January Meaning & Symbolism
The year was meticulously broken down into months with specific ideas in mind. A multitude of factors came into play in regards to the names of months and the characteristics of each. As the first month of the year, January speaks of new beginnings in the new year. Although it falls in the middle of the summer for the Southern hemisphere, January is a trying winter month in the North: cold with minimal hours of daylight.
The natural elements force many to go into some form of hibernation, which often ends with negative physical symptoms for people – humans don’t do so well with sleeping through the winter. Nonetheless, January meaning does have much deeper history and symbolic value and cannot solely be classified as cold and dim.
January: Roman Symbolic Meanings
From a historical perspective, we can begin our exploration of January through the eyes of the ancient Romans. With a culture highly dependent on mythology, the Romans used their various gods and goddesses to explain almost every natural and supernatural occurrence.
In the case of January, the Romans used Janus, god of doors and doorways, arches, openings, and closings. These fit perfectly with the themes that January brings about: endings and beginnings, isolation and emergence.
As such, the Romans depicted Janus as physically possessing two heads, representing the paradoxes that January brings about. They chose this god to be the namesake of this month because of his ability to multi-task, essentially. Janus used one side of his face to reflect upon the past while simultaneously using the other side to focus on the fresh future ahead.
The Romans recognized that all people participate in the same activity during that particular time of year. January month provides us with a new beginning that allows us to start with a clean slate. However, it also allows us to think about and reflect upon the events that occurred over the past year. They realized that the past events and occurrences truly mattered, as they would gradually stack up and unfold into the future.
Thus, Janus had the capability of both meditating on the past and musing about the future. You can use these ideas in your own meditation, especially if you are feeling down and out during this month. Focus on a door or doorway, inspecting elements on both sides with a calm, clear and introspective mind.
Birthstone Symbolic Of January
Moving on from the ancient and mythological, each month also has a gem associated with it. These gems, often called “birthstones” by those born in that month, are not chosen randomly and offer a great degree of symbolism, themselves.
The bright crimson garnet, from the Latin “granatus” or “seed-like”, is a semi-precious stone affiliated with January. This month is concerned with sowing seeds – figuratively speaking, of course. For us, it represents a time of new ideas, goals, and, most commonly, new year’s resolutions. Although they need to be nurtured throughout the year, January is the time when they are planted.
The red color partnered with this month serves as an encouraging reminder that the December solstice has ended, meaning more light will return with each passing day. More spiritually, the light symbolizes your own internal light that will shine upon your newly sown seeds.
Native American Animal Symbol For January
The Native Americans also “personified” each month with a seemingly fitting animal. They did this based on the moon of that month. In the case of January, some tribes referred to this as the Wolf Moon month. This was because wolves experience a high point during this bitter cold month. They are capable of enduring brutal conditions that most animals cannot survive, a sign of their power and opportunistic character.
As the wolf howls to the clear moon, they speak of clarity and dominance. In this bitter month, we, too, can let out a grand howl of sorts: one that reminds us of why we are here, what we have learned and wish to participate in in the new year, and what we are truly capable of, no matter what the natural or mental circumstances.