Southern folks are often quite superstitious. My family has long lived by certain "rules" like:
- Never eat both sides of the bread before you eat the middle or you won't be able to make ends meet.
- You should never take an old broom into a new house.
- Do not buy your husband shoes or he will find a way to walk out of your life.
- Itchy palms are a sign of money coming your way.
New Year's Day is significant enough to warrant a special set of norms influenced by mysticism:
- Eat black-eyed peas, cabbage and collard greens on New Year's day for luck and money.
- The first person to set foot in your house should be a man, for good luck.
- Washing dishes and doing laundry should be done on New Year's Eve. By the time January 1 rolls around, your home should be clean. This will bring order and peace into your life. If you do these chores on New Year's Day, it will bring bad luck or lead to a death in the family.
Persian people also have superstitions. My mom carries out a few select rituals to ward off bad spirits and the “evil eye.” She still warns me about sharing my achievements or aspirations with other people for fear of “cheshm khordan”, or being struck by the evil eye. She has encouraged me to be discerning about who I am friends with, because there are people who pretend to be our friends or feign good intentions for us. In reality, they have salty eyes ("cheshmeh shoor"). They are secretly envious and will channel negativity, doubt, or failure onto the endeavors of other people. My mom buys cheshm nazar jewelry or amulets to protect us against the evil eye or salty eye.
I have encountered many people who I suspect have salty eyes, as I am sure many other people have. My mom is skilled at identifying such people, but I am still trying to get better at picking up on their subtleties. It is important to be attentive to how people act when they are alone with you, as well as their behavior with other people. Do they gossip about their "good friends" to you? Do you find people who you are not close with knowing bits and pieces of your personal life that you would never have discussed with them? When they drink, do they demonstrate hostile behavior towards you or confess to feelings of jealousy and insecurity? Are they lukewarm when you have good news or quickly change the subject away from your success? Do they pry? If they do any or all of these things, they probably have salty eyes!
I do my best to protect myself against people with salty eyes and get rid of bad spirits in my space. I personally feel as though I am very sensitive to the energy, moods, and attitudes of other people since I am a very thoughtful, intentional person. I try to be careful about what music I listen to, avoid a lot of television, and definitely do not spend a lot of time on social media. I pare down my feeds to keep the Negative Nancy's out of sight! Have you ever felt like you've entered a "funk" after consuming those things? Some people's sullenness and pessimism rubs off on you! Negativity is very contagious.
I have made it a practice to regularly use certain rituals and prayer to cleanse my living space. Doing these things usually helps to uplift my mood, clear my energy field, and enhance my personal aura. It also purifies my environment.
I like to do smudging during New Moons or Full Moons depending on how I am feeling. New moons are symbolic of fresh starts and new beginnings; full moons are for transitions, manifesting your desires, or closure. Sometimes, I will smudge if I am just feeling compelled to by something that has happened or a general feeling of being restless, uncomfortable, or unwell. I typically plan ahead and buy my smudge sticks from The Hoodwitch, but when I am short on time I will buy them at Whole Foods.
One of my New Year's Eve traditions has always writing down my overarching goals, affirmations, and intentions. I meditate on them using crystals. Raw Rose Quartz and Citrine tend to be two of my favorite for this ritual. Raw Rose Quartz helps is nurturing and Citrine is a stone of prosperity. Whatever comes to me, I write down in the form of a prayer to say during the next part of my ritual.
After I have devoted that time to envisioning and vocalizing the desires of my heart, I burn my Esfand seeds. You can buy them at Middle Eastern or Indian markets, as well as online. When you burn Esfand seeds, they make a popping sound and produce a smoke that is circled around the head and spread throughout the home to take away the evil. I open my windows so that the evil spirits and negative energy is pushed out of my home. Then I start my smudging using sticks of sage, cedar, and mugwort.
This January 1 is a quadruple whammy - as New Year's Day, a Full Moon, a Super Moon, and a Wolf Moon. Let's break that down:
- New Year's Day: This is truly the penultimate day of personal rebirth (birthdays, in my opinion, are the ultimate day). While I focus solely on myself on my birthday, I think of New Year's Day as one to reexamine yourself relative to the world around you. In the time leading up to New Year's Day, you get your world affairs in order by cleaning your home, paying off debts or returning things that you borrowed from others, and making amends with other people. You also should prepare your goals, affirmations, and set your plans in place. By New Year's Day, you should be rid of chaos and see established order. You should also be prepared for action. This is why I smudge on New Year's Day, as it is the final acknowledgment of my intentions and affirmations.
- Full Moon: A Full Moon has completed the lunar cycle, which means it represents a fresh start is on the horizon that you need to prepare for. This is a time for transformation and closure. You are supposed to focus on releasing toxic or stagnant energies. This is a powerful time to look back on your goals and plans, since you are usually more emotionally sensitive. I find myself incredibly intuitive and reflective (in contrast, during New Moons I typically feel energized, motivated, courageous, and ambitious). Self care, journal writing, and meditating should be prioritized at this time. This will help you attain some clarity of mind in preparation for the New Moon, when you will start reassessing action plans, creating goals, and starting new projects.
- Super Moon: A Super Moon occurs when the moon is at its closest approach to Earth. Visually, the moon will look much brighter than usual. The Super Moon will enhance the effect of the full moon. Expect to be even more emotional than usual. You may see subtle energies, circumstances, or influences that were fairly imperceptible before. This is great because you can choose to acknowledge and amplify them or purge them.
- Wolf Moon: Here's a nice write up on the symbolism of a Wolf Moon. As you know, wolves are very strategic and resourceful animals that can survive harsh conditions. Strategic, resourceful and incredibly communicative, the Wolf is a noble mentor for humankind. In wolf packs, there they exhibit a great deal of reverence. They are also verbally and non-verbally expressive. Under the Wolf Moon, do some self examination on how you express your thoughts and the traditions of whatever community you are a part of. This self examination will reveal opportunities to learn and improve, drawing on the wisdom of our elders.