A friend of mine has gone through some hard times recently, and now that they are behind her she asked me if I had a ritual to help her let go of that painful period in her life.
I love the use of rituals in our lives. Rituals cause us to take pause, giving weight to things that are significant for us. They help our brain focus and pay attention, and they help us orient ourselves emotionally and spiritually.
Burning has long been used as a ritual of release, so today I’m going to show you a simple burning ritual for cleansing and releasing situations and relationships that have caused you pain.
Many years ago, after a particularly painful relationship breakup, my sister, a girlfriend and I went to the local park and had a ceremonial burning of old letters and photographs one afternoon. I used a great big cauldron from my kitchen and we sat around on the grass, sipping champagne and feeding paper into the fire. The flames were green and blue from all of the chemicals in the photographs. A little boy walked past with his mum and said exitedly, “Look Mum, real Witches.” That made my day, although let’s be clear – I am no witch – it was just a very Macbeth moment! On the downside, my cauldron was never the same again…
Burning Equipment – a large flame-proof pot or bowl, or an outdoor fireplace. Matches. Long tongs. Don’t use one of your good bowls or pots! Go to a second-hand store and find a big old saucepan or cauldron, or see if you have an old brass or metal bowl in the back of a cupboard. You could also use a barbeque pit or a campfire, or a terracotta pot. Be sensible about your burning. Burn outside, observing fire restrictions and keeping your fire away from anything that might catch alight.
Gathering Your Burning Fodder – Never burn in the heat of the moment! A calm, thoughtful and considered burning is much more powerful and effective. Begin by finding images, letters or other material related to the situation. Don’t burn any legal documents. Don’t burn anything out of spite. All you are looking for is material that can REPRESENT what you wish to release. For example, old photographs or letters, old newspaper clippings or advertising – anything that holds emotion for you and that you can afford to send up in flames. If you have no images or material, then sit down and write a letter to the person or persons involved, or a summary of what has gone wrong and what you wish to let go of.
You can burn alone, or you can burn with friends or loved ones. Choose what is appropriate to you.
Sit in front of your pot or burning space, hold the images/paper in your hands and just speak from the heart about what this represents to you and why you need to let this go. Finish with the words I release you. I am done.
Then burn that stuff to ashes! Feel the flames eating up and rendering that old energy into nothingness. Let it all go. That’s why we need to do this ritual outside, where the old energy can escape and be diffused on the wind. You don’t ever want to do this ritual INSIDE your home – you want that old energy gone!
Honour any emotions that come up for you, but allow the ritual to give you a sense of finality. When it’s cooled enough, dump your saucepan in the bin or keep it in the garage or garden at home for future burning needs. Celebrate the end of the Releasing Ritual with a beverage or some food – head out for a meal, or go home and have a cup of tea or a drink. Allow yourself reflection time, to recognise that you have closed the door on that part of your life.
In burning the past, you leave yourself free to claim a brighter future.