October 15, 2014

Hold a Dumb Supper for Samhain

Posted in Devotionals, Dumb Supper, Samhain tagged , , , , at 5:26 am by Babs

A year ago I was privileged to attend a stunningly visual Samhain ritual written by one of our High Priestesses and performed by all of the initiated High Priestesses.  This made it very special for the 1st and 2nd degree initiates, myself included.  I was asked and happily agreed to host a Dumb Supper following the circle.  Even though most of us understood the symbolism of the supper I decided to write a short “history” to provide some background to the newer members.  I also outlined the “room setup” and “rules” so members would know what to expect and what is expected of them before they entered into the dining room area.  Since the meal is silent… you have to prepare everyone before the meal starts.

History of the Dumb Supper:  While the exact origin of the Dumb Supper is hotly debated the symbolic gesture of honoring those who have passed beyond the veil with a shared offering of a meal transcends most spiritual paths. From early ritual sacrifices, to offerings of the harvest and hunt, to the Eucharist of the Christian faith, the ceremony has been celebrated in one form or another by people around the world.

In Celtic traditions, a Dumb Supper is commonly held on Samhain (Sow-en), October 31st, when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest. The Celts believed that it was at this time, during the dark half of the year, that the spirits hear us and may even wish to make contact with us. This is the time of death and resurrection, new beginnings and fond farewells.

As its name suggests, a Dumb Supper is held in silence. From the moment you enter the room to the moment you leave it you must turn inward and be quiet. Often it is suggested that you are symbolically crossing over to meet with your ancestor in the Summerland. During this passage you are not to speak.  Your communication with your loved one is yours and yours alone.  To further the symbolism of the crossing, many hosts/ hostesses conduct the supper in complete opposite of how it would be held in the realm of the living such as serving dessert first and appetizers last to even setting the table in a mirror image of common practice (i.e. forks on right and knives and spoons to the left). For our version, we will simply be silent and walk widdershins (counter-clockwise). Because of the nature of the meal being with spirits of those who have passed on, the space where the supper is held will be sacred space where a circle of protection is cast with sage and the area blessed.

What do you say to the deceased? Often when a loved one passes there are sentiments you didn’t get to express. Whether it’s the poignant “I love you”, “I forgive you,” or “please forgive me” to the ever-present, “I miss you,” there is always something we wanted to say. When speaking to those who have passed on it is important to share with them the important things you would have been excited to share if they were still alive; the birth of a child, a marriage, an achievement.

How will you know they are listening? As with any conversation it is just as important for you to listen as it is to share. Some people may experience a moment of clarity, while others will smell a perfume their grandmother favored, or feel a touch, a sensation, or experience a vivid memory. Some feel a sense of peace. Many may receive a sign from their loved one long after the meal is over.  Whatever your experience is, be open to it and cherish this time with them.

Commonly in larger gatherings there is often a single place setting for “Spirit” since an individual setting for each ancestor becomes unmanageable. For our Supper we will have a Goddess setting in honor of the crone Hecate in addition to a single symbolic Ancestor setting. Behind this setting will be the photos of those we have invited to join us.

So now, close your eyes and find your center, bring an image of your loved one to your mind’s eye and begin your meal together.

Dumb Supper Rules (for our circle):

Room Set Up:

  1. The dining table has been staged with the Goddess setting at the head of the table and one common Ancestor setting at the foot of the table. These symbolic chairs will be draped.
  2. All other settings will have water, utensils, and napkins ready for you.
  3. An Ancestor altar (for photos and candles) will be set up behind the Ancestor place setting. When placing your photo/ memento here, you are inviting your ancestor to the table.
  4. A buffet table with the food, drinks, ice, etc. will be set up to one side.
  5. All lights will be turned off and no cell phones or cameras will be permitted.
  6. From the moment you transition from the circle to the dining room, there will be no speaking.

Ancestor Table – The faces of the photos have been blurred intentionally.

