“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number—
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you—
Ye are many—they are few.”
-Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Mask of Anarchy”
Long before astrology, even before witchcraft, numerology was my first foray into the mystical. It has always made perfect sense to me, the cyclical nature of life harmonizing with my belief in reincarnation. Numerology also helps to explain why 2016 was so universally terrible to so many people: it was a Year 9.
The number 9 is one of endings, the completion of the circle, a time for reaping what you sowed in the Year 1. 2008 was the year that started the cycle that ends with 2016 … so we got ours. A Year 9 can be a well-deserved culmination of hard work, and it can also be a white-knuckled roller coaster ride through chaos.
This may sound like hooey at first blush, but if you think about it, this is the natural order of things. Crops are planted from seeds, they need tending to while they slowly grow, they are harvested so that we can be fed, and then you start over again from seed. The plant cannot be harvested and still keep growing forever. Our life also goes in cycles, it’s not all a rocketship ride going straight up; it’s a circle, looping again and again. And this circle is closing.
If you had a good year in 2016, it was likely because you were ending things. Personally, some of the best things about my entire year involved endings. I finally finished my Master’s degree (English Literature) that I started in 2004. Yes, 12 years ago. I needed that cycle to end, and I was on the ropes until the last moment, but end it did. I now have my degree. I also ended my High School teaching career this year – rather abruptly, I might add – and I got a job teaching College that same day. Those endings are what a Year 9 is all about. You put in the hard work, stumbling along the way, but in Year 9 things do come to an end. That can be a profoundly good thing. Terrifying, but good.
On the other hand, I tried to start something this year: buying a house. It’s month 7 of this misadventure and I can’t imagine much more going wrong. But hey, I knew better than to start something like this in a Year 9 and I did it anyway. It’s still going on, and it looks like it might end with the Mercury Retrograde on January 9th, but who knows. That’s why it’s not the best idea to start things in Year 9’s.
The thing with a Year 9 is, there is (often) no safety net. You jump without looking, or you stay where you were for another cycle (like me and my 2 year degree that took 12 years to get). This begs some questions though: What to end? What to cut? What to release? That’s the big question that lingers as this year ends. I have questions that I’m struggling to answer, too. Not everything is as clear as my two positive examples above (the latter of which I agonized over and wasn’t clear until I jumped, thanks Year 9). Nor was it obvious that buying a house wasn’t an ending (aka ending my time in this apartment). As the year ends things look a lot more clear.
Of course, as the nine year long cycle moves forward in 2017 you’re not locked in completely, that would be absurd. However, you may have gotten some big chances this year to end things and some of you took the (terrifying) leap. You may have had a terrible year, but what better to shake off complacency? Sometimes we are at our best when we are forced to rise to the occasion.
2016 is a year of endings. Take stock of what is truly not serving you anymore, and let it go. Now is the perfect time, lest you drag a bunch of unwanted garbage into a new cycle with you. And who wants to spend their fresh start with garbage everywhere? I mean, you can, but why would you want to when the only person it hurts is you?
2017 is a year of new beginnings. That also means hard work. I think we’ve all seen it on the horizon, looming like a storm cloud. I feel like 2016 has left a lot of us battered and bruised, and if you need to recuperate, do just that. When you are rested 2017 – a Year 1 – is a perfect year to work on planning, getting ready to sow the seeds that will be harvested as the cycle goes on (ending in 2025, which seems like a science fiction year to me from here). Don’t hit the ground running next year if you don’t want to.
The point of all this isn’t platitudes, some of us suffered real, lingering, losses this year. Losses that have changed us. Now it’s done. Pick yourself up, help someone else up, and let’s all move forward, better for having survived it.
Image found uncredited online; please let me know what book it’s from if you know.