How to Release Your Pain with Burning Magic

    by Madeleine L. Keller

    Sometimes, to get rid of something, you’ve just got to burn it.

    For months, I had been dragging around grief, pain, and betrayal leftover from some particularly tumultuous ruptures in my personal life. It got to the point where my every thought was disrupted and influenced by this baggage.

    So one dark moon, I decided to take a look at my shadow, crack open my pain, and let it go up in flames.

    I began by gathering everything that carried hints and reminders of the reasons for my pain and grief. Letters, mementos, and journal entries were condemned to the fire. I looked through all of these and began to sob.

    As the tears fell, I put pen to paper, and wrote a letter to the sources of my pain. I wrote down all the things I had wanted to express for the past few months, but hadn’t been brave enough to voice.

    Once my sobs quieted, I gathered my cauldron, burnables, herbs, and went out into the darkness.

    Slowly, I cast my circle. I breathed deeply, holding my arms out with focus and intention. The winter night’s breeze blew against my cheek and tousled my hair.

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    Sitting down in the center of my formation, I grounded myself, collecting and centering my energy. Then I opened my eyes, read an affirmation, and began to tear apart my papers. The folds and creases gave way, shredding quickly into good kindling.

    I lit a match, dropped it into the cauldron, and watched, transfixed. The flames licked and consumed every word, turning each one into nothing more than ash and glorious, unfurling smoke. As it floated up towards the dark face of the moon, I felt my pain vanish with it.

    My chest and heart felt physically unburdened. I sat up straight and breathed in deeply. I began to smile, then laugh.

    I threw my head back and exhaled with joy and disbelief. I gazed at the stars. I had freed myself with fire, and risen from the ashes.

    Now I’ve told you my story, here’s how you can release what you need to let go of with burning magic.


    Focus your mind on the feelings, thoughts, and emotional sensations you want to release. Set up a calm, relaxing container for your feelings, and then dive into them.

    As you do this, gather anything you want to burn that may be associated with the emotions you are releasing. You may also choose to write a letter to the cause of your feelings, about your feelings themselves, or to the Universe or whatever power you may worship. This may help you clarify the intent you want to achieve through this spell.

    Note: If you would like to recite an affirmation before burning or an incantation while burning, the pre-spell phase is a great time to write it out!

    The Spell

    Your spell can utilize the exact steps I describe above, or depart from them. Use your creativity and do what feels most authentic and witchy to you.

    To burn things, you will need a safe place to do so. I use a fire-proof container for my cauldron, but a fireplace or fire pit outdoors are also perfect containers for burning magic.

    Ground yourself emotionally and energetically. Meditate or sit in silence until you feel safe, calm, and aware of your intent and power.

    At this point, you may also choose to recite an affirmation declaring your intent in doing the spell. With burning magic, since it incorporates rather violent and very powerful symbolism, I like to state that I mean no ill will to anyone or anything mentioned in the spell. I also use this time to map out my intended results of the spell.

    Prepare your fire and light it. Watch it consume your materials and envision your pain or anguish burning away. Witness the destruction of what you intend to release.

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    Ground yourself again. Burning magic often takes me to an intense, even jittery place. This time is for relaxation and reinforcing my sense of safety.

    Now it’s time to bask in the feeling of change! Pay close attention to how you feel both physically and emotionally. Express any urges you have; laugh, whoop, cackle, howl, cry, or dance!

    Cleanse yourself, ground again if needed, and close the circle if you cast one. Herbs or incense can help with the cleansing process.

    In the hours and days following, take note of your feelings. The change affected may be immediate or gradual; either way, celebrate it! You did it, you cunning witch, you!

    Why Burning Magic?

    Fire is both an important symbol and practical tool in witchcraft. Appearing as an agent of magic in candle spells, fire scrying and other forms of divination, as well as burning magic, it is often used as a catalyst for manifestation.

    With burning magic in particular, the burning process can be used to symbolize death and rebirth – much like the archetype of the phoenix.

    Burning representations or literal objects connected to whatever you need to release is both a physical and symbolic process. When you see its representation reduced to ashes, your psyche can easily release what ails you.

    In addition to fire, the moon can also lend magical help and act as a powerful symbol in release spells. Performing this spell under the dark (often called “new”) phase of the moon aids in clearing out emotional baggage.

    Burn bravely. Happy witching!

    A final note on safety:

    do not burn anything that may be unsafe to burn, such as plastic, anything explosive, or any herbs you are not familiar with. Always burn things in a fireplace or outdoors in a safe, fireproof area. You may elect to keep a fire extinguisher or some water and a blanket with you to be extra safe.



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    About the Author:

    Madeleine L. Keller is a writer and community organizer. She believes in people, plants, justice, and magic. At her blog, she enjoys writing about how we can create a better world, finding resources that enable us to live more just and sustainable lives, and inspiring others to join me in the important work of making the world anew. She is also a founder and researcher for The Radical Mapping Project, an ethnographic inquiry looking at ways of life and resistance tactics in radical U.S. activist culture, including witchcraft! Check out her website, hire her to write, speak, or facilitate,  and connect with her on Facebook


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