Samhain Ritual: for sunset on evening of 30th or 31st?

Interesting. What is this about then?

Hmm, what exactly do you find amazing about this ritual? What is the “spiritual use value” of it?

And as you’re saying you’re not a pagan and have already slightly secularized the whole ritual, do you think it would still work when completely secularizing it? I’m wondering about this more from a general interest into dissecting religious behavior into mechanisms that work with a psychological / social mechanism, and actual supernatural stuff (if there is any in a particular religion). And yes, I’m kinda worried by how many believers (of whatever belief system) are not interested in distinguising these, or starting some research into this …

Latest inspiration for my thoughts was, btw, the Sunday Assembly movement: a kind of atheist church, meeting for Sunday services [report]. Doing so, they illustrate anecdotically what in religious congregations does not need a God to function.

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tread lightly

What is amazing about it for me is that is basically a meditation on death.

The new year is celebrated now–late October, early November–as we head into the Dark, with the acknowledgement that the zone of fertility, of creation, is in darkness and chaos and chthonic energy. Underground, in the womb, out of the subconscious: this is where things are born. Fertility and creativity are celebrated, alongside death.

Are these things sacred or secular-- creativity, fertility, death? I do not declare myself a pagan, but I want to celebrate these things, and I celebrate them alongside people who call themselves pagans with great love in my heart. Call me a believer if it’s important to you. I’ve no problem with that.

I know the woman who created this ritual, a longtime activist and movement builder named Starhawk, and I feel confident that I can share the ritual in a way that honors her and the community. I am a supporter of her film project, The Fifth Sacred Thing, based on the book of the same name that she wrote. I have cut out hours of choral singing that involve archetypal characters in their tradition-- the crone, the maiden, the mother as three faces of female, for example. And I think the ritual works beautifully without them.

It seems like a wonderfully appropriate ritual for a groundbreaking event like what LOTE seems like it will be. It definitely can’t be blended with another activity during the 45-60ish minutes it takes, but could certainly be offered alongside. Or not at all, if folks aren’t into it. I was just trying to think of something, Burning Man style, that I could contribute, and that people-- especially those seeking more balance, peace, and groundedness to their efforts-- could benefit from.

Rituals and openness

Thanks for the explanations! No, I’m not interested to put labels on people. Rather to learn what motivates each single person to do and like the things they do … and that’s really interesting, as everybody is so different.

About sacred and secular: is that even a difference? I always expect that, should I ever get the “full” understanding of reality that I will of course never achieve, it will imply the realization that I live in one reality. Neither sacred nor secular, it’s all part of one world. And “one world” means, no mutually contradicting spaces of knowledge. That’s why I am so insisting about distinguishing facts and form in religious behavior: in order to finally find how, for example, natural sciences and theologic facts are just two parts of the same reality … still struggling with it, and a long way to go, but you may call me a believer if you like :wink:

About Arthur’s remarks on what fits the ‘ethos’ of Edgeryders: I understand and share the worries, and would frame it like this: when including an actual pagan ritual, or in fact any ritual of a fixed belief system, it’s hard to keep up the impression that this space is welcoming everyone, to explore, share and discourse about all kinds of stuff while feeling comfortable. The more closed impression with rituals, even if not intended, seems to come in with the power of imagery and ritualized behavior, which have considerable psychological power and alsofor bystanders, carry the notion of “a mystery, for the initiated”. A ritual is also different from a discourse about a ritual, which I’m comfortable and interested to have here (like now in fact). In a discourse I’m always welcome to contribute my perspective (even if that’s “Let’s dissect rituals with science” :smiley: ), while in the actual ritual I’m not …

However, it’s not just as simple. Given that rituals, symbols and imagery are all powerful, it’s of course interesting to experiment with that, and to use them for expressing content (like “celebrating” something). How to do that here and keep being a welcoming place for everyone? It’s my impression that the key is inventing your own imagery and rituals rather than taking over existing ones or merging them into existing belief systems. It communicates “Hey, we made all this up, there’s no deeper meaning. We’re just interested in the social effects.” unMonastery itself would be an example, and seemingly also Bembo’s “Listening to the Ancestors” walk (minus the candles maybe :smiley: ), and parts of Sunday Assemblies. (And for context, that’s why I asked about a “fully secularized” version before.)

