12th NIGHT - NEW RITUALS FOR A NEW YEAR
If we are to grow as individuals and lay foundations as a tribe, we need to establish new rituals, rooted in ancient traditions and the mythic wells that are native to us, as much as is possible. We do not need to be slaves to already long-dead forms of the past , but instead give shape to what is eternal in those spiritual expressions and suit our times.
Seasonal celebrations of the holy year can function as spiritual anchors, as they root us to what is essentially both timebound and timeless. "Every year returns to the origins of time in its beginning; it is a repetition of cosmogony", wrote Mircea Eliade. Many, if not most, of our various European seasonal traditions, even if veiled in a thin shroud of largely superimposed Christianity, express age-old pagan wisdom and tradition. One such tradition, of course, is expressed in the New Year's oaths, which were not meant to be some banal spur-of-the-moment promise only to be broken a few weeks later, but a deep and serious holy commitment that was not to be taken lightly.
It was in such a spirit that on 12th Night, the grand culmination of the Jul season, as twilight set in, our small group assembled on a sacred mound for a New Year's ritual.
With high words, we hailed both the sons of day and daughters of night. We burnt away the remnants of the old year, and made sacred oaths for the new one. We gave offerings and gifts. We made libations for all that was, all that is and all that is yet to be born. We watched our Sunwheel-oathring burn with might, little pieces floating up toward the darkening skies, until only ashes remained simmering. But the greater wheel never goes out, and we carry within us always both ashes and flame.
The New Year is good to start with the right intentions, and so below is the "sayings of the victory bringer", the "pagan prayer" of Sigrdrífumál from the Eddas, in original form and Finnish language translation (slightly modified by yours truly).