All Hallows Eve is a contemplative night for me and my household.
It is a time for joy and tears as the veil is now quite sheer. On this night we light candles and make a large feast of stuffed mushrooms, brown sugared carrots, rosemary potatoes twice baked, and roast salted pork, we throw open all of the doors and windows so that none may be left out, be they man or spirit. We wear masks for protection. We drink wine, mead, or beer, offer sweets for security, and most importantly we hail the honored dead.
This is a night of holy reverence to acknowledge the lives and deaths of those that came before us.
My extended family has let this tradition go for many years, giving into Protestantism, but the ways of our ancestors have come around full circle into our not so modern little house. The snake has bitten its tail, and so I will say the prayers long neglected, and light our hearth after midnight to usher in the new year to come.
As we light it I will say,
” Save. Shield. Surround,
The hearth, the house, the household
The eve, the day, the year.
We honor & thank you.”
For you see, as Celts, the onset of Winter is the birth of our new year, which is actually entirely optimistic. The hardest part is the beginning, Spring is born, matures into Summer, and before you know it, the year wanes…and you have come full circle.
So on your Hallowed Night, make a circle and say a few words of kindness, let it all go, tell raucous stories about family members present and past, for this is the heart of our wild selves and this is the tradition of our people.
I really felt like this poem by Fredrick Manning well represents my heart this season:
“Yea, she hath passed hereby, and blessed the sheaves,
And the great garths, and stacks, and quiet farms,
And all the tawny, and the crimson leaves.
Yea, she hath passed with poppies in her arms,
Under the star of dusk, through stealing mist,
And blessed the earth, and gone, while no man wist.
With slow, reluctant feet, and weary eyes,
And eye-lids heavy with the coming sleep,
With small breasts lifted up in stress of sighs,
She passed, as shadows pass, among the sheep;
While the earth dreamed, and only I was ware
Of that faint fragrance blown from her soft hair.
The land lay steeped in peace of silent dreams;
There was no sound amid the sacred boughs.
Nor any mournful music in her streams:
Only I saw the shadow on her brows,
Only I knew her for the yearly slain,
And wept, and weep until she come again.”
― Frederic Manning