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9 Rituals For Release & Renewal So You Can Leave 2020 Behind

Sarah Regan
December 31, 2020
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Portrait of a woman holding a candle light during sunset hour
Image by Lucas Ottone / Stocksy
December 31, 2020
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The year 2020 has been a wild ride, to say the least. But with a new year upon us, there's no better time to try a ritual for releasing the old and welcoming the new.

To help guide you, we compiled a list of our favorite rituals from spiritual leaders around the world. From taking a bath to casting a spell, there's a little something here for everybody. Ready to start 2021 with a positive mindset (and a squeaky clean aura)? Us too.


Do a tarot spread.

If you've got a tarot deck handy, this is an excellent time to do a reading for closing out 2020 and starting 2021. Imani Quinn and Ellen Bowles, co-founders of The Woke Mystix, offer this simple four-card spread to get started:

  • Card 1: Your biggest lessons of 2020 that you are leaving behind.
  • Card 2: Your overall theme for 2021.
  • Card 3: The lesson that will be addressed and overcome in the upcoming year.
  • Card 4: What blessing will be most prominent for you in 2021.

Journal about the year and burn it.

Getting your thoughts out on paper and burning them can be a powerful exercise for release, and it's a favorite of many. Both Quinn and Bowles, as well as author and speaker Alexandra Roxo, recommend giving this ritual a try. "I usually do a releasing ceremony by a fire and write down things I am ready to release and speak them aloud to friends before letting them go symbolically in the fire," she tells mbg.

"Write a reflection letter to yourself about the year 2020," Quinn and Bowles add. "Write down the big moments that happened, what you learned, and what you are leaving behind. The lessons learned from the year before helped you become who you are now—give gratitude and release. Burn the letter while speaking gratitude in the form of affirmation to self (i.e., I release what no longer serves me in order to make room for what is in alignment)."


Confront your shadow.

We all have parts of ourselves we tend to hide away, aka our "shadow self." This year, consider confronting those parts of yourself with this shadow work exercise from astrologist and reiki practitioner Mal Mathurin: Reflect and meditate on your shadow. Repeat affirmations of release, as well as affirmations to call in what you do want. And of course, set your intention for working with your shadow moving forward.


Cast a spell for protection.

After the year we've all had, it can't hurt to have a little extra protection, right? The good news is, there's a spell for that, and it's called the Sator Square. "The Sator Square can be used for protection or to diminish the power of an evil force over you, such as disease or the evil eye," Sarah Lyons, author of Revolutionary Witchcraft, previously explained to mbg.

With each word directly under the previous one, write out 'Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera, Rotas' in five columns, so they form a five-by-five square, then chant the words out loud. Carry the piece of paper with you whenever you like.


Work with colors.

Roxo explains that working with color can be a great way to tap into a particular vibe. For instance, she likes to wear white for renewal on New Year's Eve, which comes from her Brazilian roots, but you can choose any color you like. "Wear the color you want or need in your life! Claim your magic by embodying what you crave," she says. (And be sure to check out our guide on how to dress to support a particular aura color.)


Make an altar or vision board for 2021.

Setting up an altar or making a vision board is a great way to envision the year you want to have. Roxo notes she always starts the evening on New Year's Eve by making an altar with friends "with fruits and tokens of what we want to call into the new year." It'll help you get clear on what your goals are going forward and bring it into physical reality with whatever you use on your board or altar.


Repeat this Tantric Buddhist mantra.

To bring your body and mind into harmony, meditation teacher and spiritual guide Sah D'Simone recommends the following Tantric Buddhist mantra to meditate with: Om, Ah, Hum. "This mantra meditation is electrifyingly powerful," he tells mbg. "With the silent repetition in your mind of 'Om, Ah, Hum,' you'll release guilt and shame associated with unwholesome habits and actions you've engaged in—and welcome acceptance, forgiveness, and new possibility."

By flushing out negativity from within, he says, you'll be able to move forward to fulfill your potential in the new year, bringing your body, speech, and mind "more wholly and authentically to every action and interaction."


Try a cleansing and protective salt ritual.

This salt ritual comes from spiritual coach and ritual researcher Barbara Bizou. You'll need a non-wooden bowl, sea salt or kosher salt, black peppercorns, cloves, and a bay leaf. "Mix the ingredients together and call on the spirit of your home to cleanse the energy of your space and protect you from any negativity," she wrote on mbg. "Place the bowl near the front door and replace its contents every few weeks."


Draw a ritual bath.

And finally, for a ritual that's physically and energetically cleansing, how about a soothing bath? Add whatever you like to the bath—really give yourself permission to get luxurious with it. And while you're there, think about what you're letting go of, and what you want to call in.

Sarah Regan author page.
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.