Full disclosure: I cried on my birthday five years in a row.
I was smack in the middle of the wilderness years of my twenties, and I wasn’t too keen on the path my life was taking. Rather than celebrate everything I’d managed to achieve, I bemoaned what I hadn’t accomplished and drank way too much and stumbled home in a puddle of my own tears. They were far from the most enjoyable birthdays I experienced, but they did manage to teach me something: taking time to decide what kind of “party” we need can definitely make or break the occasion.
Since b-days always stirred up some serious shadow shit for me, I did my best to ignore them and didn’t plan much of anything. One of two things happened: the day came and I had nothing to do (and was therefore depressed and whiny), or my friends planned a get-together that often didn’t resonate with how I was feeling (therefore drunkenness and embarrassment).
Consciously working through some of the more difficult emotions that birthdays engender (read: I’m getting older, I haven’t yet written the great American novel, what’s my true calling, and what is life anyway?) will pave the way for meaningful contemplation that empowers you to honor who you are and to decide who you want to be.
Pimp Out Your Morning Ritual
It’s your birthday, beauty, and that means that you deserve to spend some extra time indulging in self-love and self-care. Make yourself a special breakfast (because who needs to rely on someone else to give us the love we deserve?) and bring it to the altar. Savor the scent and flavor of your coffee. Delight in the glorious taste of your waffles/pancakes/omelette and think about how many mornings you’ve had the pleasure to see on this earth. If you’re feeling adventurous (or particularly sharp), try and remember a few (remember that time you were allowed to eat Lucky Charms every day on vacation?). See if you can conjure the emotion of some of your best mornings and embody that emotion for as long as you can.
Light a candle and thank your guides for all of their love and support–whether real or imagined (or both), they’ve seen you through some serious shit and showing gratitude for their guidance will make you feel all warm and fuzzy.
Switch on your favorite meditation music and devote some time to mindfulness. Let what comes up come up, and let it pass. Keep a journal handy to make note of any “birthday shadow” that comes up and that you may want to work on later. Take in the sounds, the smells, and tap into your inner smile.
Ritual Bath Time
I prefer to take my b-day ritual bath in the AM, but whatever time resonates with you is best. I smudge the crap out of the bathroom with sage and palo santo to clear out last year’s metaphysical detritus and I fill a sachet with my favorite herbs (red rose petals, hibiscus, red clover, chamomile). I add the sachet to the bath along with a decoction of cinnamon (good luck and prosperity), cloves (luck and protection), and cardamom pods (lust, because it’s my b-day). Then I toss in some sea salt and soak for as long as I feel the need. Depending on how long I’m in there, I may even dip into the astral and have a chat with my matron. Again, this is an exercise to help me relax and savor and to encourage any challenging emotions to rise to the surface.
Shadow Work Hour
By all means–take as much time as you’d like (or as you need) to shadow work. For some of us, it’s safer to shadow work at set times the week before your birthday (*ahem* this lady). For others, a little bit will go a long way. Regardless, I do recommend that you do some so you can clear the air and the space and make room for what awaits in the next year. Bust out your journal and write about some of the more challenging and difficult ordeals you lived through. How did you manage? What did they teach you? How will you apply what you’ve learned moving forward? If you have any funky feelings about childhood birthdays (maybe they weren’t honored or perhaps you had a parent or loved one who couldn’t be there), this is the time to think about it, to feel it, and to write it.
Think of how much you were able to thrive and survive through. Pat yourself on the back for making it through another year (relatively) unscathed. Praise your very soul and being for its strength and fortitude, and if you’re a fan of romantic poetry, read “To You” by Walt Whitman and struggle to hold back tears when you read the last line: “what you are picks its way.” Allow your shadow session to beautifully transition into a celebration of self, and in this spirit, get out the mags and the decoupage.
Make a Birthday Candle
Birthday candles are so often throw-away items; here’s a chance to craft your own personal birthday candle and imbue it with meaning. Perhaps you’ll let it burn all day in celebration of you and who you are. Perhaps you light it for an hour, then blow it out so you may light it again next year–the choice is yours.
Prayer candle (cheap and affordable and stocked at most grocery or dollar stores)
Magazine clippings that delight and inspire you
Mod Podge (Elmer’s glue can be used as a substitute if need be)
Paint brush or sponge
Anointing oil (optional)
Glitter (also optional, but why not?)
Cover the glass container of your prayer candle with a layer of Mod Podge and let it dry. Next, scrawl sigils, a spell, words of inspiration, self-love, and encouragement all over the glass container. Next, apply Mod Podge to the back of each magazine clipping and arrange them however you’d like on the candle. Let dry, and apply a layer of Mod Podge over the entire outside of the candle. Anoint either the wax or the candle with oil, and light that bad boy as you set intentions for the year to come.
Perform a Release Ritual
Birthdays are a perfect time to clear out all the psycho-spiritual crap that’s high-jacking your consciousness. Write a list of the behaviors, relationships, dynamics, and patterns you’d like to release as you move into your new year. Gather banishing materials (Sage, black tourmaline, smoky quartz, hematite, cloves, etc) and an organza (or mojo) bag and bring them to the altar. Create sacred space and light a black candle. Speak your list to the cosmos as you fill your bag with the crystals and herbs. When you’ve finished reciting, pass the burning sage over your spell bag and seal it. If you’re feeling so inclined, dig a hole and bury it, and whisper, “so mote it be.”
Work With Your Birthday Reading
A year ahead tarot reading is an awesome way to take a deep look at the energies and archetypes you’ll be working with in the coming year, and it can seriously help you in terms of setting intentions. Many choose to get their year ahead tarot/astro readings on their birthdays simply because a) birthday money, and b) a birthday is an opportunity to reflect, redefine, and channel power and creativity (allow me an opportunity for shameless self-promotion: I offer a variety of readings in my shop, and the Witch Path Reading is perfect if you want to explore your practice in greater depth.
Using your birthday reading as a guide, create a list of intentions that reflect what you’d like to embody and manifest in the coming year.
If your tarot reader is worth their salt, this shouldn’t be too difficult–you’ll have gained some clarity on the patterns you’re stuck in and some ways you might emerge from those patterns. After you’ve finished, create sacred space and speak your intentions to the universe (come to think of it, now might be an apt time to light that b-day candle you made). You can do this after you’ve done the release ritual to seal your workings with a wish and a kiss.
Blow Out Your Candles and Make a Wish
Seriously, though–this ritual is performed by so many people worldwide that it’s bound to have some pretty serious heft magick-wise. Even though it’s pretty difficult when you have several pairs of eyes staring at you, take a moment to look a little foolish and to wish with every fiber of your being. Male sure that you know what you’re wishing for before the moment, and that it’s a wish that has your highest good (and the highest good of others), in mind.
Happy, Birthday, Witches XOXO
Hello, Wise One! I’m Jessi.
I’m the ritual-crafting, card-reading, mindshifting maven who’s here to help you conjure what’s best and brightest in your soul.