The Ritual of Goodbye

You mean I'm not allowed to just disappear?
Publish date:
August 22, 2011
nyc, goodbye, party, ritual, tarot

I have just about no rhyme or reason or dedicated routine to anything I do. I guess that’s called total chaos? While I am a serious seeker with a daily practice of mindful awareness, if my heart feels it...whoosh! I put it into motion, and off I go.

So when I was ready to leave NYC and I told my friends, they had to convince me I should have some sort of final gathering to say goodbye. What, I couldn’t just disappear? That’s rude? Oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to come off that way. OK then, let's do this.

I held a quiet little party with most of my closest girlfriends in NYC. We watched the sunset over the city from a balcony, I made us pizza and we chatted in small groups. Having everyone in one place, I realized how amazing New York is for its ability to encourage and tether a wide range of interests and personalities. I’d built some primo relationships with very talented women.

Out on the balcony, someone noticed there were 13 of us. Thirteen powerful, intelligent, beautiful, creative women in one small outdoors area with a clear view of the moon? Those are the ingredients for a coven! We had to do something.

It was too late and too rushed to come up with some kind of elaborate ritual. A couple friends asked if I’d channel dead spirits, and while I used to do that as a kid, I don’t mess with that stuff now. Hey, check it out -- a friend had a tarot deck, one she acquired as a teenager in Brazil.

Why not do a group reading? One card per person to symbolize what’s going on with the individual, and then an overall reading to see what’s connecting us all, what’s on our minds collectively. I’d never done anything like this.

We all sat in a circle. I shuffled the deck and everyone chose her card. And guess what? Not a single Wand showed up. In the tarot deck, there are four suits, just like in a deck of playing cards. Wands is fire, will, drive, and most importantly, the masculine force in the deck. It made total sense with all this lady energy that there were no Wands.

It was all Cups (water, emotion, beauty, love, femininity) and Swords (air, intellect, mind, thought process), with one Pentacles (earth, material matters, security, groundedness). And each card pulled was no lower than seven (they go one through ten). The higher numbers symbolize a sense of closure. The tarot tells it like it is. This truly was a ritual of thoughtful, sweet finality.

The night got a little softer after this, and quieter. While I would’ve been content to simply skip out of town, I’m grateful I didn’t handle my goodbye in my usual capricious manner. I was moving away from the first home I built for myself.

I showed up in Brooklyn with nothing -- no job, no prospects, no money, no stuff, no plan -- and dug in my heels and made something of myself. I stayed in my apartment there longer than I’d ever stayed in one place, and I actually took the time to decorate it, which was another first. I made new friends entirely on my own, not through mutual introduction, which is so freaking hard in NYC, and possibly one of my biggest accomplishments.

Do you deliberate when you say goodbye, or do you just leave? Do you have any send-off rituals?