January can sometimes be seen as a difficult month, but we prefer to see it as the opposite, and embrace the turn of the year. Rather like the point between an exhale and an inhale; a moment to pause. As the first month of a new year, it is the perfect time to start afresh, to look ahead and to set intentions for the next twelve months.
This month is one of the most appropriately named months of the year, named after the Roman god, Janus who was depicted with two faces: one looking into the past and the other into the future. It is a time when we look back and reflect on the past twelve months, but also look forward and plan for the year ahead. January is a crossroads between two years; a month that requires a slow pace to carefully gather your thoughts on what has been and what will be.
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Janus was the protector of gates and doorways, his name coming from the Latin word for ‘door’: ianua. He was the god of beginnings and transitions, also being responsible for changes and time. One of the most important Roman gods, he guarded the gates of Heaven at the beginning of time and his name was the first to be mentioned in prayers.
The symbolism of the month of January is obvious, in that the month is the beginning of the year but also a transition from the previous year into the next. January is the door of the year; a door that we can only enter one way but that we can peek back through.
The symbolism of using this month to plan ahead isn’t just metaphorical. By January, winter has already passed its mid-point and the northern hemisphere is slowly beginning its approach towards spring and new life. While snow and frost can prove difficult conditions to prepare your garden, there are many crops that we can plant and sow in January that give us hope and anticipation for the year ahead.
Sow broad beans in a cold frame, early crops such as cabbages, cauliflower and spinach indoors, and onion seeds in a heated propagator. You can also start chitting early potatoes and growing herbs on your windowsills. Spring bulbs will already be in the ground, but you can plant some summer-flowering bulbs such as gladioli now, and start sowing seed such as snapdragons, carnations and sweet peas in a propagator or indoors.
Of course, it’s traditional to use this month to set resolutions for the year ahead, but we prefer instead to consider our intentions for the year. January is the perfect time to leave behind all that we don’t want to carry with us from the previous twelve months, and to assess any goals, changes or hopes for the future. It’s important to have taken this month as slowly as possible, avoiding rushing through any decisions.
The changes that January brings can be considered internally, or you could physically write down your intentions in a notebook or by creating a vision board for your year ahead. Think back to Janus and his association with beginnings and transitions. Start to see January as a transitional period between this year and the last, where you take on board everything you have learnt and consider how to move forwards.
We hope you've had a quiet and slow January this year, marking the transition from last year into this new year stretching ahead of us.