A telling of an Uncoupling Ceremony that served as an alternative to the classic breakup; the intention was to honor and transition a romantic relationship into a friendship, and be witnessed and held by others in doing so. This was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
Find the full Ceremony Report here.
I'm grateful that you've found your way here and I hope that you can find inspiration in navigating intimate relationships. It seems that in our society we don't transition relationships well and perhaps it comes from a misunderstanding of love. Often our notion of love is really just some form of validation; we love that the other person loves us, and when that love is "taken away", we have all the unwanted feelings that come with it: anger, unworthiness, abandonment, rejection, betrayal etc.
What we were trying to manifest was the continuation of connection and love for one another. I'm writing this a little less than a month into the transition and so far I'd say that we're navigating it all quite well, though it's definitely not easy.
Here's the process we used:
Being witnessed in our process by our close friends felt really important to help them empathize (understand), what we were going through and also our intentions moving forward. This served to honor and support our grieving process, much like people would gather at a funeral. It also helped to avoid any awkwardness or discomfort in future group settings where we’d both be present.
We’re blessed to be a part of a social circle that consists of aware, open and what I would say are spiritual people. Within that we are used to practicing ritual and ceremony, and have some strong leaders in that area. We intentionally chose to be guided by the masculine and feminine.
Both of our friends, Gin and Benoit, graciously agreed to support us in ceremony. Gin, a Shamanic Yoga practitioner, orchestrated the whole ceremony; Benoit, a counsellor and tarot-astrologer, was our guide for the process. Our other incredible friends were invited to take part in the rituals throughout the ceremony.
Setting the Container
As people arrived they were cleansed with sage and cedar water, and asked to hold noble silence while everyone settled in. We had a fire burning that we all circled around.
There was a bowl of flowers that were broken down into peddles to be used as offerings to the fire. This could be an expression of gratitude to Spirit, the elements, or the Natural World. It could also accompany a prayer that we’re calling in.
Gin opened the container by calling in all the directions, as is taught in the lineage that she is initiated in.
Bound with a Red String
Benoit bound Farrah and I with a red string to represent our romantic connection. When people are in relationship there are energetic “cords” that develop. Without awareness of this and going through appropriate process of “cord cutting”, or energy clearing, people will remain entangled on a subtler level which can then manifest particular thought patterns and emotions. The cord cutting and clearing is perhaps best processed with a Shamanic practitioner or other form of energy worker that has awareness on more subtle levels.
In Conscious Uncoupling we’re maintaining a connected relationship, so we’re not trying to eliminate all the bonds that we have. What we do want to rid ourselves of is any unhealthy attachment or dependence on one another. I’m definitely not an expert in this department and suggest further research if you want to understand energetic cords and attachment theory.
Introduction and the Why
Benoit gave a preliminary introduction for us and our gathering. We then each spoke to why we wanted to transition our relationship in this manner. You can find my reasoning in the longer ceremony report. In short, we didn’t want to discard our connection entirely and go separate ways. We also didn’t want to cause disharmony in our social circle. We also wanted to explore and encourage more beautiful ways of being.
This was a really important part of the ceremony. In this portion we acknowledge our faults and areas of our relationship where we could have done better. It was incredibly challenging to be witnessed in this, but hopefully in admitting our mistakes we can find peace with them and improve upon them in future relationships. Also, hopefully others can practice awareness and examine where they can make improvements in their current relationships.
Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian ritual and prayer for forgiveness. Prior to this experience I had only used it internally with myself; this time my words were directed towards Farrah. The process goes:
Please forgive me.
I love you.
After our words we exchanged flowers to be thrown in the fire as an additional letting go of any resentment.
This was a celebration of the other as we acknowledged all the things we love about them. It was no short list for either one of us. This was really helpful to reiterate why we want to remain connected. I also expressed gratitude for specific ways that Farrah has helped me evolve.
Honoring of the Relationship
This felt like the most joyful part of the ceremony. Both of us are storytellers and this was an opportunity to recount some of our favorite memories. In sharing these moments with others, we were able to bring them into our experience so that they could feel more deeply into our connection. This process also reinforced the memories and moments that we cherish and carry with us.
It was really beautiful to hear other’s perspective on our relationship. Some of them shared particular memories which was wonderful to relive and share. We even received reflections that helped us understand our disharmony. To know that our love for each other was seen and loved by others, felt really beautiful.
Intentions Moving Forward
We both have sincere intentions to remain a part of each other’s life. By no means is this easy. To share our intentions publicly creates a level of accountability that will help us remain graceful and supportive of one another.
Cutting the Cord
At this point we cut the red string that we had been bound with. We each took our half and threw it in the fire, asking for its support in dissolving the energetic attachments of our romantic relationship.
To supplement the prayer for transmutation, we also offered tobacco to the fire. Tobacco is a powerful plant medicine and great ally that can serve as an offering to any of the elements, land, or Spirit, as a sign of gratitude and reciprocity. We can also infuse our prayers into the tobacco. I once heard tobacco referred to as “a telephone line to Spirit.”
We invited others to take a pinch of tobacco and offer it to the fire to help transmute and dissolve any cords from past relationships, or to pray for their existing relationship and love.
Gin is powerful singer that led us in a song that everyone could join in on. Singing is another powerful way to transmute energy and also open up connection. As we sing together we can truly enter into a shared, felt experience. The song was carried as we proceeded through the last part of the ceremony.
The final portion of the ceremony had us move down to the river to invite in softness and feminine elements for a smooth transition of love. There were roses waiting for us in Gin’s singing bowl which was filled with water. Our instruction was to scoop the rose and water in a shell provided, infuse them with our intentions and prayers, and send the rose down the river. I saw this ritual as a prayer for the continuation of love.
Find What Speaks to You
Navigating the end of any relationship can be challenging. Even if there was no desire to maintain a relationship with a partner after separation, a process such as this would be helpful; you could even do it on your own if the other person wasn’t willing to participate.
I hope that you find the description of our process helpful and if you have any questions or feedback, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org