I adore ritual. I couldn't imagine going through my life without those wonderful moments of devotion and pause and reflection. Whether you look at ritual as a grand event shared by a coven or a whole tradition or the simple act of stopping to smell the roses on a walk, we humans tend to love our special moments. Interesting side note: Quite a few of our furred and feathered friends also engage in rituals, but that's another story.

January provides us all with the great opportunity to take a big breath in and hit the reset button. Every year for more than a decade, I've taken part in a sweet, private ritual to mark the passing of one year and the beginning of the next one. My partner and I look forward to this ritual each and every year. It's basic and yet contained in the simplicity is a tremendously profound act.

Towards the end of the year, we find two coins from the waning year. We typically use pennies because, well, because we like pennies.

We drive to a high Cliffside along the rugged Sonoma coast. We’ve dubbed this place the “ultimate picnic spot” and it overlooks a favourite stretch of ours that we call “Magic Beach”. We’ve done all sorts of magic there too.


We park on a precarious little pull-in and begin the short climb up a well-used deer trail. We carefully pick our way through the Coyote bushes and blackberry bushes, minding that we don’t tread on any mushrooms or the occasional creepy crawly thing. We look for mule deer tracks (and the occasional bobcat tracks). We take deep breaths, filling our lungs with a swirling blend of sea air and fresh flora.

Eventually we find ourselves on the edge of the cliff, overlooking a cove that looks like a set from a pirate movie. There’s a huge outcropping that the relentless ocean has carved a hole through. Some years there’s a waterfall and, depending on the tides, huge waves crashing in making incredible sprays.

And then, standing as close the edge as we dare, we each grab a penny. We take turns remembering the year – the challenges and the high points. We speak out loud as if the Old Year was just a few hundred yards away listening to us. We thank the year that was (sometimes with a good riddance!) and pitch the pennies into the sea below. If we’re feeling brave, we strip down and stand naked in front of the New Year and welcome what’s on the way. Some years, if it’s cold and wet we just lift up our coats and flash our chests. Other years, even with the rain, we’ve frolicked about like mad witches.

Huge bowls of clam chowder and warm bread frequently follow this ritual!

Now, perhaps, you don't live near the ocean or your circumstances might not allow you to go lumbering around a cliff-side and a large body of water, but you can approximate this ritual pretty easily. You could throw the pennies over your shoulder or bury them, symbolically releasing the year back into the Earth.

I'm curious what rituals you do to mark new beginnings. Feel free to share!