01-22-13 Wiccan Wedding: Handfastings

What are handfastings? For those of you who did not catch the pagan origins behind the phrase “tying the knot,” the term “handfasting” comes from the tradition of two people pledging themselves to one another (oftentimes for a year and a day) and sealing that pledge by binding their hands together with cord and knotting it. Today handfastings vary immensely in their forms. Some are legal marriages

, and some are private promises. Some choose to continue the traditional year-and-a-day time frame, others for as long as love will last; some for life, and others for all lifetimes to come. Variations aside, the goal of these rituals is the same: to make vows of devotion witnessed by family, friends, and the divine.

 

 

 

 

First, as a time of new beginnings, weddings should ideally take place some time between twelve hours after the new Moon and when the moon the moon is full. Before the new Moon is twelve hours old it is still considered dark, which is not an advantageous phase for weddings. Second, try not to marry while the Moon is void-of-course (which happens before a sun enters a new sign, and can last anywher

e from two minutes to two hours), as things undertaken during that time do not turn out as intended. The third big thing to consider is whether Mercury or Venus may be retrograde during your chosen time. Both of these will cause problems. Mercury retrograde is well known for making plans, communications, and things break down. Venus retrograde could point to the holding back or misdirection of love and good things between the couple. For simple moon phase information, check out Llewellyn’s Wicca Almanac (the current edition of which also has a great article for those newlyweds living with non-pagans)

 

 

 

 

Some people renew the vow every year. Other couples simply part and go separate ways in life. Still others have a ritual to mark the ending of the Handfasting commitment. It has also become popular to follow a Handfasting a year and a day later with a legal wedding.

 

 

 

Each Wiccan and Pagan path has different decrees concerning the color, length, type and of number of cords used to handfast the couple. One custom may have the couple facing each other, binding both pairs of hands of the bride and groom. Another custom is to have only the right hands, and another one of each right and left. There are many variations of the handfasting rite. It all depends on the b

ride, groom, and the High Priest/ess whom they chose to preside over their wedding ceremony.

The handfasting ritual is a beautiful, magickal rite of passage. Many non-Pagan and non-Wiccan couples are adopting this old custom, much like when couples borrow from other traditions to craft their own ceremony to match their distinctive personalities.

 

 

 

 

General Handfasting Cake Recipe (decorate however you would like)

Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey
5 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater
pinch of basil
6 fresh rose geranium leaves
Procedure:

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Add the honey and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour and blend thoroughly with a large wooden spoon after each addition. Stir in the lemon rind, lemon juice, rose water and a pinch of basil-the herb of love. Line the bottom of a greased nine-by-five-by-three-inch loaf pan with the rose gera-nium leaves and then pour in the batter Bake the cake in a preheated 350 degree oven for one hour and fifteen minutes. Remove from oven when dont- and let stand on a rack for twenty minutes before unmolding. Spread icing or sprinkle sugar on top of the Handfasting Cake just before serving.

 

 

 

 

Altar supplies:

2 white candles
2 white cords
a censer of incense and incense appropiate for the occasion

a dish of salt or soil
a brass altar bell
a wand
a chalice of water
a cup of rose oil for anointing
a quartz
a broom
the wedding rings

 

 

Wiccan Wedding Traditions

Wiccan wedding ceremonies are quite different from your traditional white wedding. While a bride might wear a white dress, it is highly unlikely that you will see one of the more modern silk, or satin ones that are bead encrusted for example. Instead you will be more likely to see a medieval, or gothic designed gown at a Wiccan wedding ceremony. Also, the chances of the groom in a tuxedo are just as unlikely.

Many Wiccan weddings include the ancient Celtic practice of handfasting which was actually legal in Scotland until 1939. This is where the couple’s hands are tied together signifying their union. Sometimes the couple have small cuts made in their wrists so their blood can mingle and as such personify the strength of their bond. With AIDS and other blood borne diseases though, this is probably not a safe practice any longer unless you are absolutely sure your partner is disease free.

Another wedding tradition that is quite ancient and that is employed by some Wiccans in their weddings is “jumping the broom.” Jumping the broom or besom as they are sometimes called appears to have originated in Wales where a couple would place a birch broom aslant in the open doorway of a house with the top of the handle on the doorpost, and the head on the doorstep. Then first the groom would jump over it, and then the bride. Incidentally for it to be a “real” marriage they had to do this in front of witnesses, and they couldn’t knock over or touch the broom in any way or the marriage was not considered to be real one.

 

 

 

 

 

Celtic Wedding Vow by Morgan Llywelyn

You cannon possess me for I belong to myself
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give
You cannon command me, for I am a free person
But I shall serve you in those ways you require
and the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.

I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night
and the eyes into which I smile in the morning
I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup
I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care
I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine
I shall not slander you, nor you me
I shall honor you above all others, and when we quarrel we shall do so in private
and tell no strangers our grievances.

This is my wedding vow to you.
This is the marriage of equals.

Pagan Wedding Vows

I, (grooms full name), in the name of the spirit of God that   resides within us all, by the life that courses within my blood and the love that resides within my heart, take thee (bride’s full name) to my hand, my heart, and my spirit, to be my chosen one. To desire thee and be desired by thee, to possess thee, and be possessed by thee, without sin or shame, for naught can exist in the purity of my love for thee. I promise to love thee wholly and completely without restraint, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in poverty, in life and beyond, where we shall meet, remember, and love again. I shall not seek to change thee in any way. I shall respect thee, thy beliefs, thy people, and thy ways as I respect myself.

