All Hallows’ Eve is commonly known as Halloween and means ‘Eve of All Saints’ (or Hallows’) Day. ‘Hallow’ is an old English word for saint. All Hallows’ Eve marks the start of the season of Hallowtide, the time in the liturgical year when Christians remember the dead. It is widely accepted that the early Church missionaries held a festival at this time of year to absorb native Pagan practices into Christianity, thereby smoothing the conversion process.
The 31st October is a celebration of the end of the harvest and in the Northern hemisphere, the start of the coldest half of the year. With this transition it’s also celebrated as the beginning of the spiritual new year. In ancient Paganism it was believed to be the time of year when the veil between the worlds of life and death was lifted and the spirits of the dead could mingle with the living. Loved ones who had recently passed to Spirit were remembered and their spirits often invited to join in the celebratory feast.
To most modern Pagans, the turning of the year, the letting go and allowing of natural cycles, and the remembering those who have past is still the central theme of Samhain. Whatever our beliefs, most of us will agree that October’s shift into lower temperatures, it’s darkening evenings, mists and the scent of damp leaves and wood smoke create a feeling of magic and mystery in the air.
Each year in our home we choose this night to remember those friends and relatives who have past, as well as our ancestors – those who have laid paths through generations in which we have inherited both gifts and perhaps patterns to which we can bring consciousness and healing. We light a specially prepared candle upon a beautiful seasonal nature altar, and we take time to centre and to connect in with ourselves. We then turn our thoughts to prayer and remembrance of those who have been a part of our life’s journey.
Tonight we would like to invite you to share this precious evening with us. For those who are able to join in early, we will begin with a very gentle, contemplative afternoon walk at 4pm for around an hour, during which we will collect some nature items for our group altar. For this walk, we will meet at The Abbey*. Please dress warmly and bring a torch . If you are able to join us later in the evening only then please be very welcome to bring leaves, flowers, or other nature items from your garden. Alternatively you might like to bring a painting you have made, a collage, or something else signifying autumn. If you bring a candle, please natural non-animal wax only.
At 7pm we will open the doors of the Town Hall room as usual and serve hot teas and delicious light snacks while we create the altar with the nature items we have brought. If you would like to bring something for our ‘mini feast table’ please do (vegetarian or vegan). We also invite you to bring a photo or photos of those you would like to remember tonight or an object that is a reminder.
You can hold the photo/object during the evening or you may place it on the altar.
From approx. 7.30pm we will form a circle or semi-circle (depending on numbers) and we shall share in an evening of meditation, connection, loving prayer and peace together. We will be joined by some of our musician friends.
*For the walk in the Abbey, this will be usual Abbey entry so free if you have an Abbey pass or otherwise £7.50 (over 60’s £6.50). If we have a group of ten on entry to the Abbey without passes then the price will be £5.90 each.