Ideas for a druidic Hallow's Eve bonfire celebration

Well, somehow or another we got ourselves committed into something more than we necessarily intended.

Halloween is a big holiday in our family, not only because we just enjoy the hell out of dressing up, being goofy, and pigging out on candy. But also because it seems an appropriate occasion to kind of jokingly, kind of seriously reflect on and celebrate our family’s non-theistic beliefs. Happens around the equinox. Same way we acknowledge the solstice aspect of our winter holiday celebrations - in addition to decorating a tree, exchanging gifts and singing carols.

Well, we told our kids that we were looking forward to celebrating Halloween as a family, and having “a druidic bonfire” (I believe those were the terms used) in the firepit in our backyard after they get back from trick or treating. Well, it seems as tho our kids are really looking forward to it, and I fear they may be anticipating something more than just boring old mom and pop hanging out around a fire roasting marshmallows.

Anyone got any relatively low-effort ideas we can incorporate at this last minute to try to minimize the kids’ disappointment? :wink: I’m not sure I’ll even have a chance to run to the store, so “conceptual” type suggestions would probably be more useful (for this year) than ones requiring purchasing supplies or making crafts.

I figured I’d probably try to tell a couple of scary stories. And I think we have some of those crystals that make colored flames. I think all 3 of my kids are still virgins, but I’d just as soon not sacrifice any of them unless necessary…

This doesn’t involve throwing me onto a bonfire, does it? 'Cause I do have other plans.

Look up some rites online…google druidic rites and see what you get…make a printout and have everyone stand up in a circle around the fire…and say the chant. Make it an especially eery one, such as warding off evil ancestors or some-such. Then if you can throw a little [I stress a little] citronella in the fire, it will flame up [not too high] and make everyone jump a little… Oh yeah, you’ll need a sceptor (sp?) of some kind…too bad you didn’t have a deer antler lying around, they look good at druidic ceremonies on the end of the speakers staff!

I did a tad of leg work…see here. It has many explinations and it outlines different chant’s and rituals…

Hmmm…from a H.S. term paper about the Druids, I remember the following:

Mistletoe was holy to them, and it was cut with the right hand. (A bit early for mistletoe, but maybe you can fake it.)

Druids believed in the holiness of wide-open spaces and nature, so anything indoors would be cheating.

I’ll see what else I can dig up, but don’t you have a copy of Joseph Campbell around the house somewhere? That ought to start you off.

Just wanted to make sure you are all warm and toasty, dear. :wink:

Just downloaded a bunch of stuff on Samhain, history of halloween, etc. Will read it on the train.
Good idea to look up the druidic chants.
Have to see what “props” we can conjure up. Maybe some drums/percussion crap can fit in.
Think I’ll read “The Raven.”
And of course, we have some seasonal brews left over from our taste-testing last Sunday.
Should be fun.

Now I gotta get some work done so i can blow this pop stand.

And of course, there’s always Verse #3 on this link: is pretty much the best druidic site on the web, near as I know; they’ve got their act together.

But you probably don’t want their level of accuracy: they like to hold rituals in Old Celtic, for example. You want the feel, not the academia, right?

Try some stuff like this:

  • Wear the closest you can get to ceremonial robe-type stuff.
  • Have one parent meet the kids at the door and blindfold them. Say nothing.
  • One by one, lead them out to the bonfire, silently.
  • Once they’re all out there, speak to them in sonorous voices about the fall of the old year (Hallowe’en was the end of the Celtic calendar, I believe), and how on this night between the old year and the new year, the worlds come together; Land and Sky and Sea become one world, the world of Man and Faerie overlap, the Land of the Living becomes one with the Land of the Dead.
  • Tell them that we are at the center of all worlds now, that the fire binds all the worlds together, and tonight we will speak with the worlds.

Is that the sort of flavor you’re looking for?

Damn, but you guys are da bomb! (Ain’t I hip?)

Dancing naked and drinking strange fermented brews?
Heck! It’s never to early to be a bad inflluence on my kids!
Hey, Eva, don’t you have work to do?

Now I REALLY have to finish this stupid brief…
Aw hell. I guess it can just be finished whenever I slap a period on the end and send it off to the court…

Just had my semi-annual performance review this a.m.
Guess what? I passed!
Guess I’m good for another 6 months.

Yep, I posted the same link as Daniel. And Dan’s idea about blind folding them etc…etc… great!

I grew up in a semi-wooded area, the woods directly behind my house went for several miles…we had a path behind the house that led to a clearing about 500 yards in. We had a fire put there. I’ll tell you, many a scary holloween walking that 500 yards…I was pounced upon more than once by an evil older brother!

Daniel I take back all the bad tings I’ve said about you.
What’s that? You didn’t realize I said a bunch of bad things about you? In that case, nevermind!

This is gonna be a trip.

