Burning Bowl Ceremony

For many of us, 2014 may have not been such a good year. As most years go, I’ve had my successes and mistakes; triumphs and short-comings; wins, losses or draws. Life happens between the extremes of opposites. My perceptions of those happenings is significant to my spiritual path. What I do with those perceptions and how I allow them to color or discolor my journey influences who I am and how I choose to behave.

As 2014 prepares for 2015, some religious traditions offer a ritual useful to release the old and prepare for the new: the Burning Bowl Ceremony.

The ceremony has a long tradition in most new thought churches (Think: Unity, Religious Science, Centers for Spiritual Living, Unitarians, etc). My hunch is that its origins might be found with smudging rituals common among many ancient indigenous religions.

The Burning Bowl Ceremony is often used around the start of each new year but can be used anytime. (I’ve used it as a ritual helping seekers heal from divorce, cancer and sexual trauma). I suggest it be used anytime you are entertaining a new start. I know some folks who use the ceremony on a regularly – particularly at change of seasons and birthdays – because it potent.

It’s poignant way to transform things in my life that no longer have purpose or meaning. It helps me clean out my mental, emotional and spiritual closets making new space for what I now need and want. \

I also really like the ceremony because it resonates very well with interfaith initiatives. I’ve it for many years (30+) starting after the suggestion from a Wiccan friend. I tried it, liked it and have continued the personal tradition each New Year’s Eve. It provides closure while opening for new beginnings. I burn my sins, mistakes, grief, losses, disappointments, angers and fears… to make room for hope and my vision for the next 365 days. I release the old and welcome the new.

2014 is near complete. 2015 hasn’t started yet. It’s a great time to reflect.
You might take the time to review 2014 and prioritize what you want for the new year.

The actual ceremony is simple. It can be done alone or with partners, friends, families or congregations. You’ll need several simple pieces of paper, a pen and a safe source of fire.
Some use a fireplace, outdoor fire pit, or simply a fire safe bowl or dish filled with sand with a candle in the middle placed in an open but secure area (outside the range of smoke detectors).

The ritual can be completed in silence or with soft, relaxing music in the background. Your choice.

Before starting, take a quiet moment. Go inside yourself. Take a deep breath. Connect with your heart. Be still. Feel the presence of your Sacred.

On the pieces of paper, write down anything that no longer serves you that you choose to release. Items can be specific issues you had this past year or other larger issues that seem to loom. I challenge you to be completely honest with yourself about what needs to be released. The list is NOT shared. (e.g. health challenges; fear, jealousy, anger; nasty habits; unhealthy relationships; debt; negative thoughts/feelings, errors).

Once you have your items listed honestly on paper, turn it over.

On the back side of the same paper, write down what you choose to replace those items with. (e.g. good health; trust, calm, love, peace, good habits, successful relationships, prosperity, positive thoughts/feelings, successes).

When you’re ready, focus your intention on releasing the old, negative and no longer useful.
Then imagine yourself welcoming the new, positive and successful into your life in the coming year.

With care, compassion and forgiveness for yourself, gently place your paper into the fire.

Be mindful that the fire in the Burning Bowl is a ancient, universal and powerful symbol of transformation. Fire represents our intention of shifting the energy of our thoughts and attention. Burn the dead and watch , like the myth of the phoenix, hope rise from the ashes.

If you’d like, you can end the ceremony by burying the cool ashes when it’s complete. Others choose to simply let the wind blow them away in Nature’s own time.


Have you tried the Burning Bowl Ceremony?

Burning Bowl Ceremony

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