Because of the intensity and amount of sheer preparation for this ritual, we do not conduct the high ceremonial Dumb Supper each year.
This ritual is a form of necromancy that at one time may have been a simple observance by young women in order to be told the name or names of their future husbands. Today, this is a high rite of necromancy that takes many days of preparation to be able to perform.
When we perform this ritual, the dearly departed that are selected to sup with us on the night of Hallows are summoned each night, at the same time, for many days leading up to the actual performance of the right. Each spiritual guest must have time to gather enough strength in order to be present.
Even though the meal itself is partaken of in silence, with appropriate music being played in the background. Music not only creates the right atmosphere, but certain types of music may help to draw in the appropriate spirits to the ritual. It is not for haphazard reasons why many spiritualist circles play old church sounding music. The reason for this type of music being played is because it is something that the spirits may recognize. It is not uncommon for mediums to bust out an old southern “Amazing Grace” hymn at a Spiritualist meeting. The medium singing this has nothing to do with their religious beliefs, and doesn’t have anything to do with being Christian or not, but setting up the right frequency to give the spirits something they might recognize.
It is not uncommon as well for traditional witches to take the meter, rhythm and tone of a hymn and alter the words a bit as well. This is not done as an act of disrespect to our many Christian friends, and in many ways is because of the beauty and excellent quality of the writers of these Christian hymns have used in their compostion because the tonal quality of the hymn may reverberate through what is called the law of vibration and also what may be termed the theory of morphic-resonance, which was coined by a researcher into parapsychology named Rupert Sheldrake.
In Sheldrake’s theory, he poised the theory that nature itself has an inherent memory. That if one thing existed at one time, it will be retained within “Nature’s memory” and be able to be tapped into at a future time – in some ways, connected to the law of frequency.
This can be felt in old traditional covens. I can’t tell you how many times that new coven members have experienced our rituals after initiation into the Craft and have said, “Wow! For some reason, I feel connected way back to something very, very old!” This is not to say that our coven is an ancient coven by any means, unchanged back into dark ages, but our coven itself practices handed down ritual shells that have not changed much. While the meat of some rituals have evolved over the years at times, the pattern of setting up our cyclotron of power has not, and can pull into it great power that takes you way, way back. This feeling of not only deja vu but also of propelling a new initiate into new experiences and memories, many of them for some reason seem to be located in the Middle East – and this psychic experience is how this is validated in their minds. This all coming from witches who have been around the block and have been to hundreds of other rituals – they still attest to the beauty and majesty of our old rites with fondness and love and the feelings they evoke.
This morphic resonance theory may also help to explain why other accounts of psychic phenomenon such as when you hold an object in your hand and are transported back in time and can see the pattern of events and read the thought-form impressions in rooms, walls and buildings.
The High Ceremonial Dumb Supper is also known as the “Rites of Hecate.” The goddess known as Hecate is well-known as a goddess of the crossroads and of the dead and night in mythology and history. How did this goddess and the practice enter the religion of Wicca? I believe the rituals themselves entered the Wicca through the use of the old grimoire by A.E. Waite known as “The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts” which was a highly influential grimoire. This grimoire also contains a section on the forbidden arts of Necromancy and some of the incantations and conjurations bear a striking resemblance to our practice today, though in a safe and secure environment. This book also mentions the goddess Hecate in those rites as well – which is surprising for many grimoires of that time period to mention an Ancient Goddess.
After the spirits of our ancestors have been duly conjured by the High Priestess, she is able to direct them where to sit.
One thing different from mediumship circles is that since no talking is permitted during the partaking of this very sparse meal, no acting out or spiritual possession is permitted to overtake the guests. To allow the ceremony to descend into such character of moaning, wailing and the clanking of chains could overshadow any actual manifestations or whispers from the departed from occurring, or make them simply missed…. So order must be kept by all participants in the ceremony.
After the ceremony is ended, the High Priestess will gather up all deceased ancestors and allow them to be peacefully released to their places of beauty.
We typically bury in the ground the food that was offered to the ancestors.
Following the High Ceremonial Dumb Supper, various types of divination may be performed by the coveners with a ritual feast.
May your Hallows ceremony be special this year – no matter how you and your coven celebrates!
If you wish to know more about a full Sabbat cycle, more info can be found in The Sacred Pentagraph by Tarostar. Click on the book photo to learn more.