The obstacles in our path are not blocking us – they are redirecting us…pointing us toward new routes to happiness and possibilities, to new doorways.

Barbara DeAngelis

Perhaps 2021 did not align with your ideals and that is leaving you with a sense of trepidation as we look to a new year. It might be helpful to consider how the ideas of fresh starts and new beginnings are ingrained in our human history. The month of January was named for Janus, the Roman god of the doorway between endings and beginnings. Janus was the most ancient, benevolent and humble, householder deity. He existed long before the Greek pantheon brought ego-driven planetary gods like Jupiter to the fore. Janus facilitated transformation and ushered in the bronze age – introducing keys and coins (that bear his likeness). 

In ancient reliefs, Janus is illustrated with two faces, facing forward and backward, with a set of keys in one hand and a staff in the other to help guide all people on their paths. The keys are interpreted metaphorically as well – they represent values such as peace, truth, and security. When Roman soldiers headed off to unknown territory they ritually passed through ceremonial gateways (Jani). The gates were left open for them until peace prevailed. In 46 BCE, Cesar proclaimed January 1 as the first day of the new year. In ancient Roman tradition, Janus was honored with humble gifts of dates, figs, and honey to share among friends to manifest a sweet new year. Work was set aside for table games to bring laughter and joy to the occasion. Here are some rituals inspired by Janus to help you usher in the new year.

1) Meditate on the metaphors. What are the doorways you hope to walk through? What doors might you be better off to pass by? What values are the keys to your joy and contentment? Can those values be accessed in simpler, more accessible ways?

2) Make your front door into a Jani (ceremonial gateway) with an inward-facing wreath to help manifest your ideals for the new year and contemplate it before passing outdoors.

3) Have a humble new year’s day picnic (indoors or outside) with dates, figs, and honey, and share your hopes and dreams with family and friends.

4) Stop scrolling, turn off the news, play games, sing and dance – do the simple things that bring joy and laughter to you and yours.