The Burning Bowl Ritual
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Separation.
Separation is what it is.
Separation in some cases can bring great freedom. You need to be away from that energy, away from that pain that drags you down. You need to let go, separate from it.
Maybe I have a problem with the words let go or the term letting go. Letting go, to me, seems to say that it was never worth grasping to begin with, so I prefer the term separation. I prefer the term being separate to letting go. That degree of separation is vital to moving forward.
One big name author, whom I’ve known since the early 90’s when she was writing lyrical historical romances, is a closet witch. At some point in her life, she’s professed herself to be Wiccan. She believes all of the things a Wiccan believes and practices a form of her own witchcraft, but her Christian heritage has never quite let her reconcile herself to using the word witch to describe herself. So she’s channeled her magick into Native American mythology and channeled her need for ritual into
Catholicism. She, like many New Age Christians, reveres Mother Mary as her Goddess.
She told me recently of a ritual she attended on New Year’s Eve. A burning bowl ritual.
It sounded very much like the ceremony I, too, led on New Year’s Eve, except we didn’t refer to it as a burning bowl. We just called it a fire pit.
It’s a ritual I repeat every so often. At Samhain the year I divorced, at New Year’s this year, at least several times a year.
It’s one of those rituals where you burn scraps of paper with certain words on them, words that represent the things that you want to get rid of or to put behind you or to no longer have a hold you. Sometimes it’s photographs that you burn. Sometimes it’s old test papers, old letters. It’s a way of formally saying goodbye to it, of owning it for what it was, of honoring it and releasing it, of separating ourselves from that point in time, and of choosing what to replace it with.
On New Year’s Eve, I burned four or five items that I’d forgotten I had in the house, all of them with negative feelings associated with them. One was a packet of what I thought was either incense or maybe bath crystals. I never did really know what it was in the packet. It had been a gift to me upon my Third Degree Elevation, but shortly after, the woman had bad- mouthed me so I never used it. Never even read what it was for. But apparently, it’s for tossing onto a ritual fire if you want just a little bit of fireworks. Imagine what the whole packet did! There was an old candle there, too, that had been burned for a particular purpose not to do with rituals. But I remember who had given it to me and when I’d burned it, and it went onto the fire as well.
When I was done with burning the negative stuff, then I began to burn the things that represented a transition to me. The remnants of a candle burned from September through December to represent my tenderest feelings toward certain subjects. Then I burned a few crumbling leaves that had been used in a shamanic journey. Some rose petals. A few other things to light the path for the coming year and welcome it in.
These things I burned, these things I said, these things I hoped for were not meant as New Year’s resolutions, but as intentions for the new year. The phrase that comes to mind for what to do in this year is the same as last year’s: Risk everything, because only by stepping out there and doing things we would never have done within our own comfort zones, do we truly find fulfillment.
As for one word for my new year, manifest. A good action verb.
The previous year, which had followed the breakup of my marriage and subsequent divorce, had been completely about sorting and assessing. Figuring out what had happened, where I was, and what my options were for where to go.
I know there’s probably some residual sorting to do, but the new year will be about moving forward and making things happen. Bringing things into existence. Bringing Heaven to Earth. Making the world I want around me.
As for the burning bowl, it’s such a wonderful psycho- logical release that I think I will do this at least once a month. If nothing else, just as a reminder not to hold onto the past or to hold onto the negative, but to keep moving forward. Separating myself from that which I cannot change. Acknowledging what has happened and creating an exciting new path for myself.