 Dumb Supper Process:

  1. HPS will enter the sacred room first to bless it, sage it, and call upon the Goddess to join the feast. She will then return to the line of waiting guests motioning each to enter the room. She will allow time between each guest to complete the following:
  2. Each guest should collect their ancestor’s photo from the ritual altar in preparation of walking with their ancestor into the dining room.
  3. Each guest will enter the dining room in widdershin fashion.
    • Walk to the altar and place their Ancestor photo.
    • Select a tea light from the basket and light it in honor of their loved one.
    • Approach the Goddess seat and in silence thank her for being with them.
  4. Each guest is then invited to the buffet to take some food, set the plate down at the next available place setting starting at the Goddess’s left, and remain standing.
  5. HPS will be the last through the buffet. Once she has set down her plate, she and helper will serve will serve the Goddess and the Ancestors some of the feast.
  6. When HPS takes a seat, everyone takes a seat, and eats in continued silence.
  7. HPS, determining when everyone is done eating, will rise from her seat. This will signal everyone to rise. Proceeding widdershins starting with the person at the Goddess’s right, each guest moves to the Goddess’s chair, pauses, and in silence thanks Her for attending. They then leave the room.
  8. HPS snuffs the candles and is the last one out after thanking the Goddess.
  9. The supper is now complete.

Dessert, Coffee, Discussion & Divination: Lights may be turned back on and all guests are invited back in for coffee/ tea and dessert. This is a social time where everyone may share any experiences felt, thought, or messages received from their honored ancestors.

This is our discussion and social time after the supper.

Final Notes: I hope this was of some help to you as a solitary or for your group.  I have held private/ solitary Dumb Suppers for a few years and you can get more elaborate in your table settings by reversing the silverware and serving alcohol.  For the group I pulled together aspects outlined in many different rituals to create this for about 25 people.  Due to the large number of participants we felt the buffet was easiest and all dishes were labeled clearly.  My advice – keep things simple.  There were hiccoughs along the way (expect them and roll with them) but most people found it to be successful and a moving event.  If you try a Dumb Supper, please share your results and your modifications.  I love trying new things every year!

Blessed Samhain to you all!

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August 12, 2012

Kuan Yin (Quan Yin) – Meditations (Part 2)

Posted in Devotionals, Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , at 11:34 pm by Babs

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Kuan Yin Meditation #1:

Find a comfortable position and close your eyes.  Allow your breathing to deepen and your mind and body to relax.  Imagine that tit is nighttime and that you are on tope of a hill looking out over the ocean.  The full moon has just risen and the moonlight shimmers on the water.  You gaze at the moon for a long time; the moonlight is powerful but soft, and looking at it makes you feel calm and happy.

The moon now begins to get brighter and brighter, so bright you can barely look at it.  Gradually, it becomes Kuan Yin herself, her whole body surrounded by a glowing aureole.  She stands on a lotus that floats on the waves.  At the sight of you she smiles a beautify smile, and tears of happiness shine in her yes.  Imagine her radiance filling you, her strength, her peace and her compassion becoming a part of you.  If you repeat her name, your mind will be calm, and she will stay with you.

Finally, it is time fo her to leave, and she becomes smaller and smaller.  At last the sea and sky vanish too, and you rest in contemplation of the beautiful, empty space that is left.  Let yourself become space.  When you are ready, come back into your body and slowly stretch.  Open your eyes and look at the world about you.

Kuan Yin Meditation #2:

You are sitting on a lotus in the sea.  Everything around you is dark and the waves are gently lapping around you.  There is barely any light – just a little from the stars in the sky which is also clear and black.  The air around you is warm and there is a gentle breeze.  The salty scent of the sea fills your nostrils.  Feel the soft petals of the lotus flower supporting you as you travel your journey across the sea.