(to Bride)
I (bride’s full name), in the name of the spirit of God that resides within us all, by the life that courses within my blood, and the love that resides within my heart, take thee, (Groom’s full name) to my hand, my heart, and my spirit to be my chosen one. To desire and be desired by thee, to possess thee, and be possessed by thee, without sin or shame, for naught can exist in the purity of my love for thee. I promise to love thee wholly and completely without restraint, in sickness and in health, in plenty and in poverty, in life and beyond, where we shall meet, remember, and love again. I shall not seek to change thee in any way. I shall respect thee, thy beliefs, thy people, and thy ways as I respect myself.

Handfasting Ceremony

Do you, < >, take < > to be your wife,
To be her constant friend,
her partner in life, and her true love?
To love her without reservation,
honor and respect her,
protect her from harm,
comfort her in times of distress,
and to grow with her in mind and spirit?

Do you, < >, take > >to be your husband,
To be his constant friend,
his partner in life, and his true love?
To love him without reservation,
honor and respect him,
protect him from harm,
comfort him in times of distress,
and to grow with him in mind and spirit?

Handfasting Ceremony – Blessing

In times past it was believed that the human soul shared characteristics with all things divine. It is this belief which assigned virtues to the cardinal directions; East, South, West and North. It is in this tradition that a blessing is offered in support of this ceremony.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East.
Communication of the heart, mind, and body
Fresh beginnings with the rising of each Sun.
The knowledge of the growth found in the sharing of silences.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South.
Warmth of hearth and home
The heat of the heart’s passion
The light created by both to illuminate the darkest of times.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West.
The deep commitments of the lake The swift excitement of the river
The refreshing cleansing of the rain
The all encompassing passion of the sea.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North
Firm foundation on which to build
Fertility of the fields to enrich your lives
A stable home to which you may always return.

Each of these blessings emphasizes those things which will help you build a happy and successful union.
Yet they are only tools.
Tools which you must use together in order to create what you seek in this union.

Handfasting Verse

Now you are bound one to the other
With a tie not easy to break.
Take the time of binding
Before the final vows are made
To learn what you need to know –
To grow in wisdom and love.
That your marriage will be strong
That your love will last
In this life and beyond.

The Giving of Rings Verse

I take you my heart
At the rising of the moon
And the setting of the stars.
To love and to honour
Through all that may come.
Through all our lives together
In all our lives,
May we be reborn
That we may meet and know
And love again,
And remember

Scottish Wedding Traditions

Family Tartan
Every Scottish clan, or Celtic clan, has their own family tartan. Traditionally the groom pins a “plaid” or sash of his family tartan on his bride after the exchange of rings. This symbolizes the bride joining her husbands clan.

Broom
At the end of the ceremony, a broom is placed in the path of the couple’s exit. They have to get over it somehow. They can walk over it. He may carry her over it, or jump over it together It is up to them. This symbolizes the daily details of marriage like who is going to sweep the floors, etc.

Dirk
Dagger, provided by the piper, used by the bride to cut the cake. The bride’s hand is guided by the groom.

Heather
Traditional flower used in bridal bouquet as a lucky omen. It can also be dried and kept as a keepsake over the years.

Sixpence
Traditionally the bride wears an old British sixpence or penny in her shoe for good luck.

Some other symbolic traditions include:
–the husband gives the wife wheat to provide for our home
–the wife gives the husband some woven cloth to provide for our home
–the husband gives a dagger for the defense of our home
–the wife gives a Bible for the spiritual defense of our home

 

 

 

 

 

Celtic, Wiccan & Pagan Wedding Ceremonies

Ceremonies are special occasions and most are regarded as sacred to those who believe in them. Those who share in a Celtic, Wiccan or Pagan belief, acknowledge and generally pay respect to the beauty of life and powers – the forces or elements of nature. Celtic, Wiccan and Pagan Ceremonies are steeped in tradition – ancient tradition and ritual, dating back thousands of years.

The Celtic people roamed Europe and the British Isles, taking their traditions and rituals with them and teaching others in their paths as they travelled. They were strong, and loyal and brave, and indeed a very romantic people who had a very deep sense of passion and magic.

They prized liberty above security, but loyalty and beauty above all. The beauty of man, a landscape, or a fine object – and they celebrated in a myriad of ways.

As in most cultures and traditions, they believe a wedding is not just an agreement between two people but is effective on three planes:

  • The individual
  • The social
  • The spiritual
  • What are the Four Elements?

Celtic, Wiccan and Pagan Ceremonies of Marriage encompass the love and respect of nature – the four elements which includes Mother Earth who brings all things good.

These ceremonies pay respect to these individual elements and each element represents North, South, East or West.

NORTH: Fire

SOUTH: Air

EAST: Water

WEST: Earth

Symbols are used during the ceremony to represent the elements – for example a red candle is used to represent Fire, and incense or a fan represents the Air and your favourite piece of crystal or rock represents Earth.

What are some of the traditions performed in these ceremonies?

Family and friends stand in a circle around the bride and groom who kneel before an altar upon which the four elements are placed.

The bride wears a crown of flowers and the groom, ivy. The bride carries a bouquet of herbs to ward off evil spirits together with flowers which are a symbol of love. The wedding celebrant will bless the circle and invoke the Spirits or Goddesses.

Often the ritual of ‘Hand Fasting’ is performed, whereby the Bride and Groom’s hands are bound by a natural woven thread, fibre or cloth, and just before the ‘Giving of Rings’ the binding is slipped off with the knot still intact, signifying the fact they will always be ‘bound together in marriage’.

Many couples who have a civil ceremony today, just incorporate Hand Fasting into their ceremony without any of the other traditions.

