can burn the letters in a kitchen sink or a galvanized bucket or pail

Slight variation on the letter burning: Make a Folly Dolly, think of her as your Inner Critic. This is a great ritual if you’re handy with sewing. You could also just go buy a dog toy or cheap doll at the Dollar store. With a very permanent marker (Sharpie) write all of the things that have set you in a limited head space, things or habits that have prohibited you from rising up and being seen or feeling valuable. Our personal “follies” are often rooted in self-judgement, childhood neglect, and feelings of undeservedness and/or abandonment. Write the words [“Follies”] that are holding you back onto the dolly. DO NOT write words of other people; try to keep it with YOU and your ‘bad’ habits. I’d also advise not to go too feral, trying to scribble all over this thing!–when we can identify even three or four follies that we’d like to place in the sacred fire of transformation, that’s plenty!!

*Again, if you have the time and are crafty, decorating Dolly before “tattooing” her makes this very ritualistic.

**Alternatively, you can bury her (funeral rites) but ONLY IF all materials are organic. With this said, root vegetables or even apples are a nice substitute for the Folly Dolly and carving is often more appealing to some folks than sewing. Piercing an apple with cloves, with each clove representing something that is keeping you from your best self is extremely therapeutic. Plus, you could chuck it at the side of a barn or someplace that would really bust the apple up.


Journaling session around What you are Walking Away from and What you are Walking Toward. Once you’ve spelled out these things (people, places, habits, thought patterns–), play some enchanting music and for the first 3-4 min, envision yourself walking away from what you’ve identified. Then, for the next 7-10 min of the music, envision walking toward what you have written about. (These time frames can vary; you just want to make sure the visioning part of What you are Walking Toward is longer). Make these visions as specific as possible! For instance, if you see yourself increasing your teaching schedule in the new year, envision your calendar with the name of that class and the time and days you’d like to teach. Envision opening the online banking account to see triple the money that’s there now. Envision yourself in line at the Jetport, waiting to go through security on your way to Colorado. You get the picture. The universe LOOOVES specificity, so really nail down some solid images. To end, you could draw a symbol or ask for a word that captures this “Walking Toward” vision and place it in a prominent place (or as many places as you’d like!) Additionally, if you’re feeling super creative and have the time, make a vision board or mandala of the visions you’ve worked with.


Balancing Ritual: Create a quadrant with the East, South, West, and North represented. You could do something quite simple like a piece of fabric in a circle with different colored leaves for each Direction, or pick an animal that you think fits with each Direction. You could also place a tealight in each direction for some flame energy. You may even want to create the Directions with color–Traditionally (Lakota), the colors associated with the Directions are as follows (I have also added the elements and seasons):

East: Yellow; Air; Spring
South: Red, Fire; Summer
West: Black; Water; Autumn
North: White; Earth; Winter

This ritual works best with one or two other people. Everyone should bring a small jewel, marble or special rock to move around the quadrant that is meant to represent your intention. You’ll be talking, sharing, and exploring so this ritual works best when you feel really comfortable around those in attendance.

Light a white pillar candle in the center of the circle. Imagine that the circle you’ve cast is a type of medicine wheel for 2023. As you move your special rock [“Intention”] around the circle, starting in the East, you’ll be speaking about a few things you’d like to call forth. Each direction should guide you towards the manifested vision; the essences of the Directions are as follows:

EAST: new beginnings, transformation, re-birth, fresh starts; purity; wind
SOUTH: play, honoring pain, potentiality and possibility from an innocent/ childlike perspective; any anger that needs a voice; bonfires
WEST: mysteries, magic, womb of creativity, journeywork (and travel), initiation, accepting defeat and/or not backing down; rivers
NORTH: teaching, teachers; wisdom, grounded, perseverance, working with ancestors, connecting to elders; mountains

**The above list is only a guideline; it is best to take a few minutes of deep meditation and breathing so that what comes through you is of your High Self and not your ego. Again, speaking openly and honestly will better resonate with what your SOUL wants to call forth. If you’d like, keep the above list handy as everyone speaks their truth

Once everyone has declared what they “see” in each Direction for 2023, you may all say together: SO BE IT! or So It Is. Blowing out the candle(s) would signify the end of the ceremony and return you to mundane time in addition to anchoring the energies into your heart and body

**As with any ritual or ceremony, you always want to first call in protective guides and benevolent spirits that work with you, and at this time of year, definitely call in your Helping Ancestors. You may want to call in the Directions, if that is your tradition of setting sacred space. Burning some locally sourced herbs is a wonderful way to cleanse the energy of the space and also clear you of any unwanted energy/residue from ordinary time. Intention is everything! For many, 2022 has been the Great Dismantler. There is so much we cannot go back to…It feels important to honor that and Welcome 2023 with our WHOLE Selves.
**To make any of these activities even more special, you could fast all day before doing them and/or put on clothes that make you feel a bit special or sassy. I don’t always consider how clothes make me feel but ceremonial clothes do add to the richness of any ceremony or ritual. Even a special shawl wrapped around your shoulders would do!

Thank You-
Mary Katherine

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