Happy New Year by Barbara Ardinger


Here we are, beginning a new year. Let’s hope it’s a good new year. I grew up in a working-class family in St. Louis. We were Calvinist and Republican. I’ve escaped from the last two, but I still claim my working class background. My father was a lithographer, my mother, a housewife. And I will never forget the advice given every year (actually, more than once every year) by my Dutch grandmother: Whenever you start something new, start clean. Take a bath, brush your teeth, wash your hair. More than that, she meant clean your house. Wash dishes. Dust. Vacuum. Pick up stray books and pet toys. Gramma put the fear of god in me, at least about cleaning. Every time she took the bus down to visit me while I was in graduate school, I spent two days cleaning my apartment.

It’s thanks to Gramma that when I wrote a daybook titled Pagan Every Day, I started the year writing about home. Here’s the page for January 1:

Usually, we invoke Janus on this first day of the year. He was the Roman two-faced god of the doorway (ianus), the transition point between the safe indoors and the outside world, where anything could happen. Roman weren’t alone in believing that this opening needed to be protected. The mezuzah, which holds verses from Deuteronomy, is affixed to doors of Jewish houses, the façade around the doorway of a medieval cathedral is as elaborate as the altar, and nearly every pagan is taught to cut a “doorway” into the energy of the circle. As the doorway stands between inside and outside, so does the turning year stand between an old year we knew and a new year we don’t yet know. Janus gave his name to January and the Romans honored him all month. Before he came to the city, however, he was Dioanus, an Italian oak god whose consort was the woodland goddess, Diana.

cardeaLet’s honor Janus, then let him be. Let’s turn to Cardea, the Roman goddess who represents the hinges on the door. As the hinge goddess, Cardea supervises our comings and goings. Every time we go through that door, there she is, the hinge of our busy life. Sometimes she squeaks. Sometimes she sticks. Could these be auguries? Almost always, she permits us to move at will. She knows that we will come home again. Reader, in your mind’s eye see Cardea at your door. Expand your vision and see her balancing on the hinges of your life. Where will you go this year? She’ll be with you. And just so we have it by heart, let us repeat with Dame Julian of Norwich: All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

Of course, Gramma didn’t know anything about pagan pantheons. She meant clean your house. I will not say whether or not I had Gramma in mind when I wrote Finding New Goddesses  and Found (i.e., invented) The Queen of Clean:

Here is a true Goddess for all lands and seasons. The Queen of Clean is the Found Goddess of just about Ten Thousand Names. As we get out the dust cloth and the sponge and prepare to vacuum the cat hair out of the carpet, we can invoke Her in any of Her multitudinous manifestations: Sultana of Swab, Our Lady of Ablution, Hagia Hygienica, Maiden of the Mop, Mother Laundry, Crone of Cleanser, Dowager of Disinfectant, Empress of Pumice, Pristine Princess, Duchess of the Duster, Wench of the Whiskbroom, Grisette of Degreasing, Dame of Dry Cleaning, Señora Scrub, Frau Spick’n’Span, Madame Fumigaterie, Soeur Sanitique, Tsarina of Tsterilization, Abbess of Antisepsis, Witch of Washing, Hag of the Hoover, and (finally—whew) the Three Clean Sisters: Detergencia, Immaculata, and Cleanessa.

Your grandmother was right, you know. Cleanliness is next to impossible, but you still have to clean your room. So come on, gals and guys, do it with a happy heart! Meditate while you’re washing dishes. Sing while you’re scrubbing the grout in the shower. Give thanks while you’re dusting all those nice little tchotchkes your Tante bought you. Dance while you’re mopping the kitchen floor. Think of all those poor people who don’t have floors to scrub and tables to dust and toilets to clean. Remember how lucky you are.

The Queen of Clean, who is no doubt closely related to Our Lady of Guilt [the Found Goddess of Modern Motherhood], wants us to keep a tidy home. “A new broom sweepeth clean,” She reminds us, and, “Create in Me a clean heart, and renew the right spirit in Me.” Sometimes She’ll quote, “When I was in love with you, then I was clean and brave and…how well I did behave.” And occasionally Shakespeare comes to mind: “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood from my hand?” But She’ll never, ever say, “Let other people clean up the mess we’ve made.”

Well, I have a confession to make: I think it’s really nice when other people clean for me. They dust, I write. They vacuum, I edit. They scrub, I rewrite. To me, that’s a fair division of labor. Still, the Goddess bids us to be clean, and the least we can do is cheer Her and Her Tidy Helpers on as They work:

        housecleaning Tote that barge, lift that bale,

         Wield that mop, fill that pail.

         Ignore each broken fingernail,

         And clean, clean, clean.

         Scrub it out! Wash it out!

         Whisk it out! Sweep it out!

         Yay!

