[Author’s note: this was originally published in the Hearthstone Community Church newsletter, 01/2016]
Whether you celebrate Samhain, Winter Solstice, or January first as the beginning of the new year, it’s here! The days are gradually getting longer, the rush of the holidays are behind us, the Julian calendar turns over and the possibilities of the year to come are spread out before us.
While I know my ancestors never used the Ogham as a calendar, it always feels right to me to delve into the magic of Beith (bey) or Birch as I begin the Julian year.
The Ogham itself is written either as a “T” with a short, vertical body and long horizontal arms, or as that same two lines turned ninety degrees with the short bit out to the right, kind of like an “E” with just the middle horizontal remaining.
I have carved it in candles and pressed it into clay. I have drawn it into sand and onto a piece of paper that I burned.
The Book of Ballymote makes it clear that this is the Ogham of beginnings, but your intentions matter when using it because the text contains a tantalizing warning about being carried off by fairies. Viewed from a metaphorical perspective, I take that to mean that it is important to be clear and grounded in my magical workings.
That’s why I like working with my calendar. It gives me a structure within which to think of the year to come. I flip through the months filling in birthdates, then marking the weekend dates for full and new moon gatherings. I go through the astrological information and highlight Mercury changes, both retrograde and direct.
I think about my garden, about trips I want to take. Then, magically, with the year laid out before me, I suddenly get a clear sense of the big picture, of just how big, and how actually little, it really is. There’s only one February and one June, only one summer, with a specific number of weekends. I can’t just hope for my dreams to come true, I need to lay out some plans.
Then I’m ready to do the magic of beginnings. I have a sense of what’s really important, what I don’t want to miss out on. Looking at the year with its possibilities and limitations I gain focus and from focus I gain intention.
After that I can plan the magic. Reduction? Waning Moon. Increase? Waxing Moon. Work? Moon in Taurus. Passion? Moon in Scorpio. Grounding? I pick out an onyx. Prosperity? I choose malachite. It flows so much more naturally once I have clarity.
I hope that the same happens for you, that you find the ritual before the ritual that helps you to gain your clarity and focus so that the power of your intentions shines clearly through your magical workings for the new year.