New Year's is a potent time to let go of old habits & patterns, making space for a fresh start.
A sacred space is prepared for the ceremony. A small fire pit, ringed with stones and laid with kindling, is made ready to be lit. A simple altar is set up nearby, covered with a white cloth. At its center is a white candle. Arranged around the altar are a singing bowl or bell, a bundle of sage, several smooth, light-colored stones and a few small sheets of paper and felt pens.
The participants can stand in a circle around the fire pit and altar. To begin the ritual, take a small piece of kindling and light it from the candle on the altar, then use that to light the fire. Next, light the sage with the candle flame and take turns smudging the person next to you.
Group Leader: (Once everyone has been smudged,) "Welcome. You have chosen to be here because you are ready to release what is old, what has burdened and pained you in the past, and to receive what is new, what is for your growth and healing. And so might it be.
"Before we begin, it is important that we ground ourselves in the present. If you’re comfortable, I invite you to softly close your eyes. Begin to relax your face…your jaw…feel your shoulders relax. Now notice your feet on the ground…notice the weight of your body anchoring you to the earth…and imagine roots, like the roots of a great big tree, growing from the soles of your feet into the ground, rooting you to this time and place.
"Begin to draw this solid, grounded feeling up from the soles of your feet, up through your ankles and legs, your tailbone and low belly, moving up through your diaphragm and chest. Feel this solid, grounded feeling going up your back and shoulders, up through your neck and head, going all the way up to your crown at the very top of your body.
"Now, if you can, imagine there is a cord of light reaching out of the top of your head, flowing out from your crown, reaching into the sky above. Feel how you’re now connected to the earth under your feet and to the heavens above you. Notice how perfectly held you are between these elements, how perfectly safe and cared for you are right now."
Releasing the Old
Group Leader: "In that perfectly held, perfectly safe space, picture what it is that brought you here today…what it is you are ready to release. It may be a traumatic event, or pain from a past relationship. It may be an illness, an old habit or something negative you’ve been telling yourself for years. It may come to you as a color or a sound, in an image or in words. There’s no right or wrong answer. Whatever you’re imagining is the thing that needs to be released.
"If you can, just stay with that vision a moment longer. Allow yourself to experience the feelings you have as you think about this thing you are ready to release. Just allow yourself to be present with it in this safe and peaceful place.
"And now, knowing that you are truly ready to let go, I invite you – when you’re ready – to come to the altar, take a piece of paper and a pen and then, returning to the circle, write down the name, words or phrase that symbolizes what you are ready to release."
(Once everyone has finished writing,) "As you feel you are ready to release this painful burden, come now to the fire and offer it to the flames. And so it shall be released."
As each person makes his or her offering to the fire, the group leader rings the bell.
Welcoming the New
Group Leader: (Once everyone has made their offering to the fire and returned to the circle,) "I invite you to close your eyes once more. Take a moment to sense into your body, feeling once again your connection to the earth through the bottoms of your feet, by your deep roots going down into the earth, and through your crown at the top of your head, by the cord of light connecting you to the heavens above.
"Begin to notice a lightness inside yourself, a buoyancy, a spaciousness that wasn’t there before. Feel this spaciousness and know you have created an opening for something new to enter. Allow yourself to imagine what is ready to be born…what healing can now take place…what new thought you have about yourself or your life. Hear it, see it, taste it, sense it now. Know that you are ready to receive it.
"When you have a clear picture of this healing, this new possibility, this new truth, I invite you – when you’re ready – to come to the altar and select a stone, and then, returning to the circle, write down the name, words or phrase that symbolizes what you are ready to welcome."
Group Leader: (Once everyone has written on their stone,) "And now, holding your stone in both your hands, know that as you have made space for this new truth within yourself and have seen it in your hearts eye, so shall it be made manifest.”
The group leader then rings the bell.
Group Leader: "I invite you to close your eyes one last time and take a few deep, easy breaths. Sense into your body once more and imagine the cord of light pulling in from the heavens above, down through the crown of your head and filling up your heart center. Feel its warmth and light filling your heart. And now, feel your roots pulling in from the earth, back into the soles of your feet and going all the way up to your heart center. Feel them mingling together in your chest.
"When you’re ready, open your eyes and let them wander as they take in this space. As we bring this ceremony to a close, remember to take your stone home with you and place it somewhere you will see it everyday. Let it symbolize the healing and new beginning you have already started here today.
"Know that when you leave this circle, you carry the light of the heavens and the roots of the earth in your heart. In that place rests your readiness to heal and your willingness to receive your highest good. So it is, and so shall it be."
The group leader rings the bell three times and the ritual is finished.