Every year in Brazil, thousands of people flock to the oceans to celebrate Yemanja, release the past, and set their intentions for the New Year.
The ocean is the original source of life. Her salty waters are like the waters of the uterus, in which we can immerse ourselves as part of a process of annual rebirth.
The rituals at the sea are simple yet powerful. They help us release difficult emotions or situations from the past and focus our intent for the future.
If you’d like to do a ritual to bring in the New Year or are simply ready to enter a new phase in your life, here is a simple ritual inspired by Brazilian traditions that you can do on your own.
Ritual at the Sea
You will need a white candle, some white roses or other white flowers, white clothes, and a beach where you can safely immerse yourself in the ocean water.
- Begin with a meditation in a quiet place. Light a white candle and place a clear glass of water in front of it on your altar or on a table. All four elements are contained within the candle and water (fire of the flame, earth in the wax, water, and air circulating between them). Sit in front of the candle and glass of water. Breathe deeply and center yourself.
- Once you are feeling centered, take one of the roses. Begin reflecting on those emotions, situations or qualities that you’d like to release. Pull a petal from the white rose. Rub it between your fingers. Think of something specific you’d like to release. When ready to release it, touch the petal to your heart or blow what you’d like to release into the petal, then place the petal on your altar. Pull another petal and repeat with something else you are ready to release and place it next to the first. Form a circle around the candle and water with the petals. You may continue until all of the petals from the rose are gone. I often find that as I continue with this process, things bubble up from my subconscious when I get to the innermost petals of the rose and I become aware of much deeper layers that also need release.
- Say a prayer for the things you’re releasing. Move the petals to a bag or bowl that you can carry with you to the sea. Set them aside.
- Now take another rose and repeat the exercise, but this time with your prayers. At first, each petal represents something you are grateful for. Rub the petal and feel your gratitude deeply. Continue placing the petals in a circle. As you move deeper into the innermost petals of the rose, place your prayers for the future and clarify your intentions with each petal. Sit with these until your intentions are clear. Collect the petals and place them in a separate bag or container to take to the sea. You may add other flowers or roses to these prayer petals, as an offering to the sea.
- Dress in white and go to the sea, to a safe and quiet place. Take the petals that represent everything you’d like to release and walk slowly into the ocean. Drop the petals into the water, and release everything you intend to let go of from your heart. Submerge yourself three times (submerge your whole body and head each time a wave comes) with the intention of each wave washing those things clear from your heart and your mind. When finished, walk backwards out of the ocean as a sign of gratitude and respect.
- Now take the petals and flowers that represent your prayers of gratitude and your intentions. Offer them to the ocean. Say a prayer of thanks.
- Again leave the ocean walking backwards. Leave this spot on the beach where you had your release and made your offerings. That spot has now become sacred to you. If you intend to swim or sunbathe, move to a different spot on the beach.
Remember that the most important part of any ritual is your focus and intention. If you perform this ritual from the heart and with clarity, you will feel much lighter and energized when you are done.