Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Dumb Supper

The Dumb Supper isn’t stupid. The name comes from not being able to speak. (Like deaf and dumb) It is a meal prepared for the dead, and I am thinking about inviting my grandfather to dinner on Halloween night. He died when I was 8, so I haven’t seen him in 25 years.
The Dumb Supper is something I’ve been wanting to try ever since I first heard of it. When I was a young witch it sounded like ‘real’ magick, something with tangible results that I could see. Unfortunately, no one wants to have dinner with a ghost and it seems like a lot of work for just me. And my guest of course.

The Dumb Supper has lots of rules. No talking, all the plates must be black, and the meal must be cooked backwards, which seems impossible to me. I just don’t think it would be possible to cook an entire meal while walking around the kitchen backwards. I might remember the backwards thing a couple of times, but eventually I will forget and mosey over to the stove facing forward. I understand the point is probably to create a different mindset so that there is no doubt this is a special supper and not an ordinary meal.

Supposedly the meal goes like this- two people prepare the favorite foods of the deceased. The two may not talk. They must walk backwards any time they take a step. The plates, silverware, napkins, tablecloth, and candles are all black. Three places are set, two for the cooks and one for the deceased. When all the food is ready the candles are lit and the cooks wordlessly begin to eat. After a while the fork for the dead person will begin to move. The serving spoon will move across the table as if unseen hands are putting a helping on the plate, but no food will leave the bowl. At some point the utensils stop moving. Then it is thought the dead has eaten his fill, left the table, and the meal is over. That is the spooky version.

Another, less scary version of the dumb supper has the black plates and the no talking rule, but a picture of the dead person is set on the table and their presence may be felt, but there’s no forks and spoons moving about. This one requires the food to be brought to the table with the server walking backwards. There’s no mention of how many cooks are needed. This one also allows as many living people as can fit around the table, so long as one chair is left for the dead.

Here is what I’m thinking about- my grandfather smoked Camels. I still have the ashtray I gave him for his birthday. Kevin uses it now. I’m going to set the ashtray on the table and light a cigarette. My grandfather used matches so that is how we will light it. If the cigarette goes out, I’ll relight it.

My grandfather liked coffee so I’ll brew a pot. My mother used to keep instant coffee for him, but that was because she only made coffee in the mornings. I don’t mind brewing a whole pot for the evening.

We’re going to eat peaches and cream because that was his favorite desert. Peaches and cream and coffee. We must use mugs because my grandfather didn’t like dainty little cups. There’s a funny family story about him breaking every single cup of my grandmother’s good china because he couldn’t get his fingers in the handles. I will attempt to find black mugs, but I’m not going to worry about it if I can’t.

I’m using my plates because these are the plates my mother used when I was a child so he will recognize them. I am not cooking a full meal because my grandparents usually visited us in the evening after they ate at their house.

I will put some pictures of him on the table along with some of his personal items that I have. I’ll have his things, his pictures, his ashtray, his matches, and his cigarettes. I’ll firmly say who I am inviting in, I’ll light my black candles, and then that’s it, no more talking. We’ll eat in silence in the dark with my grandfather. After coffee and desert, I’ll announce that the visit is over, thank you for coming, but you must return to the other side now. I’ll blow out the candle, turn on the lights, and clean up. Any time you perform a rite, ritual, or spell it is vital to remove everything when you’re done so nothing can linger.

I’m not looking for an experience to validate my beliefs. At 33 I am old enough now to understand I can believe without evidence as long as I believe truly in my heart. All I want to do this Halloween is honor my grandfather.

Today's card is owl. 'Seek out deeper knowledge to see through deception.' We have just 8 cards left. Tomorrow's post will be understanding the astral plain by understanding the Internet.

1 comment:

nefaeria said...

Wonderful and informative post! It is interesting to see all the variations of this practice, which seems to span many cultures.

Our household also prepares food for our Ancestors on Samhain {and other days as well}, although the acts of preparation are a lot more relaxed than doing things backwards. ;)

I do hope that your meal goes well! :)