We are growing! In Sept there were 9 of us. Just lovely.
The signs of Samhain, pronounced Sow-en, Summers End are all around us now, in the low sun, the drop in temperature and the glorious trees. Yesterday I went to the New Forest. Add a few red maples and it is truly Samhain fire. Chandlers Ford, where I live, is also ablaze with colour.
But, of course, it is nature dying, preparing for Winter. In times gone by the agricultural work was done and people looked forward to celebrating Samhain and partying. We’ve lost much of the wisdom and lore of our pre-Christian ancestors. We live in a very different world. Samhain has been hijacked by commercialism with Halloween, ghosts and ghouls and all things creepy! The shops are full of it and sadly gives quite the wrong message. Samhain has lost much of it’s original meaning .
Samhain is a major festival with several aspects.
Traditionally it is a time to remember our ancestors and those passed on who have influenced our lives. Some believe it is a time when “The Veil”, the boundary between the living and the dead, grows thin. It is a good time for reflection, remembrance and connection with our loved ones. Referred to as The Day of the Dead by the Celts, Egyptians and ancient Mexicans, they honoured their ancestors by taking flowers, candles and food to the graves–and actually feasting and partying–a celebration, not a weird practice. It still happens in some parts of Spain, I believe.
In the Christian calendar we have All Souls, All Saints, All Hallows eve (Halloween) and the Scottish Gaelic dictionary calls it Hallowtide. Latterly, we have Remembrance Sunday, as near to 11th Nov. as possible. Some churches hold services especially for people who have lost loved ones in the year. I went to one when I lost my mother. All the names were read out, and we were all given a candle to light. It was moving–and helpful.
Samhain is also an opportunity for deep personal reflection and inner work. It encourages us to recognise our faults and flaws, release bad habits, failure, everything we do not want to carry into the new year, and to create a method of rectifying them. Samhain is a time of change, transition, endings and new beginnings, when we leave the past behind and look ahead.
The actual date of Samhain is Nov 1st so I’m told.–some say 30th Oct, about half way between our Oct and Nov gatherings. Our proposed activities may take longer than one session so we will tweak what else needs to be shared and continue in Nov.
WHAT WE WILL DO> First of all I must emphasise for anyone worried, that we are not attempting to contact the dead! The bible gives good advice in this respect, telling us to leave well alone. Our celebration is more about love and remembrance and reflection. This is Unitarian Earth Spirit Network Group and we reserve the right not to follow exact Pagan practices but to adjust celebrations to suit us.
For the activity at 2p.m. We will make and decorate frames for pictures of our ancestors. We are invited to bring our old photos etc–I am bringing a picture of a castle in Ireland that my ancestors owned, and family still own to this day. Also one of my gt gran., so if you have anything please bring it. Even if you don’t want to make a frame we can still talk about it in the circle. We propose putting them in the office photocopier so we use the photocopies and not damage our precious pics.
Also for those who don’t want to join in with this we can do “bob apple”. I will bring a towel! Another names for Samhain are Mischief night and Apple Fest. Our Druid friend on the I.O.W. tells me they will be celebrating well into the night!
For the circle gathering we will listen to a chant on CD asking for blessing on the circle.
Words of welcome.
Everyone is invited to build and decorate the altar, with flowers, fruit, candles, the carn and chalice.
Some words of remember
We are invited to place our decorated photo on the altar, with a few words of who they are and why we chose them for today.
We sit in silence to ponder our family member and what they mean to us.
We can then talk again about our ancestors if anything else has come up for us in the silence. We can also share our beliefs if we so wish.
Prayer of thanksgiving.
A reading from Singing the Living Tradition
We enter another time of reflection on what we would like to get rid of in our lives, anger, disease (dis-ease) write it on paper and burn it in the “cauldron”. This is another rite of Samhain, and quite useful. We light our individual orange night lights and place them on the altar.
Ameni–Iona worship on tape.
We move to the feast. The cakes are in the oven as I write!
I hope you will all be able to come and join in this time of serious reflection, celebration and fun.