How to end and start the year mindfully

As I am writing these lines, I am sitting at the kitchen table with a mug of tea. The weather is murky, wet and foggy. The snow that we had over Christmas (such joy and such a rare sight here!) is all gone now. The world outside looks a bit sad and dreary. An ideal backdrop for an article I have been meaning to write for a couple of days now. The year is ending soon and this time around, I have tried an ancient ritual for the first time that I wanted to share with you.

I am not sure if this folklore around “Rauhnächte” is actually a thing for the English speaking audience but I will try describing it regardless. The Rauhnächte are twelve special nights and days, starting with the winter solstice on December 21 or with Christmas Eve (depending on which tradition you follow) and they are said to be a timeframe in which the gates between the spiritual and the material world are open a crack which allows for weird and wonderful things to happen. Also, whatever is experienced or dreamt during this time has a certain prophetic power – at least that is the popular believe in Germany that stems from medieval times. There are a number of different rituals and traditions people have practiced around these twelve nights (from fumigating the house, which is where the name comes from to not washing and hanging up any clothes) and I have chosen just two rituals that I found most useful and appealing for my own circumstances.

My Rauhnächte rituals 2021/2022

  • “Burning wishes” – First, I wrote 13 wishes onto 13 small pieces of paper and folded them up. Each night before going to bed, I am burning one wish (no peeping :-)). The last piece of paper that remains is the wish that I will have to work on myself for it to get fulfilled – the rest is being taken care of by the universe. What a comforting thought. 😊 On the title picture you can see my wish from last night burning.
  • “Taking note” – In addition, I am keeping a diary in which I write down my dreams each morning when I wake up and also a bit of what happened throughout the day each night when I go to sleep. I note the weather, my mood and what the day brought. Each of the 12 nights is said to represent one month in the following year: The first night for January, the second for February and so on. Some people say that the twelve nights foreshadow some of what the new year might bring. It would be interesting to check back later if that is the case. One immediate benefit I realized is that I can now remember my dreams a lot better. On the first morning it was near impossible to recall anything and now that I have been doing it a coupe of times, it be becomes easier to piece the dream fragments together.

Intentions are kinder to me and yet more successful than resolutions

What I like about the burning wishes ritual is that it uses intention setting rather that formulating resolutions. For me, new year resolutions have the notion of being strict, ambitious, unforgiving and not particularly friendly to yourself. Either you hit the mark or you miss and then you feel miserable. Statistics show that even the best intended resolutions usually fail by February. With intentions, it is different: If you want something and consciously formulate it as an intention for the future, then it can happen in a way that feels natural and effortless. Sounds too good to be true? Well, there is now a growing body of evidence that setting intentions really works. The theory behind it: Energy will flow to where you direct your attention, and this in turn will make it possible for you to embody what you wish for today in your attitude (internally and externally), and this in turn can cause other people to trust you and for your intention to come true step by step and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For a long time I thought this was esoteric fluff. 😏 Only when I tried it out for myself and was totally amazed at how well it worked, did I really come to appreciate this powerful development tool.

Two simple tools that help to set intentions

In case you would also like to set intentions and welcome the year ahead in a mindful way, I am sharing here two things that have helped me in the past. You can start them both at your own time they are both super straight-forward and yet surprisingly powerful.

Year Compass: For the first time last year, I used the Year Compass. It helps to reflect on the past year and consciously set intentions for the coming year. It’s a little booklet that sort of “takes you by the hand” and invites you to reflect, think ahead and fantasize along a couple of coaching questions. You can download the booklet on the website, it is free of charge (on a donation basis). I used it for the first time last year and can say in retrospect that most of what I recorded there as a wish did come true. So I will take some time today first to browse through last year`s compas and then in the coming two days to write, draw, reflect and imagine my next year.


Letter to myself: As part of my New Work training at Les Enfants Terribles, I learned about this tool and was totally blown away by the effect. It is quite simple: You write a letter to your future self (this can be a couple of months or even a year in the future) and congratulate yourself for everything you have achieved so far. In doing so, it helps to imagine and describe as accurately as possible what your future life will look like, e.g. “You now live together with …… in a …… house, you are enjoying ….. and you spend a lot of time with …… On the professional side, you have achieved….. your colleagues are……” and so on. In my case there was a time gap of 5 months until the letter was delivered to me. When reading it I was overflowing with joy to see how much of what I wrote had really materialzed. If you search for the term “letter to myself”, you will find providers that deliver offer the service of delivering a letter to you at the right time or you can ask a friend to do so.

This is the letter tomyself that I wrote end of September 2020 and received in early March 2021

Rummelpott – another “first ever” ritual for me that I am looking forward to

In northern Germany, there is a tradition at the end of the year (December 31) that we missed last year but hope to make up for this time: Rummelpott. For this, we put a fire bowl in the yard and invite the neighbors for punch and give sweets to the children who come by to sing. Of course no more than a handful of people at a time, with ample distance and a lot of caution. I wonder how much longer we will have to be cautious and if there will ever be a time of carefree chatting, dancing, hugging and singing again. I do hope so!

I wish you all the best for your new year, dear one.

May it be fulfilling, healthy and inspiring for you. ✨

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