The Dumb Supper – A Feast With the Dead

The Dumb Supper – A Feast With the Dead

By

Speaking to the Dead:

Although traditionally a seance1 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:

 

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.

The Green Life versus The Silver Life

The Green Life versus The Silver Life

Author: Luthien

The ol’ Witch in the woods had a couple of beeswax candles, the Sun, Moon and stars and knowledge of the uses of herbs in her area to use in her practice. The modern Witch has the world at their fingertips at the click of a mouse button. Were things better in her time, without the cacophony of engine noise, the persistent hum of computers, and mobile phone signals that clog up the air? Or are we far better off out of the dark ages, living comfortable lifestyles without constant fear of persecution and with worldwide sharing of information?

I’ve always been a bit of a sci-fi geek, always fascinated with modern technology. I’m not a Mathematician or a Scientist – I’m a writer, and I spent my teen-hood making stories from ideas based upon Space exploration and travel. Most of the fiction I’ve ever written involves futuristic civilizations living in artificial cities built in Space, the ideas of which were researched through a lifelong fascination of ‘what’s out there’, and ‘where mankind will go with it all’. I’ve also always been a sucker for post- apocalyptic dramas and films; there’s nothing quite like the thrill of the sight of well- known cities like New York being mass flooded and frozen over as in The Day after Tomorrow, or deserted and left to nature to take over like in I am Legend, or even taken over by vicious aliens as in The War of the Worlds. In fact, any fiction where the planet freezes over or burns to a crisp or explodes will generally have me on the edge of my seat.

Like any young person, I wouldn’t be without my laptop, mobile and iPod, these things which make our day to day lives so much quicker, easier and more enjoyable. Find me a housewife who’d be without her prize washing machine or a businessman who’d function for a day without his Blackberry or iPhone. I’ve also always had a thrill for travel, particularly to far- flung, exotic places. It’s soggy and grey most of the year where I live, and like many Brits I’m a bit of a sun- seeker. How easy it is just to bulldoze normal life to one side, hop on a cheap flight and be transported into a sunnier, warmer, care- free world.

So you can see where we hit the snag.

Does the slow- paced, Earth- reverence lifestyle of Paganism not present the exact opposite sort of mentality? Pagans live in the here and now, grounded in the present, not worrying frantically about next week or mulling endlessly over a past loss or failure. The majority of us are focused mainly on environmental issues. (Would you let your backyard turn into a mini landfill site?) This is the reason so many Pagans pour so much effort into protecting the environment, everyone’s back yard, and many enjoy nothing more than a walk through sylvan parks, forests and alongside tinkling streams rather than in the pristine, perfectly geometric stone and metal cities of my imagination.

Air travel is of-course a big no-no, so that’s potentially struck off my ‘How to be a Perfect Pagan’ list, being the largest producer of Co2 as forms of transport go. Pagans who travel abroad often attempt to use trains or ferries unless no such alternative is available or practical for the journey being made. If all else fails, though, I’m told that planting a tree will cancel out the Carbon Dioxide produced by a medium- haul flight.

All the silver shiny things that make up our day to day lives, the computers that make us stay- indoorsy robots and the mobile phones that distract us for hours and hours on end from our natural surroundings, those things that make our lives easier and more enjoyable on the surface, but in the long term cause fatigue, depression and stress due to our over- busy lives and lack of communication with Earth’s energies – how on Earth do we fit it into a modern Pagan lifestyle?

After all Pagans fulfill a variety of jobs and careers – there are Pagan IT technicians, plumbers, teachers, actors, writers… we wouldn’t be able to live in this age without technology. The answer is compromise, to combine the two. We can’t progress without embracing modern technology. Without the wonders of the Internet this article wouldn’t be reaching you. And ‘Progress’, when used to justify annihilating thousands of acres of rainforest, to deplete the world’s natural resources and to allow alarmingly and unnaturally rapid shift in the Earth’s climate, really makes me cringe.

It needn’t be like this. It’s industrial- age thinking. Progress as a species to me means developing sustainable ways of generating energy and living, while developing our technology without compromising our ozone layer or environment. This is of course easier said than done, but for me part of being a witch is always asking questions, always exploring new ideas and better and more eco- friendly ways of doing things.

The term ‘Techno-Pagan’ is becoming more and more widespread, to describe those who would use the Internet to network with other Pagans and bring together people and ideas. According to Wikipedia, the Techno-Pagans are also those who would use modern –day devices in ritual, such as a ‘disk of Shadows’ instead of a traditional book, using an oven for a hearth and a laser pointer instead of a wand. Some will go as far as to say that electrical devices have a soul or energy field of their own, and their use in ritual helps to bring together the spiritual and physical worlds. I will use music from my laptop to use in meditation, but generally speaking I like to keep the two separate.

There’s something magical about holding a book in your hands filled with carefully written- out pages, and using altar tools that you made yourself of things you found out in the park or in the garden. Though I’m sure many of us have the Internet to thank for the roots or development of our magickal education, or for networking with and maintaining contact with many more Pagans than otherwise would have crossed our paths.

But beside all this we can still make time to be one to one with nature, if we can only pause our hectic lifestyles for a brief time and take in the serenity of the Earth’s healing energies. I’m a great admirer of the Pagan author Starhawk, and her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing tells of a futuristic world where a bleak, totalitarian regime attempts relentlessly to invade a small green pocket of land where witches fight with their lives to protect diversity, freedom and the greenery of the planet. Here she combines my two favorite genres, and in the novel these two extremes are set to clash horribly. This isn’t the way it will be in my own life, though; getting the right balance is imperative to our wellbeing, and if we can reach for the silvery stars while keeping rooted in the green Earth, we will make great tracks indeed in our lives and in the lives of others.


Footnotes:
http://www.wikipedia.org
Starhawk, ‘The Fifth Sacred Thing’

10 Cheap Winter Tips To Stay Warm

10 Cheap Winter Tips To Stay Warm

Hot water bottle sales are up! This might seem like headline from a newspaper 50 years ago. Hot water bottles are enjoying a moment again, and not as a frumpy relic from a bygone era, but as a frugal way to stay warm and toasty during the cold winter months. In this post, Preheat The Bed there’s a “heated” discussion about the pros and cons of hot water bottles vs. electric blankets. Do you use either?

As the winter begins to get chilly, more and more people are seeking ways to cut down on their heating bills and still stay warm.

Here are 10 cheap tricks and toasty winter tips for staying warm this winter:

The first 9 tips come from this infographic from Wonder How To:

10. Use a programmable thermostat.Why? Because it saves money and energy. The cost of the thermostat pays for itself over usage time. The US Department of Energy estimates you can save 10% on your heating bill by rolling back your thermostat 10-15% for just 8 hours. Of course, this saves money! Here’s a snazzy one for 2012: Practically Green recently posted about The Nest. Sarah Finnie Robinson from Practically Green shares her thoughts about this new programmable thermostat:

“It’s a brainy new thermostat designed by Tony Fadell, the guy who sold Steve Jobs on the iPod. In the past 48 hours, this stylish tool has been a complete thumbs-up for testers ranging from TechCrunch to Grist to Fast Company to Wired to the Wall Street Journal: “like Apple, Nest Labs has taken something you use every day and made it simple and delightful to use.”

My best tip for staying warm in the winter: Knit something warm! What’s your best cheap tip for staying warm?

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer, editor and educator. She has written hundreds of articles about sustainable living, the environment, design, and family life for websites, books and magazines. Ronnie is the creator of Econesting, and the managing editor of Moms Clean Air Force. Ronnie was named one of the Top Ten Living Green Experts by Yahoo. Ronnie lives in New York with her family.

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.