Zozobra: Burn Your Doom and Gloom!

Santafe.com - September 8, 2011

"...it is only here in Santa Fe will you see a 49-foot-tall marionette (5 stories high) burned to the ground in front of thousands who have come to watch his demise"

As a life coach here in Santa Fe, I applaud the idea of a ritual that dispels our troubles. Those of you from Santa Fe are familiar with our festival of Zozobra, now just around the corner on September 8th.

For those of you not aware of this fun and impressive tradition, it is only here in Santa Fe will you see a 49-foot-tall marionette (5 stories high) burned to the ground in front of thousands who have come to watch his demise. He looks particularly gloomy, with his metallic belt and cuffs and those green, glowing eyes.

Zozobra is an old Spanish word meaning anxiety, anguish and gloom. And the burning of Zozobra is supposed to clear out a year’s worth of troubles and hardships. Collection boxes around town fill with all forms of misery – love letters, divorce papers, art, wedding dresses, tax liens or anything that hangs heavy in our hearts. Then, along with all this “stuff,” the effigy is burned to the ground. It is a fantastic show, with the energy of a Fire Spirit Dancer, the moans and groans from “Old Man Gloom,” fireworks and screams from the crowd of “Burn him, burn him!”

This yearly event originated in 1924 by artist Will Shuster. And today, the current producer of the festival, Ray Valdez, takes his duties seriously, vowing to burn whatever people give him. The concept here, of course, is that some things are best not recycled.

Last year, more than 7,000 people witnessed Zozobra’s demise. I guess there was a lot of gloom. So now we’re heading into fall, a time when summer ends, kids return to school, leaves fall off trees, plants go in the ground and deepen their roots and we know it’s time to let go. So, why not let go of all that gloom and misery?

Create Your Own Zozobra:

Rituals help us pass through transitions (think weddings, funerals, graduations) and are actually very helpful in moving us forward. So, if you can’t make it to Santa Fe, consider trying this ritual that I use with my coaching clients: Take anything that has brought misery this year. Write it all down. Gather the papers, clothes or items that contributed to this gloom. Then, find a safe place to burn a fire – a fire pit, a fireplace, a metal bucket or a hole in the ground. Be sure there is plenty of water nearby and no shrubbery to catch fire. After all, you don’t want to bring in more misery by starting a fire! Then, when you know all is safe, strike a match to this and watch the flames.

Really dive into the feeling that these gloomy aspects of your life are leaving, being sucked out of you and into the fire. Consumed and vanishing in the literal puff of smoke. Say goodbye to the heartache. If you feel like crying, do so. It too, will help you let go. And when the flames have died and you have cleansed your life of all these troubles, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and focus on what it is you want to bring into your life. Visualize good things coming and fill the vacuum with blessings. Feel the energy flow from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes. Keep breathing and visualizing.

When you’ve got that clear vision, and have truly energized it with your intention, then open your eyes. You may see a bunch of ashes or burning embers. You can dump it all (safely of course), or, do as the producer of the Zozobra festival does. He adds insult to Zozobra’s injury, and turns the sadness into a bit of sweet delight. “After he’s a smoldering pile on the ground, we roast marshmallows on his flaming ashes with 10 foot poles,” says Ray Valdez.

What a great way to celebrate a new beginning – toasted marshmallows! Add chocolate and graham crackers and you have s’mores. So, maybe there’s s’more good stuff coming your way! Zozobra be gone!!

(Remember Zozobra in Santa Fe, and check it out:  www.zozobra.com

Joy Silha is a Life Coach who also uses horses to help women learn about themselves.  “Awaken Your Inner Cowgirl” Life Coaching offers individual sessions with horses or small workshops. She can be contacted at www.awakenyourinnercowgirl.com or at joysilha@gmail.com