The Dumb Supper is a dinner where the participants remain silent throughout the whole meal. This is one of the many traditional ways to honor our ancestors or deceased loved one this Samhain. During this specific time of year contact with the spirit world is said to be the easiest as the veil that separates us is the thinnest.
A table is decorated and set for attending guests. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Decorate with gourds, pumpkins, and fall colors to honor the harvest. Candles are usually the primary source of light for this event so consider using candelabras or tall candle sticks. Set your table with plates, cutlery and glassware. Menu cards and place cards give each place setting a personal touch, but again, if you wish to go simple, then go for it!
The head of the table is set in the same fashion as everyone else’s, but no one will sit there. This is the place designated for the dead. Shroud the chair in a pretty black cloth or something of your liking. Have each guest bring a card written for the spirit(s), things they would like to share, happy memories, or whatever they chose. This will not be seen by anyone or read out loud. It would be very difficult to set a place for all who have passed so give everyone a candle or a tea light so that they can place it on the table in honor of their specific loved one.
To start the ritual, make sacred space by cleansing with smoke or any practice you use, as you want to invite only good energy into your area. Cast your circle and call corners (if you do this) again to keep those inside protected at all times from wandering energies. Invite your guests into the sacred space – the ritual has begun. If your guests are people that you practice the craft with, or have experience, consider including them in the ritual aspects. That can be creating sacred space, and dividing up who casts the circle, calls the corners.
As guests enter the space, they should visit the place of honor first,offering up silent prayers and blessings to those who have left. They can leave their cards, light their candles then proceed to their seats. It is customary for the Host to sit at the opposite end of the place of honor. The host then serves the meal and everyone eats. Should you wish to serve family style, you most certainly can.
To conclude the ritual have everyone hold hands for a minute. Silently give thanks to the deities for the meal and the bounty of the earth, for the company and for the spirits that visited. The cards can be taken home and placed on everyone’s personal altar (till the end of Samhain) or if you so choose, they can be burned in a cauldron as a final offering for the evening. To conclude the ritual, everyone will get up and visit the place of honor once more and say their farewells in silence. Dismiss the corners and close the circle, the ritual is now complete.
Should you choose to host a dumb supper this year, here are a few helpful tips :
Know your crowd : Food allergies and dietary needs/restrictions may not affect you directly but your guests may or may not be able to eat certain things or even be in the **presence of particular ingredients. Keep that in mind when planning the menu, you want all of your guests to feel comfortable at the table.
Beverages : You may choose to serve alcohol such as wine, beer or a punch you made. Have alternatives as well as water at the table for those who do not partake or simply wish to have other options with their meals.
Side tables or supply stations : As your guests are not able to speak during the meal, have a little area with napkins, utensils, cups etc. you will have extra items at the ready in case someone needs something or guests can help themselves easily. Let’s not forget salt and pepper! Have them on hand at the table, if you’re hosting a large group put shakers on both ends as well as the middle for easy access!
“Pre-Ritual”: It is very common in the food industry to have a “pre-meal” meeting before service. Similarly, this would be a good ritual to have a short meeting beforehand. This gives you time to go over any last minutes things, discuss the ritual, answer any questions and remind everyone to be quiet when you start.
Pick me up: Dumb Suppers have a very serious and somber feel to them. Lifting everyone’s spirits does not have to be a challenge. Consider having dessert after the ritual is over. Play music, games and dance. Our loved ones don’t want to see any of us upset, they enjoy watching us smile, laugh and enjoying our time here on earth, so raise a glass and shake what yo’ momma gave ya!
Want some ideas on what to make for your Dumb Supper? Check out my previous post on foods for Samhain !
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