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Back at the beginning of 2011, I wrote a post here at the Crossroads about creating a new Year Word.


This is a concept I learned from Quinn McDonald, who blogs over at QuinnCreative. Like myself, Quinn is not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions – easy to make, and far too easy to break. I don’t think I have ever had a resolution that I’ve successfully maintained throughout the year.

Instead, Quinn advocates the use of “Year Words” – a word that will symbolize the year for you…set the intention, or create a verbal amulet. A word that will give the year a sense of purpose.

For 2011 I chose the word “roots.” It was a word rich in meaning for me that year…with its many definitions and the many images that it conjured up for me. It just seemed like the appropriate word for where I was at during that year of my life.

I didn’t choose a new Year Word for 2012. I’m not sure if that was intentional, or if I simply forgot. I think on a subconscious level I wanted to continue the theme of roots, especially since I bought my first house in the fall of 2011, and thus was ready to begin putting down roots.

house with roots


2012 turned out to be pretty crappy. It was a time fraught with a lot of difficulties. What started off as a year filled with excitement and optimism quickly gave way to various struggles – personal, professional, financial, younameit. As days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, it became harder and harder to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of a challenging year.

In talking with others, it becomes obvious that 2012 was a not-so-great year for many of us. The economy took its toll on everyone, and there were lots of people (including myself) dealing with the harsh realities of trying to survive in the midst of limited employment opportunities and rising costs of living. With it being an election year, we were bombarded with quotes and promises from the various candidates, and soon folks were taking pot shots with one another as they lined up in support of one political party or the other, each with their own agendas. And for all that it was just erroneous hype, the “doom and gloom” of the Mayan Calendar predictions didn’t make things any easier to cope with.

I for one am certainly happy 2012 is over. I’ve survived my own personal “Tower Time”  and can now take a deep breath and look forward to what 2013 has to offer. I cannot say that my life has necessarily improved any in the past week or two, but I do feel a greater sense of calmness, and a stronger ability to deal with life’s trials and tribulations. Somehow, I think this year is going to be better…it certainly cannot get much worse. It’s just a matter of approaching it with the right attitude.

So when it came time to begin thinking about my Year Word, I thought back to all the shit I’d been through in 2012, and how I would like to change that for this year. And that’s when my word came to mind…


compost bin

It’s time to gather up all that seemingly icky stuff from the past and recycle it into fertilizer for the future. Shovel up the manure of 2012, add the food scraps of hard knocks, throw in the leaves of all my trials and the grass clippings of all my tribulations, include the coffee grounds from all those mocha lattes at Sunergos Coffee Shop. Give it a couple of good turns with a pitchfork, and Voila! I’ll have what some gardeners call “Black Gold” – that dark, rich, growing medium that provides support and nutrients in which plants can grow and flourish. And by creating my own compost of life, hopefully by the end of the year I will have a rich growing medium to mix into the soil of my knowledge and experience, thus creating the perfect garden bed for planting my own seeds of creativity and imagination, that they might sprout and grow into the plants of success.

I like the word compost. It’s earthy. It’s organic. It conjures up positive images and pleasant childhood memories. I grew up out in the country, and my family had a garden…and yes, we did use some early forms of composting back then. Over the years, I have used compost on my own gardens – growing my flowers, herbs, and vegetables…and I could swear it worked magick on the heirloom tomatoes!

Pagan leader and author Starhawk – who was one of my earliest teachers – talks a lot about compost in her books and her workshops. In fact, one of her first covens was called Compost:

We met tonight in the rented storefront. For a long time, we just talked…about our fears and doubts about magic and ourselves: that it isn’t real, that it is real, that it will stop, that it’s an ego trip, that we’re crazy, that what we really want is power, that we’ll lose our sense of humor and become pompous about it, that we won’t be able to take it seriously, that it won’t work, that it will work…

At one point, we all took hands , and started breathing together. Suddenly, we realized that a circle had been cast. We passed around the oil, for anointing, and kissed. Someone began a low humming, and Pat started tapping out a rhythm on the drum. And we were all chanting, interweaving voices and melodies, as if different words were coming through each of us:


Dawn and darkness…dawn and darkness…

Moo-oo-oon, Crescent Moo-oo-oon…

Pour out your light and your radiance upon us…

Shine! Shine! Shine! Shine! Shine!

and through it and behind it all, Beth was wailing on her kazoo, and it sounded like some strange Arabian oud, or a sobbing jazz saxophone, but we were smiling at the humor of it…

At the same moment, we all fell silent. Then we shared fruit, laughed, and talked about humor. We were thinking about a coven name, and someone suggested Compost. It was perfect! Earthy, organic, nurturing – and discouraging to self-inflation.

We are now the Compost coven!

The ritual worked. Whatever magic brings, it will not take away our ability to laugh at ourselves. And those fears grow less and less all the time. 

~ Starhawk’s Book of Shadows, reprinted from The Spiral Dance by Starhawk

I may not be a member of the Compost coven, but much like its membership I also have my fears and doubts. I too worry that it isn’t real, that it’s all just an ego trip, that all I really want is power, that I’m crazy…that I will wake up one day and discover that it won’t work, and it will stop. But I stand in the darkness and draw upon the radiance of the moon, and I work my magic and find those fears growing smaller by the day.

compost hands

So this year will be the year of making compost. I won’t make a resolution, but I will make an effort – an effort to take all that “shit happens” and turn it into some “happening shit” – fantastic fertilizer, awesome humus. And then I will plant my own garden and feed my own soul…and remember to always laugh at myself and take time to stop and smell the flowers.


It’s my word for 2013.

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