As a Westerner, the inner meaning of Russian New Year has always escaped me.  This year a friend of mine, who is a renowned expert on Slavic Pagan culture, explained the inner essence of this nine day Pagan celebration and encouraged me to embrace it, meaning, to completely unchain myself from the bonds of everyday life and let my soul guide me towards happiness.

My point of departure was a New Year’s Eve party in the small northern city I live in – the party was uneventful.  I said good night at six in the morning and my dachshund, Bob and I began walking across town toward home. Out of a shadowy, snow filled alley, a girl’s voice joyously screamed ‘Bob’. A young lady, whom I had seen around town but never met, bolted across the street to pet Bob. The girl, a Tatar, (descendants of The Mongol Golden Horde – occupied Russia 13th to 15th century) who could not be more beautiful, dragged me into the alley to meet her friends.  A glass of vodka was thrust into my hand and I felt at ease.  After an hour or so, the Tatar girl pulled me away from the group.  She confessed that she had noticed me for years, a thirty minute kiss ensued and my odyssey had begun.

Each night I fell deeper into the pagan trance. I drank lightly but never came home before 9:00 AM.  On the fifth day I woke up to find a text message from an unknown girl named Ksenya.  The message said, “I have loved you for two years, can we meet right now by the entrance to your flat.”  Bob and I stepped out into the yard and there stood as beautiful a girl as I have ever seen in Russia.  I said hello. Without responding she smiled and kneeled down to pet Bob. She stood up, took her mobile phone out of her pocket and typed a message, “I saw you on the bus two years ago with your dog.  I was petting your dog and you smiled at me.  I have loved you ever since.  I am deaf.”  We did not leave my house for three days.  We wrote each other messages on our phones and I fell in love.

On the ninth day I pulled the rip cord. With eyes blinking from the light of normal life I got on a train to Moscow.  From the train I called the Tatar girl and another and both girls told me their boyfriends had returned and we could not communicate anymore.  An hour later Ksenya sent me a message saying she was getting married next March but will always love me.   My Pagan odyssey was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

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