Happy New Year, y’all. Clean your room. Tidy up your desk. And comb your hair.

 

Barbara ArdingerBarbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic.  Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations.  When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the Neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.

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Categories: Goddess, Paganism

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16 replies

  1. In the old days, cleanliness was next to godliness, or in other words hygiene was the key to health. In the modern world we feminists scoff at housewives who care too much about cleaning the house, but once cleaning was one of the keys to survival. I touch on this in my blog for tomorrow too. Happy Clean New Year!

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  2. I was reared or maybe mal reared in an evangelical Christian home where cleanliness is next to godliness was the order of every day. Yet it is something I take with me in the same way you say Barbara tho never heard anyone else say it before. Before starting a new venture for example, I clean. It is an allegory for starting with a clean slate for me. New year arrived in Australia before the USA, in fact yesterday my time. And yesterday I cleaned in over 32 degree Celsius heat with over 80% humidity in Brisbane. I love all your cleaning wimmin Barbara and have been trying to think of something similarly clever to describe the madness of cleaning in Qld monsoonal heat. But my imagination defies me! Lol thank you. Gave me many many smiles to start the new Gregorian year”

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  3. Yesterday in Australia I also did. abig clean up, but it is one best done on a hot day as it involves a

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  4. Sorry, it got ahead of me:…it involves a hose and a broom. The room needing clenaing was the open garage. My partner said, out with the old, in with the new, and thta did it I decide ded it was the day to do the hose cleaning. Your posts often make me smile. Thanks and happy new year.

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  5. Had to smile when you wrote about your Dutch Gramma. I remember my Dutch grandmother always cleaning something or another. She often bragged about Dutch people putting “spanking clean” curtains up in the barn! Thanks, Barbara, for this post.

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  6. Happy New Year, Barbara! Inspiring post! I am off to clean my kitchen. Hi, ho!

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  7. Some of the other tenants here looked at me with surprise when I asked what they were going to do today. “Why, I am going to clean my apartment” they replied, looking at me like I was some kind of strange being from outer space. Now I know why! Thank you Barbara A. At least that mystery is “cleaned up”. ;-)

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  8. My German mother referred to her family as “scrubby Dutch”, as in Deutsche and I, too, heard cleanliness is next to godliness. When I moved to St. Louis I thought the pristine, South side neighborhoods referred to as “scrubby Dutch” were German. Apparently they were really Dutch!

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  9. I’m 1/8 Dutch and 7/8 German, at least in my immediate background. Scrubby people on both sides of my family!

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  10. What a great post! I am glad i read it before a planned New Year’s Day ritual. Sheela na gigs are also guardians of entrances!

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  11. This is such a lovely and whimsical, yet important post. Especially when I feel depressed cleaning is the one thing I need to do, but falls in with the many other tasks that seem requiring more energy than I have. It is wonderful thinking of having the goddess within me as I put sponge to dirty bowl. Perhaps it will motivate me in my colder times. I certainly feel an inner cleansing after getting myself to do it. This also reminds me of the scene in OITNB when “Crazy Eyes” found such pleasure in mopping the dirty prison floor. She imagined the floor as her soul she was cleansing. Or something like that.

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  12. Thank you for this delightful post, Barbara! I’m about to start work on a new novel (January is so much better than November for writing a novel), so I feel the urge to clean up my office. Right now it’s my Awful. You’ve given me the justification. :)

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    • Thanks to you all! I spent Saturday cleaning out my email. I unsubscribed from about a hundred folks who either want me to donate to their causes (I’ve run out of donatable funds by now) and buy stuff I don’t need. Then I emptied my Sent and Trash folders. Then I emptied all my waste baskets and took out the physical trash. Do y’all feel as light after your cleaning as I do now?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrgh! I just realized that I have to face up to emptying the trash can in my computer!

    This is worse by far than cleaning the bedroom or the kitchen – that is just and righteous atonement for past shopping behaviors. Empty trash gets rid of past thought processes.

    And those are becoming fewer and fewer.

    Happy 2017.

    Nancy

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  14. Like you, Barbara, I leave the cleaning of my house to a cleaning service now–an absolutely FABULOUS treat I’ve given myself since I retired!
    But I did clean up all the clutter in my office on New Year’s day and felt so much better afterwards. Also, my resolutions involve cleaning out drawers and cupboards this year and ridding our house of “stuff” that might be just what other people want–Salvation Army here I come. My biggest project will be reorganizing our “massacre” in the garage. Lots to throw away plus give away and some sorely needed sweeping needs to be done in there.
    Psychologically, I think cleaning things out & giving things away is a harbinger for making bigger changes in our lives, don’t you? I usually don’t feel the need to reorganize spaces like I do this year. Soooo, I wonder if that means my life is about to shift? Hmmm.

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