Activity time: 25 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Two-inch squares of blank paper (enough for every participant to have one, plus some extras)
- Pens or pencils
- A large fireproof bowl, chafing dish, or fireplace
- Matches or lighter
- Pitcher of water and/or fire extinguisher
- Optional: Music and a music player (see Preparation)
Preparation for Activity
- Ask in advance whether any participants have a sensitivity to smoke that would make it uncomfortable for them to be near burning papers.
- Check your meeting space in advance to determine whether it can accommodate the burning of paper without setting off fire alarms.
- If fire safety cannot be guaranteed, or if the fire ceremony cannot be completed in your meeting space for any other reason, arrange to complete the ceremony in a safe location after the workshop.
- If you are using a fireproof bowl, place it near the flaming chalice. You can use its flame to ignite the papers. Place the fire extinguisher or pitcher of water close by.
- If desired, select soft, meditative music to play during the latter portion of the activity.
Description of Activity
Introduce the activity using these or similar words:
All of us bring to this workshop a great deal of wisdom relating to what we want from and bring to a loving relationship. Sometimes, despite good intentions, emotional or spiritual obstacles can get in the way of being our most generous selves. Those spiritual obstacles might be experiences, attitudes, feelings, or beliefs. Whatever they are, this ritual helps us name and let go of our obstacles.
Distribute the blank squares of paper, plus pens or pencils. Tell participants:
On one side of the paper, I invite you to write down something you do that gets in the way of giving. On the other side, write down something you do that gets in the way of receiving.
Have extra slips handy in case participants want to write more than two obstacles.
Allow a few minutes for writing. You may wish to begin playing soft, meditative music in the background at this time and throughout the rest of the activity.
When the group is done writing, explain:
You will now have an opportunity to destroy the paper as part of a symbolic fire ceremony. As you do, you may choose whether or not to name your obstacles out loud.
During the ritual that follows, safety is of the utmost importance. Be prepared to use the fire extinguisher or pitcher of water if needed.
If for safety or health reasons you cannot burn the papers in your meeting space, adapt the ritual by inviting participants to rip their paper into small pieces, which you will burn outside after the workshop.
Begin the ritual with these or similar words:
Fire is one of the essential elements in our universe. Pagan and earth-centered traditions recognize fire as one of four elements: earth, air, water, and fire. Fire is a destroyer, but also a creator.
In this ceremony, let us cast to the flames those things we need to relinquish from the past. Let us create the fertile ground for our future. Let us toss into the fire the experiences or habits, burdens or doubts, that we wish to release. Let us let go of those things that block us from being our most generous selves.
Begin the process of burning by using your own paper to catch a flame from the chalice. As you drop the burning paper into the bowl, dish, or fireplace, name what is being cast to the flames, if you are comfortable doing so. Then invite participants to take turns igniting their papers and casting them into the receptacle.
When everyone has had an opportunity to burn a paper, invite the group into silent meditation. Sit for two minutes of silence before offering the following prayer:
Spirit of Life, Spirit of Love,
that which is the basis of our tears and our laughter,
may the sacred fires consume those things which have hindered or hurt us,
those things which were getting in the way,
those things which we no longer need to hold on to.
May we let go of them . . . and move on.
May we be our most generous and grateful selves.
May we seek a way, each day, to connect with the truth inside us,
to foster renewal, to tend to the spirit,
to hear our inner song, to connect with those whom we love.
May our spirits sing again.
Blessed be; may it be so; amen.
Be sure the fire is fully extinguished before continuing with the workshop.