Here is a Hand Fasting verse:

Now you are bound one to the other
With a tie not easy to break.
Take the time of binding
Before the final vows are made
To learn what you need to know –
To grow in wisdom and love.
That your marriage will be strong
That your love will last
In this life and beyond.

Dionysus is usually thought of as the god of wine, but he is also the god of faithful marriage. The bride and groom may partake of water, wine, milk and/or mead from a breakable shared goblet which is called ‘The Invocation’ and often the bride will raise her hands in the manner of the ‘Cup and Dagger’.

A friend will also sweep away bad luck and impurities with a straw broom which later in the ceremony, the bride and groom jump over.

There are also some beautiful spiritual verses read during these ceremonies, here’s one of them which is usually said during ‘The Giving of Rings’:

I take you my heart
At the rising of the moon
And the setting of the stars.
To love and to honour
Through all that may come.
Through all our lives together
In all our lives,
May we be reborn
That we may meet and know
And love again,
And remember

Can any of these traditions be used in a civil ceremony?

Yes, any or all these ancient traditions and beliefs can be incorporated into your marriage ceremony if your wedding celebrant agrees but it must be remembered, that all legal marriage ceremonies MUST include the Civil Marriage Act and a legal marriage can only be performed by an authorise Civil Marriage Celebrant.

Family and friends are always welcome to take part in a ceremony but an authorised wedding celebrant must be in attendance and take an active role in the wedding ceremony and be there to sign the legal paperwork on the day.

How can we find out more?

There are some excellent reference books so check out good book stores and New Age shops. Three very informative books to buy are:

The Celts by Aedeen Cremin

Rites Of Passage by Pauline Campanelli

The Pagan Family by Ceisiwr Serith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Themis Renewal of Vows and HandFasting Renewal

We are gathered here today to share a moment between Micheal and Kathleen, as they renew their pledge to each other

Ancient philosophers once believed that the soul is a substance.  It is matter that can neither be held, nor seen, but exists in all dimensions.  What is the purpose of the soul? How do we touch it? How does it grow?  Does it guide us? Is it separate from our conscious lives? What happens when two souls become intertwined?

Every soul has its mate. A soul is bliss, a soul is energy, and when two souls are meant to be together, that is love.

Love is a short, simple, word that is both overused and underused.  It means different things to different people.  As a soul is to an individual, Love is to a couple.  It is the intangible thing that ties two people together.  It exists beyond the walls we put up in our daily lives, and consequently, it allows us to accept each others faults, expose our vulnerabilities freely, commit to one another, and support each other.  It is only natural that we want to grow old with the one we love and the one that loves us, because it is with this person that we are whole, honest, and selfless.

Reading:

 I Will Be Here

If in the morning when you wake

If the sun does not appear I will be here

If in the dark we lose sight of love

Hold my hand and have no fear I will be here.

I will be here

When you feel like being quiet

When you need to speak your mind I will listen

Through the winning, losing, and trying we’ll be together

And I will be here

Renewal Vows

This Oath or pledge continues today, tomorrow and forevermore:

When you are sad, I will dry your tears.
When you are scared, I will comfort your fears.
When you are worried, I will give you hope.
When you are confused, I will help you cope.
And when you are lost, and can’t see the light,
I will be your beacon, shining ever so bright.
This is my oath; I pledge to the end.
Why you may ask? Because you are my lover and friend.

What has this year meant to me, because to the depths of me, I have loved one person, with all of my heart, my mind, my body and my soul.

I have a forever friend who I have trusted with the intimacies of me, who has not held them against me, who loves me when I am unlikeable, who sees the small child in me, and looks for the divine potential of me.

I have someone to cuddle in the warmth of the night with someone who is thankful, with someone I feel blessed to hold and be with.


HandFasting Renewal

As you hold your hands together we place each of these coloured cords around them each has a meaning for you which builds on your first year of many years as partners in love and life.

RED

The first cord signifies: passion, strength, fertility, courage, vigor, lust, danger,

ORANGE

The second cord signifies: encouragement, attraction, plenty, kindness.

YELLOW

The third cord signifies: attraction, charm, harmony, knowledge, learning, jealousy, joy

GREEN

The fourth cord signifies: finances, fertility, luck, prosperity, beauty, health, plant kingdom herbal healing,

BLUE

The fifth cord signifies: tranquility, wisdom understanding, patience, truth, honor, loyalty, peace,

VIOLET/PURPLE

The sixth cord signifies: power, sentimentality,  sadness, high ideals, spiritual protection and healing,

BLACK

The seventh cord signifies strength, empowerment, vision, success, pure love, banishing evil or negativity.

GRAY

The eighth cord signifies: balance, neutrality,  and return to the universe

PINK

The ninth cord signifies: unity, romance, happiness, healing, emotional love friendship, spiritual healing, banishing hatred

BROWN

The tenth cord signifies: The earth, trees, concentration, telepathy, healing, skills, talent, nurturing, home & hearth, pets, and animals,

SILVER

The eleventh cord signifies: purity, the moon, treasure, values, female energy, unconscious mind, creativity, inspiration, vision.

GOLD

The twelfth cord signifies: the sun, male energy, financial wisdom, attracting happiness, activity, intelligence, unity, longevity, strength.

 

The final or thirteenth cord which is white, covers all previous cords and it signifies: purity, consecration, meditation, exorcism, the full moon, healing, peace, spiritual strength, truth, serenity and devotion. may be substituted for any other color

The Reading:

Love is a friendship that has caught fire.
It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving.
It is loyalty through good and bad.
It settles for less than perfection, and makes allowances for human weakness.
Love is content with the present.
It hopes for the future and it doesn’t brood over the past.
It’s the day-in and day-out chronicle of irritations, problems, compromises, small disappointments, big victories, and working toward common goals.

