“And again at New Year, when the 12 strokes sound and we make our resolutions ‘I will be good; turn over a new leaf; be made anew’ – we are embodying, even if we do not know it, or perhaps being embodied by, the myth of eternal return; the periodic destruction and recreation of the cosmos, commons to all religions, when world, time, and man himself are, after a ritual pause, ritually renewed.” P. L. Travers, What the Bee Knows 

With Twelthtide and the Omen Days well behind us, I’m sure by now you have probably read at least a dozen posts reflecting on the New Year. In which case, I apologise for adding to this onslaught, but I hope you might give the me the benefit of the doubt and keep reading a little further. I promise I won’t be ‘new year, new you’ing you.

I am deeply stubborn when it comes to this time. I never make resolutions and I often find myself getting hugely irritated by the amount of posturing on social media about how to start the new year.

It finally occurred to me this week that one of the reasons that I find the abundance of motivational talk on getting healthy, improving and optimising that occurs at this time so noxious is because it presents such a sanitised, clean version of what change looks and feels like. There is something too binary about waking up on New Year’s Day and just simply making an improvement and then sticking to it, as if a switch has been flipped and you’ve suddenly become a new person. And, of course, it also plays into all the healthist discourse where it’s your personal responsibility, nay your moral obligation, to keep on top of your health and wellbeing with not a shred of regard for the context or circumstances around you.

In my experience, any change in – or to – myself has been far messier, slippier and ultimately way harder. There are often long periods of inbetweenness, iterative cycles of failing and learning, starting and stopping, where I watch parts of myself awkwardly decay whilst other parts begin to rise slowly out of the mulch.

The above quote from P. L. Travers is often one I find myself turning back to though. And I do think she’s right to some extent: this transition from one year to another can offer us a site of renewal; the promise and possibility of beginning again, of starting afresh. The argument in favour of intending to commence something or begin again on New Year might be that if you have to start from somewhere, why not utilise the collective energy of this time and start now?

Equally, having spent a long time now working with the other cycles of life, I know that we embody the myth of eternal return perpetually. Our bodies just simply hold this wisdom. They work its magick constantly. It’s deep within us.

Those that menstruate can always work with this possibility if they want to. Each cycle our blood is released, enabling us to let go and begin again, round and round, over and over. Our digestive systems will happily oblige in the release of all sorts of shit – both the physical and the figurative –  that we don’t need anymore. Even a simple exhalation can herald the letting-go of the old that we need to gently invite in the new. Often when I’m stuck I ask my body to help me, inviting these rhythms to guide my change.

If you’re already exhausted by all the intention setting, words for the year or resolutions, please let this be your gentle reminder that there are always other opportunities to make change and create renewal beyond the dominant narratives of ‘new year, new you’. You don’t have to wait for a particular moment in someone else’s made up calendar. It’s here, in all its ouroboric glory, for the making, for the working-with, in our bodies and earth right now, tomorrow, next week… and whenever.