The most important thing to remember is that ritual begins in the mind. The state of mind I bring to each ritual determines the efficacy of the outcome, which is why meditation has become the most fundamental element of all my practices. It serves as a tool to focus my mind, get clarity, and with the right guidance, it can be used to purify certain mental afflictions, create positive impressions in the mind, and cultivate greater compassion for myself and others. Meditation also helps us reflect on our illusory body and mind so that we can awaken from that illusion.Three Jewels is a great space and community for anyone who wants to develop or deepen their meditation practice and it’s where I completed my meditation teacher training.
Even though I work with my altar throughout the year, I usually create one dedicated to calling in my vision and prayer for the new year. Building an altar works through scents, colors, elements, and symbols or totems—each item I place on the altar is helping me write my letter to spirit. I then sit in front of my altar and journal as a way to connect deeply with my emotions which reflect how our inner waters are flowing and moving—in other words they are a tool to help us see what needs to be remedied.
Once I’ve gotten more clarity, I do a burning ritual where I create two lists: One with the things I want to release, and one with the things I want to call in. I then put those lists on the altar so their importance is made clear in my mind. Finally, I burn the papers to fortify my intentions. Spiritual cleansing baths are also a great way to experience energetic release. If you don’t have a bath tub, an alternative release ritual can be done in the shower. One of the aspects that our bodies shed naturally is our hair, which holds so much energy. When I take a shower I connect with the things that I’m ready to release and visualize them falling away as I run my fingers through my hair. I then collect the hair that has naturally fallen out and bring it to a place in nature (usually at the foot of a tree), and offer it to the Earth. Before burying it, I connect with what I’m releasing again and give thanks to the Earth for this act of transmutation.
In creating an altar it’s important to have the four elements represented in order to create alchemy. Earth grounds energy, water allows the energy to flow, fire transforms the energy, and air moves the energy. A candle for fire, incense for air (I usually work with frankincense for the New Year), a small container of water, and for Earth I use flowers, stones, or crystals. Once you have these foundational elements, you can activate your altar by lighting the candle, and calling in for more light to illuminate your life/path. Then you can place the two lists with the things you’re releasing and calling in for the New Year. The last thing you’ll need is a cauldron (or a small cast iron skillet) so that you can begin the burning ritual. Begin by burning the list of things you want to release, and thank the fire for transmuting these energies. Repeat this step with the other list.
For the cleansing bath, one of my favorite recipes include rue or rosemary, basil, rose, and dead sea salt. Set an intention for the purpose of your healing bath, and thank the water and herbs for their assistance in helping you release them. Then set an intention for something new that you would like to invite in. Each time we cleanse or release something, we want to fill that space with something positive or nourishing.