During the day, preparing for the first ritual, we make images of what we need to cast out of our lives and our energy fields, with materials that will burn easily. Many craft these images from what the land gives us – sticks and pine cones and strips of white birch bark from fallen or shedding trees. The birch bark is especially appropriate, since it was the paper of the First Peoples of the Northeast, who sometimes used it to make maps of the soul’s journey.
In the night, we gather around a great blazing hearth. We make offerings to the fire and the spirits of the land – a pinch of tobacco, the breath of sweetgrass. With the support of the whole circle, we take turns to advance, one by one, to the fire. We state what we are releasing from our lives. A relationship that is dead but not buried. A fear or addiction. Any tendency to let others tell us who we are or what we can do. Pain or illness. Regret. The things that hold us back and prevent us from being fully ourselves.
When we have named what we are releasing, we move to the fire and place the images of what we are removing from our lives into the flames. We must be sure that these objects catch fire and are not blown back or away. Sometimes a trickster effect comes into play, as if that addiction or dependency has its own mind and won’t go away willingly. Pokers and brooms, from the tall set of cast iron fire tools, come into play.
The releasing is not complete until we blow into the fire, huffing the energy of what we are giving up into the flames, to be carried away on the smoke.
When we are done, the group applauds us and celebrates us.
When all have completed the releasing, we go out into the cool fall night to breathe in the clean sweet air of the mountains. We have opened a space that is ready to be filled. We are available for soul recovery, for embodying more of our own vital self, and more of the greater self that has been waiting for this moment.
Later, we will perform a second fire ritual, a wishcraft ceremony in which we will send our best wishes – for ourselves, our families, our communities and the world – aloft, to the powers of the world-behind-the-world.
Photo by Gabby Jung