The end of the year can be a lot of things to a lot of people. For me it is a time of reflection and the preparation for new things to come. So, how do I make space in my already chaotic life to welcome what’s now and what’s next?
While there are many ways in which one can prepare for what’s to come, I would like to bring clearing or releasing rituals into your mind’s eye for just a moment. What is a releasing ritual you ask? Well, it is exactly what it sounds like. It is an act done with the intention of releasing unwanted energy. I get that it may sound a little whoowhoo and to some degree it totally is. But we all have things that we're holding on to that are no longer serving us. As much as we may try to move forward it still seems to haunt us, so humor me for a bit, maybe you’ll find a ritual that resonates with you. Maybe you’ll finally find what you need to move forward and really create space for what’s now and what’s next for you and your amazing life.
So, what is a ritual besides a series of actions in a prescribed order? A ritual in itself has no power, it is up to you to give it power. If you decide to take on a releasing ritual, I want to invite you to first be thoughtful about one that speaks to you. Second, own it and make it yours. Third, if you do nothing else, please pause and be with your intention, notice your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, feel the energy around you and visualize the release of it all. And finally make a declaration at the end, one that speaks to what you wish to move forward from and who you want to be from here.
Creating art is a tool that is used in every area of growth and healing. It is the outlet of expression and putting your emotions on a canvas, working your hands to create, or just a powerful way of giving life to your thoughts and feelings. In Birthing from Within by Pam England, birth art is at the heart of preparing for the mother’s journey. Expressing fears on canvas to release that energy from the body and the mind, creating space for her power as she prepares for a life altering rite of passage.
Now, I myself did not inherit the artistic creator gene, my sister and oldest brother are the artists in our family. I have always admired those who can let their emotions guide their hand and create something magical, something that inspires and ignites something in others. What I can speak to is the power of how creating art in any form truly works to release energy.
When the pandemic hit New York last year I was in a place of fear and wild unknowns, I had some energy that needed to be released and I had no idea where to even start. One fine day an ad popped up in my feed for a paint by numbers brand and I was intrigued. Yes, I said paint by numbers, and you're welcome. It took me a month to complete the painting. What I found was an amazingly therapeutic outlet where I could be with my thoughts, and although it wasn’t free flowing, I was able to release the energy I needed to get out and get myself back to my being and move forward. This piece now hangs prominently in the guest bathroom and every time I look at it, I remember the feeling and the power that it gave me.
Fire is an energy field in itself. It symbolizes new beginnings, rebirth, resurrection, desire, destruction, hope and purification. So, it’s only fitting that it would come up in a releasing ritual. There are many ways to incorporate fire in your releasing ritual: getting out in nature and make a campfire, lighting a candle in prayer or intention, and my favorite is a burning ritual. I cannot in good conscious move forward without stating that any time fire is being lit it is important to light it responsibly, safely, and with intention. Fire is wonderful for cleansing, but it has its own agenda and can be dangerous so please light up responsibly.
So, what does a fire releasing ritual look like? What a great question. First, set up a safe space where there isn’t a risk of a wildfire starting and where you aren’t going to burn your home down and set off the smoke alarm or sprinkler system. Next, write out on a small slip of paper your story, your intention, essentially what it is you are ready to be complete about and let go of. Another option is to find an object of representation. Again, safety first, if it’s a dog you shared with a previous lover, maybe this isn’t the right ritual for you.
Once you have your item ready it’s time to purposefully burn it. When I say purposefully burn it, I mean that we are coming from a place of intention. Say a mantra, prayer, or declaration out loud as you light your item and watch it turn to ash.
To complete your ritual, you can discard whatever ash is left behind by scattering it to the wind, a body of water, over the earth or just flush it down the toilet. Whatever resonates with you most!
Water's very nature is to give life and to cleans. What is a releasing ritual if not an act of cleansing our energy and being to grant greater access to self? If the element of water speaks to you here are two rituals suggestions.
The first incorporates creating a floating apparatus, try to use a material that is biodegradable and gives back to the earth. This can require some minimal artistry, maybe craft a paper boat and draw, paint or write your creative expression or words of release on it. Find a stream, go to the ocean, or a gutter after a rainy day, any flowing body of water will do, set your intention, and release it.
Another option is a stone releasing ritual. Find a stone and draw, paint, or write your creative expression or words of release on it. Find a body of water, set your intention, let go and watch that sucker sink. Here's a shot of my son and I releasing our stones into the East River…Full disclosure he couldn't let his go.
Whether you are watching your paper boat float down a river or your stone sink to its depths be present to the act and ritual of what you are letting go of. Speak and declare what is now and what is next for you.
When we think of the earth it is our mother and our home. The soil is filed with millions of microbiomes that are constantly breaking down the soil, decomposing and making way for new life to grow. Incorporating the earth in a releasing ritual is a beautiful process and can be done in many ways. My favorite is in the act of planting a seed. Now, if you understand seeds, you’ll know that you may need to germinate before planting, or if it is a bulb be conscious of the time of year you are planting it. No matter what seed you choose the process is a powerful and lasting one.
Pick your patch of earth and hold your seed and speak to it what you are letting go of. As you plant your seed under the earth set you intention and declare what is now and next. This step should not go ignored. There are countless studies that support the transfer of energy from human to plant and biomatter. The idea is to have your seedling grow on the outside what you are growing and cultivating on the inside. So do it with trust and purpose.
Nurture it and keep it alive as best you can. I personally will be opting out of this one because if I were to plant a dream it would inevitably die a painful and slow death. Not for lack of love and trying, more because I have a high success rate in plant mortality. It’s a touchy subject in our home.
Speak it, sing it, yell it whatever you do get it out. Do some breath-work, set your intention and release it to the wind.
No matter what you choose and how you do it, this year is coming to a close and it is time to step into the coming year with an open heart and open mind. Release the muck and noise that you have been holding onto and declare what’s now and what’s next.