If you’ve participated in The Holiday Council, you’re totally familiar with the practice of performing a “releasing ceremony.” Clearing space mentally (and sometimes physically!), symbolically leaving behind the stories, relationships, or dreams you’ve outgrown is a powerful step in the journey of creating meaningful, joyful lives.
There are unlimited ways to practice this symbolic release (doves, balloons, even traditional funerals), handed down over time and often based on religious or family traditions. Some are centered around moon cycles. Some are based in pagan belief or performed in groups. Some involve meditation, water, fire, nature, paint, or seeds.
The bottom line is that there is absolutely no right or wrong way to release what no longer serves you.
The most effective way to perform a releasing ritual is all about YOU: The best, most effective ceremony is all about tapping into your own intuition and letting your heart guide you.
It’s about finding strength within yourself to celebrate the painful pieces of our stories that have influenced who we are. To celebrate it and then to set it free.
The Holiday Council closed out 2014 together and welcomed all the magic and mystery that 2015 will bring in so many distinct and personal ways. Our tribe is endlessly creative and, of course, put a reflective and joyful spin on the beautiful act of letting go.
Release Through Art
“I did something a little different for my Releasing/Keeping Ceremony this year. Months ago when I was feeling at my absolute lowest and was completely lost, I decided to sort through my emotions with some paint. I ended up with this dark, but honest little piece. It was very raw and very much how I was feeling at the moment. Actually, it reflected the “rock bottom” of my dark moments this year.
Flash forward to now and I’m miles from the way I felt that day.
But, I don’t deny those feelings that still resurface and are a part of my story. 2014 is a part of my story, so I decided to NOT burn the darkness and instead paint over it with something bright and happy. I chose yellow for the “releasing” aspect of my ceremony, and all of the other colors for the “keeping” aspect of my ceremony…
It’s a piece that’s bright and happy, but still has my scars underneath, which I own, and make me appreciate the good days all the more.” – Gina
“I did my releasing ceremony tonight, and I feel good! I wrote two cards and took them with me to yoga, where I did a super intense practice with them at the top of my mat next to my mala beads.
The one on the left says: What I am leaving behind in 2014, and the other says What I’m taking with me into 2015. On the backs of the cards I wrote my intentions for the year.
I thought about letting go, creating space for the new, and keeping with me all the good.
Later, I lit a special candle that I received as a present for my birthday (and which featured in my meditation as my little vessel to keep my goodness) and then I used the flame to burn away the card that I was letting go of. Soon when my candle is all used up, I will use the empty egg-like pot to store the second card, the one I’m keeping with me in 2015.” – Holly
“I think I have struggled with this so much because the things I need to release are intertwined with the things I need to embrace.
The thing that was most surprising about my year was learning that when you ask for help, people help you.
The awfulness of my year was countered by the love and support of a small group of incredibly amazing people. I felt like I couldn’t release the bad because I didn’t want to forget the good.
I decided to write them each a note so that I could carry forward the love and close the chapter on the sad. I trust they will get to their destinations.” -Lester
Release With Fire
“Finally did my releasing activity! My mom even threw some stuff in which was awesome and powerful for us to share things out loud together.
Yay for letting things go!” -Gina
“Completed my releasing ceremony today! Just in the nick of time.
So ready for 2015! Happy New Year to all!” – Casandra
Release In Nature
“This evening I went to the pier for sunset. I brought a stone and a piece of chalk. I looked out at the sun setting, imagining it was setting on my year.
On one side I wrote 2014 and on the other I wrote down all the moments or emotions I want to leave behind.
When I had finished I read it over and let myself think about the painful memories one last time.
I felt the stone in my hand weighing me down, held it over the water and let go. I spent some time standing there looking at the sun setting, imagining the chalk (my 2014) being washed away. I feel lighter now. Thank you Molly and thank you my new HoCo friends.” -Jade
“I found the perfect spot for my release ceremony under a tree shelter someone had built in a hidden hollow.
I’ve distilled my work so far into a theme for 2015: REPLENISH & CHERISH.
Replenish means filling up my depleted reserves of energy, attention and patience. Nourishing my inner glow to a visible radiance. Building financial security and sustaining myself in practical ways. Connecting to the land and nature.
Cherish means feeling and showing appreciation and thankfulness for what I have, my experiences and the people around me and applying commitment and attentiveness to nurture quality in everything I (co-)create.” -Hannah
“My release ceremony ended up being one of the most meaningful, in-tune, peaceful and empowering things I have ever done.
It was all very organic, both in nature and in development. I knew I wanted to be near water, so I headed out to a favorite trail with many waterfalls. I journeyed from the trailhead downhill along an icicle lined path to the north falls, collecting items (leaves, rocks, sticks) and reflecting on my year along the way.
Once at the waterfall, I sat behind the falls and wrote words on my collected items. Upon one rock, I simply wrote “2014” and tossed that rock right into the falls, watching it plunge into the pool below.
An unexpected laugh escaped my body at that moment as I accepted that 2014 was out of my grasp.
I stuffed the other items in my pocket, turned and started back up the icy trail. I climbed above the waterfall and found my way to a secluded spot along the creek. Here I pulled the other things of 2014 out of my pocket and laid them out to reflect one last time. I picked up one item at a time, filled the crisp air with my vocal reflections, tossed them into the creek and imagined these things falling over the waterfall, still a part of my world, but released.
It was both so fulfilling and so freeing.
I then headed up the trail, beyond the trailhead to the upper north falls, where I watched this new water fall down flow by and meditated on the journey of this fresh new year.” -Laura
Me? I love to incorporate a “mini” release ceremony as I wrap up each month and plan for the next. The power of the full moon usually calls me to my patio where I jot down notes on paper and burn one by one over my magical cauldron (cast-iron skillet), evermore alarming my boyfriend with my woo woo ways.
I know that personally, it’s equally vital to place importance on the next step in the process of releasing – symbolically savoring the lessons, joys, tiny moments and feelings that I’d like to carry forward- so I’ll also write down some intentions and float them in a bowl with rose petals.
It’s a ritual that has evolved over the years. It used to take place in the woods behind my parent’s house, then on the bike trail next to my favorite oak tree. When I first moved across the country, I would let the ocean carry away what I wanted to release. Now, it’s cozy and right out my back door under the moonlight. It, like all these magical spins on releasing that our Stratejoy tribe practices, is perfect and all mine.
And whatever way that you choose to honor your struggles and thereby make way for good to come is perfect because it’s all yours.
As Operations and Community Manager for Stratejoy, Dee is able to contribute to the world of women’s wellness all while merging her passions for community building, multimedia journalism, wild joy… and champagne.