SAMHAIN



GENERAL OUTLINE:  Time: 5-8 p.m.


First hour: Gathering and preparation/study for ritual

Make a wreath to be used as a portal for looking between the worlds during the Ritual for All Saints; learn unfamiliar hymns.

Create the Wreath 

The Wreath symbolizes a portal, or opening, between the worlds of  spirit and the everyday world. It is also a protective device when hung on a door or wall, and will keep negative spirits outside the house. It is also a practical device for keeping culinary or medicinal herbs handy.

The herbs used are especially suited for magic or spiritual purposes:

Sage:  Immortality, longevity, wisdom, protection

Rosemary:  Protection, love, lust, mental powrs, exorcism, purification, healing, sleep, youth

Lavender: Love, protection, sleep, chastity, longevity, purification, happiness, peace

Wormwood: Psychic powers, protection, love, calling the spirits

Feverfew:  Protection (against colds, fevers, accidents)

Vervain: Love, protection, purification, peace, money, youth, chastity, sleep, healing

Comfrey:  Safety during travel, money

Second Hour: Ritual  (see below)

Third hour: Reflection; Shared Meal

Veggies, fruits, of the Season, cheeses, chips, dips, covered dish, hot cider.


Liturgy for Samhain

The Feast of All Saints

INVOCATION OF SPIRIT

Gathered here in the mystery of this hour  
Gathered here in one strong body,
Gathered here in the struggle and the Power
Spirit draw near
(New Century Hymnal # 742)

Responsive call to the 4 directions

L: We who are creatures of Earth face the East, from where we first perceive the Light.

P: Light of Light, Light of Inspiration, Light of Earth's Sun, Light of Earth's Moon, Starlight, Firelight, Cosmic Light that speeds on the Winds from the Center of the Universe, Empower us. [Light the East candle]

L: We who are creatures of Earth face the South, from where we first perceive the Fire.

P. Fire of Hearth, Fire of Compassion, Fire of Earth's Sun, Fire of Earth's Moon, Starfire, Earthfire, Cosmic Fire that speeds on the Winds from the Center of the Universe, Empower us. [Light the South candle]

L. We who are creatures of Earth face the West, from where we first perceive the Water.

P. Waters of Life, Waters of Emotion, Waters of Earth's wells, Waters of Earth's storms, Primal waters, Cosmic Waters that speed on the Winds from the Center of the Universe, Empower us. [Light the West candle]

L. We who are creatures of Earth face the North, from where we first perceive our grounded Mystery.

P. Soil of Earth, Rocks of Earth, Caves of Earth, Fecund Earth, enfolding Earth, protecting Earth, Cosmic Earth that speeds on the Winds from the Center of the Universe, Empower us. [Light the North candle]

CANTICLE New Century Hymnal # 738

READING: Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-20

MEDITATION

 The Last Harvest: The Fading of the Light
Sea Raven

Here at the end of the 2nd Millennium, C.E., to pay attention to seasons governed by the Earth's position relative to the Sun might seem a waste of time. We work in artificial light, far into the night and far into winter's darkness. We work in artificial coolness in the heat of the midsummer sun, and in artificial warmth in the subzero temperatures that kill other species or send them into hibernation or dormancy.

Who cares what the season is? We can buy whatever we want, in or out of season. In fact, we do a lot of grousing and grumbling when the apples we buy in the spring are soft, or the oranges and grapefruit are seedy, or the really good tomatoes from Australia are $3 and $4 per pound.

Or who cares when the Sun comes up? We just change our clocks. There's an old joke about a farmer who didn't like daylight savings time because his crops needed a full day of sun.

People who are sensitive to the changes of seasons, or to the phases of the moon, are considered crazy or sick. Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) is the clinical term for depression that strikes some people in the fall and winter months. The cure is light - gentle, white light, of a particular order on the spectrum.