If you have love in your life,
it can make up for a great many things you lack.
If you don’t have it, no matter what else there is,
it is not enough, so search for it, ask your soul for it, and share it!

The Declaration of Marriage
We have heard your promise to share your lives in marriage; we recognize and respect the covenant of marriage you have made here, before each one of us as witnesses. Therefore, in the honesty and sincerity of what you have said and done, and with the authority given me by the Province of Ontario, it is my honour and a delight to now pronounce you husband and wife.

You may seal your vows with a Kiss

Signing of the Renewal document

 

Introduction of the Wiccan Couple:

It is my pleasure to introduce Micheal and Kathleen, on this the first day of January 2010 their first anniversary renewal of vows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What happens at an Earth-Centered Spirituality and Wiccan handfasting? 

 

Most couples design a unique ritual which fits their needs. Some of the following components may be present, in any order that the couple feels comfortable with.  Some of the statements and the ritual of casting and banishing the circle would be modified to match the specific tradition that the couple follows:

  • The date may be chosen to be near a full moon.
  • The ceremony is often held outdoors;  a backup location is selected in the case of rain.
  • A circle is formed. Candles will mark the four cardinal directions. An altar is located near the center of the circle. Wildflowers may be spread inside the circle. The bridal couple stands to the east of the circle. Friends and family are gathered around the circle.
  • The officiant rings a bell three times to indicate the start of the ritual and to clearly delineate divisions of sacred and mundane within the handfasting ceremony.
  • The couple approaches the circle from the east — the direction of sunrise; this symbolizes growth in their relationship.
  • The officiant explains to the guests the significance of the ritual to be performed.
  • The circle is then cast. An honoring statement will be recited at each of the four directions.
  • The couple each declares their intent to join with the other. 
  • They exchange rings and vows.
  • The officiant invites them to drink from the same cup. Each drinks separately. This symbolizes the need for a balance between apartness and togetherness in their future life together.
  • The couple will face each other, joining both their hands in such a fashion that their arms and bodies form a figure 8 when viewed from above. The double circle is both the mathematical infinity symbol and an ancient religious symbol for union.
  • A cord,  ribbon, or strip of cloth is used to “bind” the couple’s hands. If this is just to be a handfasting for a year and a day it may be loosely tied; this symbolizes that the handfasting is a commitment, but one that is not an onerous one. One year and a day after being handfasted, the couple may return to the officiant and repeat their vows with the cord or cloth tightly knotted to make it legal. This symbolizes the intent to have a permanent relationship. This ritual is the source of the expression “to tie the knot.”
  • The couple each say chosen words to the other, expressing their love and their hopes for their future together.  The bonds are removed.
  • The officiant then pronounces the couple according to how they wish to be announced (Mr and Mrs John Doe, John and Mary Doe etc) .
  • The handfasted couple join hands and jump over a broomstick. This symbolizes the effort required to make a committed relationship work.
  • The Circle is now closed.
  • The officiant states the the handfasting is concluded: “The circle is open but unbroken. May the peace of the Old Ones go in our hearts. Blessed be.”
  • The bell is rung three times. The married couple then go clockwise around the circle, greeting friends and family.
  • The officiant, married couple, and witnesses sign the marriage documents.

 

 

 

 

 

Where ever you choose to hold your own Wiccan ceremony, in a place which is special to you, you can create your own sacred circle by sweeping before sprinkling salt water around the circle. After we had done this for our wedding we then set the boundary of the circle with petals which were sprinkled by my flower maidens, but you can use rocks or a rope for this if you prefer.

Within the sacred circle it is usual to have an alter where you can place any tools which will be used in the ceremony. We had an embroidered cloth which has particular meaning for us personally laid on the table. You may like to follow a similar idea, or use a black cloth which is said to possess the full spectrum of divine light due to black being absorbent. We also had chalice of mead and a wooden plate with bread pieces on it which were to be part of the ceremony on our table and some salt water for the celebrant to bless us with.

You may choose to have crystals, sacred stones and incense on your alter table, or candles placed toward the south to represent the God and Goddess overseeing your ceremony.

The time of year that you get married may be very significant for your ceremony. We were married at Beltain, April the thirtieth until the first of May, and the celebrations took place from sunset until sunrise. We jumped the broomstick or ‘Besom’ as part of our ceremony. Jumping the broomstick may represent fertility, or your passing over into your new lives together as man and wife.

Many Wiccans also get married on the summer solstice which takes place on the twenty second of June. This time of the Wiccan wheel of the year is associated with magical times, fairies and of the sacred fire. Others may marry on Lamas, July the thirty first until August the first, which is also known as Lughnasadh or the festival of Ops, the Goddess of fertility.

Your chosen Wiccan celebrant will understand the traditional Wiccan ceremonies associated with marriage and can explain to you about Hand-fastening, where a ribbon is used during the ceremony to symbolically and physically bind the bride and groom to one another.

During our wedding we chose to also add some readings that were personal to us and to incorporate our guests into certain parts of the ceremony, particularly when recognizing the elements of earth, fire, air and water and the directions of north, south east and west. By discussing this with your Celebrant you can formulate your own plans that are relevant to your wishes.

There is so much more to planning a wedding than can possibly go into one small article, but here are a few tips which may help you which I learn during my own Wiccan wedding planning.

