Dumb Supper???

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Dumb Supper???

Post by Kitsune » Thu Oct 25, 2007 8:45 am

Okay, so I obviously never studdied Wiccan as well as I should have... :lol:

I've been looking up info on Samhain rituals, and I keep running into mention of the Dumb Supper...

Now, the first time I saw it, it was mentioned in a post, and I thought the guy was just being sorta rude... :lol: :oops:

But as I looked around more, I found the term being used quite abit...

So what is the Dumb Supper? And what drugged out teenage High Muckity Muck came up with this term? :lol:

I just don't understand... :-? #-o
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Post by Kystar » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:10 am

A Dumb Supper is called that b/c a long time ago, the word "dumb" meant "mute" or "silent". Thus "dumb as a box of rocks" didn't mean stupid, it meant quiet.

It's a tradition to honor those who have died in the past. Usually, the year just ending, but anytime in the past works...as well as ancestors.

Basically, it's a meal served and consumed in complete silence, with extra places set for the dead, and an offering made to the dead and the gods of the dark half of the year at either the beginning or the end. Usually, it's held on Samhain, and you're not allowed to speak again until either the supper's over, or the clock strikes midnight, depending on what time you start or the tradition used.

According to, gulp, Silver Ravenwolf in her "Halloween; Customs, Spells, Practices" book (the only Silver Ravenwolf book I own, btw) there are five rules for a dumb supper.
1. The Dumb Supper should take place in an area that you have made sacred by prayer or other means.

2. All plates, napkins, glasses, and tablecloth should be black.

3. No one may speak from the moment they enter the feast room. Each person participating should leave the room in silence after the ritual.

4. the feast takes place in candlelight or lamp light.

5. Each living guest should bring a prayer, written on a 3X5 card or small piece of paper, for their ancestors or loved ones. Each living guest can also bring a divination tool of their choice.
She also says that a seat for the divine should also be set, shrouded in either black or white cloth, and that black votive candles should be placed where the spirits would be given a seat. A white candle should be used for the Divine's seat. (or black, depending on if you've got the chair in black or white)

Honestly, she's got the most complete information on a Dumb Supper I've found. Most books simply mention ways to put offerings out for the dead, not a full ritual to honor them.

Personally, I wouldn't be sure I could stand the slightly oppressive atmosphere that kind of ritual would create. Too many family meals spent in tense silence while waiting for a fight to erupt, I guess.
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Post by Dark Waters » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:19 am

The word "Dumb" actually means "unable to speak" as in "she was struck dumb with fright."

It is a supper to honor the dead conducted is complete silence on the day when the veil between the living and dead is weak.

I found THIS with a quick search.
If you wished to contact a recently deceased loved one, you would set a Dumb Supper with extra settings for those who you wished to contact. You would set the table in reverse order than you normally would; forks would be on the right side and so on. All placements would be handled by two people while the table was being set, even the silverware. You would then serve the food in reverse order as well, beginning with dessert and ending with either soup or appetizers.

At some point during the meal, the recently departed loved one would make contact. One reason to try to reach the loved one who recently died was if the family had had signs or "feelings" of restlessness, showing the dead might be confused and had not crossed over to the other side. The contact through the Dumb Supper was a way of helping them to cross over and finally find peace.


Here the tradition is done whenever their is unsettled spirits and not just on Samhain.
The Dumb Supper was not originally part of the old Celtic tradition of Samhain, which dates back to the fifth century B.C.E. Samhain was originally called Trenae Samma and was the Celtic celebration of the end of the harvest. For three days, the Celts would feast, dance and make merry. Gradually, remembrance of those who had passed on during the previous 12 months came to be included. It was believed that for one night that signified the end of autumn and the beginning of winter, the dead could return to the land of the living to celebrate with their family, tribe or clan.

The particulars for Dumb Suppers vary. One version is summarized by Llewellyn's Witches' Calendar for October 1998:

The Dumb Supper must be held in sacred space.
All table service, plates, napkins, glasses and tablecloth, should be black.
No one may speak from the moment they enter the feast room until they leave (with a few exceptions).
Only lamps or candles are used for lighting.
Each living guest should bring a prayer written on a small piece of paper and a divination tool.
Before the supper begins, shroud the head chair, which is the Spirit chair. Set place settings, and place a black votive candle on the plate before each empty chair, with a white one on the Spirit plate at the head of the table. Light each candle. Place your hands on the shrouded chair and ask for Spirit to be with you. Walk to each ancestor's chair touch it, explaining that the ritual is being done in the ancestors' honor.

The host of the feast sits in the chair opposite the shrouded chair. As each guest enters the room, he or she should go to the Spirit chair, touch it, then go to each of the ancestors' chairs and place a prayer under each plate or say a simple prayer silently. The guests then take their seats, join hands and pray a wordless blessing of the meal and for all present. The host serves the empty chairs, beginning at the head of the table. Then the host serves the living guests from oldest to youngest.

After the feast is done and all have finished eating, all join hands, silently asking for the blessings of Spirit on the living and the dead. Now is the time to gather each prayer left under a plate and burn it in the flame of the candle by that plate, catching the ashes in a container. On the sign from the host, the guests leave the area, stopping by empty places or ancestral altar on their way out.

After the host thanks Spirit, the guests return to share any impressions they received during the feast. The table is cleared, and divination can be done. Allow the candles to burn until all have gone home, and then snuff each candle. Throw the candle ends and prayer ashes into a moving body of water, or bury them off the property.
hope this helps.

"Dumb" like other words has been twisted from it's original meaning in modern usage. The most prominent example of this being the word "gay" which originally meant nothing more than "happy".
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Post by Jescissa » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:27 am

I've held Lively Suppers :lol: They're set the same way as a Dumb Supper, apart from the fact that the participants are encouraged to vocally welcome their dead to the table and share stories (both funny and touching) about their experiences with the dead and there are votive candles set at the deceased's place settings.

The silence of a Dumb Supper sounds very oppressive. It's one way to honour the dead, and it serves the same purpose as a minutes silence in remembrance, but a whole mealtime of silence would upset me more and make me more aware of the absence of my loved ones than sharing stories about them.
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Post by Kitsune » Tue Oct 30, 2007 9:07 am

Ahhh, see Grimwell kept insisting that he's never heard of not speaking to them, and neither had I... After all, why invite a guest and then stare at them for the next hour? :lol:

We'll probally be having a meditation ritual, and not a supper this year though... :-?

We don't know who we'd invite, and we both feel that it's a better idea to have one in a home that's our, not that we're renting.
Trying to create a world, even in words, is good occupational therapy for lunatics who think they're God, and an excellent argument for Polytheism. -S.M. Stirling

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Post by Kystar » Tue Oct 30, 2007 10:02 am

I think the theory was that it wasn't easy for the dead to speak to us, so in honor of their lack of easy communication, we would be silent too. Sorta the "silence of the grave" kind of thing.

By bringing out the divination tools, you actually are offering the dead a way to communicate with you.

Honestly, if I were part of one of these, or hosted one, I would be inclined to put a digital voice recorder or a tape recorder out, to see if I catch any EVP's while we're having the supper. That would give them a way of saying something, I think.
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