VIDEO: Let’s Have a Dumb Supper

dumb supper
Have you ever wanted to have a nice quiet meal with your ancestors? Keep reading and you’ll see a way to make that happen.
It’s Autumn. This is time to commune with our ancestors. And the amazing thing is so many cultures across the world felt the same way. This is following that Wheel of the Year, that Wheel of Life. The “Dumb Supper” is one of the ways that we do this.
A Dumb Supper is when we sit quietly and have a meal with our family and guests. We also set a place for the ancestors. We sit quietly and mindfully while listening for the ancestors. Maybe they will bring you messages or speak with you. It’s a way of inviting them in.
Different cultures do it differently. In Korea, it’s a little different. The plate is not in front of everyone. The ancestor setting is on the side, out of the way, but it’s the same concept. It’s similar to when we share a drink or that day’s meal by putting it on the altar during our daily ancestor reverence.
You can do this at any time, but it’s usually done on Ancestor Day (October 31- the celebration is always on the eve of the holy day) as this is when the veil between worlds is thinnest. It’s easier for the dead to communicate with us then.
Dumb Suppers are scheduled at any time of day, but it’s often done at midnight.
In some traditions, after the meal is concluded, the windows are left open so that any late (spirit) comers can partake of the feast.

Tips For a Successful Dumb Supper
  • It’s called a “Dumb Supper” because it’s silent. Consider young children and babies. Choose a time when the house will be most quiet.
  • Enter, eat, and exit in silence.
  • Be mindful and respectful.
  • If you are the hostess, anticipate any needs before the meal begins so that everything is easily available once the dinner starts.
  • You may wish to feed children earlier and not include them in the festivities.
  • Think about whether you wish to include meal preparation as part of the process.
  • Choose foods that are quiet to eat so that the silence isn’t disrupted.
  • Be sure to include foods that your ancestors liked or traditionally ate. This will make it a treat for them.
  • Use noise dampeners like cloth place mats and coasters.
  • You may wish to include a ritual before, after, or make the entire event a ritual.
  • If you set up an altar, you can set up pictures of the deceased on the altar.
  • The supper tends to be lengthy so you may not want to have foods that are best eaten while very hot or very cold.
  • Seasonal foods work really great for a Dumb Supper.
  • You can put the ancestors’ food on one plate or set it out in little containers buffet style. The latter option might be better if you have guests as their ancestors might prefer different food.
  • You can designate the ancestors’ chair by covering it in cloth so that everyone knows not to sit there. This goes at the head of the table, a place of honor.
  • If you like, you and your guests can write out their messages to the dead to bring to the dinner. Keep your notes private. The ancestors will still receive them.
  • You might choose to use tea lights to represent the dead. If so, you can burn your messages to the dead using the candle that represents the recipient of that message. Alternatively, you can use one candle to represent everyone.
If you have any other tips for doing a Dumb Supper, or just want to share how yours have gone, please leave a comment.

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