When talk therapy has gone on long enough and you just want to move on, a simple ritual can help you to let go of the past. Whether you desire to release your anger or fear, a relationship, a wound, a private shame, or a lifestyle that no longer serves you, I am here to tell you that you can! If it is something that you have struggled with for a long time, perhaps all you need to do now is a physical ritual of release and cleansing. This outward sign of letting go can be hugely healing and offer you the closure that you have been seeking.
The change of seasons is a perfect time for release. Many also like to do these rituals during a full moon. But there is no “right” time for ritual except for the time that you need it. If you are feeling ready for releasing now, then try one of the methods mentioned below. You may also want to do this with someone you trust who can support you and celebrate with you. Or maybe you want to do it with a group of others who are going through a similar transition. One more tip: many find choosing music to go along with it makes it a more powerful and healing experience. (Here’s a playlist to get you started.)
Before we go on, take a moment and zone in on your breath.
Feel it move through your body.
Now which natural element feels the most right to you:
fire, water, earth, or air?
Locate your chosen element below and then follow the suggestions to let go.
This is often the most common way for people to release. You can use the fireplace in your home or the firepit in your backyard. But it does not even need to be that big. You could just use a match and a ceramic bowl.
First, write or draw images of what you want to let go of on little slips of paper. Then one by one burn them in the fire. Watching them slowly twist and turn as they transform to ash can feel cathartic. The smoke disperses into the air and is released into a form that no longer harms. You may chose to say something as you burn each one, listen to a song, or simply sit in the stillness. People often find it helpful to replace what they are releasing with the opposite. For example, if I am releasing anger, I may ask for peace. I say, “Now peace enters my heart.” If I am releasing a toxic relationship, I may say, “I am free now.”
Finally, decide what you want to do with the ashes. Perhaps you want to add it to your garden for new life to grow from it. Or maybe you want to bury them to demonstrate that it belongs to the earth now and you no longer need to carry it.
Water is symbolic of washing clean or washing toxins away. Drinking it and bathing in it are the typical ways to cleanse our body inside and out. Feeling water pour over us, floating in it, or completely submerging our bodies are all ways that we sense the power of water.
For your releasing ritual, you may choose to go to a river, lake, ocean, or pool. If you do not want to go that big, you could simply take a shower or bath in your own home. Wherever you choose to do it, feeling the water’s flow is important. If you are out in nature, you may want to write what you are releasing on stones or floating lanterns and then let them drift away in the water. If you are soaking in a bath, pool, or shower, you could write the words on your body and then wash them away. Pour the water over your head as a sort of baptism to your new life of freedom. Imagine the icky parts washing down the drain with the water. You may want to light candles to represent letting your light shine. Afterward, cover your skin in a lotion as you name what you are bringing in to your new life now. This lotion can also be symbolic of a layer of protection against that which you are releasing coming back into your life again.
Air is a beautiful way to create space. We forget how expansive it is all around us, much the way we often forget the expansiveness of God and our own possibilities.
Fill a balloon with helium and then write on it with marker or tie an object to it that represents what you want to let go of. As you physically let go of it and watch it climb into the the sky, you may feel your heart letting go in the same way. Or instead of a balloon, you may want to try a floating lantern. (Here’s how to make your own.) When you light a floating lantern into the dark night sky, you see the light’s glow growing smaller as it gains distance. This is a more gentle way of letting go and I have found most helpful when grieving a relationship. It is a reminder that time heals. And the light represents the beauty of it that can never be taken away. For some, screaming into the wind as you let go is the most rewarding part. If you want to scream, do it from the deepest part of your gut and don’t hold back! (Obviously best to do this in the country, away from those who may become alarmed.)
If you want to be more playful, why not try blowing bubbles into the wind? There’s nothing that says your release ceremony has to be totally solemn. Return to the child in you before you became burdened with these weights. Remembering yourself as an innocent, joyful being can reinstate your innate love and freedom.
Earth energy grounds and heals us. The term “Mother Earth” suggest a nurturing and protective quality. By putting our wounds and burdens into her loving arms, we surrender to her with trust.
First dig a hole in the woods, the sand at the beach, or any place of significance or beauty for you. It might be helpful to do it at or near a place that holds the memories of that which you want to release. (Note: I recommend doing it somewhere far from your home or where you do not frequently visit.) Next write some words or sentences of what you want to release on some rocks. Then bury the rocks in the hole to leave behind there. You may even wish to plant the seeds of a plant there at the same time. If you do, take time to bless each seed with the new thing that you are hoping to usher into your life in place of the old burden.
About the Author: Julie Glaser is a healer who creates sacred spaces for people to share, release, and grow. She’s in the habit of being in awe and wonder and writes to share her own experiences and learnings with other inquisitive souls in the process of transforming.