Now about that brief…

since you mention your family is non-theistic, i’m assuming trying to perform rituals, whether authentic or fake, is pretty much out as what you envisioned.

that doesn’t mean you couldn’t celebrate the spirit of the season’s closing though.

gather around the bonfire, either sitting or standing. maybe give a little speech about how the wheel of the seasons is turning, reaching the end of its yearly phase. have everyone take turns, remembering some of the major events of the past seasons… both really good or sad ones. when each person names something that was significant, either to themself or to the entire family, have them take a large pinch of aromatic herbs (thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, whatever’s handy in the kitchen [it’s a good way of clearing out the pantry of spices that have been sitting around forever without getting used]) and toss it into the fire. then everyone could do a simple chant/chorus, like “We remember”.

it’s a good way of doing a family-bonding type (for lack of a better term) ritual. you all look back on what’s happened during the past year. you get to see what things stuck in the memories of different family members. you all get to be reminded of things you shared and participated in.

finish off with some nice spiced hot cider. maybe a little apple bobbing (parents MUST take part too). if you want something on the traditional side, maybe do the “cut off an apple peel in one piece” type thing, where somebody tosses it over their shoulder and it ostensibly forms the initial of their future SO.

hrrm. well, if i’d previewed more, i’d have seen that rituals are fine with you. darn. see what happens when work interrupts before you hit Submit?

Hey - how bout this?
Everyone writes something the regret from last year, and then toss it in the fire to put it behind them?
And lach - we’ve got nothing against make-believe. Which is what most religion is anyway, right? :wink:
As far as herbs for the fire, we’ve got some in our gardens. Basil, sage, thyme, parsley, chives… To continue the nature around us theme.

Man, this brief is really gonna suck…
Good thing I just got reviewed this a.m.!

Cool, glad you like it!

Now, once you’ve done all that, then the midgets dressed like leprechauns come dancing around you, and an 18" Stonehenge gets lowered down from the trees, and you start rockin’.

Or, if you want a less Spinal-Tap ambience, you can consider the following:

  • Once you’ve introduced the bonfire space as the center of all worlds, you can use it as a time to talk to the dead. Not that you expect answers, mind you, but you can say things you didn’t get to say while they were alive.
  • Similarly, you can talk to the spirits of the woods. Honor the Oak and the Ash, the Willow and the Thorn, mistletoe and ivy. Thank the spirits of squirrel and fox, of crow and hawk.
  • Depending on how imaginative your kids are, this may be a good time for some pyromancy: tell them that between the years is also between time, and that if they look into the flames, they may be able to see glimpses of the future and of the past.

I’m writing this from something of a weird perspective, BTW: I used to be strongly Neopagan, went to ceremonies, designed my own ceremonies, practiced magic, etc. For close to a decade, however, I’ve been out of the pagan loop, having found atheism better suited to my temperament.

My suggestions therefore are a mix of “real” pagan elements (the Center of All Worlds thing is a classic ADF way to begin a ritual, for example) and “dressup” pagan elements (pyromancy on the night between the worlds would be fun, I think, and I’ve never heard of druids talking to trees on Hallowe’en or ever).

Hope you have fun with it!


PS Philosphr did indeed post the link before me – I was meaning to agree with him that it was a good link, not take credit for it myself :).

You do have a death wish, don’t you? :wink: Just remember: never underestimate the intelligence-gathering capabilities of one who has spent significant time in the USSR. I have ways…

Besides, I’m feeling really crappy today: been up wheezing since 4 a.m., and nearly decked a co-worker when she suggested I was “copping an attitude” because she was bitching that I hadn’t filed something which I just received yesterday afternoon in the midst of our meltdown. I told her it would be filed today, and my one request from her was minimal interruptions, as she could plainly see the amount of crap that is piled on my desk, all of which has to be done in the next couple of days. (Feasible, but only if I’m left the hell alone instead of her buzzing me every 45 seconds to bitch at me about various things.)

She continued bitching that I had to get this one thing filed, and I told her I knew, that everything on my desk had to be dealt with, and I was doing it as quickly as I could under the circumstances. That’s when she told me I was copping an attitude. I nearly asked her to tell me what it feels like to be perfect, but decided the fallout from that would be more trouble than it’s worth. So I’ll have to drown my sorrows in albuterol for the moment, and have a big heart-to-heart with my boss when she gets back on Monday.

Anyway, sorry for the hijack. Save some strange fermented brews for me, willya?

AY - No one needs credit for anything :slight_smile: We’re all just going to have a blast tonight! I’m psyched!

As long as you don’t cop an attitude with me…

On the fermented brew front - I actually have 2 single beers I bought - both from a Wychwood brewery.

One is a Hobgoblin Ale, and the other is a Scarecrow something or other.
Never tried them before. Looking forward to it.

Now if only these clouds would burn off and we could have some aurora borealis…

From the medical records in the case I am working on:

History and Physical Assessment
This 37-year old is complaining of pain in the left frontal head. “I have a damn headache.” She apparently bumped her head on Sunday, apparently her boyfriend put an ice cube down her pants, so she swung around and she banged her left forehead against a wall…

Let that be a lesson to all of you!

Where you gonna find a wicker basket shaped like a man at the last minute? :confused:

Just having a bonfire is a big thrill to kids. Weiners and marashmallows and they’ll be all set. What else could you possibly ask for?