It’s close to the Days of Awe, the time in which I ritually re-examine all of the past year’s decisions, accomplishments, and mistakes, and plan improvements for the coming year.
Each year, on this night or one very much like it, Santa Fe ritually burns Zozobra, a multi-storey-tall effigy of old man gloom.
Today I will add a new activity to my yearly ritual.
Today, I’ll make my own small Zozobra and tonight I’ll burn it (likely in my fireplace – despite recent rains, this sometime-desert-dweller is all too conscious of the danger of wildfire). I’ll make my own fire dance and surrender, perhaps written on combustible material, my doubts, my insecurities, my sadnesses and fears.
I’ll ask the Universe for strength, for wisdom, and, as my physical ears lose their prowess, for my metaphorical ears to tune even more finely to the cosmic consciousness. I’ll ask for focus, for the ability to use my gifts for the betterment of the Earth that we treat so casually, the way infants treat their mothers as a neverending source.
Why do we treat ritual as obligation, I wonder? Perhaps it is ritual’s power one resists, as children resist picking up their clothes or brushing teeth at bedtime, a testing of personal power in an inherently disenfranchised position. Perhaps some part of growing up fully is not only to put away childish things, but also childish behaviors and attitudes: to assume responsibility for the ripples emanating from one’s way through the world.
I celebrate two religions, Judaism and theater. My observation of the rituals of each doesn’t always coincide – or does, sometimes, in fairly bizarre ways – but this juxtaposition feels like an amalgam, an assimilation, a transformation. An epiphany*.
I’m making my New Year’s resolution a few weeks early, this year. I resolve to say yes as much as I possibly can, yes to personal and public rituals designed to promote health, introspection, kindness, gratitude, and transformation.
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*”a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience” ~Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers