Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Silent Supper by Áine P. Massie

Guest Post: The Silent Supper by Áine P. Massie

“Are you really cooking for the dead?” Nicholas asked, coming into the kitchen.

“Of course.  Declán and Geoff are working on the Jack-o’-Lanterns in the back yard for later.  I already have everything else,” Anya explained, again.  Nicholas could not seem to wrap his head around a vampire making a special meal for the dead.  It just didn’t seem to mesh with his view of death, vampires, and spirits.  The fact he was raised Anglican probably didn’t help his confusion.

Moving around the kitchen as if it was a natural place for her to be, Anya worked on her preparations.  

“Okay, I’ll bite,” Nicholas teased with a little snap of his teeth.  “What are you making?  Other than a mess with the potatoes.” 

“I’m making boxty with baked apples and nuts because Kayla and Declán asked me to.  I’m also making Barmbrack.  All traditional foods.  If you really want to be around and useful you could help me set the table and the ancestors’ altar up.”  She was smiling, happy with her preparations and work.

Once she tidied up a bit the two of them set out for the formal dining room.  Working in tandem made everything go faster and more smoothly.  

The tablecloth was black and white, half and half, which had knot-work in the opposite color down the centre making a single design.  Gesturing to the side Anya explained the setup for Nicholas’s sake.  “The settings alternate black with silver accenting then the next setting is white with gold.  The candles go in the centre.  They have already been dressed with oil and herbs so all you have to do it place them.  I’ll work on the other side as well as set up the altar.  

“The head of the table will be our ‘place of honour’ for the spirits so please be extra careful with it.  Also, the candle there – the black and white one with metallic trimming is set there.  I’ll check its placement, so don’t worry.”

Nicholas looked at her like she was slightly off but did as instructed, helping to set up her special ‘silent supper’ as she had explained it to him.  He watched her as he moved around the space, noting how easily and sure she was of her placements, intentions, and work.  

As she was setting up the altar Declán entered the room, sliding in behind her.  “Mmmm, it looks amazing in here.  See you even got Nic in on it,” he noted, a slight laugh in his voice.  He suddenly went still, staring at what she had just placed.  “Where did you get that?” he whispered.

“Mo ghrá, you mother sent it to me.  Kayla called and let her know what we were doing and shortly after this arrived.”  Sitting now in a place of honour on the altar was a small shadow box with two sets of wedding rings, wrapped in pairs with ribbons.  She knew they were the rings from his grandparents.  His mother had kept them like this after their passings.  She had sent them – to be returned promptly after – as representatives for their ancestors.  

“Never thought she’d part with those, even for a short time and especially not now,” he murmured, lightly tracing the edge of the ornate box.

“She said it was important for you to have these for your first supper away from home.  She was very helpful.  Now, go grab the small round table over there so I can set up the offerings to chose from that we will all, later, place on the altar.  You know how it’s done.”

Declán’s eyes shown awe as he moved around the area to set up the offerings stand next to the altar.  Just as he was finishing up Kayla came in, setting a single white rose on the altar.  “The flowers only just arrived, sorry.  Louie sent this in to add for you also Anya.  He said he didn’t know your family but that this should work for your honouring them.”  What she handed over surprised Anya and nearly brought her to tears.  It was a Celtic Tree of Life, ornately carved in exquisite detail.  Hanging on branches and roots were tiny ‘ornaments’ that held the names of those he did know the names of – like her lost husband, Braden – and symbols for those he didn’t – tiny markers for her mother and father.  It also bore the House symbol.  “We don’t have things to mark your family so he had this crafted for you.”

“I- He . . .” she choked, not seeming to be able to work out what to say.  As she reverently placed the carving the blood tears finally spilt over, silently streaking her luminous, pale skin.

As Anya set up the last of the ritual items she sent Declán to fetch everyone that was attending.  She would wait to cast circle and begin until everyone was at their places.  Once invoked, no one was to speak again until the dinner was over.

Placing the holy items at the four corners – spear, sword, cauldron and stone for the four great treasures of the gods – she waited, centring herself for the coming work.

Once the others were standing at their places she began.

Taking up her besom and sweeping from the circle all unwanted energy she spoke, nearly singing, “By the force of love.  I banish all ill and negativity.  Allowing only purity, love, and truth remain.

Beginning in the east, she walked the circle (outer most point) pointing the athame (ritual blade) at the ground and said, continuing in her near singing tone, “By light and sound.  Of deities and truths.  I call upon the essence that is the divine to witness this rite.”

She returned to the east, again walking the circle (first inner circle) sprinkling the circle area with the herb/water mix she made and blessed earlier.  “By love and giving.  Gentleness and strength.  I call the power of life, Goddess come.”

Finally, she walks the circle (second inner circle) one last time, waving the smoke of the incense to spread the smoke.  “By grace and power.  Of softness and might.  I call that which is the divine male.  Come great God.”

Pausing a moment she calls the quarters silently before turning to gesture everyone to sit.  Then with one last vocal flourish she begins the supper, “Welcome to this place of protection and growth; between the Realms and between all times.  So Mote It Be!”  She uses her voice to chime three times and the meal progresses in reverent silence.  Each participant listening within to discern any messages from the deceased, any prayers or messages, jotting them down on the paper provided. 

When all have eaten or drank their fill and the last fork has been put down, Anya again intones the ringing the bell with her voice, signaling the end of the silent portion of the meal.  

“Thank you for sharing a meal with us, your humble descendants.”

Each takes a moment to either aloud or silently within, say thank you and send their love to those that have passed before.  Before the ritual ends and the circle is broken, the prayers and messages to the deceased are burned in a small cauldron sitting on the altar.  

“Each who wishes to, please place your offerings on the altar of the ancestors before heading out to the revelry planned.  I will sit the tray out for the spirits once everyone has had their time.”                                                                                                                    

Thank you for joining us to take a peek within the House at this time of year.  Mistress Anya is yes, a vampire, but she was never taught to “be” a normal vampire.  She still holds to her human morals, mostly, and her faith.  I hope you enjoy the quick look with.

*Be sure to check out my interview with Aine P. Massie...HERE!

If you would like to check out a couple of yummy recipes from the Silent Supper...run on over to the House Millar Site!

Tour Recap

1 comment:

  1. If you would like to check out the recipes for Boxty and Brambrack please visit the House Millar site! Mistress Anya decided to share. :)



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