Does the above make sense? (I’m just gathering my thoughts on this on the go … never thought about this before.)

Unchartered territory…

[Ariane], nice to meet you. Your offer in the Burning Man spirit is truly appreciated. It is indeed by everyone contributing that we can make a great LOTE3.

That said, I would like to join Artur aka [AD_admin] and [Matthias] in vouching some concern. I know Matera well; it is a lovely place with much wisdom we can learn from. It is also a small town in Southern Italy, with a relatively homogenous population, a huge inferiority complex with respect to cosmopolitan culture and a lot of factionalism. The main criticism levered at the unMonastery so far: it risks being perceived as an alien spaceship touching briefly ground in Matera, but following its own, locally incomprehensible logic. The more what we do is perceived as not inclusive, the stronger the narrative will be that “these guys move in and use our city as a venue for their own stuff, in a quasi-colonial way”. At this point the factionalism will kick in, and people who have been critical of operation unMonastery will make the life of those who have supported it more difficult (In case you are wondering why people would even bother having an opinion on LOTE3 and the unMonastery: both initiatives are part of Matera’s bid to European City of Culture 2019. And that’s a highly politicized operation, because it is strongly supported by the City Hall; and it is controversial, because part of the local cultural scene is, inevitably, not happy with its own share of the action).

It is up to us to profile LOTE3 as an inclusive event, that tries its best to involve the local community in anything it does – and that means trying – if anything – to organize activities where local expertise has a chance to shine – the perfect example being the Pasta Party, that taps into the considerable cooking skills of most Italians. When in doubt, I would suggest keeping initially a low public profile, while keeping our eyes open to gain an understanding of how the local people perceive and use their city. In general, in whatever you do, be considerate of fellow unMonasterians: they need to be spending serious time in Matera in 2014, and the impression we all make in LOTE3 can make their life easier or more difficult, and their journey more or less fruitful.

In the realm of spirituality, Matera is the seat of a very important religious feast that is super-duper-important to them. I suspect it is more extreme than anything we can come up with: people spend a year building a heavily decorated chariot around a statue of the Madonna, then they parade by the street on July 2nd. At this point people attack it and destroy it with their bare hands in a quasi-Dyonisian catharsis. Every year there are cracked ribs and broken limbs. This does not happen everywhere! So, if I were interested in exploring spirituality in LOTE3, I would seize the chance to try and meet the people behind this ancient tradition, which is still very much alive.

let’s coordinate

Hello Ariane;

There are some wonderful locations for such a gathering – on the other side of the river or the old quarry are just two that I’ve been shown.  However, these would be best with the full 4 hour version.   AND we of the Host committee have already made an initiative than hones in on the evening of the 31st as a prelude to the proposed (but as yet unorganised) unParty.

Our goal is to visualise for the Materiani that we are interested in them as more than an exotic backdrop.  We’ve put out a call for 12-15 local contributors that could people as many stations in the Sassi for an afterdark “Listening to the Ancestors” session.  I’ve boldly suggested that such a thing can be prepared by holding a hour long meeting/ informal workshop with those involved the evening before as a side event to the Pasta Party.  The thought is that each contributor prepares a two minute story from their family history.  They then stand around a lantern or some candles along a parade route through the Sassi while we the unPilgrims go from station to station.  The stories may be shared in italiano with or without translation.  This is concieved of as an unMo version of honouring the dead, and a remake of the insidious Halloween tendency.  The response to the float of the idea from those with local names has so far been encouraging.  Might this be something for you to get involved in in any way?

I think even Mattais would approve.


