Daily Archives: October 24, 2011

The Dumb Supper – A Feast With the Dead

The Dumb Supper – A Feast With the Dead

By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide

Speaking to the Dead:

Although traditionally a seance is a good way to communicate with those who have crossed into the spirit world, it’s also perfectly fine to talk to them at other times. You may find yourself walking into a room and suddenly reminded of someone you’ve lost, or catching a whiff of a familiar scent. For me personally, every February I find myself picking over birthday cards and thinking to myself how funny my grandfather would find this one or that one. I make a point of telling him about them, even though he died in 2002. You don’t need a fancy or formal ritual to speak to the dead. They hear you.

How Do We Know They’re Listening?:

In some spiritual paths, one may be viewed as crazy — or at the very least, a little bit daffy — if they speak to the dead. But think of the people you know who have lost a spouse, particularly one they were married to for a long time. Many of them will tell you they talk to their deceased loved one. We can ask them for assistance, for companionship, or just for them to hear our words. Chances are good that if you ask, your life will change significantly.

What Can We Say to Them?:

Ask anyone who’s lost a loved one, and there’s a good chance they have something they didn’t get to say. Whether it’s “I love you”, “I forgive you,” or just plain old, “I really miss you,” there’s nearly always something we wanted to say but never got around to. When you talk to the dead, share with them the things in your life that are important. Maybe you need to let Grandma know that you’re finally going to have that baby girl she’d been hoping for. Or perhaps you need to tell Cousin Joe you’re sorry you broke his iPod. Whatever it is, if it’s on your mind say it. Only then will you be able to move on.

An Altar to the Ancestors:

In many cultures, ancestor worship is an ancient practice. Although traditionally found more in African and Asian societies, more and more Pagans of European heritage are beginning to embrace this idea. After all, we all want to know where we came from. You can build an altar to honor your ancestors, featuring photos, heirlooms, and even a family tree sheet. Leave it up all year long, or set it out at Samhain. This is a good time to perform a ritual for Honoring the Ancestors.

Why on Samhain?:

Why hold a Dumb Supper on Samhain? Well, it’s traditionally known as the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its most fragile. It’s the night when we know for sure the dead will hear us speak, and maybe even speak back. It’s a time of death and resurrection, of new beginnings and fond farewells.

Menus and Table Settings:

Your menu choices are up to you, but because it’s Samhain, you may wish to make the traditional Soul Cakes, as well as serving dishes with apples, late fall vegetables, and game if available. Set the table with a black cloth, black plates and cutlery, black napkins. Use candles as your only source of light — black if you can get them.

Realistically, not everyone has black dishware sitting around. In many traditions, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a combination of black and white, although black should be the predominant color.

Host/Hostess Duties:

When you’re hosting a Dumb Supper, clearly the point is that no one can speak — and that makes a host’s job very tricky. It means you have the responsibility of anticipating each guest’s needs without them communicating verbally. Depending on the size of your table, you may want to make sure each end has its own salt, pepper, butter, etc. Also, watch your guests to see if anyone needs a drink refill, an extra fork to replace the one they just dropped, or more napkins.

Other Samhain Rituals:

If the idea of a Dumb Supper doesn’t quite appeal to you — or if you know darn well that your family can’t be quiet for that long — you may want to try some of these other Samhain rituals:

  • Celebrate the End of the Harvest
  • Honor the Ancestorsat Samhain
  • Samhain Ritual for Animals
  • Hold a Seance at Samhain

 

The Dumb Supper:

In some Pagan and Wiccan traditions, it has become popular to hold a Dumb Supper in honor of the dead. In this case, the word “dumb” refers to being silent. The origins of this tradition have been fairly well debated — some claim it goes back to ancient cultures, others believe it’s a relatively new idea. Regardless, it’s one that’s observed by many people around the world.

When holding a Dumb Supper, there are a few simple guidelines to follow. First of all, make your dining area sacred, either by casting a circle, smudging, or some other method. Turn off phones and televisions, eliminating outside distractions.

Secondly, remember that this is a solemn and silent occasion, not a carnival. It’s a time of silence, as the name reminds us. You may wish to leave younger children out of this ceremony. Ask each adult guest to bring a note to the dinner. The note’s contents will be kept private, and should contain what they wish to say to their deceased friends or relatives.

Set a place at the table for each guest, and reserve the head of the table for the place of the Spirits. Although it’s nice to have a place setting for each individual you wish to honor, sometimes it’s just not feasible. Instead, use a tealight candle at the Spirit setting to represent each of the deceased. Shroud the Spirit chair in black or white cloth.

No one may speak from the time they enter the dining room. As each guest enters the room, they should take a moment to stop at the Spirit chair and offer a silent prayer to the dead. Once everyone is seated, join hands and take a moment to silently bless the meal. The host or hostess, who should be seated directly across from the Spirit chair, serves the meal to guests in order of age, from the oldest to youngest. No one should eat until all guests — including Spirit — are served.

