Saturday, December 31, 2011


Many people mark the transition from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day with different celebrational customs.  For many Americans, singing “Auld Lang Syne” and watching the Big Apple Ball drop are traditions that evoke nostalgia and sentiment, but in different regions of the country, and of the old world, other customs aim at inviting New Year’s luck.  So, some Irish people leave a silver coin on the windowsill, bringing it in at the stroke of midnight, with the wish that the household never lack for money.  Many other customs center on lucky foods, such as eating cabbage on New Year’s Eve or Day because the green symbolizes wealth.

When I spent New Year’s with friends from Texas, we dined on black-eyed peas with bacon, because black-eyed peas is the traditional New Years dish for luck in the South, (the peas symbolizing coinage), and many add bacon, (as pigs have long denoted prosperity, plus we can think of the modern term, “bringing home the bacon”).  Reflecting on this, it occurs to me that as a new musical tradition one could play a recording of the Black-Eyed Peas’ hit song, “I Gotta Feeling.”  With its catchy line, “I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night,” this is an auspicious “spell song.”  While many/most of the songs we listen to nowadays are blues or ballads with sad tales to tell, when we look at the roots of song—in the ethnopoetics of shamanic societies--so many of their songs were simply repeated lines, intended to produce magic results, such as love, protection, success in hunting, healing, and general well being.

Someone aught to compile a list of songs that generate luck, because it would be neat if some popular performers could put together some albums of music for effecting magic.  The Black-Eyed Peas would be ideal for the job.  They could even invite Kevin Bacon to sing with them, so they could entitle the album, “Black-Eyed Peas and Bacon.”  Bacon is actually musical (performing with his brother Michael as part of “The Bacon Brothers”), and he did appear in’s “It’s A New Day” video.

Incidentally, members of the Black Eyed Peas will be performing at different New Years’ events tonight, but because the individuals will be at different venues, it’s not as auspicious as if they performed as a group.  However, if they did all work together on New Years, they could scatter black eyed peas over the crowds the way Shinto priests and Japanese celebrities scatter soy beans over the crowds on Setsubun, (the Spring Festival linked to the lunar New Year), to drive off the devils, [i.e. to disjar negative energies—I believe that I have elsewhere written about how such customs utilize principles of energy medicine in realigning the energy body, much like pressing the “refresh” button on your browser].  Japanese festival-goers scramble to catch these beans, and carry them home for luck.  This is similar to the New Orleans custom of carrying a fava bean from the St. Joseph’s Day altar in your coin purse to ensure that you will always have money, or the wider southern custom of carrying a black eyed pea, for the same reason.