To celebrate the approach of our 4th Annual Ritual of Letting Go (Aug 29), I’ve created a mini-guide to help you create your own water ritual. Let’s get started!
The purpose: while it is possible to work with water for many (many, many) purposes, the purpose of our ritual is cleansing, release, letting go. So, that is what this guide will help you create.
The basic steps:
1) set your intention
2) select your location
3) create sacred space including your altar
4) invocation + stating your intention aloud
5) the water!
6) closing the ritual
7) returning the space to pre-ritual (or better) state
1) Setting your intention.
While the overall intention for this ritual is (again) cleansing, release, letting go, what you are releasing is for you to determine. The stronger and clearer you are in stating your intention, the more powerful the ritual becomes.
For instance, I ask my ritual participants to make a list of all that they wish to release (old beliefs, patterns of scarcity, non-serving attachments to people, situations, etc). Then, I ask them to create a second list describing what they would like to welcome into their life once they have released all that no longer serves.
Once you have created your lists, keep them with you as you move into the next stages of your ritual.
2) Choosing your location.
The most important consideration here is privacy. As it is impossible to predict what might come up during your ritual, you want to feel safe and to know that your space is private and protected.
If this means doing the ritual in your backyard (or even in your home), that is perfect. There is no true right way to do ritual. Our intention and our sincerity are what really matters.
3) Creating sacred space (including your altar).
While there is a specific way that we create sacred space in our ritual, I’m going to simplify the process a bit for this guide.
If you are outside, it is nice to outline the space in some way, perhaps using sticks or rocks. Then, once you have said your invocation, you remain within the space you have created for the duration of the ritual.
If you are in your house, designate a room (or part of a room) as your ritual space. Again, how can you set this room or space apart from the rest of your house? Use your imagination and be creative.
As this is a water ritual, we create an altar honoring the water element. This can mean various things to various people. In general, connect in with water and see if you can bring the elements of flow, grace, harmony, peace, etc into your altar.
In the tradition in which I work, we use the colors blue and black for our altar (including blue and black candles). We include shells, river rocks, sea creatures, photos of water, bowls of water. etc – anything that symbolizes water for us.
Make certain that you include at least one object of significance or deep meaning to you on the altar (something from your normal altar if you have one; something from your ancestors; a special rock, etc). This connects you personally into the altar.
The most important element of creating sacred space is that it be filled with a sense of beauty and magic. What does this mean to you? Follow your own intuition and allow yourself to be astonished by what you create.
4) The invocation.
In an invocation, we state our intention for our ritual and call in all of our guides and allies (ancestral, angelic, the elements, plants, animals, everything we love and want to be present in our ritual). Again, there are many ways to do an invocation and as long as you are calling sincerely, humbly, and with strength, yours will be effective.
Wow. I’m realizing there is a lot I want to say here about invocations. However, that is not the point of this guide, so… :) In general, our allies and guides (Spirit) are especially attracted when we do things that are out of our normal range of experience. If you call, they will come.
As you call, make a statement that you are only calling those Spirits, being, allies, and guides who have your fullest and highest interests in mind. No other energies may enter this space you have created.
At this point, you can also make some offerings (to the water, your guides, etc) of song, tears, tobacco, lavender, incense, and/or cornmeal at your altar.
5) Working with Water! Yay!
In our ritual, participants will have the opportunity to immerse fully (or to whatever extent they choose) into the icy-cold waters of our chosen river. This is what is known as a radical ritual – one that is most definitely outside the normal experience of most people these days!
NOTE: I do not recommend the full immersion ritual unless you are in a very safe spot of the river AND you are in the company of other people. Doing a ritual immersion is somehow quite different than just jumping into a river to cool off on a hot summer day.
Fortunately, there are many other ways to work with water for cleansing and release, even in your backyard or your home. Here are some suggestions:
Backyard: use a garden hose to spray (cleanse) yourself. You could even use a sea salt scrub and then spray yourself down (or, if doing this ritual with a friend, have them spray you down). Conversely, you could just dump a bucket or two of water over your head. Again, it is the intention, the sincerity, and the symbolism that is important here.
In your home: perhaps you jump into a shockingly cold shower. Or, have a large bowl of water in your ritual space and use cedar boughs (or anything that will carry the water – a towel or washcloth even) to wash/cleanse your full body with the water.
In brief, be creative, follow your instincts, and trust that what you are doing is exactly what is needed. Remember your intention and allow the water to wash away all that is ready to be released.
6) Closing the space.
Once you feel fully cleansed spend a bit of time at your altar, listening or meditating. If it feels right, you might even speak the things from your second list (that you would like to welcome into your life now).
Then, when the time feels right, move to close your ritual.
Stand, feet firmly on the ground, and thank your guides and allies for their presence and for all that you have experienced together. Be as specific as you can be about what you are grateful for and what you experienced.
Then, simply state, in whatever way feels right to you, that the ritual is closing. In my tradition, we do not send our allies and guides away but simply release them to stay or go if they wish. If you follow a different tradition, do as you feel called.
7) Returning the space to pre-ritual (or better) state.
This step is most important when you are doing ritual outside of your home/yard. But, even in your home/yard, a ritual is not completed until the space is returned to normal.
In general, dismantle the altar, scatter the sticks or stones you used to create the boundary of your space, make certain that any offerings you made are buried or carried out to be composted.
Basically, make certain that everything you carried into the area is taken out with you. And, if you notice any trash (from someone else perhaps) take it with you as well. We want to leave no trace of our work there – other than perhaps an energetic sense of more aliveness and magic.
There you have it.
Again, this is a very, very basic guide. I could go into so much more depth with each step. AND, this is also enough. It is plenty for you to create your own ritual in a good way. It is more than enough for you to have an experience of working with water and spirit for cleansing, release, and letting go.
May it serve you and all your relations well.
ps. Want to experience this ritual in community? Join us on the 29th!
pps. I would love to hear your thoughts on this guide including stories, questions, plans for your own ritual, etc. Please leave me a comment below. Thank you!