Acknowledgement...

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I would like to acknowledge the inspiration of the inimitable Nickerjack and LIxie who have organised SKIPNORTH for the last FIVE years.  If this weekend is anything like as good as SkipNorth, then I shall be pleased.  Thankyou LIxie and Nic. 
If they do it again in 2011 then I'd thoroughly recommend signing up as soon as you hear about it.

addendum

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Feel like I ought to add something about the Samhain/Hallowe'en title as it seem to have struck a chord of dissonance with some fellow ravellers... 

The Retreat needed a title and I noticed that it coincided with the dates of Samhain/Hallowe'en - I have absolutely no intention of adding any religious element or hocus pocus to the Fibre Retreat - except maybe serving up pumpkin soup as one of the choices for Friday night supper,

There is a lovely medievel chapel on site (two actually!) - for anyone who feels the need to retreat from the retreaters as it were, at any time.

For your further edification:

Samhain:

(pronounced 'sow'inn') and in English from Irish samhain, Scots Gaelic  samhainn, Old Irish samain , meaning "summer's end", from sam "summer" and fuin "end")  is a very important date in the Pagan calendar for it marks the Feast of the Dead. Many Pagans also celebrate it as the old Celtic New Year (although some mark this at Imbolc). It is also celebrated by non-Pagans who call this festival Halloween.

Samhain has been celebrated in Britain for centuries and has its origin in Pagan Celtic traditions. It was the time of year when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were believed to be at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could most readily mingle with the living once again. Later, when the festival was adopted by Christians, they celebrated it as All Hallows' Eve, followed by All Saints Day, though it still retained elements of remembering and honouring the dead.

To most modern Pagans, while death is still the central theme of the festival this does not mean it is a morbid event. For Pagans, death is not a thing to be feared. Old age is valued for its wisdom and dying is accepted as a part of life as necessary and welcome as birth. While Pagans, like people of other faiths, always honour and show respect for their dead, this is particularly marked at Samhain. Loved ones who have recently died are remembered and their spirits often invited to join the living in the celebratory feast. It is also a time at which those born during the past year are formally welcomed into the community. As well as feasting, Pagans often celebrate Samahin with traditional games such as apple-dooking.

Death also symbolises endings and Samhain is therefore not only a time for reflecting on mortality, but also on the passing of relationships, jobs and other significant changes in life. A time for taking stock of the past and coming to terms with it, in order to move on and look forward to the future.

Ancient Celtic celebrations:
Not only did the Celts believe the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead dissolved on this night, they thought that the presence of the spirits helped their priests to make predictions about the future.

To celebrate Samhain the Druids built huge sacred bonfires. People brought harvest food and sacrificed animals to share a communal dinner in celebration of the festival.

During the celebration the Celts wore costumes - usually animal heads and skins. They would also try and tell each other's fortunes.

After the festival they re-lit the fires in their homes from the sacred bonfire to help protect them, as well as keep them warm during the winter months.

Hallowe'en:
All Hallows' Eve falls on 31 October each year, and is the day before All Hallows' Day, also known as All Saints' Day in the Christian calendar. The Church traditionally held a vigil on All Hallows' Eve when worshippers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself.

The name derives from the Old English 'hallowed' meaning holy or sanctified and is now usually contracted to the more familiar word Hallowe'en.

In the early 7th century Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome, formerly a temple to all the gods, as a church dedicated to Saint Mary and the Martyrs, and ordered that that date, May 13, should be celebrated every year.

It became All Saints' Day, a day to honour all the saints, and later, at the behest of Pope Urban IV (d. 1264), a day specially to honour those saints who didn't have a festival day of their own.

In the 8th century, on November 1st, Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel to all the saints in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Gregory IV then made the festival universal throughout the Church, and November 1st has subsequently become All Saints’ Day for the western Church.

The Orthodox Church celebrates All Saints' Day on the first Sunday after Passover - a date closer to the original May 13th.

Fascinating, ay?

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