Well, welcome to the new calendar year. Some folks see this as a time for new starts or a period of time to restart some aspects of their lives that they feel that they might have lapsed in previously. I can completely understand the desire for that type of thinking. In fact, its a process and technique I use around the period of Samhain, where I tend to see the line of the “new” year or the new turn of the Wheel of the Year.
This time of year, for me, is what should be the dead of winter or if you prefer the Dark of Winter. With temperatures right around 60F/15.5C, it can be a little difficult to see that this is that time of year. The trees having shed their leaves and the grasses having gone dormant, its obvious that this time of year should be something different, but the weather is what it is. The time of year; however, is not. Currently, the Wheel tends to show this as the time between Yule and Imbolc, a period I tend to dub as the period of self-reflection – the Dark of Winter.
Wikipedia (while not a truly great academic source, it can be a wonderful place to start when understanding a topic) notes self reflection as “…the capacity to exercise introspection and to attempt to learn more about [one’s] fundamental nature and essence.” Working from that assumption (I am loathe to consider it a definition rather than a perspective), a period of self-reflection might be discerned as an exercise in self navel-gazing, so to speak. For me, I utilize this as a quick look back on where the previous year has gone, what were some of the actions I took, and what might I have done differently. Against that backdrop, I spend time examining those actions, my choices, and mindset in comparison to what I know to be true about myself – or my fundamental nature or essence, if you would prefer to tie back to the Wikipedia perspective in a tidier package.
My Personal Process
I am not going to assume how anyone else might go about looking backwards into one’s past. Everyone has a different way of doing things, after all we are all individuals with different perspectives. My approach is rather simple. I write down what I consider to be the major events that have occurred during the past year, a few observations of how I handled things or how I might have felt, and then put those in chronological order. After that, I spend time looking for trends in my thinking or actions. What I am trying to find or what I did or said or felt that was appropriate and all that which was not. I am not a fool, I am aware that as a human being I am fallible as much as anyone else. I make mistakes, I pay the penalties for all of that, in whatever shape or form that may occur.
During all of this, I try not to beat myself up too much over the choices I made or the choices I did not make that I should have. Sometimes, I have better knowledge further past the event than somewhere closer. That’s the old “forest for the trees” adage we all hear so much about. Distance in time (and sometimes physically) always allows for a much wider vision. The idea is not to beat myself up, but to recognize some of the errors that I may have made in judgment and choice, done in the hopes of not repeating mistakes in the future.
Is It Necessary?
Well, the process of self reflection is helpful for me. I tend to be a little analytical over my past, and find that analysis to be somewhat useful going into the future. However, I would be foolish to think everyone would benefit from what I do. Some folks might gain no benefit at all, except to hash out some painful (or maybe even awesome) memories. I would use the phrase that “you mileage will vary” for this. I would even use that for nearly everything that I do in my life. I am not out to make little mini-Druids in my likeness. I would rather folks figure out what works best for themselves. Part of that comes from sharing knowledge on processes and personal philosophy. Some folks will find that the process does not work for them at all. Others might find it needs tweaking and changing here and there. All of that is just as good as what I am posting here – because you found what does or does not work for you.
I have found that Druidry works best for a person when they can work with the process, the philosophy, the content and mold it to their own needs. As I have mentioned before, improvisation and alteration are wonderful processes to have in one’s own personal approach, but you still need to learn and understand the basics before you start altering the shape of what you are doing.
Regardless, welcome to the new calendar year! I hope that this coming year provides you with everything you are wanting and more. But remember, you have to step out, reach up and grab hold of things. Nothing is just going to fall in your lap. Everything is worth the hard work associated with it.