Handfasting is the Wiccan word for the marriage ceremony. Unlike the Christian form, where the man and woman are locked together “till death do us part” (even if they later grow apart and eventually come to almost hate one another), the Wiccan ceremony joins man and woman “for so long as love shall last”. When there is no longer love between them, they are free to go their separate ways.
These days most couples write their own Hand-fasting ceremony. I here give the Seax-Wica rite as an example. You may like to use it as it is, or just as a basis for your own ideas. Read it carefully. In addition to being very beautiful, I think you will find that it makes a great deal of sense.
This rite should be performed during the waxing of the Moon. The Altar may be decked with flowers and flowers strewn about the Circle. If the coven normally wears robes, for this rite it is suggested that the Bride and Groom at least be skyclad; preferably the whole coven.
It is traditional in the Seax-Wica for the Bride and Groom to exchange rings. These are usually gold or silver bands with the couple’s (Craft) names inscribed on them in runes. These rings rest on the altar at the start of the rite. The Priapic Wand is also on the altar.
The Erecting the Temple is performed. PRIEST and PRIESTESS kiss.
Covener: “There are those in our midst who seek the bond of Handfasting.”
Priestess: ‘let them be named and brought forward.”
Covener: “...(Groom’s name)... is the Man and (Bride’s name)...is the Woman.”
BRIDE and GROOM move forward to stand facing Priest and Priestess across the altar—Bride opposite Priest and Groom opposite Priestess.
Priestess(to Groom): “Are you ... (Name)...?”
Groom: “I am.”
Priestess: “What is your desire?”
Groom: “To be made one with ... (Bride’s name)..., in the eyes of the Gods and the Wicca.”
Priest(to Bride): “Are you ...(Name)...?”
Bride: “I am.”
Priest: “And what is your desire?”
Bride: “To be made one with ...(Groom’s name)..., in the eyes of the Gods and the Wicca.”
PRIESTESS takes up sword and raises it high. PRIEST hands Priapic Wand to Bride and Groom. They hold it between them, each with both hands.
Priestess: “Lord and Lady, here before you stand two of your folk. Witness, now, that which they have to declare.”
PRIESTESS replaces sword on altar, then takes her athame and holds the point of it to Groom’s chest.
Groom repeats the following, line by line:
Priestess: “Repeat after me: ‘I, ... (Name)..., do come here of my own free will, to seek the partners hip of ... (Bride’s name).... I come with all love, honor and sincerity, wishing only to become one with her whom I love. Always will I strive for ...(Bride’s name)...’s happiness and welfare. Her life will I defend before my own. May the athame be plunged into my heart should I not be sincere in all that I declare. All this I swear in the names of the gods*. May they give me the strength to keep my vows. So mote it be.”
PRIESTESS lowers her athame. Priest then raises his athame and, in turn, holds it to the breast of the Bride. She repeats the oath, line by line, after him:
Priest: “Repeat after me: ‘I, ...(Name)..., do come here of my own free will, to seek the partners hip of... (Groom’s name) .... I come with all love, honor and sincerity, wishing only to become one with him whom I love. Always will I strive for ...(Groom’s name)...’s happiness and welfare. His life will I defend before my own. May the athame be plunged into my heart should I not be sincere in all that I declare. All this I swear in the names of the gods*. May they give me the strength to keep my vows. So mote it be.”
PRIEST lowers the athame. PRIESTESS takes up the two rings and sprinkles and censes both. She hands the Bride’s ring to the Groom and the Groom’s ring to the Bride. They take them in their right hands, remaining holding the Priapic Wand with their left hands.
Priest: “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 other’s strength. As you give love; so will you receive love. As you give strength; so will you receive strength. Together you are one; apart you are as nothing.”
Priestess: “Know you 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 is the time for you to smile and to love (for it is not fire that puts Out fire). In return will the image in the pool smile and love. So change you anger for love and tears for joy. it is no weakness to admit a wrong; more is it a strength and a sign of learning.”
Priest: “Ever love, help and respect each other, And then know truly that you are one In the eyes of the Gods And of the Wicca.”
All: “So Mote It Be!”
PRIEST takes Priapic Wand from couple and replaces it on the altar. BRIDE and GROOM each place ring on the other’s finger and kiss. They then kiss Priest and Priestess across the altar, then move deosil about the Circle to be congratulated by the others.
Then shall follow the ceremony of Cakes and Ale followed by games and merriment.
As was mentioned at the beginning of this article, in many religions marriage is meant to be a lifetime partnership. Even though it may turn out that after a few years a couple find they are really unsuited to one another, they are stuck for the rest of their lives. This invariably leads to great unhappiness for husband, wife and any children. Although Witches most certainly do not encourage casual partnerships, they do recognize the fact that some marriages just do not work out ideally. When this is the case, and when all attempts have been made to settle any differences, then they will dissolve the partnership with the old ceremony of Hand parting.
This, of course, is never undertaken lightly.
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This Handfasting Rite, Plus Much More, Can Be Found In:
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