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FullSizeRenderSome people went to parties on New Year’s Eve. In continuation of the ever-exciting life I lead, I did not. Instead, I did a cleansing fire ritual in my backyard.

What’s a cleansing fire ritual? It’s when you burn things that need to be burned, that are symbolic of things you want to let go of. I figured NYE would be a good time. I decided this about a week and a half before NYE.

Then at about 20 minutes before midnight ON NYE, I remembered.

I jumped up off the couch where I had not been watching the New York ball drop pregame hoopla, but a Nine Inch Nails live show DVD, and pulled together the necessary items. This was tricky because they were scattered about because being scattered seems to be ritualistic for me, so I find racing around looking for the appropriate objects and tools to be the most authentic way to begin a ritual.

Never change (that part), self.

Here’s where my memory comes into play, on several levels. First, I might not have everything perfectly organized in the most accessible place(s), but I do have a photographic memory. I can clearly see that X is underneath my mandala coloring book in the black and white striped basket, and that Y is under the passenger seat in my car. Gathering the stuff was easy, if frantic (almost midnight!). I’d been gathering it in my mind for weeks.

Second, having all the flammable objects in one space made me remember not only why I want to burn them, but why burning them is now a viable option. I’ve changed. ‘Cept for the scattered thing, I’m not the same person I was when X and Y were regular, functioning items in my everyday existence.

Always use a proper burn barrel for ritualistic, pagan-tinged cleansing fire.

Always hold yourself a little bit—burning the past in the form of X and Y is therapeutic, meaning it’s necessary but not easy. That said…

…always choose at least one object that will pain you just a little bit to burn.

What did I burn? Does it matter? It burned. It all burned up real nice. One by one, I held the objects, remembered, gave them meaning, and cast them into the flames. The last thing I threw in was a bundle of dried herbs, and for a moment, the smell was late summer, not almost-January. For a moment, the wood smoke was campfire, not therapy fire.

I stayed outside beside the fire for a little while—because that’s responsible burning, and because I wanted to watch everything I long to be rid of turn to ash. As the flames died down, I noticed the complete pitch dark. I felt like one of the wild animals I could faintly hear slinking around in the woods all around me. While mostly cloudy, a few stars burned overhead with much more intensity than my little light. And yet.

I am only 34 years old. I am young and wild and better than I was before. The thought came to me like I’d breathed it in and instantly identified its smell.

So I danced a little. There is always music, always warmth, always a reason.

What did I burn? What needed burning. What didn’t need to exist in a brand new year.

Got any rituals? Ever do a burn ritual?