A Ritual of Letting Go, Cleansing, Intention, and Hope

a fire is surrounded by chairs under a starry night sky

This ritual was designed as part of a worship service/fire communion. Please see that holiday description for more details.

Leader: Today’s service is about letting go, metaphoric cleansing and quenching of thirst, setting of intentions, self-anointing, healing, new beginnings and possibilities. It is a service of words, music and the ritual of the burning bowl. At each stop around the circle of flame, water, oil and light, each one of you becomes your own healer, priest/priestess, minister, teacher. It is your circle of release, cleansing, intention and hope to walk.

South: Fire—Release

Fire Reading by Lois E. Van Leer
Roar through my soul
Flame and fire and searing heat
Burn all my fears to ash
Now send your sparks up
On the breath of the wind
Up to the sun, moon and stars
Snaking paths
Roads for my spirit to follow
Sweet, sweet release

Leader invites participants to take a piece of paper and write (for your eyes and your eyes only) that which you wish to let go of, to release.

Leader: Come to the South and place your paper in the bowl.

West: Water
Most religious traditions have understood the element of water as the great purifier, that which washes clean and makes new. It is the teacher of the mysteries of life, death and rebirth. Springs, streams, rivers, creeks, lakes, pools, ponds, oceans are compassionate healers, relieving actual and metaphoric thirsts. Water in our lives is the power of purification, the healing balm of compassion, and the mystical presence of creativity.

“Be a full bucket pulled up
the dark way
of a well, then lifted
out into the light.
Stars burn clear
All night.
Do that yourself, and a spring
Will rise in the dark with water
Your deepest thirst is for.” -Rumi

Leader: As you approach the bowl of water and pitcher, pour the water over your hands. Let the water cleanse you.

North: Intention (oil)
What would our lives be like if lived them with awareness and intention? An intention we can return to in any moment at any time? The new year awaits. What intention will you bring to it?

Intention Reading:
“One tree can start a forest, One bird can herald spring, One smile can begin a friendship, One hand can lift a soul, One star can guide a ship at sea, One word can frame the goal, One vote can change a nation, One sunbeam can light a room, One candle can wipe out darkness ,One laugh can conquer gloom, One hope can raise our spirits, One touch can show you care, One voice can wake up everybody, One life can make the difference.” -Author unknown

Leader: Anoint yourselves with oil to set your life’s intention for the coming year.

East: Candle- New beginnings
Across millennia, human beings have lit lamps or torches or candles in religious rituals. Are they prayers? Are they remembrances? Are they unspoken hopes and desires? Whatever their meaning, the lighting of candles captivates us still.

Candle Reading
“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. “ --Barbara Kingsolver

Leader invites participants to each light a candle symbolizing their individual hopes for the new year.