DRESS

When it come to clothing for yourself and your guests you may find that traditional, non Wiccan styles take away, rather than add to the atmosphere which you wish to create. To produce a more earthy, natural atmosphere consider dressing in a Pagan/Wiccan style which can be described best to any non-Wiccan guests as being similar to a medieval style.

DECORATIONS/FOOD

A Wiccan wedding thrives on seasonal decorations including local flowers, foliage and handmade goods and produce. Cider, Mead, cheeses, local meats and vegetables can provide a feast which respects the seasons and area where you have your wedding.

Many Wiccans nowadays hold particular ethical beliefs with regards to the welfare of animals used for food and from where their food is sourced. If you feel this way then you can use organic foods where possible, if your budget allows.

Finally, just with all weddings, remember to relax and to take a deep breath and remember whats its all really about. Your day should represent your feelings and emotions, which are positive ones!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding Ceremonies – Pagan Ceremony

How to Decorate for a Pagan Ceremony
Feel free to go overboard with the flowers and other symbols of fertility such as conch shells, brightly coloured eggs, God and Goddess figurines, pine cones and so forth. You can decorate with many candles and may choose to create a circle of candles and crystals around the area you will be consecrating.

You will also probably want to set up an altar. How you set up your altar will be a personal choice, but we’ve included some ideas below for you:

  • East-Glass candleholder with a white candle to represent Air.
  • South-Brass candleholder with red candle to represent Fire.
  • West-Bowl of seashells in brine to represent Water.
  • North-Bowl of stones (amethyst, turquoise, lapis) to represent Earth.
  • Wine glass or goblet
  • Athame or ritual knife
  • Cauldron
  • Broom
  • Incense burner and incense
  • Bell
  • Pentacle
  • Staff
  • Sword
  • Wand
  • Bowl of salt or earth
  • Feathers
  • Rose quartz

If you choose to have items to represent the 4 elements, they are usually placed at their corresponding direction:

Fire South Athame, Red Candle
Water West Chalice of water, Sea shells
Earth North Pentacle, Bowl of Stones, Salt or Earth
Air East Incense, Wand, Feathers

Overall, the items you choose to have on your altar are up to you. Next, the altar should be dedicated to the Goddess and the God.

Example Dedication Ritual
Ground yourself and imagine the power of the earth entering your body through your feet. Invoke the directions by lighting the candles and inviting the Spirits of the East/Air to witness the dedication; then the South/Fire, the Spirits of the West/Water, and the Spirits of the North/Earth.

Invite the Goddess and the God to witness the dedication. Light the incense so you may use its smoke as the consecration/purification medium. Pass each tool over the smoke, then over the flame of each of the candles, in the order in which you lit them.

Next, verbally dedicate the altar and all the tools to the Goddess and the God, pledging to never use the altar or any of the tools to bring harm to another or to produce negativity in any way.

End by extinguishing the candles in the reverse order that you lit them, thanking the Goddess and the God and each of the Spirits for attending, then ground yourself again, imagining the energy flowing harmlessly back into the earth.

A Note on Altars
An altar does not have to be a table or other man-made item, nor does it have to be indoors. In fact, given that Paganism is a Nature-oriented religion, the best place for ritual is outside in the woods or some other natural environment. You could use a large rock, a tree stump, or a mound of earth as an altar.

When creating an altar and during the consecration of it, always do what feels right at the time. You will worship your deities in your own way, and in fact setting up an altar may or may not be important to you at all. If it is important, do it your own way, so it’ll be an extension of you, rather than some cold meaningless table.

One thing to consider when setting up an altar, is the direction it faces. It is traditional to have your altar facing North, but if that is just not possible then you may need to place it elsewhere. Once your altar is in place, remember that it is a sacred place and should be treated with respect. Whether or not you let other people touch the items is up to you, but some people feel that sharing tools will bring negative or unknown energy to them.

Where to Stand
Before your guests arrive, your celebrant should be in place at the center of the circle at the altar. Have the bride and groom facing one another in the front of the celebrant. Attendants may stand to either side of the bride and groom.

Casting a Purification Circle
This is written for the Celebrant to purify the circle, although it is fine if the bride and groom wish to perform this ritual themselves.

Once your guests have arrived in the circle, the celebrant stands before your altar. She lights the altar candles and circles the area in an anti-clockwise direction, lighting each quarter candle.

She picks up the broom and sweeps the circle as you walk inside it in an anti clockwise direction. She repeats as she sweeps:

Sweep, sweep, sweep this place
By Power of Air, I cleanse this space.

While doing this she feels the element of Air moving within the circle. She then returns to the altar and picks up the red candle. She walks around the inside of the circle anti clockwise while saying:

Light, light, I light this place
By Power of Fire, I cleanse this space.

She concentrates on the Fire energy flowing around the circle. Then she returns to the altar and picks up the chalice of water. As she walks in an anti clockwise direction inside the circle, she sprinkles the water with her fingers and says:

Liquid, liquid, I wash this space
By Powers of Water, I cleanse this space.

She feels the element of Water flowing around the circle, and returns to the altar to pick up the bowl of earth. Walking in an anti clockwise direction around the circle, she sprinkles the earth and says:

Dirt, dirt, as I walk this place
Powers of Earth, cleanse this space.

She feels the element of earth bring her gift to the circle, returns the bowl to the altar and moves to the centre of the circle. In the Goddess position, she says:

Spirit, spirit, fill this space
Powers of the Divine, consecrate this space!

She feels the power if the Goddess and God enter her and the sacred space. When the energy begins to dissipate, she turns back to the altar. Laying her hands upon the altar, she says:

This altar is dedicated to the Lord and Lady of light. May it serve us well.

