Creator of online community performs full moon unburdening ceremony

  • Dianne Nault, a belly dancer based in Bradford, opens an unburdening ceremony earlier this fall. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Deborah Ashe, who lives in Antrim, guides a small group through an unburdening ceremony earlier this fall. (Abby Kessler/ Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Deborah Ashe, who lives in Antrim, guides a small group through an unburdening ceremony earlier this fall. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Deborah Ashe, who lives in Antrim, holds a full moon unburdening ceremony every month. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 06, 2017 5:27PM

A small group gathered around a stone fire pit one night this fall around dusk – the full moon was just starting to rise, a symbol of a new beginning.

Deborah Ashe, who lives in Antrim, guided the group through meditation. She instructed the people there to sit on the slightly damp grass, close their eyes, and relax. Ashe told each person to connect to the earth through their hands or feet and imagine that they were pulling energy from the ground.

“You can feel the warmth of it coming up,” she said. “It will move up your ankles and feel that heat move slowly up towards your knees. Let it come all the way up.”

From the knees, she guided people to draw the warmth further up into the hips, through the rib cage, into the shoulders, up to the neck, and to the head.

“I want you just to feel warm safe. You’re completely warm, you’re completely safe, you’re connected to the ground,” she said.

Then Ashe asked the group to think of something they wanted to purge from their life. She said it could be anything, ranging from ridiculous to serious subject matter. She gave an example of someone who eats Oreos before they go to bed and wants to get rid of the habit to a bad choice made in school that took a person down the wrong path.

“Whatever is on your mind all the time that stops you from moving forward,” Ashe said.

She asked the group to move the heat and the energy generated from the meditation into their hands and use it to write on a small sliver of paper. 

Ashe runs a blog called Witches Wood, which, among other things, acts as a space for women from around the world to talk about anything that is bothering them without the fear of judgment. 

Once a month she performs a virtual full moon unburdening and a renewal ritual where the women list things the things they want to remove from their life. She said people often want to release things like regret or low self-esteem. She writes them down on a slip of paper and burns them during a ritual as a symbol of lifting those burdens.

Ashe said she has had people tell her that they’ve fallen victim to a Nigerian love scam and been swindled out of $12,000. Another said she’s been a nurse in the United Kingdom for 30 years and says her job has become unbearable because she likes to take care of the patients, but care, she said, has become secondary. The woman told Ashe that it was becoming hard to motivate herself to go to work.

“It’s a group of people and we talk about stuff. Everybody goes through it, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to recover?” Ashe said.

During the ritual this fall, Ashe threw five slips of paper onto the fire, reading each one out to the group before placing it on the popping flame.

“This person has a disability and they would like release from some of the pain,” Ashe said reading the little slip.

“This person needs help controlling their anger,” she said reading another.

“A chance to find happiness,” a third slip said.

One by one, Ashe threw the small pieces of paper onto the fire.

“These are like sad fortune cookies,” Ashe said half laughing at one point during the process.

She said the process isn’t magic, it’s just human experience.

Ashe said through the process she gets to see a small glimpse into strangers lives without much else. She’s never met these people, she doesn’t know anything else about them. She just knows pieces of their pain.

“I think it’s really good for them because they could walk away tomorrow and they never have to see me or feel guilty, or she knows my secret. It’s kind of like a help line but without all the stress that goes along with it,” Ashe said.

After the process, she takes a picture of the burned ashes and sends them to the people who shared.

“It’s a community for people who don’t have one,” Ashe said.

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.