Updated: October 8, 2021
Because of the intensity and amount of sheer preparation for this ritual, we do not conduct the high ceremonial Dumb Supper each year, but this year, we will be conducting it once again with many folks highly looking forward to it! This is part of the Book of the High Priestess, as she serves as the lead Medium in this ritual.
There are multiple parts to the High Ceremonial Dumb Supper. They typically are:
- The Gathering
- High Ceremonial Dumb Supper
- Divination of the Yearly Watchword
- Divination Party & Feasting
The gathering part is easy – all gather at the appointed time and place for ritual. This is a formal occasion, and the High Priestess will either be in black or purple formal wear, robes and capes. The other coveners participating will typically be wearing black robes and capes as well.
The Dumb Supper itself is pretty formal – with most members sitting in the appointed seating area with the triangle in the center and the plates of food for the ancestors in front of them in the inner circle and the members of the coven and their plates of food in the outer circle. Typically the only ones standing at this point or moving around the circle would be the High Priestess and her assistants who are performing the high arts of necromancy.
The High Priestess with her Coven Broom, which is the symbol of her IV* Degree, will cast the magical circle into a tomb for the dearly departed to enter. The motions of her broom direct the rites themselves – including telling our loved ones where to sit and gather. Depending on whether the bristles of her Coven Broom are upright or down will direct the spirits on when and where they are welcomed.
The third part of the ceremony itself is the Divination of the Yearly Watchword. This ritual is conducted by the High Priestess and two female assistants, each representing the Great Mother Goddess and using their combined collective wills to give prophesy. The yearly Watchword serves as a Coven Password to gain entrance into the coven’s rituals for the year. The Watchword, along with the Grade Signs that a witch will give before the Summoner of the coven will let him know whether this person was invited or not to the ceremony.
The Watchword itself is a bit prophetic as well – for within those short, small words contains a great deal of insight and knowledge that members of the coven should pay attention to during the upcoming yearly seasonal cycle. You will find, time and time again, that just a single word represents a coven theme for the entire year.
The High Priestess will perform this act of prophesy after the requisite ritual incantations so that it is revealed to all coveners present.
Lastly, the divination party and the feast can commence. After the atmosphere is cleared some then acts of divination for each other can begin – using whatever method or tools each witch dictates. This is the formal part of the feast or gathering.
Now that we briefly covered the themes that occur for the Hallowmas in our coven, let’s dive a little more into some additional details on this, shall we?
The ritual of the Dumb Supper itself is a form of necromancy. At one time in our history, it was mainly used as an All Hallows observance by young women in order to be told the name or names of their future husbands or what their occupation was. Back in those dark days where your fate depended on the industry of your husband, these types of rituals were used by ladies wanting to know this information. Fortunately today, the Dumb Supper itself is rarely or ever used for foretelling who your future mate is…. it’s not that it can’t be done, it totally can, but this isn’t as relevant in our society today thankfully. Today, hundreds of years later from those Victorian era times, we can perform this in order to receive meaningful information or just simply commune with our departed loved ones.
Today, this is a high rite of necromancy that takes a few weeks of coven preparation. With Witchcraft able to be practiced more fully without as much fear of persecution as we have had in the past, we have been able to restore some of these rituals with more pomp, circumstance and flair that they deserve – especially for such grand occasions!
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 13 nights leading up to the night of All Hallows Eve. Each spiritual guest must have time to gather enough strength in order to be present, and the High Priestess works to ensure their presence at this ritual for 13 nights in all.
Even though the meal itself is eaten in silence, appropriate music might also be 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 hymnal 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 many Spiritualist 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 it is in setting up the right frequency and current in which the place it is performed gives the correct atmosphere where spiritual energy can gather.
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 hymns have used in their composition 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 techniques and tradition 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 over repeated performance. This feeling of not only deja vu but also of propelling a new initiate into new experiences and memories, many coven members have expressed memories and deja vu of being located in the Middle East somewhere – 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 divinatory acts of psychometry can fall into this category and helps to give an occult explanation for the energies and emotions felt around particular statues or saints that cause a release in certain emotions.
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 Witchcraft? While we may never know, there are certainly older texts using rituals in the name of Hecate. One example of this is the old grimoire, which is a compilation of many grimoires, by A.E. Waite known as “The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts” which was a highly influential. 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 be simply missed…. So order and decorum must be kept by all participants in the ceremony.
After the ceremony has ended, the High Priestess will gather up all deceased ancestors and allow them to be peacefully released back to their places of beauty.
We typically bury in the ground the food that was offered to the ancestors at this solemn rite.
Following the High Ceremonial Dumb Supper, various types of divination may be performed by the coveners. One of the first tasks is to divine the secret “watchword” of the coven to carry us through the new year. This is a ritual act by three women of the coven who will choose which form of divination to use in uncovering this top secret watchward which will serve as the password for the new year to gain entrance to private coven rituals
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.