After a time the mon begins to rise on the horizon, slowly but steadily.  It is a full moon and she shines her light a cross the sea like a pathway towards her.  You are floating and the moon is now full and hanging on the horizon, still with the soft, warm breeze.  Then from the moon you see a small figure floating toward you, almost imperceptible at first then growing.  The figure appears to be walking on water, slowly becoming closer and closer, until you recognize Her as the Goddess Kuan Yin.  She is clothed in a shimmering, silvery gossamer robe as she becomes closer and closer you feel the silky robe waft against your feet as the breeze blows it toward you.

You can look at the Goddess Kuan Yin.  Drink her in and feel her compassionate and loving energy envelope you.  Close your eyes and feel the gentle rocking of the sea.  Look into Her eyes, right into the depths of Her, and ask her for what you need and for a message to help you along on your journey.  She will hold her hand out to you and gently touch your shoulder or hand or perhaps the crown of your head.  wherever she touches, feel the energy pulse through you.  Absorb it into your very being.  Feel its texture – is it warm, hot, cool, tingling?  This is the manifestation of the entry of perfect love and perfect trust.

You can ask the Goddess Kuan Yin for guidance, or purifications, or healing.  Whatever you feel you need can be lovingly given by Her.  Just ask and you shall receive.

When your audience with the Goddess Kuan Yin is completed, She will retreat back to the Full Moon, still shining on the horizon and now beginning to slowly move up into the sky.  Watch Her as she returns to Her home in the heavens.  Watch the moon as she climbs ever higher in the sky, giving light to the darkness of night and guiding you along to the next day.

You are still floating on your lotus on the black sea, the warm breeze is still swirling gently around you.  You are comforted and comfortable.  Now is the time for sweet sleep and you feel yourself drifting off, safe in the arms of the Goddess.

June 1, 2011

The Month of May

Posted in Devotionals, Goddess Things, Nature Things, Samhain, Statues, Summerland, Wiccan Things tagged , , , , at 7:40 am by Babs

As this month draws to a close I am happy to see it go.  This was a bad month for me as I lost my Mother to a long battle (18 years) with ALS.  While this is unusual in the length of time… it is still hard to “let go” of someone you love.  In the pagan path we believe (generally speaking) in a concept called “crossing the veil”.  The veil is metaphorical but apt.  Similar to Judeo/Christian beliefs when one dies one passes over to the other side.  Christians see the other side as the “kingdom of heaven”.  For pagans… mainly Wiccan oriented pagans, it is the Summerland.

The essence of the Summerland is that it is a resting ground where souls can reflect on the life they led, see if they learned the lesson they had intended on learning, and then try again in due course. The Summerland is not seen as a place of judgment, but rather as a spiritual self-evaluation where a soul is able to review its life and gain an understanding of the total impact its actions had on the world. Some may believe each particular lesson (and hence, life) is chosen and planned out by the soul itself while in Summerland, whereas others may believe that lessons are planned by an external party (deities, a spirit guide, etc.).

As you can see, my concept of the afterlife has a contemplation phase and then a reincarnation phase which is similar to many polytheistic (multiple god) religions.  What ever path you follow in life, take comfort in your individual beliefs.  Grief and loss are hard to deal with but faith in your path will help guide you as one who has been left behind.

Often to reconnect with our departed loved ones, we attempt to honor/ remember/ communicate with them at Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) which is a time when the veil is considered to be the thinnest.  This is the beginning of the Wiccan year and is more commonly associated with Halloween.  But that is many months from now.  Now is the time to let go.

September 27, 2010

Pagan Birthday Surprises

Posted in Alters, Devotionals, Goddess Things, Inspirational Things, Meditations, Nature Things, Tools, Witchy Things tagged , , , at 10:20 pm by Babs

This year I celebrated my 40th turn on the Wheel.  I am a spring baby… with a sun sign of Gemini and a rising sign of Pisces.  My standing in the world is one of sensitivity and thoughful repose.  Avoiding conflict is a high priority for me. 

Often I spend a lot of time in giving gifts with meaning to both me and hopefully the recipient.  Trying to pick out something that is symbolic of our friendship/ relationship/ mutual bond. 