When everyone has finished eating, each guest should get out the note to the dead that they brought. Go to the head of the table where Spirit sits, and find the candle for your deceased loved one. Focus on the note, and then burn it in the candle’s flame (you may wish to have a plate or small cauldron on hand to catch burning bits of paper) and then return to their seat. When everyone has had their turn, join hands once again and offer a silent prayer to the dead.

Everyone leaves the room in silence. Stop at the Spirit chair on your way out the door, and say goodbye one more time.

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Samhain Spirit Incense

Samhain Spirit Incense

By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide

 

Spirits in the Smoke

By the time Samhain rolls around, your herb garden is probably looking pretty sad. Now’s the time to take all those goodies you harvested and dried in September, and put them to good use. This incense blend is perfect for a Samhain seance, divination session, or for any other autumn working.

This recipe is for loose incense, but you can adapt it for stick or cone recipes. As you mix and blend your incense, focus on the goal of your work. Do you wish to contact the spirit of a long-dead ancestor? Are you hoping to bring some visions your way in a dream? Or are you maybe looking to enhance your own meditative abilities? Focus your intent as you blend your ingredients.

You’ll need:

 

  • 2 parts Cinnamon
  • 1 part ground cloves
  • 1 part Dragon’s Blood resin
  • 1 part Hyssop
  • 1 part Patchouli
  • 2 parts Rosemary
  • 1 part Sage
  • A dash of sea salt

Mixing the Magic

Add your ingredients to your mixing bowl one at a time. Measure carefully, and if the leaves or blossoms need to be crushed, use your mortar and pestle to do so. As you blend the herbs together, state your intent. You may find it helpful to charge your incense with an incantation. For example, if you were going to use your incense during a seance, you could use this:

The veil has thinned, the moon is bright
and I blend this magic on Samhain night.
Celebrating life and death and rebirth
with these herbs I’ve harvested from the earth.
I send my intent by smoke in the air
and call on those whose blood I share.
I ask my ancestors to guide and watch over me,
As I will, so it shall be.
 
 
Store your incense in a tightly sealed jar. Make sure you label it with its intent and name, as well as the date you created it. Use within three months, so that it remains charged and fresh.
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Samhain Ancestor Meditation

Samhain Ancestor Meditation

Calling Upon the Ancient Ones

By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide

 

A Time of Darkness

Samhain is known as the night when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. It’s a time to sit back and honor the spirit world, and call upon those ancestors who came before us. After all, if not for them, we wouldn’t be here. We owe them something, some gratitude for their ability to survive, their strength, their spirit. Many Wiccans and Pagans choose Samhain as a time to honor their ancestors. If this is something you’d like to do, you can celebrate with a ritual or by hosting a seance or dumb supper in their honor:

  • Honoring the Ancestorsat Samhain
  • Host a Dumb Supper
  • How to Hold a Seance

In addition to these more formal rituals, you may also want to take some time alone for a quiet meditation. This is a point in the Wheel of the Year when the spirit world is a bit closer than normal, and if you’ve never tried to contact your ancestors before, now is a good time to do it.

  • When performing an ancestor meditation, people experience different things. You may find yourself meeting a specific person that you are aware of in your family history — maybe you’ve heard the stories about great-uncle Joe who went out west after the Civil War, and now you have the privilege of chatting with him, or perhaps you’ll meet the grandmother who passed away when you were a child. Some people, however, meet their ancestors as archetypes. In other words, it may not be a specific individual you meet, but rather a symbol — instead of adventurous great-uncle Joe, it may be a non-specific Civil War soldier or frontiersman. Either way, understand that meeting these individuals is a gift. Pay attention to what they say and do — it may be that they’re trying to give you a message.

    Setting the Mood

     

    Before you perform this meditation, it’s not a bad idea to spend some time with the tangible, physical aspects of your family. Bring out the old photo albums, read through wild Aunt Tillie’s diary from the Great Depression, get out your grandfather’s old pocket watch that almost sank with the Titanic. These are the material things that connect us to our family. They link us, magically and spiritually. Spend time with them, absorbing their energies and thinking of the things they’ve seen, the places they’ve been.

    You can perform this ritual anywhere, but if you can do it outside at night it’s even more powerful. Decorate your altar (or if you’re outside, use a flat stone or tree stump) with the symbols of your ancestors — the photos, journals, war medals, watches, jewelry, etc. No candles are necessary for this meditation, but if you’d like to light one, do so. You may also want to burn some Samhain spirit incense.

    Claiming Your Birthright

     

    Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Think about who you are, and what you are made of, and know that everything within you is the sum of all your ancestors. From thousands of years ago, generations of people have come together over the centuries to create the person you are now. Think about your own strengths — and weaknesses — and remember that they came from somewhere. This is a time to honor the ancestors who formed you.