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ooh how beautiful

I love ancestor rituals. That is also part of the Spiral Dance. As it is in the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition-- with the beautiful altars to lost loved ones.

Would love to figure out a way to collaborate. We can talk while pasta? I arrive on the 29th, actually. Very excited.

Sunday Assembly

A ‘Sunday Assembly’  would be more congruent with the ethos of Edgeryders than a ‘Samhain’

I would be especially concerned not to give any false impressions of Edgeryders, LotE or the unMonastery…something ‘spiritual’ at very short notice…with candles, ceremonies etc is likely to be misinterpreted in the absence of a lot of pre-briefing …

Personally, I prefer to celebrate my/our awareness of the Earth’s wobbles and our limited understanding of it’s beauty in a rational and forward looking style than one founded in superstition (speaking as a speaker of the original language of the ‘Samhain’… :wink:  )

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Where can i read or hear more about the ethos of Edgeryders?

I’d love to hear more about that.

What a question

I wanted to say “what a great question” but I felt dishonest saying that because I felt it implied I have a clear understanding of the word “ethos” … which I kind of do and kind of don’t :slight_smile:

Personally I am interested in this question outside of the context of the unMonastery - exactly as you presented at - in regard to EdgeRyders itself.

My life experience has instilled in me a very deep suspicion in regard to rituals. I have witnessed too many discrepencies between what the spirit of the ritual is and what actually takes place and comes across from those who participate in it. People say one thing (usually “good intentioned”) but manifest another thing (usually “mal-intentioned”). So I have a deep distrust and disdain toward rituals and ceremonies … at least those that I’ve experienced in my life. As a result I have two rituals in my life - peeing in the morning and breathing through the day.

However I do believe we are in dire need of a kind of spiritual upSkilling … an opening up to that which exists beyon the rational. This comment by [ad-admin] had some clues in it to things that may be worth looking into:

  • should we worry about "holding candles and giving false impressions"? if so why? what can we learn from this need abour ourselves, our relationship with those "outside our community"? does indicate an opportunity to do something about it (not necessarily now during LOTE3, but over the 200 years of the unMonastery)?
  • why does "rational" trump "superstition"? does "rational" connect us to the earth's wobbles or limit our relationship with them? maybe superstition has a complementary reflection to offer that completes a limited "rational" view?
  • why do we assume that "rational" is inherently forward thinking? there's plenty of evidence to refute that. Is this assumption a truth or an escape from other truths we have grown less comfortable living with?

I have very little interest in a pagan ritual I know nothing about with people with whom I have not connected. Pretending (=assuming without connection) we share values, thoughts, ideas and inspirations feels disrespectul towards myself, each other and the magnificent wobbles of the earth or any other expression of nature we may be celebrating. Rituals indoctrinate (consciously and or subconsciously) … and indoctrination should be done with much more care then other forms of education.

I do have plenty of interest in creating a sense of communicable togetherness (ethos?) of EdgeRyders or at least learning what we can from trying to move together in creating such a connection.

short version

I am not looking for a spiritual-one-night-stand, I’d like to get to know you.


everywhere (if I’ll try to formulate it would be personal)

wandering around the platform and reading other people’s posts. Looking at sessions at Lote also, as they reflect points of attention, interests and concerns. Because the session proposals grew from what is important for the community and only those sessions receiving the community attention made it to the program. The best way, of course, is to meet.

I suppose the reason you haven’t come across the post “Ethos of Edgeryders with Bullet Points” while browsing around the platform is that reading text about the spirit of community  doesn’t really communicate the spirit of community.

