Pagan Weddings – Part I
As some of you already know we (Brad and Saskia) are planning our wedding for later this year. We are choosing to be handfasted as we believe this ritual gels with our beliefs. Historically handfasting is a Celtic tradition believed to be a temporary marriage more like an engagement where the couple would be tied together for a year and a day. Because of its Celtic pagan roots this ritual has become utilized as the official marriage ceremony for neopagans. We recognise it as a ritual tying a couple together spiritually for eternity. Even though traditionally this may not have been the case Paganism comes from a broken line and it is important that we create new traditions that make sense to all of us. This is why our ceremony will incorporate all the elements that webelieve will be recognised by our gods.
Although we have not written out the entire ritual yet there are many things we know we must incorporate. First of all the ceremony is to be held outside. This is important as we are going to invite all the nature spirits of the area to be witness to this union. Also as this is a scared ceremony it needs to be performed in a space that is either sacred or easily made into a sacred space. The space which we have chosen is under the gaze of Mount Warning; a very sacred mountain to the indigenous peoples of this area.
For our ceremony we would very much like to have a priest and priestess to perform the handfasting. In any religious ceremony the priest is the representative here on earth for God and he speaks on behalf of God. So to keep the balance we need a priestess to represent the blessings of the Goddess. Of course it is important that you and your partner respect the priest and priestess enough to see them as representatives of the God and Goddess.
The sacred circle is something that can never be omitted from any handfasting. It immediately creates a sacred space where the handfasting can take place. This can be a physical circle made with flowers, which would be quite expensive or it can be an imagined circle. An effective inexpensive way to create a physical circle is to simply use a mixture of flower and sugar, lay it down a few days before and the ants will come and eat it and it will turn black.
Casting the circle can also be as elaborate or simple as you like. We will go into more detail about that later.
A scarlet wedding dress has strong ties to traditional Celtic weddings and is becoming more popular in neopagan traditions. This colour as you know has strong symbolism and represents the archetypal woman; the blood that flows from her once a month. We find it more appropriate for our ceremony than a white dress as white can insinuate purity and virginity, which is not as sacred in paganism as it is in Catholicism.
To create the perfect duality the groom in this new tradition would wear white to represent the seaman and the archetypal male. Of course there are no hard and fast rules about what you decide to where at your own pagan marriage ceremony, these are just some suggestions that may be helpful.
Brad & Saskia