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Ask Your Mama

by Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

Are you cyclicallyconfused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more.


                                                *AskYour Mama™                                          

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Spirituality and Didn’t KnowWho to Ask™


©Mama Donna Henes,Urban Shaman



A Question of a New YearClean Sweep

Dear MamaDonna,

This has been the year from hell. I feel used, abused, andgrimy. My entire life has gotten out of control. In my depression I have evenlet my normally orderly house go. My family is disgusted. What symbolic act canI do at New Year that would help to make me feel like I can make a clean start?

—A Mess in Michigan


Dear Ms. Mess,

As we near the New Year, our thoughts turn to newbeginnings, new possibilities, new hope. This fragile interval which separatesone year from the next is pregnant with potential. We find ourselves takingtime out of time to evaluate our past experiences and actions and to prepareourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually for our future. Our reflectionsand resolutions at this transition period of the great turning of the annualwheel are critical, for they create the ambient atmosphere and attitude for theentire year to come.

A new year represents another chance, a fresh start, a cleanslate, and so we embark upon the shift as on a dangerous journey, freshlybathed and outfitted, full of purpose, fingers crossed in blessing. Peopleenjoy elaborate toilettes; bodies washed, dressed, groomed, combed until theyare thoroughly cleansed — often internally as well through fasting. On New Yearin Bengal, pilgrims bathe in the RiverGanges. The Cherokee spend the eve of the New Year in vigil on the banks of ariver. At dawn they immerse themselves seven times, emerging purified and newlike the year.

In addition to purifying our person, special care has alwaysbeen taken to clean and maintain the temples, churches, synagogues, cemeteries,groves, and shrines, in which prayers for the propitious New Year are made. In Myanmar, the former Burma, the New Year festival of Thingyandrenches the entire country, every building and dwelling, and all of itsinhabitants in cleansing water. All images of the Buddha, indoors and out, arescrubbed clean as a crucial display of blessings.

By obvious extension, this New Year’s urge to purge includesour home environments, where the most intimate and ordinary prayers of dailylife are uttered. If a man's home is his castle, surely it is a woman's shrine.Cleaning house to make ready for a new year is a universal task, symbolic andreverant as it is practical. Out with the old and in with the new! Death todirt! Removing the dust and detritus accumulated during the previous yearensures the ridding of a dwelling and its occupants of the shortcomings anddisappointments delivered during that time as well. Domestic renovationsignifies spiritual and social renewal.

All over the world, houses are scrubbed spic and span fromtop to bottom and yards and walkways are swept spotlessly clean. In old England, New Year's Day was the annualsweeping of all chimneys. The expression "to make a clean sweep"comes from this New Year’s custom. In Hong Kong, ten days before the New Year, women observe a Dayfor Sweeping Floors. At this time, an intensive house cleaning is begun inreadiness for the New Year. Nothing, no corner, is left untouched. On NewYear’s Day Moroccans pour water over themselves, their animals, the floors andwalls of their homes. In Wales, children go door to door to begwater from their neighbors which they then scatter all over the houses of theircommunity in order to bless them.

In manyNative American cultures, in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, hearthfires are extinguished annually and ritually rekindled in a New Year ritual ofnew fire. In this way, sins and devils are purged in purification ceremoniessymbolizing spiritual renewal. Zuni women throw out their live embers, thensprinkle their entire homes with corn meal in a rite called House Cleansing inorder to ensure good fortune in child birth in the coming year. During theIranian New Year celebration of Narooz, wild rue is burned in householdsbecause it is believed to drive away all evil and usher in a happy andpropitious new year.

Santería,which combines elements of the West African Yoruban religion with those of theCatholic Church and the traditions of the indigenous tribes of the Caribbean, has many methods of spiritualhouse cleaning. Ordinarily one cleans one's own home, altar, and aura with awide variety of special washes, herbs, and candles. But in serious cases ofimpurity, a padrina/padrino will makea house call to perform a special purification ceremony. S/he most often willspit rum in a fine spray around the room, or roll a burning coconut along thefloor while praying, to rid the place of bad energy.

So,darling, get out the brooms and the buckets, roll up your sleeves and get towork. Scrub the grime out of your environment and your mentality. The act ofcleaning will help you to feel like you are back in control of your life, andan orderly, cheerful house will definitely improve your mood. Light someincense and some candles and invite in some fresh, new energy.


Happy NewYear to you.





                        "Ifthe doors of perception were cleansed

               everything would appear as itis, infinite."

- William Blake



*Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary?Completely clueless? Wonder no more. Send your questions about seasons, cycles,and celebrations to Mama Donna at cityshaman@aol,com.




DonnaHenes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, ritual expert, award-winningauthor, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations ofcelestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporaryceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She haspublished four books, a CD, an acclaimed Ezine and writes for The HuffingtonPost and UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum. Mama Donna, as she isaffectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritualpractice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she where she where sheoffers intuitive tarot readings and spiritual counseling and works withindividuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to createmeaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.  www.DonnaHenes.net    www.TheQueenOfMySelf.com


For All Your Ritual Needs : MamaDonnasSpiritShop.com

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