* Celebration of Samhain *
By Silver Ravenwolf
All information was taken from Llewellyn's Witches' Calendar
By key and cauldron,
I call out in the darkness
of the crossroads--
Hecate, hear my prayer;
Part thy veil that I might
learn the Mysteries.
Of all the Craft holidays, Samhain speaks to us of strong emotions--death, resurrection--of deep, cloaked energies and shining hope for the future. It is our New Year celebration; our will to face the specter of death without tremor; and our desire to know those things that others fear to see. This, our Samhain. One of the most inspiring rituals performed at Samhain rises from the enactment of the Silent Supper. Along with places set for human guests, the table also holds places for those who have passed beyond the veil. The chair at the head of the table, shrouded in black, signifies the place of deity.
- The Silent Supper should take place in sacred space.
- All plates, napkins, glasses, and the tablecloth should be black.
- No one may speak from the moment they enter the feast room. Each person participating should leave the room in silence after the ritual.
- The feast takes place in candlelight or lamplight.
- Each living guest should bring a written prayer on a 3 x 5-inch card or small piece of paper for their ancestors or loved ones.
- Each living guest should bring a divination tool of his or her choice.
Before the ritual begins, put a black votive candle on the plate at each empty place, and a white votive candle on the plate at the head of the table. Create sacred space by calling the quarters. You may also wish to cleanse the area with salt, holy water, incense, and a lighted candle. The head of the table represents Spirit. Place your hands on the shrouded chair and invite Spirit into the sacred space. Walk to each place set aside for your ancestors, touch the chair, and explain that this ritual will be done in their honor. The host or hostess of the feast sits in the chair opposite Spirit.
As each person enters the room they should touch the chair of Spirit, then walk to the ancestral places, putting their prayers under the plate. They may wish to stop and contemplate at a particular chair, say a prayer in their minds, or simply send loving energy.
After everyone has taken a place, all living guests should join hands and pray silently for the blessing of the meal and those present, both living and dead. Those at the table may wish to symbolically perform the Great Rite, and take communion before the feast. The host or hostess serves the empty plates, beginning at the head of the table first. Continue to serve the living guests in order of age, from the oldest to the youngest.Because verbal communication doesn't exist during the feast, the host or hostess carries the responsibility of the needs of the living. You may wish to arrange items normally passed throughout a meal (bread, butter, salt, pepper, condiments, etc.) at both ends of the table to lessen any difficulties experienced by the diners. During the meal, the host or hostess should quietly observe the others present to ascertain anything they might need, such as an extra napkin for a slight spill, or the refill of a drink. At the end of the feast, those at the table again join hands, asking for the blessings of Spirit on the living and the dead. On the lead from the host or hostess, the diners leave the feast area. They may wish to stop at the empty places, or place of Spirit before they leave.
After the diners leave the room, the host or hostess thanks Spirit and closes the quarters. The guests may now re-enter the room and help to clean up, perhaps sharing their impressions or any messages they may have received during the feast. After you've cleared the table, it's time to break out the divination tools. Guests can separate by pairs, or you can perform a group divination. Allow the candles to burn until the last guest has gone home, then snuff each candle. Dispose of the candle ends in a living body of water, or bury them off your property.
The Silent Supper creates a deeply moving ceremony, teaches group interaction without speech, and allows you to honor those who have passed from this realm to the next, as well as acknowledge that Spirit moves with us always, through birth and death.
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