Handfasting – Pagan Wedding Ceremony.
Handfasting is the pagan equivalent of a marriage ceremony. It is a very old tradition in the western worlds. The ceremony begins with everyone gathering at a selected spot, it’s then swept with a broom to get rid of any negativity, and turned into a sacred space. The 4 elements- air, fire, water and earth are called in, as well as the God and Goddess. Then the main ceremony begins. The couple are brought together, they are led through their declaration of love and vows their hands are clasped together, and bound loosely by a pre-bought special set of Cords (usually Gold & Silver). The couple then `jump the broom’ which is a symbol of hearth, home and fertility, as well as protection. This act symbolises that the past is on one side, and they have jumped over the broom to a future together.
During festivities, other couples get to jump the broom, which is held at knee height by specially designated people. It is also traditional for the couple to bless the wedding cake & wine, meads, champagne etc. All the family, friends & guests are invited to come forward and offer their own blessings. How the ceremony then proceeds is really up to the couple. The handfasting ceremony can be intimate and small scale, with the couple and a few select family & friends, or a big festive event just like any other wedding ceremony with lots of people, entertainment, feasting, dancing.
The venue varies, it can be a local park, woodland, forest, a hall, a home garden, by a stream, a campsite, near a waterfall, on the beach. As pagans consider nature to be sacred, and honour and worship all natural places, usually they take place in woodlands or some natural place.
As is tradition in many religions, it is the honour of a Pagan Priest or Pagan Priestess to facilitate the actual ceremony of the handfasting, it is usual for a couple to conduct the ceremony. In Wiccan path, it is usually an initiated and experienced High Priest & his partner, or a High Priestess & her partner. Their group, coven or grove may also attend to help with ceremonial roles. It is also a good idea to get some of the family & friends of the couple to help out with some of the roles. It is important that some of the essential tools for the ceremony, especially the rings, cords and the broom also an altar which is always created for the event. The couple may have a wedding theme or dress code for them and their guests may be a colourful dress for bride and suitable attire for the groom.
Not forgetting the venue which can be decorated with ribbons and flowers, the entertainment can be traditional musicians, drummers, violin & harp players, or even Morris Dancers. There are no rules all you need is imagination.
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