Burning Away Bonds: Rituals for Transformation

Almost no words can soothe an aching heart during a break up.  But rituals can help make the transition easier.  Often just the sight of photos or things that the beloved gave us can cause a relapse of remorse and pain. Though intellectual, Western culture often denigrates rituals as meaningless, they are powerful tools to help in transitions and foster mending broken hearts.  They can help not only to heal the wounds and move the psyche into a place of deep peace; they can also fortify the spirit and affirm that you’re ready to move into a new stage of life with courage. 


My favorite ritual to help ease the change into the single life brings in the element of fire.  Fire burns away the old, destroys pain and makes way for the new to grow.  The phoenix, a mystical bird of antiquity died consumed in its own flames and was reborn from the ashes.  The fire ritual can be done in a safe place like on a sandy beach or at an outdoor fireplace or fire pit where there’s no risk of embers popping to create a hazard.  I like the beach with the wind and waves to accompany the ceremony.


To begin, say a prayer of protection and call in light to surround and envelop you during the ritual.  Prepare matches and the symbolic items like a photo or letter that you’d like to use to dissolve the ties that represented your relationship.  Be careful and use wisdom about the place and things you choose.  Only one or two symbolic objects will be enough.  Take a candle with a steady flame and let the items catch fire and burn until only ash remains.  A prayer of release may accompany the ritual along with a sincere desire to let go of any chains that bind.  It’s said that chords of attachment grow up between partners as they become connected.  Consciously envision the chords that have grown between you and the ex-partner and let them dissolve and burn away in the flames along with the other items.  If possible recall some aspect of the relationship to be grateful for and consider what you have learned.


Once the objects disintegrate, return the ashes to the sea, a river or water source or bury them.  This resemble how families often return the cinders of their loved ones to the waters and earth after a cremation or funeral service.  It’s essential to hold in heart the idea of letting go of attachment and bonds to the ex-mate, spouse or lover.   Consciously dissolving the chains that bind you to the ex-partner will allow the mending to begin.  The Buddhist ceremony to dissolve a sand mandala follows a similar notion to the disintegration of the symbolic object.  Monks whisk away the exquisite creation and the sand is carried to a source of water (usually a river) and tossed in where it will flow to the sea.


Once the ritual is completed, ask for help in curing the pain.  Picture any wounds as bandaged and healing quickly.  You may also be inspired to create your own ritual uniquely adapted to your situation.  May your wounds heal and blessing descend as life lessons are learned that will open new doors to better relationships.


Bio: Debra Moffitt-Leslie

Debra Moffitt-Leslie’s book,"108 Spiritual Practices for Challenging Times" will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in 2011.  Her essays and articles appear in publications around the world and focus on drawing attention to the spiritual in a mostly material-minded world.  She’s on the faculty for The Sophia Institute and gives workshops in the U.S.and Europe. Her fiction was broadcast by BBC World Services and published in numerous literary magazines. Read more at www.debramoffitt.com


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