The Art of the Supernatural Tea Party

Since I sense that you’re dying to know, I’ll tell you how I came up with the Supernatural Tea Party. It all started when I was volunteering backstage at the Portland Christmas Revels in 2007, a show that was set in a haunted castle. My friend Don Stewart Burns (actor and magician) was playing one of the leads, and one evening during the intermission (the house was already open, so we had to be quiet) I found Don talking with one of the teen boys in the cast, telling this lad about a prophetic dream he’d had years before. I love these kinds of conversations and so joined them and shared a couple of personal experiences of my own. 

Don and Julie, Halloween 2009

Don has always seemed to me to be misplaced in the twenty-first century — I feel like he’s actually from the nineteenth century, perhaps because my sister met him when he played the lead in a play she’d written about Lewis Carroll. For this Revels show, Don’s character was dressed in period tweeds and I think it was a combination of these things (a castle of ghosts, period costumes, the fact that the two were speaking of paranormal things in whispers) that put me in mind of the popularity of seances a hundred ago. I thought, I should have a tea party especially for talking about supernatural topics — people love chatting about those kinds of things. 

Susan and Jessie with Earl Gray

Well, it took me ten months, but on Halloween 2008 I established my now monthly practice of hosting Supernatural Tea Parties. For the first, since it was Halloween, we chose Ghosts and Hauntings as the theme. I invited friends that I thought would enjoy such things, in addition to Don: Julie Stroyzk (a storyteller and SCA member  I’d met through Revels and Renaissance Faires), Goody Cable (owner of the Sylvia Beach Hotel where every room is decorated for a different author and Rimsky-Korsakoffeehouse – she’s also gathering a story from every country on earth), my sister Cynthia (playwright C. S. Whitcomb and screenwriting teacher), Pamela Smith Hill (YA author of The Last Grail Keeper), and Susan Fletcher (YA author of The Dragon’s Milk Chronicles.) Sometimes we have a special guest like my niece Molly, our friend Jessie, or Goody’s childhood pal, author Ben Hoff of The Tao of Pooh

For every tea I decorate the living room with theme-worthy décor and we use my good china. (Why waste the fancy stuff by leaving it in the closet?) There are certain staples I (almost) always serve, like fresh scones, Devon cream, Earl Gray tea, and curried egg sandwiches, but we always seem to have at least one food that we’ve never included before. 

Goody and Cyn attack a cupcake

After we eat and share stories (feeling free to go off topic whenever we wish, of course) Don provides some theme-related excerpts from movies or documentaries – clips of possible ghosts, UFOs, signs of fairy folk, and so on. Extremely fun, this is! 

So here is a recap of our first year or so of STPs (Supernatural Tea Parties): STP #1 = Ghosts and Hauntings, in addition to our traditional foods we served cucumber sandwiches and chocolates, we started with personal experiences involving spirits, moved to secondhand tales, then went on to just stories


STP #2 = Fairies , Julie brought tiny fairy cakes, Susan brought tulips, I told my peculiar dream of the drifting continents that brought on the division between fairyfolk and humanfolk. 


STP #3 = Mysteries of the Mind, sardine sandwiches and macadamia nut cookies, we touched on Déjà vu, premonitions, and mind-reading.   


SPT#4 = Past Lives, chicken salad sandwiches, Kristi Burke (owner of Opal Creek Press) came and brought See’s candy, I told the tale of the childhood games I’ve known since I was two yet that no one seems to have ever taught me. 


SPT #5 = Cryptids (undiscovered creatures), tuna with apple and maple bacon sandwiches and berries, Susan talked about dragons and their eggs. 


STP #6 = Earth Mysteries, pastries and tarts, we shared stories of crops circles, vortexes, ley lines, and chalk horses. 


STP #7 = Paranormal Potpourri (bring your own question or story) ham sandwiches and fresh peach slices, we discussed everything from the Etruscans to Men in Black. Goody talked about how some experiences or bits of knowledge seem to be hard to remember for a reason, as in they are built that way. Curiouser and curiouser! 


STP #8 = UFOS, actress Peggy Walton Walker visited, we had strawberries and cake, and we were surprised how many of us had had personal experiences with possible UFOs. 


STP #9 = Halloween again so we revisited Ghosts and Hauntings, and ate graveyard cupcakes as well as home-made gingerbread from Don. 


STP #10 = Artifacts, Cyn made chocolate covered pecan squares, we talked of the Holy Grail, the bones of saints, and signs of ancient civilizations. 


STP #11 = Mediumship & Channeling, Monte Cristo sandwiches and almond cookies with glazed pear, Pam brought toffee, we talked of séances and writers channeling their novels. Fascinating, as always. 


Hmmm, what should we talk about next month? Mythic Places? Healers? Time Travel? And what shall we eat?! 

Don, me, Julie


2 Responses to “The Art of the Supernatural Tea Party”

  1. kewpie83 Says:

    Wow. Seems like a fun thing to do! Healers sounds like a fun discussion and you could even bring in someone who cleanses aura’s (very neat thing, imo). it’s nice that you found people who believe in the paranormal. None of my friends are believers (not that that stops me from talking about things of paranormal nature).

    Anyway, can’t wait to read your next title! Thanks for sharing about your tea party!

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