    Recite your genealogy — aloud if you like — as far back as you can go. As you say each name, describe the person and their life. An example might go something like this:

    I am the daughter of James, who fought in Vietnam
    and returned to tell the tale.
    James was the son of Eldon and Maggie,
    who met on the battlefields of France,
    as she nursed him back to health.
    Eldon was the son of Alice, who sailed
    aboard Titanic and survived.
    Alice was the daughter of Patrick and Molly,
    who farmed the soil of Ireland, who
    raised horses and tatted lace to feed the children…
     

    and so forth. Go back as far as you like, elaborating in as much detail as you choose. Once you can go back no further, end with “those whose blood runs in me, whose names I do not yet know”.

    If you happened to meet a certain ancestor, or their archetype, during your meditation, take a moment to thank them for stopping by. Take note of any information they may have given you — even if it doesn’t make sense just now, it may later on when you give it some more thought. Think about all the people you come from, whose genes are part of you. Some were great people — some, not so much, but the point is, they all belong to you. They all have helped shape and create you. Appreciate them for what they were, with no expecations or apologies, and know that they are watching over you.

Categories: Daily Posts, Meditation, The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ancestor Prayer for Samhain

Ancestor Prayer for Samhain

By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide

 

A Prayer to the Ancestors

This is the night when the gateway between
our world and the spirit world is thinnest.
Tonight is a night to call out those who came before.
Tonight I honor my ancestors.
Spirits of my fathers and mothers, I call to you,
and welcome you to join me for this night.
You watch over me always,
protecting and guiding me,
and tonight I thank you.
Your blood runs in my veins,
your spirit is in my heart,
your memories are in my soul.

[If you wish, you may want to recite your genealogy here. This can include both your blood family, and your spiritual one.]

With the gift of remembrance.
I remember all of you.
You are dead but never forgotten,
and you live on within me,
and within those who are yet to come.

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Gentle thoughts for Monday, October 24th

Gentle thoughts for today:

1. Birds of a feather flock together and crap on your car.
2. There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt.
3. The sole purpose of a child’s middle name is so he can tell when he’s really in trouble.
4. If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
5. Don’t assume malice for what stupidity can explain.
6. A penny saved is a government oversight.
7. The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
8. If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.
9. The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
10. He who hesitates is probably right.
11. If you think there is good in everybody, you haven’t met everybody.
12. Did you ever notice: When you put the 2 words “The” and “IRS” together it spells “THEIRS”?

VJ FEMIA

OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE…

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Daily Affirmation for Monday, October 24th

I give my emotions, feelings, mistakes, and painful memories over to my higher power to handle. I walk in faith and stay focused only on what my higher power wants for me, and that is prosperity.
from Rita Walker

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Earth Science Photo of the Day for October 24th

Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

October 24, 2011

WestThumb5D-6425

Photographer: Marli Miller; Marli’s Website
Summary Author: Marli Miller

The hot springs shown above, linked by a shallow overflow channel, reside in the West Thumb Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. Sinter, which is hydrothermally precipitated silica, forms the white crust while heat-tolerant bacteria and algae form the yellows and browns.

 

Although it’s one of the smallest of Yellowstone’s geyser basins, West Thumb is significant because it occupies part of a caldera within the much-larger and somewhat older Yellowstone caldera. West Thumb caldera was formed by an eruption between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago, whereas the main Yellowstone eruption occurred about 600,000 years ago. On a map, the West Thumb caldera appears as the distinct elliptical area that makes up the western part of Yellowstone Lake. With an area of about 30 sq. mi (78 sq. km), it compares in size to Crater Lake, Oregon. By contrast, the Yellowstone caldera exceeds 1,000 sq. mi. (2,590 sq. km) in area. Photo taken in July 2008.

 

Photo details: Camera Maker: Canon; Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D; Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM; Image Focal Length: 32.0mm; Aperture: f/9.0; Exposure Time: 0.025 s (1/40); ISO equiv: 100; Exposure Bias: -0.33 EV; Metering Mode: Spot; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: Adobe RGB (1998).

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Astronomy Picture of the Day for October 24th

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2011 October 24
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

HH-222: The Waterfall Nebula
Image Credit: Z. Levay (STScI/AURA/NASA), T.A. Rector (U. Alaska Anchorage) & H. Schweiker (NOAO/AURA/NSF), KPNO, NOAO  

 

Explanation: What created the Waterfall Nebula? No one knows. The structure seen in the region of NGC 1999 in the Great Orion Molecular Cloud complex is one of the more mysterious structures yet found on the sky. Designated HH-222, the elongated gaseous stream stretches about ten light years and emits an unusual array of colors. One hypothesis is that the gas filament results from the wind from a young star impacting a nearby molecular cloud. That would not explain, however, why the Waterfall and fainter streams all appear to converge on a bright but unusual non thermal radio source located toward the upper left of the curving structure. Another hypothesis is that the unusual radio source originates from a binary system containing a hot white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole, and that the Waterfall is just a jet from this energetic system. Such systems, though, are typically strong X-rays emitters, and no X-rays have been detected. For now, this case remains unsolved. Perhaps well-chosen future observations and clever deductive reasoning will unlock the true origin of this enigmatic wisp in the future.

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