Whether or not you believe in New Year resolutions, January always brings with it a feeling of promise and transformation. The frenzy of the festive season is over, and there are twelve pages of the calendar ahead to fill with magic and memories.
This is a time where many people set goals or resolutions for the New Year. But the problem with concrete goals and resolutions is that they can be restrictive, and leave us feeling disheartened if we stray or don’t achieve what we set out to.
Intention setting is a more holistic way of mapping out the year you want to have. While similar, intentions are different than goals. For example, a goal might be “I want to lose x amount of weight.” While an intention would be, “I want to be healthier in mind, body and spirit.” A goal is focused on doing, while an intention is focused on being.
Intention setting can be explored through ritual, divination and creativity. Below, we explore some ways you can set your intentions for the year ahead.
Types of Intentions
Firstly, here are some example intentions you might want to work with:
I intend to practice kindness, forgiveness and empathy
I intend to be more present, conscious and mindful
I intend to focus on and nurture the important relationships in my life
I intend to open myself more to creativity and playfulness
I intend to be kind to myself and practice self-care
I intend to be strong and healthy in my body, mind and spirit
I intend to be bold and explore new horizons
You can make your intentions briefer or more expansive than this. An intention could even be one word: kindness, positivity, focus, gratitude, courage.
Rituals can be a nice way to activate, record and explore your intentions. Here are a few ritual ideas to think about:
With its cleansing and transformative energy, fire is an important element in intention-setting rituals. Candles are great summoner of fire, and are a key tool in most magical altars or just everyday homes.
To use candles in your intention-setting ritual, light a candle with a particular scent or colour that corresponds with your intention. For example, rose is a scent of self-love and relationships, while green is a colour of new life and fresh beginnings. Focus on the energy that the candle and its flame are emanating. You may wish to close your eyes, meditate or repeat your intention in your head. Next, write down your intention/s on a piece of paper, and then burn the paper in a fire-proof vessel using the candle flame.
Burning the intention doesn’t destroy it. It imbues the fire’s transformative energy onto the intention and sends it out into the universe. It’s a powerful way of bringing your intentions to life.
Crystals are some of the most powerful tools you can use in your spiritual practice. They have a variety of properties and energies - healing, spiritual, protective and otherwise. Do some research and figure out what crystals best correspond with your intentions. We have a number of books on the subject in our Reference collection here.
For your simple crystal ritual, you can choose to hold the crystals in your hand, arrange them in a circle around you, or create a crystal grid. Make sure you’re in a quiet place and that your actions are deliberate. As you work with your crystals, focus on your intention/s - you might like to speak them out loud like a mantra, or recite them inside your head. Use the crystal energy to set and strengthen your intentions.
As intention setting is all about the state of being, meditation is a perfect way to connect with your intentions. You might have your own preferred way or meditating, or it might be something new you’re exploring in 2020. Meditation for Beginners is a good book on the subject if you're new to the practice.
Once you settle into your meditation and find your inner space to focus, call on your intention like a mantra. You might hear it in your head, see it written in words, or even imagine future scenes related to your intention unfolding in your mind. Once you figure out what works for you, you can use meditation throughout the year to reconnect with your intention and refocus your energy to stay on the right path.
Divination and Intention Setting
Divination can help you refine and set your intentions if you're not sure yet what your focus will be for the year. By taking a look at future possibilities, you'll gain a better idea of what intentions will help get you there. Here are a few divinatory methods you might want to try:
Tarot readings help give us a holistic view of our past, present and future. There are various tarot spreads you can do, which we outlined in a previous blog post here. In particular, a Celtic Cross or Past-Present-Future spread can work well for intention setting. These spreads help illuminate future pathways and possibilities, and you can use the results of these readings to set your intention for the year ahead.
Using oracle cards is a way of calling on the universe to help set your intentions. Simply sit quietly with your cards and think about the year ahead - perhaps envision the things you’d like to see happen, or the way you’d like to feel at the end of the year. Pull a card, and the message on that card can be your intention for 2020.
Similar to oracle cards, runestones can be used quite simply for intention setting. While focusing on the year ahead, pull a runestone out of your collection. The symbolic meaning behind the rune will help light the path for your year.
Lastly, creative activities are another great way to explore and set your intentions for 2020. Transferring your intentions into words or images is a beautiful way to manifest them into the physical world.
If you have a journal or Book of Shadows, write down your intentions in there. You could also write them on a piece of paper and place them on your altar, another special place in your home, or carry them with you in your bag or wallet.
If you’re more visually inclined, you might choose to draw or sketch scenes that relate to your intention. Vision boards are also extremely popular - create a collage from magazines, newspapers, postcards, craft materials and more that visually encapsulates your vision and intentions for 2020. Keep this in a special place, so that you can refer to it throughout the year and draw on its energy.
Whichever way you choose to set your intentions for 2020, we hope your year ahead is one of magic, exploration, fulfilment and joy. Always feel free to drop us a line if you want to know more about a topic related to myth, magic or spirituality, or come visit us to see what we've got in store. Happy New Year!