“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
Do you lie awake at night replaying painful events in your mind over and over again? You know you’ve got to let these things go, but so much has been left unsaid! How do you just “forgive and forget?!” Fermentation – the fifth operation of alchemy – is the process of letting go of the past with gusto so you can emerge renewed, empowered, and ready to live your life fully. Learn a simple self-care ritual for letting go of the past (with magical flare)!
Why Do You Beat Yourself Up with Painful Memories?
Struggle is a given in life. We all know that.
Tough relationships teach you how you want to be treated, and what you will tolerate.
Tough jobs teach you about grit, perseverance, what fulfills you and what you’re willing to walk away from.
Tough financial situations teach you about having more than one stream of income, how you view money, how to manage your wealth properly, and how to give freely.
But that’s just life, right? You’re supposed to go through tough spells so you learn what you’re made of.
It’s only when the memories become all too consuming that life feels too heavy.
Time has passed since the incident; probably years, in fact. But the memory remains, and every time you revisit it you feel that same pain all over again.
Maybe you were cheated on.
Maybe someone you love has passed.
Maybe you were manipulated by someone.
Maybe you wish you had handled a situation better.
Maybe you’re still trying to make sense of an event that happened.
When painful events are stuck on repeat for you, causing you to suffer over and over again, that’s a sign that there’s a lesson in there for you to learn.
Whatever your case may be, this darker period of introspection will have a beautiful outcome – if you let it.
The Two Phases of Fermentation
Fermentation in alchemy is the process of your rebirth from the death of a life phase. Think of a grape. It’s plump, juicy, sweet, and lives on a vine. When it is plucked and turned into wine than it is no longer a grape.
The grape is dead. We killed him. (Nietzsche humor.)
But from the death of this grape came its rebirth as wine. Still sweet, but in its new form to serve the masses a new purpose.
The death and rebirth process happens in 2 phases:
The first phase of fermentation is called putrefaction.
This is the decomposition of your former self. Old parts of yourself are allowed to shed its skin, expose the malady, and allow it to rot away, die off, and decompose.
I must warn you that putrefaction is not a pleasant phase, friends.
This phase has been compared to what’s called “the dark night of the soul” where you may feel lost, isolated, and even depressed.
But it’s just a phase. The dark (new) moon always grows into its brightness if given time – you can, too.
The second phase of fermentation is called spiritization.
Spiritization is when you feel the pain gently falling away from you for good. All that you are not is gone, and all that you are is shining through.
The inner work to get here is tough, but the peace and stillness you feel once this phase is actualized is truly freeing.
You realize you don’t have to beat yourself up anymore. You can learn your lessons, grow from it, and move on with more ease and grace.
Create Your Own Magical Self-Care Ritual
Once you’ve identified the memory or pain you wish to move past, one of my favorite things to do is create a simple self-care ritual to banish it for good – with clear, magical intention!
A magical self-care ritual invites you to use herbs, cards, candles, crystals, or any tool to represent the healing you want to embody once this memory is cut away from you.
I like doing these self-care rituals for a couple of reasons:
- I decide what feels good for my needs
- I’m more in control of where I direct the tumultuous energy inside of me
- It’s fun to visualize myself facing my fears like a heroine and my problems going up in a puff of smoke
- I feel more connected to the spiritual and earthly realms when I bring my erratic energies to the table
Simply choose your tool (ex. clear quartz crystal) and place your intention into it (ex.clear away negative energy coursing through my body whenever I think of this harmful event).
Please keep in mind that there’s no one right way or one product that can do it for you. It’s up to you to put your intention into your practice whole heartedly. (That, after all, is how manifestation works.)
The important thing is to use the tools and resources that make you feel more in control with how you transmute this energy inside of you. Choose one, all, or none of these!
All I ask is you try to face your shadow head on.
Instead of trying to work around it, try to work through it.
Getting through your shadows will ultimately help you move into the self-mastery you desire.
Below is something that I do for myself quite often. Feel free to modify, as needed.
Bu-bye, Pain from the Past! Guided Visualization + Candle Banishing Ritual
- Journal and pen
- 2 bowls (fill one with water)
- Small white candle (quick burn, preferably)
- Carving tool (your pen works, too)
- Olive oil
- Banishing herbs (such as black pepper, cloves, juniper, morning glory, fennel, or another herb you connect with)
Clear your space. Take an incense, sage, or sound bowl to the room you’re working in. Surround yourself with white light. Ask your guides if the room is clear before you begin.
Ground yourself. Sit in a comfortable position and take a moment to take a few cleansing breaths. Close your eyes. Check in with your body.
Take your empty bowl and start mixing your herbs. As you do so, set your intentions into the herbs you’ve chosen. Ask them to activate and to be strong enough to cling to the painful energy you’re working with today. After you mix them, meditate with them for a minute. See if they have any messages for you before you begin.
Carve your intention into your white candle. This could be a symbol, a word, or a phrase that feels powerful to you. It could represent the memory itself, or what you want to embody after you’re free of the emotional attachment to it.
Anoint your candle with olive oil. From the tip of your candle down to the base, gently and purposefully rub the oil on the candle.
Roll your anointed candle in your herbs. Spread them out evenly over the surface. When you’re ready, place your candle in a safe dish and light it. Notice how the flame flickers. Is it still? Erratic? Tall? Smoky? Whatever your candle flame is doing, write it down in your journal.
Time to visualize! In a seated position, with your favorite positive music and/or candle and incense burning, close your eyes and allow your body to relax.
Visualize yourself meeting your pain where it’s at.
Go back to its origin and observe.
What was happening?
What do you wish you could have said or done?
Would you do anything differently?
When you feel like you don’t have to hide from this pain anymore, ask your pain to face you.
Have a conversation with it.
Ask it why it visits you so often.
Ask it why it clings to you so.
Ask what you need to learn from it.
Ask how you can help it move on.
When you have all the answers you want, thank it for spending time with you.
(This acknowledgment is VERY important!)
Write it down on a loose piece of paper. Whatever you learned from your talk with your pain, write it down. All the feelings you have that are associated with this pain, write it down. Write whatever feels complete and true to you.
When you’re done, fold your paper up so you can’t see the words (it’s okay if you wrote on the back).
Light it up. Hold your folded paper and close your eyes. Visualize your pain being absorbed into this paper. Actually see the pain you’ve carried in your head, on your shoulders, on your heart literally pull out of your body and travel to this paper in a brilliant white light. When the paper has absorbed all that it can, hold this paper over the candle flame.
As your paper burns you can tell yourself, “I am ready to let you (memory) go. I thank you for your lesson, (memory). I’m ready to feel more love again.” Whatever feels natural to you. Say the words from your heart to send this pain away and to welcome love and light into your being.
Tea or bath (or both!) After this cleansing work it’s important to replenish your body and spirit. Get yourself a nice cup of tea or take an herbal bath.
NOTE: If you have any trouble finding the materials you need for this ritual, it’s okay to use what’s around the house. You can also check out some of my favorite intentional tools and remedies here.
I hope you find peace on your journey. If you have any questions, please send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.