Samhain Small Ritual

Following on from the utter carnage of pumpkin carving on Sunday (pubchurch families with 8 children plus many adults crammed into our house trying to gut and carve pumkins without extreme injury), this evening was the Eat & Pray/ Samhain small ritual… except with small people added, not quite as many people as anticipated and nobody when/where they were expected; it was chaotic and all over the place and messy… and good. Time spent with each other, talking about our lives, looking after each other & one another’s children doesn’t seem peripheral to me, it’s kind of the main point of it all. For the record, below is how the evening had been planned, but in practice most of the long wordy bits needed to be cut into brief explanations in between activities that everybody could join in with. Delighted with way kids engaged with the activities so well, even though they were tired and experiencing sugar high/lows by this point!

Samhain Small Ritual 2012

 The beginning of the year in the Celtic Traditions

The beginning of winter, after the harvest & animals have been gathered in, a time of waiting

A time to gather and draw strength from a community around a fire

A time to hope that the stores last the winter, that spring returns in time

A time for remembrance for loved ones departed and for spiritual awareness

A moment to pause and reflect and celebrate

The Turn of the Year


Reader:             Be still
Be attentive to the divine presence                     

(silent pause)

God of death and resurrection

as the seasons move into winter

All:                   We come to you

Reader:             in the midst of death
All:                   We welcome your life giving Spirit
Reader:             as mortals made in your image
All:                   We welcome each other

(Steve Hollinghurst, Communities of the Mystic Christ Samhain Ritual)


*We Light the Candles*


All:       The Love of your creator be with you

Reader: God’s blessing be yours,

And well may it befall you;

Christ’s blessing be yours

And well be you entreated;

Spirit’s blessing be yours,

And well spend you your lives,

Each day that you rise up,

Each night that you lie down.                              (from Carmina Gadaelica)

All:       We have been loved by God from before the beginning           (Julian of Norwich)

Reader: We are not alone

We live in God’s world;                                       (Iona Community Worship)

All:       And so everything has being because of God’s love.               (Julian of Norwich)


*We Share Food Together*

(One place is left empty and the chair decorated with autumn leaves. This is to remind us of absent friends, & also of the [invisible] presence of God with us this evening)

 *After Eating, we sit together (probably in an approximation of a circle) with our candles.*

 *We light the incense & place on Myrrh and Frankinsence*

 We begin by remembering all those we wish to recall to mind this evening, perhaps those who have inspired us and those who have died; people whose absence we feel.

You may wish to place autumn leaves afloat in the bowl of water as a way of remembering your loved ones and giving them to the care of God.

(Music: Mumford & Sons – Timshel)

This season, a season of waiting, a season that grows in darkness by the second, becomes a time for us to grow in our practice of stillness, of silence, and of listening. (Teo Bishop)

*We Keep One Minute Silence*

 The Night Stair by Alison Swifen ( A meditation on the Yew Tree)

A silence like no other

Is ne’r day in the

morning. The world is

sleeping off the ill

effects of the

old year and

it is too soon to

speak any

story into the new.


Quiet as thick

flakes of snow. Quiet

as the rising and falling

of a child’s sleep. Quiet

as the sleep of

the dead,

under the yew.



as the abbey church at

candlefall when

Amens are said,

and on the air,

before the latch drops,

behind the night stair,

the last echo of God

breathing in our



Brief Breathing Meditation (Wind in the Trees)

(Music:  Enya- Athair Ar Neamh)

Settle into a comfortable standing position with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep your legs straight, but not locked; a slight bend at the knee is often more comfortable. Let your arms rest gently by your sides. Let your back adopt an upright and relaxed position.

Bring your awareness to the physical sensations of touch, contact and pressure as your feet are in contact with the ground. Spend a minute or two exploring these. Let your feet settle into the ground like great roots of the trees.

Now bring your awareness to the changing patterns of physical sensations in your nostrils as the breath moves in and out. Focus on the vivid sensations as the air moves.

There is no need to try to control your breathing in any way, simply let your body breathe by itself. As best you can, also bring the attitude of allowing to the rest of your experience – there is nothing that needs to be fixed, and no particular state to be achieved. As best as you can, simply surrender to your experience as it is without requiring that it be any different.

And on the next in breath, notice how the air moves on from the mouth and nostrils to the back of the throat. Notice how it feels as it moves in, and out. Let your awareness rest in the movement of the breath.

Now bring your awareness to the changing patterns of physical sensations in the belly as the breath moves in and out of the body. Focus your awareness on the mild sensations of stretching as the abdominal wall gently expands with each in breath and on the sensations of gentle release as the abdominal wall deflates with each out breath. As best you can, stay in touch with the changing physical sensations in your abdomen for the full duration of the in-breath and the full duration of the out-breath, perhaps noticing the slight pauses between an in-breath and the following out-breath and the following in-breath. Feel the patterns of the movements of the air.

When you are ready, on an in-breath, feel or imagine the breath, not only entering your lungs and stretching your chest and abdomen, but reaching down your arms to the tips of your fingers. On the out-breath, feel or imagine the breath rolling all the way up the your arms and out through the nose. Continue this over several breaths. Now allow your awareness to expand to the sensations experienced in the tips of the fingers, perhaps tingling or the temperature of the air. Experience the sensations as the breath moves in, and out.

On the next in-breath, stretch your awareness right down to your feet, rooted on the ground; And on the out-breath imagine the breath moving out through your upper body and arms, like wind through the branches. Continue this for several breaths, on each out-breath bringing your awareness to the tips of your fingers, lightly resting them like branches of autumn leaves. When you are ready, on an out-breath, imagine the wind shaking the leaves from the branch.

Spend a few moments being aware of a sense of the body as a whole and of the breath flowing freely in and out of the body. When you are ready open your eyes and bring your awareness to this space and this gathering.

