What is January if not the month of new beginnings? It’s the start of a new year, we are full of hope and renewed energy, we make plans, we make resolutions (some of which we will abandon by March, but anyway…), we are certain that, while last year might have been an annoyance, this year will be great… For as long as we can remember, we, humans, have loved January, because we love new beginnings. And because beginning anew is no joke, ancient religions even had (and some still have) gods and goddesses specialized in beginnings alone.
Take god Janus, for instance. Roman god of new beginnings and transitions. He was worshiped because he brought people hope and was believed to protect them in their new endeavors. The month of January was even named after him. In Roman depictions, Janus appeared as a two faced God, looking with one face towards the past and with the other one towards the future: a symbolic representation of what
beginnings are. Because beginnings are not moments suspended in time; they are ramifications of the past and contain the hope of a better future. Janus was such an important god for Romans, that even Jupiter, the ruler of the gods, was less worshipped than him.
In the Greek mythology, there was Eos, the goddess of dawn, who was also considered the patron of new beginnings. She was the sister of Helios, the sun god, and Selene, the moon goddess, an interesting pair of siblings that seems to point to the fact that beginnings (just as dawns) sit beautiful and still at the threshold between light and darkness, between happiness and sadness, between old and new. Goddess Eos also seemed to have the qualities that come with new beginnings: she had wings (as people usually have when they start something new), and she had a great love for adventure.
And although people are not worshipping Janus and Eos anymore, there is one god who is still held in high respect even nowadays: god Ganesha, the Hindu god of opportunity and new beginnings, the remover of obstacles. Ganesha is one of the most beloved and worshipped gods in the Hindu tradition, with one of the highest numbers of temples and a very important celebration held in his honor every year. Ganesha is known as the god with the elephant head, son of Shiva and Parvati. People pray to him and ask for his help whenever they start new ventures or when ever they are looking for a change of fate. Ganesha represents the hope people have in new beginnings, the belief that starting anew and changing your fate is always possible.
So what are beginnings, really?
Is a new job a new beginning ? Or a move to another country? Or a marriage?… Well yes, they are, all these events signal the beginning of an important new chapter in a person’s life, for sure… But I”ll tell you something: for me, every day is a new beginning. Actually, let me scale it even lower: every moment is a new beginning. Why? Because life happens in the present moment. Every moment of your life has the potential to change your trajectory and to send you in a different direction.
More than that, with every second that passes by, you are a changed person, even if the change only happens at the cellular level. Who you are as a human being transforms with every breath you take. What are beginnings if not moments of transformation, moments in life when we enter a new phase?
The two faced Janus was not looking towards the past and towards the future searching for answers. Or maybe, according to the Romans, he was, but I choose to see it differently. I think that Janus was only pointing to the obvious truth: that beginnings happen always in the middle, between past and future, which is, in the now.
So if you are waiting for January (or for Monday, or for the 1st day of the next month, or for your birthday, or for Christmas…) so that you could start something new, just know that calendars were only created so that people could keep track of the passing of the seasons. You are above all that. Dare to start today!