Random Ramblings

On honouring our dead. . .

One of the more interesting Pagan traditions I've stumbled across in my Halloween research is that of the Silent Supper. This is a special supper that is meant to honour our ancestors as well as loved ones who have recently passed on.

The Silent Supper is held on Samhain (Halloween), the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is thinnest. This is the night where the dead can hear us speak and perhaps speak back.

First you will need to set up an altar area, some place large enough to hold pictures, small candles, and any heirlooms that have special meaning for you or your guests. Each of your guest should bring a picture of a deceased loved one for the altar.

The table should be set with a black cloth and if possible set with black dishes, cutlery and napkins. Your best china and silver can be used if black is unavailable. There should be one place setting for each guest as well as one for each of the deceased being honoured.

Each guest should light a small candle on the altar, and candles should be the only source of light throughout the meal. You must make it clear to your guests that no one is to speak during the dinner, which makes it somewhat tricky to anticipate a guests needs.

The meal should consist of dishes with apples and late fall vegetables, the meat should be game if available. Traditionally the courses are served in reverse order - desert first, followed by the main course, then appetizers.

Once the meal is finished you may offer thanks, snuff out the candles and turn on the lights. Then it's customary for the guests to reminisce about their loved ones and any messages they may have received.

Of course in a true, Pagan tradition you would cleanse the room before dinner, invoking the power of the Goddess and thanking her when you're finished. But whether you're Pagan or not, I think this is a lovely Samhain tradition.

One of the traditional foods eaten during a Silent Supper is a soul cake. A soul cake is a small, round cake that is set out with a glass of wine on Halloween night and consumed by "soulers" who would go door to door collecting the cakes to eat on November 1st. Each cake consumed was said to release one soul from purgatory. This tradition is believed to be where the "treat" part of trick or treat originated.

Of course you know I had to look up recipes for these, and I found three different ones:

From: Recipe Wise
From: Food.com
From: Kitchen Window (This one also has a recipe for pumpkin juice)

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