(Davina, with lots pinched from mindfulness practices by Jon Kabat-Zinn)

All:         Lord God,
who in Christ lived among us
and is the way for us to follow in life and in death,
we thank you for your love and faithfulness
to those who have gone before us in the journey,
we thank you for the inspiration they have given us
We ask for your healing of difficult memories
and the pain of separation.
Be with us on our journey
till all are re-united in you.

(Steve Hollinghurst, on Mystic Christ Samhain Meditation)

Romans 8v22-39:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption…, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?…  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God…

Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Extracts from Pauline Warner’s meditation for Samhain (from mystic Christ blog) – on the presence of ‘black madonna’ statues seen in many European churches.

 …that is the point of why some of us yearn for the presence of Black Madonnas in church. The Divine cannot be neatly tidied up and packaged. There is something dangerous and uncontrollable about the Spirit… maybe that is because we are feeling that former certainties and nice, neat tidy solutions just do not work. Everything is in the melting pot or the mixing bowl, or ‘the cauldron of transformation’… All true growth starts hidden in darkness – babies, bulbs, creative ideas – all take their time to form.

That is why the darkness of winter is such an important time. Growth happening under the soil when everything is apparently dead and muddy. The season of Samhain…begins that time of darkness. New life will come. In its own good time amidst the swirling mysterious chaotic forces, through patient waiting and decisive action, new life will come. But first there is darkness.


We pause in silence to recall and remember thoughts, words, and deeds which we would rather leave dead & buried in the old year. We also bring to mind our hopes for ourselves and our world for the coming year.

In silence we bring these to God in our hearts and place more Myrrh and Frankincense on the incense block.

You may also wish to bury a bulb in the pot as you consider the death of the old and the beginning of the new.

(Music: Gungor- Dry Bones & Beautiful Things)

Romans 6 v3-10: …all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his… Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

Lord of light
who walks with us in darkness
you wove creation
from the darkness of the void
and so the gifts of earth are yours
We thank you for these gifts
of bread and wine
food and drink to sustain us
in Body, Mind and Spirit

We thank you Lord of Creation

You are the mother and father of all life
Our day and night
Life and death
In Jesus you renewed your image
Shone in the darkness
And opened the path of new life

We thank you Lord of creation

The night before Jesus died
He took bread and wine
And giving thanks to God
Broke the bread saying
‘take and eat, this is my Body broken for you’
And took the wine saying
‘this is my blood poured out to cleanse the world’

We thank you Lord of creation

So now lets us share together
In these Gifts of creation and of God
Eat and drink that the life of Jesus
may renew your life
and lead you to wholeness,
restore our broken relationships
and heal our world.

(Steve Hollinghurst, on Mystic Christ Samhain Meditation)

The Body of Christ broken for you.

The Blood of Christ shed for you.


Galations 3v26-28

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

*We light the Fire/ Central Candle*

God, kindle Thou in my heart within

A flame of love to my neighbour,

To my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all,

To the brave, to the knave, to the thrall,

O Son of the loveliest Mary,

From the lowliest thing that liveth,

To the Name that is highest of all.

O Son of the loveliest Mary,

From the lowliest thing that liveth,

To the Name that is highest of all.

(Carmina Gadaelica)


*We extinguish all candles but the central one*

All:       God help me and encompass me,

            From this hour till the hour of my death.

                                                                                                                        (Carmina Gadaelica)

Reader: We are not alone.

We live in God’s world.

All:       We believe in God,

            Who has created and is creating

            Who has come in Jesus to reconcile

            And make all things new.

Reader: We trust God,

All:       who calls us to be the church;

            To love and serve others,

            To seek justice and resist evil,

            To proclaim Jesus,

            Crucified, dead and risen;

            Our Judge and our hope.

Reader: In life, in death, in life beyond death,

All:       God is with us: we are not alone.

            Thanks be to God.


*We write on pieces of paper something we want to change over the coming year, whether a habit we want to break, or a new venture or hope. Burn these in the central candle and offer our hopes and desires to God.*


Reader: With the whole realm of nature around us,

With earth, sea and sky,

We sing to you.

All:       With all the angels of light who envelop us,

            With all the saints before and beside us,

            With brothers and sisters, east and west,

            We sing to you.

Reader: And with our loved ones,

Separate from us now,

Who yet, in this mystery, are close to us,

We join in the song of your unending greatnes.

All:       Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.

Reader: Kindness in our face

And the Spirit’s grace

Wisdom in our speech

As we speak to each;

O Lord Christ, thou art

Love within the heart;

In love may we greet

Though a foe we meet.

(Carmina Gadaelica)


St Patrick’s Breastplate


I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the three in one, and one in three.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward,
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the three in one, and one in three
of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Creator, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation:
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

And May the blessing of the God of life and death
In whom the seasons grow and fade
In whom all of us are held in love
Our Father and Mother
Our Savour Jesus
Our Sustainer the Spirit
Be upon as at this time
And in the times to come

Go in peace, God is with us


Steve Hollinghurst, on Mystic Christ Samhain Meditation)



One thing I’ve noticed when I’ve not been feeling so great, every now and then I get completely obsessed with finding one particular thing out. In this case, a second hand clock that I bought from my sisters great junk collection. It is identical to this one:

Antique Musical Alarm Clock

And almost identical (with a couple of specific differences) to this one: India Ivory Company from around 1900

However I found a couple of others which looked as if they bore some stylistic similarities:

German c.1935


Small German Windup

I love the ingenuity of it, whatever it’s provenance, and the little waltz it plays as an alarm 🙂

It also led on to a fantastic blog. Now I’ve always liked steam punk, but never become obsessive about it, however this could possible change that: A-Z of SteamPunk