It is no light thing to listen to the dead, but it is surprisingly easy – in the right circumstances.
Some of the most powerful magic is the simplest, and the Dumb Supper has an elegant simplicity that underlies its immense capacity to help us through the veil between the worlds.
Dumb Supper is a ritual of Samhain, the time of the rapid dying of the light, when the veil between the worlds becomes tissue-thin.
The supper itself is of pork – sacred to Cerridwen, Goddess of the Underworld – and apples. Apples have ever been associated with Goddess.
In addition, you will need a bell of some kind. I favour Tibetan timsha, but any bell will work.
Prepare the pork as you please – though simple preparations will definitely help keep your mind on the task at hand, for you are cooking food that the dead will consume. Those who can eat no more.
The phrase ‘hungry ghosts’ is not just a metaphor, for in the afterworld, there is no sensation as we know it. No sight or sound or touch or smell or taste.
Once the pork is prepared, cast your circle as you would for your Samhain celebrations.
Then begin the ritual by sitting in the silence of your circle. Let the silence fill you and cradle you. Relax into the silence.
With the silence complete, ring the bell three times, slowly and deliberately. Let the reverberations of the bell completely fade before striking it again.
Each toll of the bell brings the dead closer. You’ll feel their presence drawing closer from the moment of the first ring.
As the final toll fades into complete silence, bring out the pork and apples.
Smell them. Take in their wonderful scent. Remember that you are smelling them as if for the first time. As if you have not smelled anything so wonderful in a very long time.
As you feel yourself nearly overwhelmed with desire for this meal, begin eating.
Eat in complete silence.
Linger on each bite. Enjoy the tender tart sweetness of the apple. Let the juices and fats of the pork course through your mouth. Savour the texture of the meat.
As you do, you will come to feel that you are not alone in these sensations. You have prepared the way for other souls – who can no longer feel – to come close enough to the veil to feel through you. You are the channel for these sensations.
As this occurs to you, other thoughts will occur, and these will not be wholly your own. You will reflect on the being of not-being, of what it means to no longer be. You will experience the delight of feeling, and gratitude toward the person who offered this delight.
The dead bring gifts. In silence you will hear them as they tell you of things the living can not know – but must.
If you are quiet you will hear the dead.
If you are wise, you will heed their words.
The meal finished, spend a moment enjoying the feeling of fullness. There is delight and gratitude in a sensation so simple, something too easily forgotten.
Silently thank the dead for their gifts.
Toll the bell once more to dismiss the dead. As the reverberation fades you will feel the veil between the worlds become a fact of existence.
Write down any lingering messages from the dead in a magical workbook, the better to preserve and savour those gifts of the dead.
The Dumb Supper is complete. Carry on within your ritual space.
You are free to speak again. But you may not want to.
My own recently departed make an appearance during my Dumb Supper. Whether that’s memory or eternity is not for me to know.