One of the most fascinating Samhain events that I’ve ever attended was a Dump Supper. A Dump Supper is traditionally held on October 31st or just before Samhain, pronounced Sow-Een (Halloween), when it’s traditionally known as the night when the veil between our world is the thinnest and easiest for spirits to visit.
When you’re hosting a Dumb Supper, it’s important to stress that no one can speak during the meal, 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, another fork, or more napkins.
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.
There were 12 of us seated around a table decorated all black. The hostess used disposable black plastic dishes and utensils on a black tablecloth and cloth napkins and lots of black candles scatted across the long table. The meal was a potluck and we had quite a feast… ham, roast chicken, baked potatoes, pumpkin bisque, salmon lasagna, Colcannon, roasted root vegetables, rye bread, apple bread, hot mulled wine and I brought a green salad with mandarin oranges and candied pecans. We also had pumpkin pie and pecan pie.
There was an empty chair and table setting at each corner of the long table for what spirits wished to join us.
You can 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.
We cast a circle and called the quarters… Calling the west has become my duty for some reason. We them joined hands and said a prayer for hope for the future and blessings for those who have crossed over. Then a bell was rang to signal that from that point on there was to be no talking.
We served a plate of food to the spirits as they were the guest of honor. They we each circled the serving table and quietly dished up our own plates, and went back to our seats to eat in silence. This was quite an experience. It’s pretty unique to be at a dinner table with other people and not say a word.
The entire meal was eaten in silence, hence the name, “dumb”, to make the spirits feel calm and welcomed. It was amazing. But it really did allow us to experience the spiritual presence. I am sensitive to ghosts, angels and spirits, I have been since I was a child. I forget sometimes, that not everyone can do that. I had assumed that a room full of witches would have that ability, but no one else could see them, although they felt them.
The meal lasted probably about an hour, but we don’t know for sure. Coincidently, the clock stopped at five minutes to seven. During this time I was made aware of several ‘spirits’… the first must have been the Goddess. I mentally asked her name and she said ‘you know me as I am’… then she went around and hugged us each gently.
Another spirit was an older man who was standing on the balcony above us that led to the bedrooms. He was quite impatient with our silence and finally gave up and left. And the third was a shy little boy about 5 or 6 with dark brown hair and deep blue eyes, he would hide behind a door whenever I looked up at him.
After everyone was finished eating, the bell was rung again to let us know that we could finally speak again. I related who I saw, I also told everyone that spirits were walking thru the area as we were getting ready and casting the circle, that they were drawn to us by our energy and all of the candles. And that there were other Dumb Suppers taking place all over the world, that were acting as beacons for the many people who have died because of the natural disasters that have happened this past year and various military actions in many places. Many of these souls are lost, scared and confused and this kind of ritual helps them find their way. Courtney visited briefly, but she works now as a guide to help those who have died with their transition.
I related what I saw, heard and felt and one by one someone would say… “that’s my grandfather” or “that’s the boy who died in my neighborhood when I was a kid”. It seemed like no one was left out. Now, I didn’t know any of the people attended this dinner.. I only knew the hosts. So it was amazing to me that the ghosts I saw and heard were someone each of them knew.
When I told about the old man and the little boy, Camile and Ken, our hosts, said it sounded like it was Ken’s dad who had died a few years ago. And the little boy was probably one named Timothy who died in a house fire about 20 years ago, who was the friend of the son of Michi, one of tonights guest. Both of these are still earthbound spirits because they choose to be, not because they are lost. Anyway, it’s not often I see the spirits of people I don’t know, so this was pretty exciting for me.
After we sat and talked about the experience, we closed the circle and moved outside to a huge bonfire… Ken is quite experienced with this… this bonfire had to be 8 feet tall. We sat around it and watched the fire bees.. chanted a little, looked at the stars, and finally someone said they were ready for pie. So we all went back up to the house for dessert. By now it was midnight and we had arrived at 6pm. What had seemed like just a couple of hours, had flown by and it had actually been 6 hours.
It was an interesting night and an amazing experience.
I was thinking of what I’d serve at my own Dump Supper… my maternal grandmother’s fried chicken, my paternal grandmother’s apple crisp, my mother’s carrot bundt cake, my daughter’s Swedish meatballs, my own baked macaroni and cheese, along with broccoli salad, an trio assortment of soups (tomato bisque, broccoli cheese and French onion), deviled eggs, rolls or homemade bread, honey mead, various teas. Yeah, that sounds good.
More sites to check out about how to host your own Dumb Supper: https://www.wikihow.com/Host-a-%27Dumb-Supper%27-for-Pagans https://www.festivalofthedead.com/dumbsupper.html https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-is-dumb-supper https://moodymoons.com/2018/10/21/dumb-supper-what-it-is-how-to-host-one/ https://gourmetwitch.org/food/the-dumb-supper/ https://www.patheos.com/blogs/witchonfire/2017/11/tommorrow-die-dumb-supper/ https://www.lavender-moon.com/2018/10/how-to-host-a-dumb-supper-for-samhain.html