January is named after Janus, the Roman god of doorways and transitions. Looking both backwards and forwards with his two faces, Janus sees deep into both the past and the future from his liminal place in the middle. Even though most of us don’t practice ancient Roman religion, we do invoke him through the name of this month, and through the common practice of year-end reviews and new year’s resolutions.

These early days of the year are a good time to reflect on what the last year brought and what we might like in the new year. Rather than setting myself up for disappointment by making resolutions and trying to keep to a rigid plan that will inevitably evolve through the next many months, I like to think of this point in time as a sort of filter. Working on this process, I am aided by a few of our Spagyrics.

I ask myself- what energies and practices do I want to leave behind me in last year, which do I want to bring through into the new year, and what new things do I want to add to the mix? I find this gentle approach of “let go of, hold on to, and reach for” to be a much more graceful way to better myself and my life without falling into self-blame and judgement about goals and projects.

I start the process during the twelve Omen Days between Christmas and Epiphany, which I wrote about here. During those in between days, I spend time each morning observing Nature and looking for auguries of what each of the coming twelve months will bring. Everyone I know who does this practice approaches it differently, but for me, it’s not so much divination or predictions I’m after, but a sense of what energies will be acting on me and available to me in each month. I find our Clary Sage Magistery very supportive to this work, as it gives clear vision of whatever the subtle self directs attention to, and it seems to really help me pull my visions and hearings into information and insight.

During the last few days of the year, I also spend some time, as I’m sure many of you do, looking back at the past year and thinking about what went well and what didn’t. I find our Tesseract Somalixir helpful for this part of the process- as I wrote in this post, it helps me move my awareness back and forth through time, seeing the patterns and energies that link one moment to the next. I also look through the auguries from the previous year’s Omen Days and meditate on what each one was communicating to me as I received it, and how that related to the ways each month played out.

Before I move into the planning for the next year, I have to let go of anything from the past year that lingers in unhelpful ways. Bad experiences and traumas, unresolved conflicts, things large and small that didn’t go as planned- all of these need to be swept out somehow so I don’t have to keep dealing with them.

For release of sorrow, loss, pain, and trauma, our Bleeding Heart is a kind, healing, and compassionate plant. Looking like little open hearts, this Northwest Native wildflower has strong painkilling properties on both the physical and spiritual levels. In this post, I wrote about some work I did with grief over the wildfires in our area this summer, and Bleeding Heart is equally healing for any other kind of loss or grief. It gives a little distance to the pain and allows you to go into it a bit to find the lessons and gifts hidden within.

For unresolved conflicts and tangled energies of the more Mars type, I reach for our Hummingbird Plant Initiatic. This flower is beloved by hummingbirds, as you would guess from its name, and it was revered by the Aztec as the plant that transformed slain warriors into hummingbirds, as I discussed in this post. This Initiatic is all about the right use of Mars, as strength and courage, but never violence or domination, bringing power and gentleness in equal balance.

For less specific release work, or to amplify any of the Spagyrics we’ve talked about above, consider our Surrender Somalixir. We call this formula the “get out of your own way” remedy, and it helps with releasing anything that you need to be rid of on all levels of being. It has Voacanga Seed to help you see the patterns and restrictions you carry within, Kanna for releasing anger, frustration, and other negative emotions, and Parrot’s Beak aiding the body in letting go of the tension and tightness that can build from life in general, good and bad. Surrender works especially well in conjunction with bodywork such as massage, or with Yoga or other stretching aimed at opening the connective tissues and flow.

Once you’ve worked through the past “stuff”, what’s next? Above, I described this point in the year as a kind of filter, in which you decide what gets left behind and what comes through into the future. The best Spagyric for this sorting and filtering work is our Bee Balm, a Southwest native wildflower used for many physical ailments in the digestive and respiratory systems, but also having a high intelligence for spiritual work, too.

As I wrote in this post, Bee Balm acts as a sort of gatekeeper for spiritual growth, making sure that the energies that come through your work are never more than you can handle. This makes it very useful in preparation for ritual or magical work that might bring information, such as scrying, spirit or angelic communication, or divination such as Tarot. In fact, it’s one that I take when I do my big reading this time of year using the three card spread that this post is titled after: one card each for what I will let go of, what I will hold on to, and what I will reach for.

Now we’re at the jumping off point in our process, ready to enter into the fresh energy of the coming days, carrying what we need and looking for new allies and tools. This moment of gathering the self together just before diving in reminds me of a waterfall- and our Waterfall Calamus. This plant grows near waterfalls, and it carries that energy of powerful flow, but with grace. It is a tonic to Shen, the peaceful strength that resides in the heart and which contains our other vital energies of Qi and Jing.

Waterfall Calamus shares some of the energy-moving qualities of its American relative, but in a gentler way, helping you stay calm and steady even during times of change and chaos, and able to dive into the movement and change and ride it forward.

Calamus is a key plant in our next formula, Abra-Melin Somalixir. Originally created as an incense in a 15th century magical text, this blend is part of the ritual for contacting the Holy Guardian Angel. In this post, I talked about our goal with this Spagyric- a wish to internalize that wisdom as inherent and personal guidance from one’s best self, accessible at all times. Taking this Somalixir every day brings a deep sense of confidence that all decisions, big or small, will be in one’s best interest and towards the highest good, whether that good is easy to see or more mysterious.

Finally, reaching back into the far past of our work, we offer our Faith Somalixir. We created this one during the election year of 2016, when it became more and more difficult to see a good way forward in our lives and the world around us. This formula was, in turn, based on combinations we would share in our space at festivals during other tumultuous times, and it is directed at bringing positivity, emotional steadiness, and the vision to see and work towards something better. If I had to sum up its energy, it would be with a quote I read just this morning that made a huge difference in my day:

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing”

Raymond Williams

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