Handfasting or Legal Marriage
Handfasting or Marriage
What’s the Diff?
Commitment-Interaction that is dominated by obligations
A traditional Marriage Ceremony-whether Catholic, Protestant, Wiccan, Jewish, or any other denomination is a legal and binding ceremony. The Bride usually wears white, walks down the aisle with 4 or 5 attendants. There is a flower girl and a ring bearer. The Bride’s father gives her away. This is usually followed by this big party at an expensive party center which everyone’s main concern is what’s for dinner?
Couples get married at the JP’s (Justice of the Peace) or in the Mayor’s Office. Heck even Ken Harsh can solemnize a marriage. This ceremony enables couples to reap benefits from the Government on their taxes and get decent insurance coverage.
Now in the case of same sex couples-who by the way are entirely deserving of the benefits that married couples can get-are not permitted to be married in most states. I believe this is a crock that the insurance companies and the government made up so they would not have to acknowledge them for insurance and tax breaks.
What About Love?
Oh yeah-‘bout that. Well when you are in love-that feeling that makes you absolutely crazy with those warm little fuzzies you get everytime you think about that someone special, and you want that person forever and always in your heart, in your home, in your life! But….
Maybe you are not quite sure or
Maybe you are a same sex couple or
Maybe commitment scares you!
So let’s talk about Handfasting
A Handfasting is a Pagan Wedding. What’s the diff? Well the marriage rite that is performed here is for a year and a day or as long as the love shall last. This seems to be a very modern concept in a day and age where relationships do not last a lifetime and divorce is commonplace and EXPENSIVE-this idea is very old. A Trial marriage. Sounds perfect to me- he throws his socks on the floor-she does not cook –a year and a day? Done –finite! They can walk in different directions and never look back.
There is a place in Dorset England called Handfast Point. This location is where many unions such as this were made. The ancient and Medieval Irish would do their “Trial Marriages” by clasping hands through a holed stone. This is where the term Handfasting is believed to have originated.
Is It Real?
You bet it is! Perhaps more real than you can comprehend! First of all let’s look at how the traditional marriage ceremony is written. I believe there is a line in it about “till death do you part” Is it worth dying for? I think not! Words have power, and oaths or promises(vows) are sacred! Be careful what you say and what oaths you pledge.
Handfasting rites may be used for heterosexual couples, same sex couples and can be adapted to encompass group marriages. Even though it is not recognized as a legal binding we can only hope someday with the growing popularity of the Pagan Religion the world will recognize it.
The Handfasting Vows are believed to literally be taken before the God and Goddess. This is very solemn and coven members act as witnesses with the Coven Elder-Priest, or Priestess presiding. The couple exchange vows, give each rings, and their hands are bound with cord and they jump over the cauldron or a broomstick and share wine afterward. Celebrating is the usual with the throwing of birdseed, photographs and of course a feast!
What If On Partner Acts Irresponsibly?
When there is a Handfasting Ceremony with vows taken before the Gods whatever you said , did, or promised you had best adhere to! Unlike a traditional marriage this is a binding taking in front of the Old Gods. Break an oath. Ignore a vow. The weight of the world will be upon your shoulders . Do not take oaths or vows that you feel you can later negate by a handparting. First of all the Gods can see into your heart and a handparting does not negate your vows.
There is a modern practice of Soul Binding –This binds the couple’s souls together in this lifetime and future reincarnations as part of the rite. DON”T DO IT! This is extremely dangerous and wrong. People who have engaged in this practice have parted after a year and a day but because of their soul binding that are doomed to go through life after life meeting, mating, and parting in disappointment. If you are truly twin souls you will be together again, perhaps not in every incarnation but as what is necessary for individual development.
The handfasting is performed in a circle, being the most important Pagan symbol as it has no beginning and no end. The complete circle represents oneness.
The Bride and Groom jumping the broom is the symbol of fertility-the handle representing the male (an obvious phallic symbol) and the brush the female-a suitable emblem of a union between male and female.
Years ago people who lived together without being married were spoken of as “living over the brush” this refers to the old custom of a man and woman who wanted to live together could jump together over a broomstick and then be considered as common-law husband and wife. The Besom or broom is associated with marriage rites and has been for years in Britain. It is customary to make a broom for the special occasion and different woods can be used for different practices.
Now jumping the cauldron is an alternative. The cauldron is a cooking pot and it transforms raw ingredients into something new. Many cauldrons in Celtic myth were owned by various Gods and goddesses. Some magically produce sustenance, some transform, some hold the fruits of the harvest, and others bring the dead to life. The Cauldron represents the womb of the goddess which transforms everything laid in it. In ceremony the Cauldron can be filled with water with a blend of suitable herbs and flowers in it.
What To Wear
In some covens sky clad is acceptable! Red is popular as it is the color linked to Witchcraft. It is the color of blood, the life, passion, lust, vitality, completion, and harvest. Red represents influence and authority. Many times the bride will wear a transparent red gown, again depending on individual coven dress codes. Other colors are worn AS WELL. Purple is a popular choice along with black and white.
The cord used to bind the couple’s hands is always a multiple of three. Usually a red cord
This is entirely up to the couple, garnet is a popular choice for the women. The ring symbolizes a circle which again has no beginning and no end