IMG_5884Since the new year of 2000-2001 we had hosted what came to be known as a ‘rocktail party’ – cocktails from the kitchen and rock music blaring through the PA system I use for my gigs. About 300 watts of everything from Status Quo to Slipknot until the early hours of new years day.

The neighbours knew it was coming and were very patient.

Last year the music went and we had a more peaceful, yet still sociable, party. A house full of friends, silly games (Pagan charades…), and Auld Lang Syne sung at the tops of our voices as the bells of Big Ben chimed in the new year.

This year it was just me, Cerri and Oscar. And that was exactly how it was meant to be.

I watched the sun set on 2014, thinking about the year. I wrote two lists – one of the things I didn’t like about the year, the other all of the goods things that had happened. As I looked through the calendar I relived those good moments, from sitting in the peace of the Rocky Mountains above Banff in Canada, to playing to an almost full house at the Croydon Fairfield halls at Witchfest International, and all between. The negative list was small, but significant, offering good opportunities for change.

To say goodbye to 2014 and welcome the new year we had a small ceremony in our garden. Cerri wrote about it on her Facebook profile and put it so beautifully I’ll simply paste what she said here:

IMG_5882Last night we had a chilled and gentle time sending out the old year and welcoming in the year with a ritual fire in the garden, after a Chinese take away and some crap TV. 

The waxing moon sat high in the starry sky above the garden as the wind harassed both the clouds above and us below, as we built our ritual pyre for the old year. 

The dog pottered about the garden randomly destroying what ever bits of detritus he could find in the dark corners and left us to our fire building activities, he was utterly unperturbed by the wind. 

The fire was built, I had chosen to write down all the things I wanted to leave behind or cleanse from 2014, and, on a separate paper, all the things I wished to bring in for the 2015. We also had incense offerings for each part of the ritual, mixed for the purpose. 

The fire was lit and sprang into life, spitting and swirling in the bowl. The bright flames leapt and danced, showers of sparks shooting sideways and catching our clothes as we watched. At last the time felt right, I walked forward with my offering and my paper. The flames took my incense and burned a little brighter, then I bent to give it my paper prayers. I asked the fire to take them and cleanse the old year, gingerly putting the paper to the edge of the bowl. 

Maybe it was the just wind whipping around the space, but it seemed to me that the dragon flames deliberately swooped onto the folded paper, devouring it in seconds. Damh made his offerings to the fire and we let the flames die down, as the old year faded.

Damh went into the kitchen and brought out some hot mulled wine to toast the old year and the fire. We sat a while in contemplation, watching the fiery dragons within lick and spit their last comment of the contents of their bowl.

Having let the old year go we turned our thoughts to the new. We built up a new fire on the embers of the old, each of us taking a piece of wood to a different IMG_5883direction to ask for an elemental blessing, before casting it into the fire. Re-enlivened the dragons danced once more and when the time was opportune, we offered up our incense and our wishes. Again the fire drakes swooped and devoured the paper and glowed with changing hues as the incense burned. We slowly drank our wine feeling a line had been drawn under the old and that we had made a deliberate step into the new.

By now the wind had died down somewhat, there was a comforting warmth in the fire’s embers, and the dog wandered over to see if we had anything worth eating, obviously a little disappointed that we had burned all the sticks. 

The ritual done we retreated indoors to watch Jools Holland and Skype our mates in Australia. 

Good bye 2014 thank for the highs and the lows, welcome 2015 please be kind to us all.

It really was the perfect way to spend New Years Eve, and we started the year in the way we wished it to continue.

As I sit here now I look outside and see the bare trees. The evenings are already getting noticeably lighter, albeit very gradually. Imbolc and the honouring of Brighid lays just around the corner. The snowdrops will bow their white-flowered heads in her honour.

But for now the stillness of Winter is holding me gently and, for the first time in years, I’m actually enjoying it.

I’ve enjoyed my break, but it’s good to be back.

Blessed be, and happy new year xx