31 October 2011 a post by Steve Hollinghurst

All Hallows Ritual

This a ritual to mark All Hallow’s Eve or Samhain in the Celtic calendar. It weaves together the themes of this season; remembering those who have died and also facing the reality of death and fear of the unknown world beyond this one. This ritual draws on Pagan and Christian elements within a Christian communion and has been used as a group ritual. However elements of it can also be used by individuals wanting to mark this festival.

Set up – this ritual involves a communion so requires bread and wine and a chalice or cup and plate for their distribution and something on which to place them like a table. It takes place in the round; it can be followed indoors but is better outdoors and especially at dusk so that is ends in darkness.  Fallen leaves are needed for the ritual and are best collected by those participating, so a safe location where this can occur is good, but the leaves can be collected in advance and placed in a bowl for selection by participants. A large bowl of water or a clean source of running water are also needed and some towels. Music can be used, but is not essential. Suggestions are offered as follows – near the beginning Be though my vision can be used. Below are some words that have been inclusivised, that may be good to use to address gender sensitivity. At the act of remembrance the track ‘Beyond these shores’ from the album of that name by Iona, can be played. At other points like the act of reconciliation background music can be played either recorded or live.

Be thou my vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me, and I with thee, Lord;
be thou Mother and Father, and I thy true child;
be thou in me dwelling, I with thee unified.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armour, be thou my true might;
be thou my soul’s shelter, be thou my strong tower:
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

Sovereign of heaven, thou heaven’s bright sun,
O grant me its joys after vict’ry is won;
great heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be thou my vision, O ruler of all.

Text – words in italics are to be spoken by a leader or leaders of the ritual

The Welcome

(the people gather in a circle)

Be still
Be attentive to the divine presence

(a silent pause is kept)

God of death and resurrection

as the seasons move into winter
We come to you

in the midst of death
We welcome your life giving Spirit

as mortals made in your image
We welcome each other

The Opening of the Circle

(as the leader or leaders read each prayer the people face that direction)

God of the East and sun rising
We call to you to bring us light

God of the west and sun setting
We call to you as we enter the dark season

God of the North and the cold winds
We call to you to be the fire in our hearts

God of the South and the warm breeze
We call to you to be the embrace between us

Christ Jesus
Be the life within us
Be the love between us
Be the light that guides us
This day
And for eternity

The circle is open

Breathing exercise to acknowledge the Spirit’s presence

Be aware of your breathing

Breathe deeply and slowly

In…..and out…….in………and out……..in…….out

Breathe in Peace……………….Breathe out trouble

Breathe in hope…………………Breathe out despair

Breathe in light…………………..and out darkness

Breathe in Love…………………and out hatred

Breathe in life……………………and out death

Breathe in Spirit…………………and out numbness

Be aware of your breathing, be aware of God’s Spirit, God’s breath filling this place, be aware of your breathing, within the breath of God, let God fill you with every breath

Breathe deeply and slowly

In…..and out…….in………and out……..in…….out

A song or chant may be sung


(using the bowl of water or water source)

As we stand in God’s presence, in the presence of each other and all creation we need to acknowledge the damaged and broken relationships between us that cause pain and destruction and acknowledge that we too have sometimes been contributed to that through our own weakness, pain or selfishness. We need to be reconciled to God, each other creation and our selves. I invite you to wash your hands in this water as a sign that God washes away the stain that brokenness has left and makes us and our relationships whole.

(Music may be played and the people wash their hands as and when they feel ready)

(when all have finished)

In Christ the whole creation has been reconciled to God and God has given us the ministry of reconciliation – therefore you are reconciled to God each other and creation through Jesus death and resurrection

Sacred text

The letter to the Romans Ch8: vs.18-39

Remembering ….

(people are invited to find, or select,  fallen leaves to represent those who have died they want to remember – when they have done so the are set floating on the water in the bowl or water source as a way fo offering them to God – Music may be played as this is done. When all have done this the act of remembrance concludes with the prayer below)

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.


(the bread and wine are set out in the centre of the circle)

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

Sharing God’s gift

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.

(the people share the bread and wine)

St Patrick’s Breastplate

(this can be said or sung)

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.

Departing and travelling further…

Neither death nor life nor any power
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Thanks be to God.

The closing of the circle

(people face each direction as it is spoken)

God of the South and the promise of Summer
Bless us now with your warmth

Blessed be

God of the East and the suns rising
Bless us now with the inspiration of your light

Blessed be

God of the West as the sunsets upon us
Bless us now through the dark hours and at the time of death

Blessed be

God of the North and the season of coming winter
Bless us now with a season for reflection

Blessed be


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 October 2011

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Your comments:

Did you miss out the East by accident in the closing of the circle or deliberately?

#1. By sue on October 31, 2011

no the north got repeated the second line should be

God of the East and the suns rising
Bless us now with the inspiration of your light

#2. By Steve Hollinghurst on October 31, 2011

Fixed now.

#3. By Bruce Stanley on October 31, 2011

having this seromon beimg repeated tonight at dusk as the deil has flown.  greenbridge 30.11.11 at 2 this afternoon. riverside kirk ayr 07582927311.  bring a score and four with you.  a doddle to do scotland is at stasndstill till god decides what he wants us to do. amen.  amen amen amen. MLC

#4. By libby cummings on November 30, 2011

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