Before you fear that you will not have enough space available at your table, a “Dumb Supper” is not what you may think it is. You don’t invite the people you think, or know, to be intellectually challenged over for dinner. No, you invite the dead.
“Dumb” in this instance merely means silent. This is a quiet, candlelit meal with a place set at the table for the spirits— the deceased (recent or older) you wish to remember.
“Why hold a Dumb Supper on Samhain? It’s traditionally known as the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its most fragile. It’s the night when we know for sure the dead will hear us speak, and maybe even speak back. It’s a time of death and resurrection, of new beginnings and fond farewells.” – Patti Wigington
There are different ways to do this, but I’m going to give a rundown of the basics. You can read at other places online to learn the proper instructions if you wish to follow them.
The head of the table should be reserved for the spirits, the guests of honor. No one certain persons has to be honored, you can honor as many as you wish. The only light should be candles. As soon as you enter the dining room, there should be no talking. When you enter, stop at the spirits’ chair to say a silent prayer. You can pray for the dead, or, if you’re not of the Wiccan religion or of the Pagan persuasion, you can say a prayer thankful for having known the deceased you are honoring, thankful for having had them in your life. I’m not Wiccan, but there are a lot of people I will happily thank God for them being a part of my life.
Before the meal begins, bless it, and no one should start eating until all, spirits’ plate included, have been served. According to articles I’ve read, notes are written (prior to the supper) and, after the meal, you go focus on the note, one diner at a time, at the spirits’ chair and then burn the note from the fire of the candles. After the notes, say a final prayer. I think can be optional. I think the after-dinner prayer would suffice for some of us. Say a last, silent good-bye to the spirits’ chair as you leave the dining room, and everyone remain silent until all have left the dining room.
I like the idea of reverence for our deceased loved ones. I don’t think it harms us to have a personal, physical act of remembrance for those we miss. I am thankful for having known so many people who have departed from this life. I am happy to show my thankfulness.