This year someone did the same for me and I was simply blown away.  My sun sign usually keeps me from being speechless… but this was something that I had to really sit with, study and once doing so, realized the effort and love that went into it. 

To celebrate each year of my life, a precious stone was added to a beautiful bag.  Each stone was researched, documented and placed in the bag to allow me to work with it and use it in my magickal path.  The sheet you see here is actually the cover letter but behind this sheet is a description of each stone (to help me identify it) as well as the stone’s properties and energies.  I can take the stone and place it on my bedside table altar and set my intention on it as an offering to the universe. 

What is even better?  The gift included a simple and exquisite set of sculpted hands.  I can place the stone there as a symbol of my offering and work with the stone for as long as needed.  It is such a wonderful addition to my candle and prayer work that I simply had to share with my readers! 

 

May 19, 2008

Serenity Garden – Plant Selection

Posted in Devotionals, Goddess Things, Inspirational Things, Meditations tagged , , , at 6:05 am by Babs

Amethyst Myst Coral Bells

In realizing my need to reconnect with nature, I cleared a formerly untamed portion of my yard and planted a shade garden.  To help me with this process… I called on Dutch Gardens to give me ideas on what to plant and where.  What is fun is picking out the different foliage and mixing them in a random garden… and also picking out the Japanese bridge and Arbor for the different entry ways to the garden. 

Since I am only using perennials, I will only be able to afford adding to this garden a little each year.  So, for now I will be dividing some of the hostas and placing them around the space as well as thinning out some of the day lillies in the yard and adding them in spots as well.

What is really nice, the spell I posted was completed during the Waxing Moon cycle and the plants were all placed in their new spots on the day of the full moon!  It just seems like the universe is working on my side for a change! Once this is done, I plan on dedicating this garden to my personal goddesses.  Also, I plan on adding a bench to allow for a space for meditation. 

To make your own serenity garden… check out Dutch Gardens at www.dutchgardens.com

 

April 14, 2008

Prayer Beads

Posted in Devotionals, Goddess Things tagged , , , at 8:28 pm by Babs

Set of Japa mala, made from Tulasi wood, with head bead in foreground.

Scholars agree that the prayer beads originated with the Hindu faith.  It is possible that the use of beads for devotion dates back to the eighth century BCE in the cult of Siva.  Sandstone sculptures in India, from 185 BCE, show Hindu sages holding prayer beads.  These Hindu prayer beads are called mala.  

 

The number of beads on a prayer strand varies from 32 to 108.  Mantras are often repeated hundreds or even thousands of times. The mala is used so that one can think about the meaning of the mantra as it is chanted rather than thinking about counting the repetitions. One mantra is usually said for every bead, turning the thumb clockwise around each bead, though some traditions or practices may call for counterclockwise or specific finger usage. When arriving at the head bead, one turns the mala around and then goes back in the same direction. This makes using the mala easier as the beads will not be so tight on the string when you use them.

 

Call them Malas, Prayer Beads or Rosaries – they are common in most religions around the world.  Whatever your path, make your own keeping in mind that they are tactile and the materials you use should call to you. 

 

-Blessed Be!

April 11, 2008

Spring cleaning…

Posted in Devotionals, Goddess Things tagged , , , at 6:43 pm by Babs

Well, I am about to roll up my sleeves and see about straighteniKuan Yin riding the dragonng out this broom closet of mine!  What do I mean by broom closet?  Well, I am a witch and this is my way of saying I am taking a step on the wild side.   It is not easy for someone to say they are a follower of a religion that is off the beaten path.  Let’s face it… most of this country is Judeo-Christian based.  I am not saying that I am against them at all.  I just prefer to throw in a few female dieties to balance all the male hormones energy running around!  Why limit yourself to just one god when there are thousands to choose from.  Each god or goddess is endowed with aspects or qualities that you might want to invite into your daily life.  If you need a little compassion or you feel you need to start learning how to be compassionate… study and meditate with Kuan Yin. 

To learn more about a God/dess visit: www.godchecker.com

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