If I try to convey my personal experience with ER in words which I came across on the platform it would be: acknowledgement, interaction, learning, evolved, do-ocracy, meaning, build, I can come up with more. All these words work 2P2, individual2community and community2individual.  I can come up with some more,  thats very raw description of ways in which the individual is a part of open community.

ahh our archives system?

good question Ariane:

What might be even more fun is The Lore of the unMonastery.  An ongoing exploration that vanished from view somewhere in our cloudy past.  Edgeryders seems to me more prosaic and anarchistic - it is a home for everyone.  It is with the unMo that we start to enter each others lives and explorations. There have been a series of debates that have gone in the direction of the inner life of an unMonk unNun community.  Many of them worked upon by me — oh a good idea, why don’t you become a member of the Host Committee too: with Dorota, Håvard, David, and me? – Look around for us on the unMo pages.  You can also peek at my collection of unMon stuff on my site

We are most definitively to meet in Matera, I’ll be there by the 27th as part of the host group.  Your ritual description sounds like my line of work – and I will push to incorporate such ritual flavoured gatherings as part of the unMo life rhythm.  For me the key is to make circles that clearly embrace the Materiani – this likely means retreating a few steps from levels of abandonment that we would otherwise embrace.  Of course, I can be too careful here, but this is the nature of good field practice - go slowly, listen to your community.

More later,


the Precious Fountain of Re-invented Tradizioni


I withdraw my offer to lead the riutal.

By all means, given the complexity of the response.

To my mind, the reason that rituals persist across time in various settings is that they engage other parts of being beyond the mind. The reason things like incense or candles or moonlight or what have you are often enlisted as ingredients in ritual is because they circumvent the mind and directly impact your senses to tell you that you have entered are in a special space, not regular space. Ritual immediately enlists the body, which we so often neglect when we conceive of our brilliant ideas and debate, defend, implement, etc etc. Whether it is yoga or meditation or guided meditation as in the core of this paritcular ritual, it is all the same process of getting out of the mind and allowing conversations with the body and soul/spirit/heart to happen. And like yoga or meditation, the ritual I proposed involves mostly individual personal journey/ experience, not sharing or interacting, although there is one dance at the end. I’d envisioned doing it inside with a small interested group of perhaps 10-12 people, not processing through the town. But I would rather not, at this point. I certainly do not want to offend the people of Matera or cause tensions between the unmonastery and the town.

I have worked with many truly brilliant organizations and leaders over the last 10 years and it is often a challenge for them to step out of the intellectual mode and into a more visceral mode. Rituals work, that’s why we keep falling back on them or experimenting with new ones, and dogmatic atheists would do well, as de Botton notes, to embrace some, somehow or other.

I am an equal opportunity co-opter of rituals that work, whether they are originally Muslim or Native American or Christian or from my psychotherapist.

This whole thread pains my heart a little, but I’m releasing that and determined to just come to Matera and listen and offer my reflections, as ever.


I’m sorry for the pain in your heart. I’m grateful you put out this invitation.

I am in agreement with you on the end of opening beyond mind and intellect, I am uncomfortable with the means of rituals. You weren’t the first to bring up rituals, they have popped up in other places around Lote3 - and have caused me a similar discomfort. For some reason, here the intensity was, for me, higher.

I sometimes wonder if the absence of rituals in my life (no birthdays, no anniversaries, no holidays, no valentines …) is related to absence of happiness? I would very much like to sit together in Matera and talk with you about rituals.

This post sparked an interesting conversation

People expressed some concerns about rituals. I would like to quote Alberto here about Matera “lovely place with much wisdom we can learn from”. I think it is very much about the ethos of Lote3.

To be on the safe side while using the word “ethos” I used the dictionary definition: the characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its attitudes and aspirations. So attitudes and aspirations.

I guess, the concern about “holding candles” doesn’t come from the low level of spirituality, but on the contrary, from a high level of spirituality, consideration, and attentiveness.

Lo and behold: the word “spiritual” has two meanings. 1 of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit as opposed to material or physical things I’m responsible for his spiritual welfare the spiritual values of life.(of a person) not concerned with material values or pursuits.of or relating to religion or religious belief.

And I use the term in the first sense. In this respect joining the Honourable unPompous Lote3 and unMonastery Hosts Committee will be helpful.

