We’re in the middle of the Ten Days of Repentance, the period between the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.

The intention of these autumn Holy days is not only to celebrate, but to also ask for forgiveness for past transgressions.

It’s a period of letting go; a time to shed the past and prepare the way for new life.

Whether or not you’re Jewish, autumn is a great time of year to release. As Rabbi Gershon Winkler, author of Magic of the Ordinary, Recovering the Shamanic in Judaism, says, “The leaves of autumn do not fall, they are released. And in so doing they make way for new growth on the twigs above and merge with the earth to create new life below.”

So in honor of the Ten Days of Repentance and the invitation to release that which we no longer need, I invite you to join me in this releasing ritual.

The Ritual

Feel the Sensations in Your Body

Sit quietly for as long as you need to and feel any out-of-balanced sensations in your body.

Where is there tension?

Where is there tightness?

Where is there pain?

If you need to move to feel more sensations, feel free to do so. You might even put on some dance music and dance yourself into acute awareness of the sensations in your body.

Note the Locations and Feelings on a Piece of Paper

As you feel the sensations, make a note of them on a piece of paper. Draw a simple diagram of your body (stick figures will do) and mark where you feel something and a short description of what it is (e.g. anxiety).

You do not have to understand what is causing the sensations (e.g. where the guilt comes from), however you may recognize their origins. For instance, you may associate a certain feeling with fear. Or another one with guilt from an old relationship. If you do, make note of these, along with the location of the sensations, on a piece of paper.

Create a Talisman with Organic Material

When you are done, go outside and gather sticks and leaves, earth and anything organic that can be buried in the earth to decompose. (Use sticks and leaves that have already fallen to the ground.)

Then create a talisman that captures the essence of the sensations you felt during the earlier exercise.

When you are done creating the talisman, sit with it and imagine infusing it with the out-of-balanced sensations you recorded on your paper. If you can, wear the talisman for awhile.

Prepare to Bury the Talisman

Go outside and dig a hole. If you do not live on private property, consider a trek to the woods or alternatively, use a potted plant.

Say a Prayer of Release

Before you bury the talisman, it is a good idea to say a prayer of release. You can ask God or the Earth or whatever you feel called to invoke to help you release this old, unneeded stuff.

Speak from the heart and hold the talisman as you do this.

If you can, remember what the out-of-balanced sensations felt like in your body. Move gently or dance wildly to feel the sensations again.

Bury the Talisman

When you are ready, bury the talisman in the hole and release the outmoded sensations into the earth.  Cover the talisman with earth.

The earth will cause the talisman to decompose and as it does, your old self will decompose with it.

This can be a powerful ritual when done with reverence, and the cleansing feeling can be empowering.