Burn it all up – a new moon ritual

A ritual for grounding and renewal.

I created this ritual because it was time to let go of old energy and welcome something new. Because I’m in the process of going through a major change, right now, and this new moon came along just at the point where I really felt I could understand it enough to celebrate it, thank it, say goodbye to old ways and set intentions for new.

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First, I think about my intention.

I know that a major shift has taken place inside me over the past two months, and I know that I need to acknowledge and honour this shift.

I know that there are goodbyes to be said. I lay out the tarot cards I drew at the start of this journey, re-read them, and feel the physical energy that journey has taken. The strange revelations in 3am bus stations, wild drunken parties, hours with nothing but a bus window, new friends, cigarettes on sunny porches, a sore back, a caravan and lots of trail mix.

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I felt the spirit of adventure be satisfied. For the past year, or for heaven’s sake for my whole life I’ve rushed headlong into dreams and schemes, fuelled by fire and air, excited, making things happen, doing shit, explosive, unafraid to raze it to the ground and start again whenever felt right.

I feel as though I came here to finally exhaust that energy, to burn it out so that something more solid, more stable, can be built in the embers. I’m not sure what that is yet – in performing this ritual I want to find out. To describe the foundations I want to build and to commit to this work.

This is my intention.

Next I create an altar.

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Four elements:

A lantern, for the kind of inner fire I want to take forwards with me. Contained, but burning bright, leading my way with idealism and hope.

A notebook and pen to represent air – all the writing I want to do, the ideas I want to communicate to th world. And for lists and plans and organisation.

A cup of water, for emotional clarity, for being able to hear my heart clearly.

A piece of wood for earth, a chunk I found outside my cabin the morning I first woke up here. This short stay in the woods has brought me such a powerful sense of groundedness, of connection to my body and environment. It’s woken my senses. I’ve lain beneath trees in the warm sunshine feeling the spring earth come to life in the ground below me, watched daffodils emerge day by day from one-inch shoots to golden yellow trumpets, walked barefoot over soft pine needles and washed with a steaming bucket and a flannel in the quiet woods. This place has brought me back to earth, when I was feeling out of touch, as though I was floating just an inch or two above the surface, feet not truly on the ground.

(This has been the transformation. I can feel the ground now.)

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At the centre, the white skull of a deer. Death, change, a letting go. This is what I want to honour tonight. The goodbye I am saying to a younger me, one who has brought me this far and is now ready to leave. I add tarot cards, candles, a sprinkle of oil.

My altar is ready.

Then I build a fire.

Collect branches and logs from the woods, assemble a pyramid just like girl guides taught us, made a woodpile nearby. Brought matches. A bottle of water.

Back inside, I make mint tea. I read up a little about the new moon in Aries – the start of the cycle, initiation, creation, and how that is kind of where I am and kind of the opposite of where I am – I realise it is fire that I want to transform, through bringing in everything else. I don’t want to say goodbye to fire, but I do want to use it differently.

I clean around the cabin, put my desk straight, see that things are in order. Put on the lamps and the heater for a cosy return later on. Gather my notes, a second tarot deck, put on another layer.

It’s 7pm. The sun is getting low. The heat of the day is dying.

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I perform my ritual.

I light the fire and sit by for a while, watching it, feeding it. This is the fire of the past twenty years. It’s bright and catches easily, quickly building to a big, warm, friendly dance. I put on all of the wood I have at once.

I go to my altar and light a candle for each element. I thank water for my strong heart, for intuition, for knowing that deep down, I know what I need. I thank earth for the past week and for everything I stand on, for Emma, for strength, for my home. I thank fire especially, for the journey so far, for bringing me here to this point. And I thank air for my intellect, my strong mind, the Aquarius in me that has a plan for every mad scheme and a reason for every emotion.

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Then I thank death for the luxury of being able to change. I know that fire and air won’t leave my life, but that they will exist in a different way – tempered with earth and water. No more explosions, no blowing things up to see what happens. This is about pulling everything together to create something strong, something truly real. It’s a different blend, a different me.

What am I letting go of? A sense of unfinished business, of urgency. Of untempered fire – which has got me a good long way – but it’s time for a change. Of starting so many projects, of intangibility. I write down words that have characterised my approach to life – words that describe my childhood, teens and twenties. It’s time for something different. I watch the paper burn in the fire.

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The death that’s happening is the burning up of this last fiery fuel – it’s cleansing, and will leave a blank canvas, still hot, ready for something new. I want my work, my life, everything, to be steadier, more grounded, more tangible. There will still be fire – those glowing embers are the foundations for the next stage in my life – but also water, earth and a gentle kind of air.

It’s simple, no drama. It’s about conscious creation, saying thank you and goodbye, honouring and welcoming change.

I draw cards for the coming month and year.

