Find a space that is quiet and accessible and where you are ideally able to achieve total darkness.
It is helpful if there is a separate space where people can gather and where people can stay afterwards, retaining the integrity of the ritual space.
A mixture of seats and floor space
In preparation you will need to download and print the names of the people killed in the last 12 months. There is a list of names available here.
You will need to print and cut out each name so it is on a separate piece of paper – I include the location but no other details.
Also print some slips that say “please blow out a candle” – these represent the people whose names we do not know.
You may also wish to collect some short testimonials from people to be read at random throughout the event – we found this to be a way to invite voices into the room who were not represented in our community. The question I asked each of these people to answer was:
“a short story / anecdote / thought connected to your identity – particularly over the past 12 months. It could be something that happened, a hope for the future – or just to describe the way you feel or identify. It doesn’t necessarily need to be sombre in tone – there is space for lightness/hope too.
A starting question for this could be Who Are You?”
(we will make available our stories too)
You will need a tea light candle for each name
A box of matches for each candle – each containing 2 matches
Place each candle in a holder / on a mat
Next to each candle place a match box containing two matches
Print out the list and place one name next to each candle
Throughout the room also place some of the testimonials / stories and the slips that say now “please blow out a candle”.
The event runs like this:
Host explains the event.
Participants enter the space and find somewhere to sit.
The host introduces the action and holds the space.
The candles are all lit.
One at a time the names are spoken aloud. As each name is spoken the candle is extinguished.
Occasionally someone will read one of the testimonials.
Occasionally a candle will be extinguished but no name will have been read aloud – these signify the people for whom we have no name.
When the last candle has been extinguished the room collectively sits in silence and darkness.
At the right moment the candles are relit
The host closes the space and then people are free to leave or to remain in quiet contemplation.