The Ceremony Itself
Now the circle and altar are ready for the Wedding Ceremony.

Celebrant:

Blessings and merry meet. We are here today to join (bride) and (groom) together, they have asked you here to share in their joy, and to declare their love for one another before you as a community.

Celebrant To the Bride:

What is your desire?

Bride:

To be made one with (groom)

Celebrant To Groom:

What is your desire?

Groom:

To be made one with (bride)

The celebrant at this time would take up a wand and sprinkle it upon the bride

Celebrant To bride:

Repeat after me: I (bride), do come here of my own free will, to seek the partnership of (groom) I come with all love, honor and sincerity, wishing only to become one with him, whom I love. Always will I strive for (grooms) happiness and welfare.

The celebrant at this time would take up a wand and sprinkle it upon the groom

Celebrant To Groom:

Repeat after me, I (groom) do come here of my own free will, to seek the partnership of (bride). I come with all love, honor and sincerity, wishing only to become one with her, whom I love. Always will I strive for (brides) happiness and welfare.

At this time the celebrant would sprinkle the rings with the wand and take them up, handing the brides ring to the groom and the grooms ring to the bride

Celebrant:

As the grass of the fields and the trees of the woods bend together under the pressures of the storm, so too must you both bend when the wind blows strong. But know that as quickly as the storm comes, so equally quickly may it leave. Yet will you both stand strong in each others strength. As you give love, so you will receive it. As you give strength, so will you receive strength. Together you are one, apart you are as nothing. Know that no two people can be exactly alike. No more can any two people fit together, perfect in every way. There will be times when it will seem hard to give and to love. But see then your reflection as in a woodland pool, when the image you see looks sad and angered, then know it is the time for you to smile and to love. It is not fire that puts out fire. In return will the image in the pool smile and love. So change your anger for love, and your tears for joy. It is no weakness to admit a wrong: more is it a strength, and a sign of eternal growth. Forever love, help, and respect each other. The constant circle of love you share is symbolized in these rings. Let them be a token of your friendship and the partnership you have come to celebrate on this day. When the waters are rough, let these rings remind you of the ebb and flow of life. Let them remind you of the happiness you feel at this moment, and let your memory soothe your spirit.

The bride and groom would exchange rings at this time

If there are any things that the bride and groom would wish to say to one another, this is the perfect time for such a thing.

Celebrant:

It is with great happiness that I present you to the community as husband and wife. May you always remember the love that brought you here on this day, and may the God and Goddess bless this union. So Mote It Be. You may now kiss….

After conducting your ritual or consecration, you or the celebrant must take down the circle. Return to the middle of the circle, stand in the Goddess position and say while gradually lowering your arms to your side:

The web of life is an endless circle never to die only to change form.
What was begun is now complete.
Welcome home these energies borne.
The circle is open, never broken.
So Mote It Be!

When your arms reach your waist quickly drop them to put the energy back into Earth Mother. The circle is released. You may extinguish the candles and move to your reception area.

Please note that Celebrant legal authorization and mention of husband and wife in the vows must be included to legally marry a couple. Without the authorization and mention of husband and wife, this ceremony may be used as a good commitment ceremony.

Wedding Ceremonies
Traditional | Handfasting | Pagan | Medieval | Gothic | Personalised or Themed | Commitment | Naming | Renewal

 

 

 

 

Guide to Planning Pagan Weddings

Pagan Wedding Considerations for Couples by Selena Fox
Permission to reproduce or adapt it must be obtained from Selena Fox in writing in advance.

Take time to reflect on these issues and discuss options with each other as part of your preparations for your handfasting or other Pagan wedding. By working together in deciding the answers to these questions, you can strengthen your process of communication and decision making, plus you will create the framework upon which your wedding ritual can take shape in a planning session with me or whomever you choose to perform your rite.

When:

On what day do we want to get handfasted? What time of day do we want our handfasting?

Where:

In what geographical area do we plan to get handfasted? In what specific place do we want to have the handfasting? Do we want the handfasting outdoors or inside? If outside, what shelter is available in case of inclement weather?

Who:

How large of a group of guests do we want to have at our handfasting? Who are the guests we definitely want to be present? What other guests would we like to be present? Who are the guests we definitely do not want to be present? Who do we want to perform the handfasting? Who do we want to have in what roles in the handfasting? Do we want music at the handfasting, and if so, by whom? Do we want our handfasting photographed, audio taped, video taped, and if so, by whom?

How:

How long of a handfasting rite do we want to have? Do we want our handfasting to be legally binding? Do we want the handfasting orientation to be primarily spiritual or secular-cultural? How formal do we want our handfasting to be: informal, somewhat formal, very formal? How elaborate do we want our handfasting to be: simple, moderate, complex? Do we want guests seated or standing, and in what configuration during the handfasting? Do we want a reception, and if so, when and where? What other handfasting-related activities, if any, are we planning? How do we plan to end our handfasting day?

What:

Do we want to have our hands joined together as part of the ceremony? Do we want to jump the broom? What other customs do we want as part of our ceremony? * What special objects do we want on the handfasting altar? What is the color theme for our handfasting? What form of clothing and colors do we plan to wear? What flowers, if any, do we plan to wear and/or carry? What flowers or other plants do we plan to have as decorations? What ideas do we have for our handfasting ceremony design and decor?

Why:

Why do we as individuals and as a couple want to become handfasted? What does getting handfasted mean to us? What do we hope that getting handfasted will do for us and our relationship?

Planning

2-6 months in advance we begin with a consultation session with minister to set date, adapt an outline and prepare for wedding. Consultation may be by phone or face-to-face.