I have a couple of personal thoughts on rituals:

• I think every collective ritual, whether it is holding candles, cooking or taking a walk, benefits from being customized for a particular moment in time and a particular location. That’s why I prefer simple rituals developed on the spot (like walking and having a coffee) to complicated ones borrowed from someone else (well, because, how can they be spiritual for me?)

• We sometimes borrow rituals from the times long gone in a very consumer’s way. Without asking what it actually meant for people who once put it together. Assuming that the more complicated ad ancient it is, more there’re candles, more spiritual we become. I reckon, that is why, some rituals make many of us feel awkward. Taking an ancient ritual and replaying would make many feel awkward. Because it becomes empty.

• Purpose. I’m not very much a purpose guy, but, if I try to think of the purpose of rituals, I personnaly would not like it to be society of the spectacle. As, the important element of Lote3 is Matera (we don’t go there every day) the Pasta Party and the a tourch-lit guided tour of the Sassi sound to me way more spiritual than The Celebration of Flooding Nile, for instance. I’m not laughing here. 

• And the last point, or perhaps, a question. Samhain sounds quite cool, but wouldn’t it be a bit awkward to celebrate harvest, if we didn’t do the harvest? I guess, if some of the unMonastery future projects will include permaculture, urban farming and that sort of stuff, the unMon version of Samhain will naturally come into existence. 

By the way, Italy has plenty of harverst related celebrations and festivals in the Autumn, as far as I know. I’m looking forward to food! And one who thinks that Collective Festive Eating is not spiritual I let to be the first to throw a tuna fish at me.

reflecting on harvest?

I resonated with your comment on the harvest. When this post came up I did a brief inquiry into Samhain and also came across harvest and moving of cattle from high-pastures to low (warmer) pastures.

Maybe harvesting takes on different forms in our modern lives? If it doesn’t, maybe we would benefit by finding or introducing it?

Maybe instead of blindly performing a ritual, we can take time to inquire into its underlying purpose and motivations and learn from it or be inspired by it? How is my life related to the cycles of nature around me?

I had been meaning to write a post about this subject a couple of days ago… then I was travelling with little internet connectivity, and suddenly this conversation popped up! Great to hear these different perspectives.

As a completely non-spiritual (sense no. 2) person I felt somewhat uneasy that most of the LOTE3 activites promoting self-reflection, physical awareness and exercise seemed to have an (unnecessary in my view) element of superstition or pseudoscience, auras and energies etc. The effect of this is that I would feel uncomfortable ‘playing along’ with a spiritual workshop, although I would probably enjoy the physical and emotional side of it.

Singing, dancing, exercising, and meditating makes you feel good, and doing these things together even more so.

I’m not suggesting those who have organised the existing rituals/workshops change their approach - they do the work, they call the shots, right? But I would be very interested in joining any similar communal activity / group exercise / sunday assembly which focuses on health, togetherness and happiness without the extras. I’m very busy in the time before LOTE3 but if anyone else is interested maybe we can throw something impromptu together on site.

(of course, I fully embrace the Pasta Party with open arms and open mouth!)

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its already there :slight_smile:

It’s already there, at the unDojo Space :slight_smile:

exactly as you say, but at any time :

communal activity / group exercise / assembly which focuses on health, togetherness and happiness


I hadn’t read up on the unDojo yet. cool!

Well done Ariane :slight_smile:

I think you are right in that it is important to pay attention to physical, cognitive and emotional well-being in our contemporary lives.  I’ve shared my own reflections a while back on the effect of not having time or social contexts for dealing with death, especially if you are not religious. As well as depression and loneliness. I can only speak for myself when I say I agree that there is a huge need for more contemplative practice that is immersive, beyond discussing what to do. The tricky bit is framing it in a way that is generative, accomodating and does not compromise intellectual rigour and evidence based discussion. So looking forward to meet you Ariane!

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