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Let It Go

Tools for Shifting Energy: Sand Painting

This image is property of JohnandEden.com
This image is property of JohnandEden.com
Written by Eden Clark

Sand paintings are used in many cultures and spiritual traditions as a way of symbolizing transformation, as well as using it as a tool to create and witness change right before your  eyes. They are a way to take the energetics (aka: emotion) of an issue or pattern in your life that’s stuck or no longer working for you, and put it into something highly visual that can change.  It can be a creative and fun process – remember playing in the sand as a kid?

Its important you surrender to the process and just flow with whatever feels right.  It’s not about making it look a certain way, but just go with what feels right in the moment.  You’ll be amazed at how things transform over a few days of working with the “painting”.  So be open to what happens. 


  • A small patch of dirt in your garden that won’t be walked on by people / pets
    – OR –
  • A large tray with sand (grab some from the beach or you can buy sand at most craft stores).
  • Objects from nature:  Twigs, stones, leaves, flowers, shells, crystals, so forth.  It’s best if they’re natural and, when possible, burnable (in some cases you can do fire ceremony with the objects once complete).

SandPainting_JoshuaTreeHow To

  1. If you’re using the earth in your yard, draw a circle in the dirt to create a border, or you can place stones in a circle to create the outer edge.  It can be as small (a foot in diameter) or as large (5 or 10 feet!) as you like.  If using a tray filled with sand inside your home, you don’t need to create a separate circle (but feel free too).
  2. Open sacred space by calling in the directions or simply asking your angels / spirit guides to help protect your painting and help you transmute whatever you are processing.  You can also say a prayer, whatever works for you. The goal is to bring conscious intention to the process and a space for ceremony.  This is soul work.
  3. Take a moment to honor the space you’ve created, and focus on the issue or feeling you’re working through.  Maybe its the end of a relationship, a major life change decision, feeling stuck in a certain area of your life, etc.  Sit with it and allow it to just be there.  This is all about intent and becoming present to what’s so for you.
  4. Using objects surrounding you, start filling the circle with anything you wish – twigs, stones, leaves, flowers, rocks.  If you have something from inside – an object, picture, crystal, etc – you can also include it.  (You can just look around you for whatever is available, or collect them before hand in a basket to have handy).
  5. Place the objects with intention, wherever you wish, within the circle.  Be conscious of the process.  You can also blow into an object before placing it in to the circle, infusing an emotion or thought or meaning. Let the object be placed wherever it feels right to do so.
  6. When you feel your painting is complete and you don’t have the urge to add anything more, simply be with it and notice how you’ve laid things out.  Are there any patterns?  Anything jumping out at you?  Don’t judge or add a story about it, just notice.  When its complete, walk away and leave it be.
  7. Within 24 hours, re-visit the painting.  It can take just a few minutes.  See if anything has shifted or changed.  Notice if you feel like something needs to be added or removed.  Go ahead and make any desired changes.  Be a sacred witness to anything that shifts: perhaps a leaf or flower may have blown out on its own, or something new may have somehow been brought it (nature is fun like that).  Did flowers you added wither away?  Did things move? Does it feel the same? If any objects left or changed, what had they represented?
  8. Continue to visit your painting in the days to come.  You may feel it’s complete within a few days, or perhaps a week.  When you feel it has shifted enough or you feel it’s done, give thanks to the earth for holding the painting, then dismantle and scatter the objects.   At the end, clear the circle so no trace of it appears.Alternative:  a powerful process to bring closure to the painting is to burn any of the remaining objects in Fire Ceremony.  Is there anything that still feels “heavy” or like it needs to be released?  See if there is an object (a twig, leaf or flower) you wish to place into a fire.  If no fire is available, you can also bury the object(s) under the earth and allow the earth to mulch any energy remaining in those objects.

(Note:  From personal experience, be careful if you blow an issue into an object, then decide to keep that object with you in your home or tuck it away in a drawer and forget about it.  The energy you blew in will be held there and not released!  I did that with an object I accidentally kept for 10 YEARS and the issue stuck around that long! That was a big “oops” on my part and I learned my lesson the hard way. And yes, once I cleansed the object and released it, the situation resolved.  Therefore, it is recommended any object you blow in to, especially if it was a heavier energy, you should allow to mulch either under the earth or by fire at the end of your painting!).

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About the author

Eden Clark

Eden has been a published author with Random House, has written for countless magazines and blogs, and is a contributing writer for PREVENTION magazine with more that 10 million readers. Her desire is for people to step out of the exhaustive cycle of what they think their life has to be, and instead awaken to their full power, their highest path, and their brightest future.