Many years ago, I was introduced to the idea of selecting a single word for each calendar year to act as an intention, touchstone, and big-picture goal. The beauty of a single word intention is that the simplicity means multiple ways of connecting are possible.
For example, my word for 2020 was “Manifest.” One of the interesting aspects of single-word intention practice is watching the way a word will play out against opposition. One of the biggest, most ridiculous hats I wear in life is my Community Organizer hat. Manifesting community during a pandemic can seem like a laughable goal but somehow, that’s exactly what happened. To manifest something is to take it from an idea to a physical reality. With the work of the other organizers within Frederick CUUPS, we were able to manifest an online version of our community. A host of volunteers picked up the ball and ran with it – workshops, rituals, classes, social gatherings, the works. We manifested completely different versions of the rituals that are part of Frederick CUUPS liturgy. It was no small feat – our balance of offerings meant a lot of people working together in service to the community. Manifesting indeed.
My 2021 word was “Nurture.” I entered 2021 in deep grief at the loss of my father in late 2020. I returned to therapy, a practice that continues to this day. I became more aggressive in my rejection of the Body Shame Profit Complex, and was gentler and more loving toward my body. I stayed more aware of my mental health and my needs on that front. When the vaccines came out and we had a spring and summer of something resembling normalcy, I spent time with my beloved family and community. The Full Moon Labyrinth walks during the warmer part of the year filled my soul and began healing the deep wounds the previous isolation caused. Best of all, I was at last able to marry my beloved partner in the sight of the gods, our family, and our community. Nurturing indeed.
My 2022 word was “Shine.” After two years of relative quiet, I felt called to shed as much light as I possibly could. I released my first book, Kindred Crow returned to the stage with a busy festival schedule, I produced the Frederick, Maryland, Pagan Pride Day with the help of an incredible team of people, and supported the growth and expansion of Frederick CUUPS, the Pagan community I have the honor of leading. There was so much shining that I sometimes felt a bit too like Bilbo’s quote: butter scraped over too much bread.
This upcoming year, 2023, is rolling in on unsteady wheels. The pandemic continues, and a vigorous cold and flu season is pushing our hospitals to their limits. We do not yet know how the mutating covid variants will play out, or what flu and RSV will ultimately do to the picture. The political system here in the United States continues to stagger forward unbalanced, the product of unchecked greed and poor governance in favor of ‘progress’ and capitalist values. Our cops continue to systematically oppress and assault black, indigenous, and people of color on a daily basis. The accelerating climate crisis is worsening (see also “progress” and capitalist values).
On the micro level, I am in the middle of writing my second book. My band’s show calendar is already filling for festival season. I have garden plans for my beautiful old haunted house that I am excited to put into motion. My own Pagan community is larger and more well-rounded than before the pandemic. There is hope amidst the chaos, new growth below the muddling haze of life in these United States.
I have been sitting with all of these thoughts, with what I learned from a year of aggressively spiraling outward. I feel in need of stabilizing, of returning to fundamentals, of becoming more present, more intentional, in my own life. I want to shore up my foundations so that the next round of “shining” is built on steadier footing. My last two monthly divinations have turned up cards that focus on rest, healing, centering, and building wisdom.
As I was contemplating what would be best this year, what would help the most, what would recenter me on bad days, what would act as the lamp I carry on good days, the word finally surfaced:
My word for 2023 is ‘“Root.”
Trees cannot offer shelter without deep, strong roots. A strong root system nourishes through connecting with multiple sources of energy. Root can also be used as a verb – to establish deeply and firmly, to reach out and grow more points of connection. We think of our family ancestry as our roots, and many Pagans describe ancestral practice as tending the root. Rootwork within magical parlance can also mean working on the core, central cause of a problem or situation.
We need strong foundations right now. If nothing else, the past few years have taught us that plans for the future are like the drifting smoke of incense – changeable, subject to currents we cannot see. Deep roots and solid connections are one way to make the variable winds more bearable. So this year, I want to go deep.
Things I think rooting will look like when it is self-directed:
- Prioritizing my mental health for stability and resilience
- Feeding my body less convenient/easy foods and more nutritious and strengthening foods
- Moving my body in ways that feel good, that make me feel stronger
- Getting my financial situation more stable
- Parenting myself through my impulsive moments and bouts of excitement to channel that energy into new ways to round out and go deep
- Connecting more deeply with the land I live on and helping it thrive
- Spending more time on spiritual practices that align me to my Gods and Allies so I can find the right path forward
Things I think rooting will look like when it is outwardly-directed:
- Continuing to create, support, and otherwise hold spaces for others to connect with community and form their own roots
- Using my role as a teacher and community organizer to shore up and strengthen the various groups, circles, and communities I come into contact with
- Encouraging others to go deep with me, to explore and enhance their own connection points, to build their own foundations
- Being a stable, reliable voice for the world we are building
- Holding the lantern of Pagan spirituality steadily for all who need it
There are a lot of ways to anchor an intention in everyday surroundings.
Find an image containing your word, or that reminds you of your word, and set it as the background on your phone, tablet, or console. This is the one I’ve chosen for my own device:
Display your word. Write your word on a sticky note and stick it to your desk. Or, go one step more elaborate and build an entire vision board. There’s not a ton of useful stuff that’s going to happen between now and January first. Break out some old magazines, glue sticks, and scissors and make a big self-care mess. Arts and crafts will be a better use of your time than most stuff right now.
Build a playlist. I have one that I created for my “Courageous” year that I still listen to when I need to be brave.
Write an affirmation. Those of you who have studied with me personally have already most likely experienced my affirmation lecture, probably more than once. I’ll TL:DR it for you: self-talk matters. Say nice things instead of shitty ones. Here’s my Root affirmation:
“I am rooting deeply into the present moment and stabilizing myself.”
Journal. Write about your word. Think about what actions will support it and write those down too. Revisit that journal entry from time to time to help hang onto the thread on hard days.
Set some check-ins. Put a calendar notification in your device for two weeks from now, a month from now, three months from now, or even further out to check in with how you’re supporting your intention. Remember, we all fall off the wagon sometimes. Resilience is the ability to dust off and climb back on.
So, what’s the word?
Hit me up in the comments. Let’s figure out what we most need to carry with us into a new calendar year.
If you enjoy my weekly blogs, please consider supporting me through Patreon. Patreon is what enables me to invest time in writing, teaching and exploring the wide world of spirit. Through small monthly donations from supporters, I am able to make ends meet and devote time to this Work that would otherwise be spent at a mundane form of income generation. Here’s the link: https://www.patreon.com/glassewitchcottage