Rehearsal

24 – 4 hours before wedding begins a walk-through with couple and others with roles in the ceremony is undertaken.

Site Preparation

1-4 hours before a wedding begins the area is consecrated, an altar is set-up and we hold a final briefing.

Arrival of Guests

A group processional entry or the direction of seating by ushers occurs; live or recorded music may be played. Processional of Couple and attendants process after signal by minister.

Special Acknowledgments

Couple acknowledges family, ancestors, and/or special guests.

Attunement

A moment of interfaith Divine attunement is accessed through silence, toning, and/or imagery.

Circle Casting

Using imagery, sound, and/or movement.

Elemental Blessings

Couple journeys with minister(s) to each of the compass points to receive a blessing of the Direction and its associated Element. (Tools and qualities have been pre-selected during Planning session.)

Earth: North, the Physical Realm
tools: a pentacle of salt, a dish of fertile soil, or a platter with a round loaf bread
qualities: good health, a happy home, groundedness, and fertility

Air: East, the Mental Realm
tools: incense, feather, or bell
qualities: wisdom, good communication, learning, and intellectual growth

Fire: South, the Action Realm
tools: candle or wand
qualities: creativity, harmony, sensuality, and vitality

Water: West, the Emotional Realm
tools: water from a chalice or bowl
qualities: understanding, emotional support, intuition, and friendship

Spirit: Center, the Spiritual Realm
tools: anointing oil, crystal, or other Spirit symbol
qualities: balance, wholeness, integrity, and spiritual growth

Spiritual Marriage as Sacred Union of Female – Male aspects of Divinity

Goddess Evocation
Divine Female principle evoked in the Bride
God Evocation
Divine Male principle evoked in the Groom

Consecration of Rings

The minister(s) bless rings and/or other tokens of exchange.

Exchanging of Vows and Rings

Bride and Groom speak commitments to each other.

Handfasting with Cords

Cords from Bride and Groom are joined and their hands fastened.

Blessings.

Well wishes on the marriage spoken by minister(s) and/or guests.

Sacred Union

With visualization, movement, and/or sound, “Joined in Love” or other chant may be voiced.

Assimilation

In silence, or with music, prose, or poetry.

Marriage Pronouncement

Verbal affirmation by minister(s) that the couple is now married.

Sharing

Couple shares food and/or beverage.

Thanksgiving

Couple and minister(s) give thanks to the Divine at directions.

Uncasting the Circle

The formal ritual ends with a benediction.

Broom Jump

Couple jumps together while audience cheers.

Celebration

Receiving line, photographs, feasting, gift opening, merry-making.

 

 

 

 

Handfasting Bonfires: What You Need To Know

By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide

It’s become popular in many Pagan and Wiccan traditions to have a bonfire as part of the handfasting ceremony. If this is something you’d like to do, here are some tips on how to make things go smoothly.

  • Make sure you have room. If you’re in a very small space, you might have to go for a table-top brazier or a fire bowl instead. Also, be sure that the location of your handfasting permits open fires — some public parks do not.
  • Put someone you trust in charge of the bonfire as a fire tender. This person is responsible for laying out the fire beforehand — no one wants to stand around for half an hour while you and your beloved stack up a bunch of logs. Traditionally, a handfasting bonfire was started with natural methods such as flint and steel. If you’re going to do this, practice beforehand. Be sure that whoever is starting the fire is sober.
  • Don’t use accelerants such as lighter fluid. Use traditional elements of fire — fuel, tinder and kindling. If you don’t know the difference between the three, find someone who does, and have them be the fire tender.
  • Once the fire has started, make sure the fire tender knows where fire-suppression items are located — a bucket of water, a bucket of sand, a fire extinguisher. Make sure guests understand that children are not to play around or near the fire.
  • The only thing that should go into the fire is wood. Since the handfasting bonfire is sacred, paper trash should be thrown away rather than burned (one exception to this is if guests are offering blessings to the handfasting couple and wish to offer them into the sacred fire). Don’t let anyone throw beer cans, food, plastic, aerosol cans, aluminum foil, or other items into the fire. Make sure no one pees in the fire either (yeah, I know it sounds gross, but people do it).
  • When the ceremony is over, the fire tender should be responsible for making sure the fire has gone out completely before leaving. They can either wait for it to burn out on its own — although this can make for a long night — or they can put it out with sand and dirt.
  • Take some ashes from your handfasting bonfire and save them in a jar. You can use them later on to bless your home or in other ritual workings.

 

 

Pagan Renewal Of Vows
By Rev. Sky
2005-06-02   We just put this one together for a couple that wants to renew their vows at the Renaissance Faire. They have been married 20 yrs. Originally they wanted a handfasting but couldn’t find anyone years ago to perform one. So we are doing their vow renewal,

Pagan Renewal of Vows

__________________________ and _________________________, as you this day renew your marriage vows which united you as husband and wife, and as you this day affirm your faith and love for one another, I would ask that you always remember to cherish each other as special and unique individuals, that you respect the thoughts, ideas and suggestions of one another. Be able to forgive, do not hold grudges, and live each day that you may share it together – as you shall remain each other?s home, comfort and refuge, your marriage strengthened by your love and respect for each other.

Goddess, we thank you for bringing us together today. May we all be open to ideas, thoughts, and concepts that will advance us as souls. Continue to bring together ___________ and ___________ in love and joy as workers of Light.
For all this , we give thanks. And so it is.

Please repeat after me:

Spouse a: Long, long ago, I asked all the assembled gods in their glory for one precious gift.

Spouse b: Long, long ago, I asked all the assembled gods in their eternity for one ultimate blessing.