For pre-Christian, or perhaps more accurately, pre-literate North European and Celtic peoples, the changing seasons had a direct impact on not only well-being but survival. Here in the techological post-modern era, we think our well-being and survival are no longer related to the seasons of the year. In fact, some Christians - and not only fundamentalist Christians - believe that the seasons and the natural world serve no purpose in Christian life.

Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, and Meister Eckhart are three Christian mystics from the 12thand 13th centuries who taught that the natural world -- the creatures, plants, rocks, and winds -- are words and expressions and revelations of Godde. Aquinas refers to Paul's letter to the Romans (Chapter 1:20) when he counsels that:

The human mind, in order to be united to God, needs to be guided by the sense world, since "invisible things ... are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made," as the Apostle says (Rom. 1:20). Wherefore in divine worship it is necessary to make use of corporeal things in order that the minds of people may be aroused thereby, as by signs, to the spiritual acts by means of which human beings are united to God.

Before we can even get to Aquinas' statement that "in divine worship it is necessary to make use of corporeal things, in order that the minds of people may be aroused thereby... to the spiritual acts [that] unite human beings to God," we must first create the experience that all creation is a revelation of the nature of God and a blueprint for a personal relationship with God. Jesus is reported to have said:

"Don't fret about your life -- what you're going to eat and drink -- or about your body -- what you're going to wear. There is more to living than food and clothing, isn't there? Take a look at the birds of the sky: they don't plant or harvest or gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. You're worth more than they, aren't you? Can any of you add one hour to life by fretting about it? Why worry about clothes? Notice how the wild lilies grow: they don't slave and they never spin. Yet let me tell you, even Solomon at the height of his glory was never decked out like one of them. If God dresses up the grass in the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into an oven, won't God care for you even more, you who don't take anything for granted?

Jesus' comment about the lilies of the field is probably one of the most beloved statements of Christian faith. But to me it is more than that. The comment is an illustration of relationship with Creator that we can learn from the non-human life forms that surround us, even in the City. Generally the comment is interpreted anthropocentrically. In this translation, Jesus says, "You're worth more than they, aren't you?" But later, when he speaks of the grass that is here today and tomorrow thrown into the oven, he is showing us a Creator that is so over-abundantly generous as to dress up the grasses in a way that rivals the stupefying profligacy of the greatest king the society had ever known. So which is more important? For Jesus, the grasses, the king, and the people listening to him are all equally important. They are all words of God. If people had the relationship to God of a blade of grass, we might be looking at a very different environmental situation on the planet today.

Another block to bringing the natural world into Christian worship is that we do know that the Moon circles the Earth, and the Earth circles the Sun, and that the Universe was created 15 billion years ago. The scientific facts get in the way of a sense of wonder when meteorologists and other popular dispensers of truth assure us that the Moon can't possibly have any effect on our bodies, because our bodies are too small; or that the Sun at equinox has no more pull on an egg than at any other time; or that a vast ring around the full moon is just a formation of ice crystals -- and on and on. Natural phenomena are "just" whatever they are, and nothing more. But Aquinas sees the natural world as metaphor. "Corporeal things" are the signs that point to "the spiritual acts by means of which human beings are united to God." Later on, Aquinas discusses Sabbath rest as one of those acts.

Listen again to part of the reading from the Wisdom of Solomon:

"The beginning of wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction, and concern for instruction is love of her [Wisdom], and love of her is the keeping of her laws, and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality, and immortality brings one near to God; so the desire for wisdom leads to a kingdom."

The desire for Wisdom leads to the Realm of Godde. And what does Jesus tell us about the Realm of God? That it is here and now, within us. And followers of Jesus have extended that Realm to include the Word and Wisdom of Godde as expressed in the known Cosmos -- Creation.

It seems to me that the Druids and others who devised the eight sun-based festivals of the Celtic Wheel of the Year were very wise indeed. At each point, a particular balance of light and dark -- shadow and substance -- spirit and embodiment -- is celebrated, acknowledged, and used as a metaphor for growth and change. It is a world not of duality, but of inclusiveness. The Celts especially were and are very much attuned to the borderlands between seasons: Samhain on the cusp between the end of the growing season and the beginning of the dead season; or the Winter Solstice, on the null point between total darkness and the return of the light; between times of day - dawn, dusk; times when the boundaries between the worlds of day and night, summer and winter, dreamtime and waking time are blurred and transformation is possible.

