7 Afro-Latina Spiritual Rituals to Do for the New Year

I remember one early December waking up to water slipping underneath my bedroom door

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I remember one early December waking up to water slipping underneath my bedroom door. I was twelve and it was seven in the morning on a Saturday. My Latina mom was up and she had officially begun her end of the year cleaning which entailed everything from washing walls, cleaning the entire house, and re-painting before Christmas. The sounds of the broom whooshing water out of the house was a wake-up call for her children to get on board with preparations.

I used to be so annoyed then. Why? Why on the weekend would she be up so early? What inspired the cleaning frenzy? Now I know that my mama knew best. You cannot start the New Year with a dirty house and without setting an intention for what one hopes to bring home as the solar year shifts. Here I share some of my mama’s and elders’ wisdom to help us transition gracefully into 2019.


Clean your body

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Seven days before New Year’s Eve prepare a white bath. You can mix it in one bucket and keep diluting it every day or you can do a different batch every day. You can draw yourself a luxurious bath for seven days or you can just have a jug ready to pour over yourself after your nighttime shower, right before going to bed. A white bath is ideal to cleanse yourself, shed fears, sadness, resentments, and anger before entering the New Year. As you cleanse, you invoke joy, a clean heart, and a vision for how you plan to grow.

A white bath can be composed of any kind of milk, rice water, cascarilla, white rum, white flowers, or a combination of these ingredients. Every night set time aside for your bath. As you pour water through your body called forth the intention to clean your body, heart, mind, and spirit. Pray to be open to blessings coming in the New Year. Write in your journal about experiences and lessons learned this past year.

Face honestly and deeply any pain. Then release it. If you must cry, do it. Let the water help you. Let your tears become a water prayer for wellness. Make sure that by the seventh day, you have already found reasons to smile. And always be grateful to the Universe for giving you another day of life, another day to enjoy the beauty of a tree on your way to work, another day to grow. Do not take the gift of life for granted.


Set An Intention

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Forget about resolutions. Just set an intention, whether it be for a healthier self, healthier eating habits, healthier relationships, and self-love. Set the intention to find the best ways to fulfill your destiny on this earth, to be of service to others, earth-caring for loved ones, caring for strangers, caring for water, land, air, the vegetal world, and the animal world. Pray to be open to see the signs that show which way to go.


Nurture Your Dreams

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Find a plant that speaks to you, that wants to find a home with you. Give a plant a home. Write your intentions for the New Year and place them underneath the pot; surrender those intentions to your plant friend. She can hear you. Every time you care for it, remember to tend to those intentions. Caring for your new roommate will be a meditative exercise that reminds you to keep yourself grounded in your desire to be your best self to yourself and others.

Tend to your plant friend. Love her.

Tend to yourself and remember that, like plants, we live through cycles of life and death, of seasonal transformations; that, like plants, we need care and love to grow and be bountiful. We need to be rooted in our natural landscape, in our ancestral heritage, in our communities to fulfill our sacred role in the ecosystem. Love your new friend and love yourself.


Clean your Home

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This is one of the oldest traditions. Sweep your home from the back to the front. Facing, naming, and letting go of any hard memories associated with your home this year. Pick up the debris and take it to the trash outside. Do not leave it at the front door. You do not want to track it back inside.


Bless Your Home

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Prepare some sweet waters, Florida water, flower water, any kind of water that brings joy to your heart. Mop your home from the entrance door to the back. Bless your home with love and your intentions for the New Year. Remember to keep intentions clear. Creation hears us. And always set intentions that are meant to align you with your purpose on earth.

Thank the water, the flowers, the essences for helping you in this prayer. Pray for the well-being of our rivers and plant neighbors. Without them, what would we do?


Get Guidance for the New Year

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Visit your spiritual guide, healer, priest/ess. Discuss lessons from the last year and areas of growth for the new one. Get a reading, reiki treatment, astrology chart. What are your strengths? Weaknesses? What do you need to shift to feel that you are on the journey that fulfills you and your destiny on earth? The best way to honor your body, heart, spirit, and your connections to living others — human and non-human.


Create a Circle of Gratitude, Love, and Reciprocity

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Send thank you letters. Letters are very special and rare these days. But an email, Facebook message, tweet or other kinds of messages work too. Say thank you to someone who was there for you this year; or who brought a smile one day when you needed one; or simply someone who should be recognized. Highlight their blessings, how they bring light to other people’s lives. Foster a circle of gratitude, love, and reciprocity.

Thank the earth for being here with us, for holding us, for feeding us, for quenching our thirst; for trying to do her best for us as we constantly modify it, not always for everyone’s benefit.

Be mindful of how you deploy natural resources. Be mindful of how you relate to all Creation, human and non-human. Heed the old adage: Treat others like you wish to be treated.

Love. And learn to love well without co-dependence, indebtedness, or neediness. Loving yourself first so you can truly love others. Learn in interdependence and reciprocity.

Share the love. Be thankful for the love received.

All we all want is to be loved, healthy love. Give love. Feel it for yourself. And learn to receive it.

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