Spouse a: Something that would be as strong as the earth beneath our feet.

Spouse b: Something that would be as gentle as a warm feather comforter on a snowy night.

Spouse a: Something that would fit me so well that I would wear it everyday.

Spouse b: Something that grow with me as I grew.

Spouse a: Something that would challenge me and stretch my mind.

Spouse b: Something that would make me a better person.

Spouse a: Something that I could always be proud of.

Spouse b: Something that would always believe in me.

Spouse a: Something that would accept me the way that I am.

Spouse b: Something that would make me feel, for the first time, what it was to be truly loved.

Spouse a: Hold my hand

Spouse b: And love me forever.

Spouse a: And the gods gave me you.

Spouse b: And the gods gave me you.

Spouse a: Your presence is a blessing.

Spouse b: And is still my greatest gift.

Spouse a: All that I have is yours

Spouse b: And all that I am I became with your aid.

Spouse a: All that I promise you before, I swear again with all my heart.

Spouse b: All that I promise you before, I swear again with all my heart.

Spouse a: No regrets.

Spouse b: No regrets.

________________ and _______________, today you celebrate ____ years since you first joined in marriage. You have expressed your love for one another and desire to continue your life?s journey together. May the blessings of the Goddess be with you. On this day, by the power of your love your marriage is reborn.

I now pronounce you married in the eyes of all the gods and goddesses we serve.

Bright blessing to you.

 

 

 

 

In a fairy wedding, shades of moss and lichen green are perfect for decorations while writhed halzelnut branches will recall the wood atmosphere. Tables on the tableau will be named after fairies and plays of light will be created with sparkling  powder. Invitations could be wing shaped, favours could be little fairies and every detail will be coordinated. Bride and bridesmaids dresses may also be enriched with wings in a real fairy style.

Pipe sound will be your ceremony background and we will perform the ancient celtic rites.
Druids usually officiated wedding ceremonies. Bride and groom were supposed to purify themselves seven days before the wedding took place, using the classical elements ( earth, air,  water and fire). They also had to make a rope together, usually white and red, as a symbolical union of the feminine and masculine sides.   
The day before marriage was dedicated to prepare offerings for “thin energies”. The rites were performed into the woods, close to sacred founts, or in clearings bordered by stone circles. The couple had to choose a stone for the ceremony, wash and purify it. This stone would stand for the historical memory of their family and would be passed from generation to generation. During the ceremony, the couple would drink mead from the same cup and then they would light up a sacred fire as a symbol of their love and passion. Handfasting could then take place with the rope the couple had made and it was kept as a sort of wedding ring. Handfasting was celebrated with a tinny rod decoarted with two animals at each end: a serpent and a bull, the female and male divinities. The wedding was concluded with music and circle dances.

 

 

 

 

Faerie Wedding Traditions

Faerie weddings take place over a period of 7 days. They are complex and vary according to the tribe of Fair Folk involved. They are so filled with traditions, activities and ceremonies that we could not begin to describe them all here. There is, however, a pattern which runs through all of our customs, and this is that the spouses-to-be perform some sort of quest for their beloved before the wedding takes place. Both the male and the female perform their own quest. If you decide to do this, make sure you set tasks for your beloved which can actually be accomplished by him or her. What we are saying is that it must be something that is well within their present abilities (and which, for that matter, would even be within your own abilities). You do not want to send your betrothed on a quest so impossible that he or she will be unable to complete it before the scheduled wedding day. It is also traditional to present the results of your quests–whether they be items retrieved or created or whatever you may have decided upon–to your beloved at the wedding, before you actually begin the ceremony.

There is also a tradition throughout the Faerie tribes whereby the bride and groom-to-be are referred to as the Queen and King of the Sprites, or of the Gnomes, Brownies, Elves, or whichever tribe of Fair Folk they belong to. In the Human world, the bride and groom might request to become honorary members of a particular Faerie tribe for the wedding or might wish to be referred to as the Queen and King of the Faerie. These honorary titles are in effect for 3 days before the wedding, on the day of the wedding itself, and for 3 days after the wedding. Before the wedding, the bride may be led among her friends and family by her honor guard of maidens—her ladies-in-waiting–who announce the arrival of the Queen of the Fair Folk. They would then all bow down to her. This is, of course, done in the spirit of fun, with tongue-in-cheek, but also with respect for the bride.Since tradition and the time allotted for Human weddings are quite different from those of the Faerie, we will present here some other suggestions you may wish to incorporate into your wedding to assist in creating a Faerie-like setting.The bride and groom and their attendants should dress up in ways to become the Faerie. You can request that the rest of the wedding party do so as well if they are willing. Work in harmony with your imagination and spirit, and all will be well.

If possible, have the wedding outdoors among Mother Earth’s green children. To the degree possible, allow animal companions to attend. Invite the Faerie Folk who serve the Mother and Father, and, though you may not see them, they will be there. Keep in mind that since Fair Folk do travel, your wedding might even include Fair Folk visitors from other lands.

As for food, we are vegetarians, but we realize this is not always possible in the Human world, so prepare your wedding table in whatever way you envision it. We suggest you includecream, breads, cheese products, pastries and other things which are sweet and pleasing to the eye and tongue.

Music to attract the Fair Folk might include wind instruments and Celtic music. If you have musicians, please consider having them play some Celtic reels. Since Fair Folk dwell all over the world, you may instead prefer the music of local musicians, whose instruments and songs are more representative of your ancestry.

Mother and Father’s blessing upon your wedding. May you and your beloved have many long years together, and may your love sustain you throughout your life upon the physical Earth and afterwards.

 

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