Samhain: the veil is thin between the worlds, the time to remember and honor our ancestors is now. Usually observed on and around October 31st, we are introduced to this holiday in mainstream society as Halloween, a night where we dress in costumes and go door-to-door demanding candy from strangers. We are the ghouls, ghosts and goblins of the night, and they must make offerings of sweets to appease us, lest we play some trick on their unsuspecting mortal selves. “Trick-or-treat,” as the repeated cheer goes.
This year, I hosted a Dumb Supper at the request of a friend who had attended my previous Dumb Supper ritual dinner in 2013. There were eight spots at the table: one for the ancestors, one for me, five friends in attendance and my mother, who we convinced to join us after a bit of poking and prodding. For those of you that don’t know what a Dumb Supper is, it is a ritual dinner in which the ancestors are invited to sup. The way that I learned: Everyone must wear a mask and stay silent throughout the ritual (hence “dumb”), as the participants are dining with the dead who do not necessarily know that the are mingling with the living. To speak and be known would mean that one could possibly be stuck in the Otherworld. This is just one take on the Dumb Supper; I have no doubt there are as many interpretations on the ritual as their are Witches.
As the leader of the ritual, I sat at the head of the table opposite the ancestors, and at my left hand sat Phoenix, dear friend and co-officiator. We invoked Persephone, Hades and Hecate to our ritual and, with the participants, descended into the Underworld to dine and visit with those that have crossed the veil. The ancestors were served first, then the attendants in order of eldest to youngest. Each guest had the chance to speak silently with their loved ones at the ancestor altar before Hades and Persephone spoke to those gathered, through Phoenix and myself, respectively. After the messages were passed, we returned to the mortal realm and closed the ritual.
A Dumb Supper is a wonderful ritual to host/attend, and no two will be alike. It is a solemn occasion, but it is fun in its own way; for instance, mask-making is always a creative joy, and it gives you an excuse to dress up, being that it is a semi-formal to formal occasion. For those interested in hosting one in the future, I suggest making it potluck in style (I did), as it helps cut down on the cost of food for the host. I would also suggest having some blank masks (easily attainable from JoAnn or Michaels), paint, feathers, glue and other decorative items on hand in case attendants didn’t make masks before they came. With that being said, if people are going to be making masks before dinner, give them an earlier time to arrive, perhaps an hour or two before dinner, so that dinner can start promptly when its meant to (this is important for those of you that calculate your rituals with magickal hours/timing taken into consideration).
Each attendant told us after the ritual that they could feel the presence of their ancestors, and even my mother, who is not a Witch and does not follow a Pagan path, had her own special experience. I spoke with both my grandfathers, an aunt and a cousin who had passed, and for a while I had the honor of being host to Persephone, who apparently very much enjoyed the food we had made.
Pictures to come.
Brightest and Darkest Blessings.