Take your New Year's resolutions and throw them out the window. That type of thinking will do you in and, more often than not, stress you out when these early months of the new year should be joyous and filled with a sense of low-key excitement, instead of anxiety. Instead, turn your resolutions or goals into intentions. What do you intend to do this year? Who do you intend to be? Where do you intend to take hold of your life and succeed? You've heard all this talk about manifesting things, so give it a go. Trying is better than failing to try, anyway.
But before all that, it's important to understand the difference between an intention and, say, a goal. Dr. Athena Perrakis, an expert in the metaphysical space and creator of Sage Goddess, says intentions are like wishes. "[An intention] prescribes no specific plan but allows the outcome to reveal itself freely and in its own time," she says. Goals, then, are more rigid; they're defined by the outcome. When you set intentions, you surrender the "how" and the "when," allowing the universe to "co-create through you." Intentions are dialogues between you and the forces around you, working in harmony together, while goals are more isolated and closed off.
This isn't to say goal-setting is a bad thing! Having a bit of order in your life is as necessary as having room for spontaneity and "whatever's to come." Intentions simply keep you open to the possibility of more.
Now, there's no real bad time to sit down and set your intentions, but Dr. Perrakis advises against doing so during a waning moon phase, "when the energies support releasing and letting go of what you do not desire." She says intentions require a "sticky energy of creation" to cement them in the universe. This would be during a new moon, waxing moon, and a full moon phase; due to the cycle of cosmic renewal, the stickiest is during a new moon. Do we even need to mention that Mercury in retrograde isn't ideal for this? We didn't think so.
In order to get the most out of your intention setting, you will need to do more than simply wish things into existence. A little incense here, candles and oil there, and a cleansing of your space is essential for harnessing the necessary energy. It's a practice that goes back millennia, Dr. Perrakis says.
Ahead, Dr. Perrakis outlines a variety of scents that aid in amplifying your intentions, setting them with the right energy to open yourself up to possibility. At the end of it all, though, the universe may have something else in mind for you entirely. As Dr. Perrakis says, "I like to end my intention setting with the phrase, 'This or something better,' which is an acknowledgment that even when setting an intention, I may not be dreaming big enough. The universe may have something even bigger and better in store for me!" Let go and let whatever happen, happen. That, right there, is the goal.
The first thing you want to do before setting any intention is to purify your space. Dr. Perrakis says it is vital for completing and even sealing the intention. It clears low vibrations and stuck energies, ensuring your space is free, open, and listening. The smoke, she says, is believed to carry your intentions toward the universe, "creating and multiplying prosperity, health, safety, and love." It can be as easy as burning white sage or, if you want to get more specific, using one of the following to really kick your intentions up a notch.
The antibacterial qualities and uses of Palo Santo make the burning of it ideal for intentions bent on healing, Dr. Perrakis says. This magical tree is said to increase energy vibrations, making it ideal for meditation and calming a body down.
If stronger emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being is a part of your intention, Dr. Perrakis suggests burning frankincense. It's said to relieve stress and aid in heightening your spiritual awareness.
Star anise and cinnamon are solid cocktail garnishes, sure, but Dr. Perrakis says burning them can attract abundance and prosperity. If that's the case, then cheers!
Finally, everyone's favorite, lavender. Dr. Perrakis says it's perfect for setting intentions of balance, peace, calm, and clarity. Speaking from experience, it's true. I burn a cone of it every night as I wash up and never feel more okay with the world than I do in those moments.
If you're looking to summon love, prosperity, health, wisdom, and power, burn cinquefoil. This is what Dr. Perrakis calls her "do-it-all" herb. The "five fingers" of its flower are said to represent the aforementioned qualities.
Burning copal "is great for journeywork," Dr. Perrakis says. It's a resin that has been used in churches and temples for thousands of years due to its ability to consecrate sacred spaces. It is essentially a bridge to something higher, cosmic plane.