Ace of Pentacles
The Lovers
Nine of Pentacles

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Through my relationship I find both myself as an independent person, and one half of a team. I am so aware of the strength of Emma and I when we work together, of the power of our shared goals to create the lives we want individually and together.

So much earth. This will take so much work. Tonight I am committing to that work. To us, to sustainability, to foundations and love. I write a few lines to solidify these intentions. To using all four elements of my self.

I make more tea and sit by the fire for hours. Watching the stars come out, watching the flames. Occasionally scribbling notes in the dark, sipping tea. Lying down to feel the ground beneath me, cold now. Close my eyes and hear the flickering flames like the stars in the black sky. Feel how that everyday is transformed inside me, how my four elements are finding a new blend.

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Later, I clear away. Drink the water, snuff the flames. Scatter the needles, close the notebook. I bring everything inside, make more tea, and put some music on. My clothes smell of smoke. I turn the music up.

It’s midnight.

The next morning the daffodils have opened. It’s bright and cool. I look at the smoking embers of my fire and warm my hands in the early chill. Later, I will make gentle plans which embody my intentions, and stretch, and take a first step towards the life I am ready to build.

 

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16 comments

  1. Violet Ray says:

    Those were flowers of love…not question marks. Please interpret my above comment from the garden of love and appreciation. No question

  2. Gorgeously written! I love a good ritual, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. I think it’s time for me to do another…Maybe on the full moon.

    • Beth says:

      It’s true. I actually felt a little bit embarrassed writing about it, as I don’t identify as a particularly witchy person.

      • Elisabeth says:

        Hmmm. So what exactly does it mean to do ritual, and what does it mean to be witchy? I guess I never really associated ritual with witchy. But I think that’s probably what usually comes to mind for poeple…and all the horrible things people see in movies…the freaky tarot crone drawing the death card, etc. To me ritual is a necessary part of everday life that I often end up dropping for some other survival priority thing, like work. But I really start to feel its loss. To me it’s about/a part of self care, being in touch with myself, and needs. I guess it’s probably different for everyone. I also suspect most people practice ritual without necessarily calling it that.

        • Beth says:

          You’re so right. I guess when I talk about embarrassment and identity I’m thinking of the current ‘trend’ in witchy stuff, how it’s commodified and stylised, and on top of that the ostracisation of alternative spiritualities…

          And you’re absolutely tight that this is so much about self-care, being in touch with our selves and following our instincts – and also that ritual is part of every day life…though we pay little attention to what that means these days. As you say, it’s a loss.

  3. Eli says:

    About rituals–we need a broader awareness of how important rituals are for us as people, not necessarily because of any of the links to higher powers posited by institutionalised rituals, but because of the way they can hold us, the artistic way in which they shape our lives and sanctify significance, the ways they can bring people together and offer behavioural dances to lend us grace in difficult times, the ways in which they can help us towards dignity, self-respect, self-love. I think about this every time death comes close to me, and I feel how helpless and confused we become in the face of this force. We want ritual to hold us so that we can better hold each other, so that we don’t shy away from the bereaved for fear of saying the wrong words (and of course there are no words that matter for those times, but voices matter and saying matters and that’s why it would be so good then to have ritual words, smooth with the significance of accumulated memories).

    And thinking of improvising personal rituals… I drew a mandala for the first time the other day, and I was reading about how to interpret them. There were a lot of articles about reading these as sacred. That struck me as so interesting, the idea that you could improvise something sacred to yourself. That by sitting for a couple of hours with compass and pencil, pen and markers, playing with pattern and form and colour, searching out aesthetic pleasure, you could ‘accidentally’ create something imbued with universal significance. I like this idea of being able to take an unplanned route to the sacred, with no idea of what will emerge. Then the sacred becomes a contact between the particular and the universal, the cosmic and the contingent, where we can understand that the apparent boundaries between these categories are illusory. The creation of the universe contemplating their own creation, the universe looking at itself–I think I’m happy to hold such moments as sacred.

    Looking forward to having you back on the island, Beth. Glad you’re coming home x

    • Beth says:

      Eli! Wow, this is so interesting… I love the question you raise about ‘improvising something sacred’ – my initial reaction is, of course you can. I’ve never played with mandalas, except where they have been used as visuals accompanying an installation (where I found them hypnotic) but your comments and another blog post I read this week have really made me want to use them for a kind of creative meditation – which sounds a bit like what you were doing maybe?

      The ritual I described above was largely improvised. I created the space and time for it, and spent time preparing the table, bringing symbols that represented what I wanted to be present… but the words I spoke and how I moved through the whole thing, the writing and burning was just intuitive. I had no idea what would emerge – in truth things are still emerging now, two weeks later (I keep having new realisations based on what happened that night).

      Looking forward to seeing you in person and catching up Eli xxx

  4. Claire says:

    I just discovered this post – thank you for such a beautifully worded offering. It is exactly where I am in my own life right now and exactly what I needed to hear.

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