It is also possible to visit those other realms of spirit during the times and in the places where the veil between the worlds is thin - as at Samhain, or Halloween or the Feast All Saints. It is possible then to visit and to return with Wisdom from those who have gone before.

I invite each of us to reflect for a moment about what this time of year means in our lives. What are the metaphors that come to mind?

Silent reflection.

HYMN: Each Winter as the Year Grows Older New Century Hymnal # 435

CANDLE RITUAL OF PRAYERS AND REMEMBRANCES

[Each one looks through the wreath toward the center of the circle]

Look back through time or deep within
The Portal blurs the boundaries
The veil between the Worlds is thin
Look well - perceive the Mysteries

[Each one who wishes may light one or more candles in honor of the worlds, spirits, ancestors, and saints who brought us to this place and speak the name or tell the story.]

RETURN TO THE WORLD OUR BODIES INHABIT

[Everyone turns and looks through the wreath toward the outside world]

Look out now from deep within
The Portal blurs the boundaries
The veil between the Worlds is thin
Bring the Word to our Communities

ANNOUNCE THE WORD Matthew 5: 3-4,6 (from The Five Gospels)

L. Congratulations to the poor in spirit

P: Heaven's domain belongs to them!

L: Congratulations to those who grieve.

P. They will be consoled!

L: Congratulations to those who hunger and thirst for justice.

P: They will have a Feast!

OFFERTORY

Offering of Bread, Wine, and other Gifts dedicated to a community project or food bank

Doxology: O Creator of the Cosmos © 1999 by Sea Raven (tune: Bonny Portmore)

O Creator of the Cosmos
We bring the gifts of humankind
Food and money, creative passion
All the works of our minds
As we return from Worlds of Sprit
To the World we travel through,
May we listen to your Wisdom
In all that we do.

COMMUNION

Words of Institution (Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh, p. 271)

"The Eucharist is about the universe loving us unconditionally still one more time and giving itself to us in the most intimate way (as food and drink). Interconnectivity is the heart of the Eucharistic experience: God and humanity coming together, God and flesh, the flesh of wheat, wine, sunshine, soil, water, human ingenuity, stars, supernovas, galaxies, storms, fireballs -- every Eucharist has a 15-billion-year sacred story that renders it holy.

"The gratitude from which the Eucharist derives its very name (eucharistein means "to give thanks" in Greek) is not just our gratitude toward the Source of all things; it is also the universe's gratitude for our presence and for our efforts at contributing, however imperfectly.

"The Eucharist is heart food from the cosmos -- the "mystical body of Christ" and the Cosmic Christ or Buddha nature found in all beings in the universe -- to us. Christ is the light of the world, which we now know is made only of light. Flesh is light and light is flesh. We eat, drink, sleep, breathe, and love that light. The Eucharist is also our hearts expanding and responding generously: "Yes, we will." We will carry on the heart-work called compassion, the work of the cosmos itself."

[ Pour wine, break bread, feast and share prayers and intentions for the group and community]

HYMN God We Thank You For Our People New Century #376
(Tune: Holy Manna)

CLOSING

L. We who are creatures of Earth face the North, from where we first perceive our grounded Mystery.

P: As we return, we will remember. (Extinguish North candle)

L. We who are creatures of Earth face the West, from where we first perceive the Water.

P: As we return, we will remember. (Extinghish West candle)

L: We who are creatures of Earth face the South, from where we first perceive the Fire.

P: As we return, we will remember. (Extinguish South candle)

L: We who are creatures of Earth face the East, from where we first perceive the Light.

P: As we return, we will remember. (Extinguish East candle)

ALL: Peace! Shalom! Amen! Hoh! Blessed be!