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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Dumb Supper

Also known as a Silent-Supper, a Dumb-Supper is a ritual that is performed by young, unmarried women in hopes of divining the identity of their future husbands, if one is to be had. Although the ritual is commonly performed in groups, individuals have been known to perform the dumb-supper alone as well. 

The ritual varies somewhat but most accounts follow one another closely.  Some customs say it is done on New Year’s Eve, others on Midsummer’s Eve, and still others say it should be done just before the stroke of midnight on Halloween. On thing that all sources can agree on, however, is that the supper consists of setting a table with knives, forks, plates, glasses etc … as one would normally do at mealtime. However, in this case the setting of the table should be done in complete silence and while moving about the room backwards and looking over one’s left shoulder. In some instances the participants are directed to reverse the usual placement of the dishes at the table; for example, placing the forks on the right and the spoons on the left.

In some cases, food is prepared while in other cases it is not. If food is prepared, it usually consists of a pawn of cornbread that each participant assists in baking. When the cornbread is done, each woman places a piece of the cornbread on her own plate as well as the plate next to hers. All the windows are opened and the lights are lowered or turned off completely. Each woman takes her place at the table just before midnight at which time the spirits of their future husband are said to enter the room and take a seat next to them. Legend has it that the women are supposed to recognize the men who appear next to them, but if no one take the seat next to them they will never marry and if a dark, unrecognizable figure appears next to her the girl will die within the year.

In other instances, a full three-course meal is prepared but served in reverse order, that is the dessert, main course, and then the soup or salad. The meal is consumed in complete silence and when it is done it is said that the women will see the features of their future husband in the plate.  Finally, a third account states that the women simply set the table as described above, however, in stead of taking the seats themselves each of them stands behind a chair and at the stroke of midnight the spirits of their future husband will come and take the seat before them.

Some folks believe that the phantom-husbands are visible to everyone in the room, while others think that the phantom is only visible to the woman who will be his bride. No matter which version of the dumb-supper you attempt, it is very important to observe the rule of silence for it is said that the slightest, most inaudible word will break the spell and ruin the entire ritual.

While today this ritual may seem something of a joke---how can a group of young women gathered together remain silent---it was once considered a very serious, solemn, and in some cases an Un-Christian practice. Most folks, however, both respected and feared the rites performed and should you take it upon yourself to prepare a Dumb-Supper for yourself, you should respect and fear the tradition too and with good reason!

Happy Hauntings

Carolina Dean

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mailbag Monday: Deciphering the Language of Signs

Dear Carolina Dean,

I have recently become very interested in Candle Magick and Candle burning for a purpose and I found your website to be extremely helpful! I have been doing burnings fairly frequently and have been taking notes on each one and I'm really interested to know the meaning of the different types of burns, behavior of the flame, candle, etc. I noticed that you have a section that explains many of these, but I'm sure there's always more info out there!
I obviously have a specific goal that I'm working towards, and it's important to me. What I'm wondering is do you or anyone you know offer a more hands on teaching of candle burning, or a more one-on-one reading of the flame/candle behavior? Going along with that also, can you recommend any more necessary reading on the subject? I would very much like to go about everything in the right way.


Dear Zuko,

Thank you for your question.  The information I shared on my site is a basic overview, however, experience has taught me that (as is the case with many forms of divination) such signs can and often are subjective. Take the tarot, for example, The Fool has a "traditional" meaning; but it can also have a personal meaning for each individual reader.

I'm sure that in your own research you have noticed some contradictions. For example, some folks say that if a glass vigil candle breaks it means that you have broken through an obstacle, others say that a more powerful force have destroyed your spell, etc....

Think of signs-from-candle-burning as another language that you are attempting to learn. I think that you are on the right track by taking careful notes (and possibly photos?) of your candle burnings in a notebook of journal. Leave room for future notes to indicate how the spell played out if any. Over time you will notice a pattern and learn to read the language of the signs.

Good Luck,

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hoodoo in Review: Anna Riva's Promotion Oil

Anna Riva is a name that is well known in the magical community as the author of a number of spell-books as well as the manufacturer of a line of spiritual products.  Folk either love her or hate her. However, few know the story behind her [in]famous brand.

Born Dorothy Spencer in 1923, Anna’s pen-name is derived from a combination of her mother’s and daughter’s first names. Spencer began writing as Anna Riva in the late 60’s and in the early 1970’s, her company International Imports began publishing a number of spell books such as Modern Witchcraft Spellbook (1973) and the Voodoo Handbook of Cult Secrets (1974) among other popular titles. Many of these spell-books recommended the use of spiritual oils that International Imports also manufactured---so the books were akin to advertisements for the oils.

In the late 1990’s Spencer retired amid rumors that she was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and sold her company to Indio Products who continued to publish her books and manufacture her oils, incenses, and powders. Spencer ultimately died in 2005.

Until recently, I never used any of Anna Riva products but I am told that before Indio Products took over Riva’s company the oils, powders, and incenses were high quality and in many cases contained actual essential oils and root matter. Afterward, however, the company switched over to using synthetic oils and perfumes in the Anna Riva Oils.

Many folks I talked to continue to use Anna Riva Oils out of brand loyalty, however they tell me that they often put a few drops of their own essential oils / root matter in their Anna Riva Oils and fervently pray over them. These folks seem to believe that they still get positive results out of their oils. Other folks I spoke with told me that they had long switch to using a different brand such as Lucky Mojo Products. Another complaint that Anna Riva Oils seem to suffer is that after a time the labels on the oils seem to slide off the bottles so many people cover the labels with clear tape or clear fingernail polish to keep this from happening.

I have collected about 20 Anna Riva brand oils in the past six months and today I want to share my experiences using the Anna Riva Promotion Oil.  According to the manufacturer, Promotion Oil is used to advance your career by applying yourself energetically to your job. Be prompt, neat, clean and enthusiastic. Apply oil to your wrists daily. 

As you can see from the photo above, the oil has a greenish hue and thus vibrates at the frequency of success and prosperity which are hallmarks of someone advancing in his or her career. The scent is somewhat strong as it emanates from the bottle and has a slightly astringent almost citrusy smell that I find not unpleasant. However, the scent isn't as overwhelming when used in moderation on candles, mojo bags, or anointed on oneself. 

I used Anna Riva's Promotion Oil when I had been having some trouble at work absorbing a lot of information in a short amount of time resulting in sloppy mistakes and agitated co-workers. I used the oil with a fixed-candle and also used it to anoint my Crown of Success Mojo Bag. I did not add any herbs or root matter to my Promotion Oil, but rather prayed over it sincerely before its use. In my experience with the oil, I saw a difference the very next day and things have continued to get better and better with each use! So, in this instance with this oil I am a believer and will continue to use Anna Riva Promotion Oil again as I continue to experiment with other Anna Riva Spiritual Oils. 

Carolina Dean 


Are you an author/publisher, tarot-reader, candle-worker, or spiritual practitioner and would like Carolina Dean to review your book, product or service? Contact me with your website, brief biography, and the type of product or service you would like me to review.