How to Use a Burning Bowl Ritual to Release the Past

By Elizabeth G. Howard
Burning Bowl ritual for New Year’s and Prewedding ritual

When it’s time to clear out unwanted memories and conditions from our lives, a burning bowl ritual offers a sacred and powerful way to release negativity.

The burning bowl makes space for new beginnings. It can be done at any time. Unity offers a Burning Bowl Ceremony at the close of each year, before intentions are set for the new year.

Letting Go Gives Us Freedom

For centuries, indigenous groups used smoke as a symbol of their thoughts and prayers rising to the Great Spirit. Engaged couples have also released the past in a burning bowl before taking their vows.

Whatever the circumstances, the purpose of the ceremony is to shift consciousness. It’s about becoming still, naming what you want to release, and letting it go.

When we let go and let God, we experience freedom. Letting go opens us to the power of inspiration, insight, wisdom, and love.

Write Down What No Longer Serves You

On a piece of paper, write what you want to release. Know that letting go begins the moment you put pen to paper. It is your conscious awareness that activates the release of problems, thoughts, and things from your life.

Describe the events as much or as little as you want. It can be as simple as a name or word, or more in-depth. Let your heart open to the flow as it releases old wounds, negativity, or unhealthy thought patterns.

Visualize the Smoke Taking Your Thoughts

In a safe place, light a fire in a pot or bowl, or gather around a fireplace or firepit. Then drop your paper into the fire.

As you watch the paper burn, visualize your unwanted thoughts rising up in the smoke, being released from you.

Allow yourself to experience whatever you are feeling: fear, anxiety, sadness, loss, gratitude. Let the feelings lift as the fire consumes your paper.

Offer an Affirmation of Release

As the smoke travels up, say an affirmation of letting go:

Today I release what I don’t want. I let go and let God do the work in this sacred experience. In this, I am healed and renewed. I open my heart to love, and I am blessed with peace, joy, and harmony.

Once the paper has been burnt and cooled, you may choose to scatter or blow the ashes into the wind or pour them into a body of water, away from you and your property.

Make a List for Tomorrow

After completing the ritual, take a moment to turn toward the future. Visualize what you want to experience in life and how you want it to take shape.

Write your intentions on a piece of paper or create a vision board. Put it in a safe place. Take it out the following year to see how your vision has taken shape.

Unity Burning Bowl Ceremony


Interested in the Unity Annual Burning Bowl Ceremony?