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Fire Ritual for Letting Go

In reminding us that this is a hard moment, Lawrence Barriner II asks: “in what ways are you running from just feeling the hardness of this moment? what practices do you have to be with the difficulty of these times?”

This is a ritual for feeling the hard. Whether you engage with it smaller & more often, or larger & more dramatic, this ritual is available to you.

The ritual itself is simple: make a fire, and be with it.

Fire options

  • a single candle’s flame
  • multiple candles make a tiny hearth
  • a fire place or pit
  • incense (sticks of 3), slow-burn fire
  • bonfire on the beach
  • the sun is a giant ball of fire whose heat you can feel on your skin, some days

For letting go

“But breathe this deep because this is the message. We did it. We shifted the paradigm. We rewrote the meaning of life with our living. And this is how we did it. We let go. And then we got scared and held on and then we let go again. Of everything that would shackle us to sameness. Of our deeply held belief that our lives could be measured or disconnected from anything. We let go and re-taught ourselves to breathe the presence of the energy that we are that cannot be destroyed, but only transformed and transforming everything. Breathe deep, beloved young and frightened self, and then let go. And you will hold on. So then let go again.”

~Alexis Pauline Gumbs, “evidence” from Octavia’s Brood

“Here again I learned an old lesson with new implications: how difficult it is to trust the genius of an idea or a movement to grow and to perpetuate itself without finally feeling the necessity to formalize itself in some way. …There is an intrinsic contradiction between the freedom of the spirit and the organization through which that freedom manifests itself. …It too must be structured and contained within a mold. The only function of the mold is to give substance to the spirit, that we might relate to it as we do to other competing obligations when the pressures build within us to make a choice. But when, inevitably, the mold begins to choke the spirit, the mold is broken and the spirit breaks out anew, only to encrust itself in another mold, and so the process continues. This has been the historical pattern of religion and indeed all of society’s creative expressions.”

~Howard Thurman, With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman

P.S. If there happens to be a multitude of griefs upon you, individual and collective, or fast and slow, or small and large, add equal parts of these considerations:
that the broken heart can cover more territory.
that perhaps love can only be as large as grief demands.
that grief is the growing up of the heart that bursts boundaries like an old skin or a finished life.
that grief is gratitude.
that water seeks scale, that even your tears seek the recognition of community.
that the heart is a front line and the fight is to feel in a world of distraction.
that death might be the only freedom.
that your grief is a worthwhile use of your time.
that your body will feel only as much as it is able to.
that the ones you grieve may be grieving you.
that the sacred comes from the limitations.
that you are excellent at loving.

~adrienne maree brown, “Spell for Grief or Letting Go” from emergent strategies


watch the fire for awhile
just be for a sec

with each inhale know
you breathe in spaciousness.
with each exhale know
you release nutrients for the plants.

with each inhale know
you will exhale again.
with each exhale know
you will inhale again.

knowing that,
can you inhale more deeply?

knowing that,
can you exhale more fully?

if there are other things that want
release on the exhale
— tears or sounds or shakes or moves or dance…

let them

let them
as nutrients for the healing of our collective body

as ‘she’ told me once on the silent hum
of those mineraled mountains,
the land will hold you
Mother Earth can take it

let her

let her

with each inhale remember
others are breathing with you.
with each exhale remember
your body already knows how.

stay with the fire for as long as you need
and for as long as it allows

as thanks, feed the fire:

  • breath enough to stoke it without putting it out
  • what-once-were dreams written on what-once-was tree
  • well wishes
  • some cinnamon sticks
  • or a story

as grounding, feed yourself:

  • a hug
  • or self-holding
  • a bowl of grains
  • something harvested seasonally
  • laughter, more tears, or sleep
  • water


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