St. Peter, Comox, reclaims Halloween
Sulin Milne, incumbent at St. Peter, Comox, wanted to reclaim Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, as part of the triduum along with All Saints and All Souls. “It’s become a secular event,” says Sulin, “But people don’t realise that ‘hallow’ means ‘holy.’ The Bible is rich in images of the otherworldly, of life and death, good and evil. There’s a need to engage in these themes, but I wanted to do it without glorifying evil.”
Sulin’s son Freddie knew the perfect Bible chapter: Ezekiel 1, in which Ezekiel has a vision of four “living creatures”:
This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands… As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle…
“The passages in Ezekiel are very descriptive, it’s very fruitful imagery,” says Freddie, 20, who is completing a fine art diploma at North Island College. “It feels creepy reading it. You’re immersed in the historical detail and then these creatures appear. You can tell that Ezekiel is shocked.”
Freddie put his artistic skills to use and, along with Alison Knowles, who is involved in youth ministry at St. Peter, constructed a life-size model of one of Ezekiel’s living creatures to hang in the church garden on All Hallows Eve.
He constructed the body of the creature using chicken wire, while Alison used papier-m.ch. to form the head. The frame was then covered in cloth and the creature was hung from a tree, with lighting and a dramatic soundtrack to complete the effect. The soundtrack features recordings of the wind and sea, as well as synth. The Ezekiel passages are read aloud by parishioner Jonathan Hocking.
Freddie hopes the creature in the garden will create a similar sense of unease for passers-by and trick-or-treaters to the one he felt when first reading the verses in Ezekiel. Designing the creature has lessened the eeriness of those passages for Freddie, but late at night, as he works in his studio in the rectory, the creature swinging from the tree still catches him off guard. “I’ve seen it down there and had to look again before I realised ‘Oh, it’s the creature.’”
Freddie and Alison’s creation hung in the church garden for the three days of the triduum this year, and you can see a video of the creature on the St. Peter YouTube channel.