Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ghost Supper to be held on Wednesday Nov 18 2015

While many here in the Land of the Fresh Water Seas are celebrating the various kinds of ceremonies that honor the Beloved and Mighty Dead this season, the emphasis has been primarily placed on the observance of Samhain.  The writer will not be discussing the fact that the actual date of this holiday is not on October 31st, that is for another time.  However, what is going to be highlighted is that there are other Traditions that are happening that are unique to our climes.  In this case, the Ghost Supper that will be held on November 18, 2015 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, is what the readers of this column are encouraged to explore.

At the American Indian Health and Family Services Social Hall, the Systems of Care Grant will be hosting a 
traditional Ghost Supper to celebrate the time we’ve had with those we know and love that have walked on.  There will be an opening prayer followed by a teaching about Ghost Suppers by Frank Ettawageshik. There will also be song and drum with a sacred fire.  A main course will be provided and you can feel free to bring a sampling of your loved one’s favorite dish to pass if you like. 

 For those who are unfamiliar with this observance, it would be appropriate to do some research on what this is and why it is held.  In a nutshell, much like many societies' suppers which focus on the remembrance and communing of the discarnate among us, it is a supper attended by community members wherein they celebrate the lives of those who have passed through the Veil.

A Spirit Fire is prepared, therefore it is appropriate and honorable for women to wear skirts if they plan to attend.  This is in respect for the cultural practices of the People with which they are participating in this rite.  There will be a prayer at the opening. No other formal rites will be performed.

This event is open to all who should wish to attend.  Bob Davis, the System of Care Project Director, was very warm and welcoming when this writer spoke with him regarding who was allowed to come.  Questions regarding food and servings were patiently answered and assurance was given that no one would be turned away for lack of a food dish being brought.

This event, though a pot luck style, is not one where you are required to bring a massive dish to feed everyone.  In actuality, a dish of food that is enough for four or five to share would be fine.  Keep in mind that this food should be something that those spirits enjoyed in life.  If, as in this writer's case, your Dad enjoyed chocolate cake and coffee, it might be good to bring coffee or cake.  If your Aunt enjoyed smoked whiting, that would be nice as well.  Sue Franklin perhaps described the concept best, in HOUR Detroit's article by By Jeff Waraniak, when she said

 “We try to always bring a favorite food of a loved one that passed away,” Sue says. “lost my oldest son nine years ago, and every year I remember him with honor and respect and love, and to enjoy those memories of him, I’ll eat some of the foods that I knew were some of his favorites. It’s a way of holding a memory close to you.”SEMII’s fall feast features traditional foods made from local ingredients. There’s three sisters soup — a medley of corn, bean, and squash; stuffed pumpkin with wild rice, venison, cranberries, and vegetables; and staples like yams, turkey, and the crowd favorite, frybread. As part of the ghost supper tradition, other specialty foods are brought to the table."

But this is not about stuffing your face.  It is about mindful companionable gathering to with those who are here and those who have moved out of physical manifestation of existence.  An extremely helpful exposition in brief in reflection on this supper as to why a person would attend such a meal was given by Winnay Wemigwase, director of archives, records and cultural preservation for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

 “Each of those people that show up represents a spirit that came. And it’s a blessing the more that you have,” explains Wemigwase. “My family has always taught us that you try to go to as many suppers as you can, because it’s a way of showing respect to that family and of honoring them and their relatives.” (read more here)
 When attending, please remember that as guests, manners are extremely important.  Also, as a reminder, pointing with your hands can be seen as rude, so be mindful of this.  Again, if you are not sure of something, it is always good to ask.  The event is time fluid.  This means that if you just want to pass through for ten minutes, or three hours, one time, or after 6:00 p.m., it is not a problem or a breach of etiquette. 

American Indian Health and Family Services is located at 4880 Lawndale, Detroit, Mi. 48210. Parking is in the gated lot across the street.  For more information on this event, please contact Bob Davis at  313-846-6030.

Enjoy the cake recipe.


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