As we celebrate Yule, the longest night and the turning point of the year, it is a good time to ponder the year just ending and decide what we need to let go of and what we should give thanks for. We can do this work by ourselves or with partners, friends or a group.
You'll want to choose a time when worldly interruptions are unlikely. It is helpful to set up an altar, or at least light a candle and some incense. These simple acts help to put you into a special place where you can connect with your inner world more clearly.
Take a sheet of paper and fold it in the centre so that you have two columns. On one side write a heading of ‘Things I would like to let go of…’ and on the other ‘Things I would like to give thanks for…’
You are going to review the year that has just gone by, digging deep into yourself. Significant events and thought patterns will rise in your consciousness. Sometimes they will be from much further back than just this year, so if old baggage surfaces include it in the exercise. If memories or thought patterns pull your energy down, or make you angry or frustrated write them on your ‘things to let go of’ side. If memories lift you up they get written on your gratitude side.
Most people need to unburden themselves first so sit with this process until all the things that have bothered you this year in any way are on the paper in front of you. It doesn’t matter if they are huge events or seemingly tiny things that ‘you should have got over by now’. If they rise to your consciousness as you do this exercise then they are still bothering you at some level. This process can be a profoundly cathartic experience and it gives you a chance to release all the burdens you have been carrying. You may find you are crying, or you get angry. Just keep writing, adding more paper if necessary. Let the emotions out and don’t suppress the tears or anger, you may need to scream or have a pillow to thump at some point!
Once you are unburdened onto paper you can take a deep breath. Have a short break if need be, but make sure you complete the other half of this exercise. It is just as important!
Now cast your mind over the previous year and look for all the things you can be thankful about. We tend to find this tricky until we get into the habit of expressing ‘an attitude of gratitude’. For some reason we hang onto our hurts and pain much more readily than our joys. This is not a healthy habit and it damages our body and mind, so let’s even up the scales now.
What are the good memories you can glean from the year? What pleasant or joyful experiences have you had? Has anyone been kind to you? Have you had any mystical experiences? Thank everyone and everything for all the learning and growth of this year gone by. Ironically some of the things that upset you may also appear somewhat reworded on the gratitude list, as some of our most profound learning comes in through the school of hard knocks. The trick is to extract the learning, express thanks for that and let the rest go.
Now take your paper and carefully tear it in half along the crease line. Go outside and find somewhere safe to burn the ‘let go of’ half. I use a little cauldron, but you may have a big clay flower pot or some other receptacle. As you put a flame to the half with your woes on be prepared to truly let go of them and watch as the fire transmutes the energy. You may like to say a few words to go with this little releasing ceremony. “I allow the energies that have burdened me to be released from me now and ask the Goddess/my Angels/Divine Source/ Mother Earth to take this energy away and transmute it.” Give thanks and know this is your opportunity to start the coming year with fresh energy.
Back inside you are left with your gratitude list. Fold it up and put it somewhere so that you can look at it and remind yourself of your blessings. Perhaps it will go on your altar, in your purse or under your pillow. We all have blessings, choose to focus on yours in the year ahead and more will be drawn into your life.
If you need some help with the power of positive thinking it is worth reading this classic from the Queen of Affirmations, Louise Hay.