Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Opening The Door Of The New Year

Janus on an ancient Roman coin
At the beginning of every year ( and yes, I am late ) I perform a ritual asking the blessing of the Roman God Janus. It is a simple rite which includes a wand, bells, and a smudge stick and shell; it can be done solitary or in a group. When done in a group, I usually have at least one other person assisting.

Janus is the Roman god of endings and beginnings. He is most often depicted with one face looking at the past and one into the future. Some artistic renderings of Janus show him as an old man looking at the past and a youth gazing into the future, reminiscent of the Father Time and Baby New Year figures used in modern New Year Eve graphics (The Romans named the month of January for him).

Janus is associated with the passages of time-beginnings and endings. He is both door-opener and door-closer.
Janus is also the protector of doorways, gates, portals, and boundaries. In ancient Rome, statutes of Janus were found on the gates of most cities (and some buildings) for this purpose. This is why I chose him when I developed this particular ritual for a group of which I was a member.

The Janus Ritual begins with the usual grounding and centering of the participants. ( Light the smudge stick and select those who will assist-if any- before hand. If there are no assistants, then the leader assumes all functions him or herself). The participants gather at the main gate or doorway, and the leader calls upon Janus to join them:

Leader: Behold, we stand at the beginning of a New Year! Janus,open the door! Here we bring our hopes and dreams for the coming seasons... [ The Leader knocks on the door frame with the wand, or the bell is rung at this time. The doorway is censed as a blessing and thanksgiving.]

Participants: Janus, open the door! 
The group processes to the next stop, where the leader repeats the words (or similar) above, adjusting them to the area. In my group ritual, we stopped at the area where we socialized around the fire, the small building we used for meeting in inclement weather (and storage), the pathway to the designated ritual space, and the fence around the property. At home, I begin at the front door, then walk through the kitchen ("...Where friends and hearts meet for food and conversation.."), the living room ("...Where lives and stories are shared...), the bedroom (" ...For whatever dreams may come...") and the bath ("...Where we are physically and spiritually cleansed of the world..."). You may choose other places and words that suit your personal needs and situation.

I find that this simple ritual is a good way to kick off the New Year for me.
[Additional historical information can be found at:]

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