The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘pagan’ as: “a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome). Or as: one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods: an irreligious or hedonistic person”
It is thought by pagans that a ceremony performed by a pagan priest or priestess at the moment of a total eclipse of the sun is the best and most fortuitous time for a pagan wedding ceremony. They believe that this is a union between dark and light.
The pagan wedding ceremony (if it can be called that) is called ‘handfasting’.
Handfasting can last for a year and a day, a lifetime, or for all eternity. Handfasting ceremonies can be performed for heterosexual or homosexual couples.
A handfasting can be done tying the knots loosely to denote a trial marriage. The couple will live together one year and one day and then decide if they want to continue together or not. If they choose to continue, another handfasting ceremony is done with the knots being tied more securely. Couples may choose whether the knots are intended for a lifetime or for all eternity. If all eternity is the choice, then if one dies the other may not have another handfasting with
someone else, but must wait to be reunited with their mate through reincarnation.
If the proper steps are taken a handfasting can be a legal marriage in the eyes of the law.
Preparations for a handfasting ceremony begin from one to four hours prior to the ceremony. Previously there will have been rehearsals to direct the participants of their roles and positions during the ceremony. One to four hours before the ceremony the altar must be prepared. This is done by the pagan priest or priestess and their assistants. The altar is consecrated using specific rituals.
There is a group processional as they enter the altar area. This is directed by designated ushers. Next, the couple acknowledges special guests, family, and ancestors.
Attunement is accessed through silence, toning (chanting) and/or imagery in preparation for the circle casting ceremony that follows. The items used in the circle ceremony are: a hawk’ wing, a blade, two candles, incense, and a bowl of water with a lavender blossom floating in it. The ceremony is supposed to summon the elements and the points of the compass. Simple gifts
are exchanged and the circle is closed with a kiss.
The priest or priestess escorts the couples to the four points of the compass and to the center of the circle where they receive the blessing of the direction and the element that is associated with it.
The five points and their purposes are:
North: Earth, 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, and fertility
East: Air the Mental Realm
Tools: incense, feather, or bell
Qualities: wisdom, good communication, learning, and intellectual growth
South: Fire the Action Realm
Tools: candle or wand
Qualities: creativity, harmony, sensuality, and vitality
West: Water the Emotional Realm
Tools: water from a chalice or bowl
Qualities: understanding, emotional support, intuition, and friendship
Center: Spirit the Spiritual Realm
Tools: anointing oil, crystal, or other Spirit symbol
Qualities: balance, wholeness, integrity, and spiritual growth.
After the circle ceremony, the rings are blessed and exchanged. The couple then say their vows to one another. At this point is when the bride and groom each give the priest or priestess their cords. The priest of priestess ties the cords together and then binds the bride’s and groom’s hands together. The priest or priestess then invokes a blessing and pronounces that the couple is married. The newlyweds, with their hands still bound together, must then jump over a broom together as a symbol of leaping into a new way of life together.
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