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Wiccan Marriage

WICCAN HANDFASTING (WEDDING) CEREMONY


Compliments of Lord Starwalker


This ceremony can be used either for a legal marriage or a just plain handfasting. Remember, if it is a legal marriage, the words" I now pronounce you husband and wife" must appear at the end of the ceremony, otherwise, the marriage is counted as not having been performed. Remember also, that for a legal marriage, there must be two witnesses, other than the High Priest and Priestess.

A hand-fasting ceremony is usually (but not necessarily) performed for one year and a day, and then renewed at that time if both participants approve it. Some, however, perform a hand-fasting for 9 years (another magickal number), at which time it may be renewed. Remember, if a hand-fasting is to end at the end of these times, a hand-parting ceremony must be performed, to undo the marriage. If it is a legal marriage, it is still a good idea to perform the hand-parting ceremony after the divorce, if it comes to that. We hope it doesn't. Also please remember, that there is responsibility on the part of both parents if there are children involved. Since there is not a legal marriage, arrangements MUST be made to continue child support, visitation with the children, etc. Both parents must be an integral part of their children’s lives, even if the parents don't get along all that well together. Children need both a father and a mother, and they need to be supported. Believe it or not, in Wicca, this has never been a problem. It just seems to work out, perhaps because of the Law of Three.

And now to the ceremony. This is the main one that I use, however some participants request a different ceremony, so be prepared.
THE PREPARATION

The Circle is outlined, and the altar decorated, with flowers; but a gateway is left in the North-East of the Circle, with flowers to hand for closing it.

The broomstick is kept ready beside the altar.

The cauldron, filled with flowers, is placed by the West candle--West representing Water, the element of love.


THE RITUAL

The opening Ritual is conducted normally (see the Full Moon Ritual), except that (a) the bride and groom remain outside the gateway, which is not closed yet, and (b) the Charge is not given yet.

After the "Great God Cernunnos" invocation, the High Priestess brings in the groom, and the High Priest the bride, each with a kiss. The High Priest then closes the gateway with flowers, and the High Priestess closes it ritually with the sword or athame.
The High Priestess and High Priest stand with their backs to the altar. The groom faces the High Priestess, and the bride the High Priest, in the centre of the Circle.

The High Priestess asks:
"Who comes to be joined together in the presence of the Goddess? What is thy name, O Man?"

The groom answers:
"My name is __________."

The High Priest asks:
"Who comes to be joined together in the presence3 of the God? What is thy name, O Woman?"

The bride answers:
"My name is__________."

The High Priestess says:
"________and_________, we greet you with joy."

The coven circle round the bride and groom to the Witches Rune; then all return to their places.

The High Priestess says:
"Unity is balance, and balance is unity. Hear then, and understand."

She picks up the wand and continues:
"The wand that I hold is the symbol of Air. Know and remember that this is the element of Life, of intelligence, of the inspiration which moves us onwards. By this wand of Air, we bring to your hand-fasting the power of Mind."

She lays down the wand. The High Pirest picks up the sword and says:
"The sword that I hold is the symbol of Fire. Know and remember that this is the element of Light, of energy, of the vigour which runs through our veins. By this sword of Fire, we bring to your hand-fasting the power of Will."

He lays down the sword. The High Priestess picks up the chalice and says:
"The chalice that I hold is the symbol of water. Know and remember, that this is the element of Love, of growth, of the fruitfullness of the great Mother. By this chalice of Water, we bring to your hand-fasting the power of Desire."

She lays down the chalice. The High Priest picks up the pentacle and says:
"The pentacle that I hold is the symbol of Earth. Know and remember, that this is the element of Law, of endurance, of the understanding which cannot be shaken. By the pentacle of Earth, we bring to your hand-fasting the power of the Steadfast."

He lays down the pentacle, and continues:
"Listen to the words of the Great Mother......." etc., to introduce the Charge.
The High Priest and High Priestess deliver the Charge, in the usual way. When it is finished, the High Priest says:
"Golden Aphrodite cometh not as the virgin, the victim, but as the Awakener, the Desirous One. As outer space she calls, and the All-Father commences the courtship. She awakeneth Him to desire, and the worlds are created. How powerful is she, golden Aphrodite, the awakener of manhood!"

The High Priestess says:
"But all these things are one thing. All the goddesses are one goddess, and we call her Isis, the All-woman, in whose nature all natural things are found; virgin and desirous by turn; giver of life and bringer-in of death. She is the cause of all creation, for she awakeneth the desire of the All-Father, and for her sake He createth. Likewise, the wise call all women Isis."

The High Priest says:
"In the face of every woman, let man look for the features of the Great Goddess, watching her phases through the flow and return of the tides to which his soul answereth; listening for her call."

The High Priestess says:
"O daughter of Isis, adore the Goddess, and in her name give the call that awakens and rejoices. So shalt thou be blessed of the Goddess, and live with the fullness of life. Let the Bride show forth the Goddess to him who loves her. Let her assume the crown of the underworld. Let her arise all glorious and golden from the sea of the primordial and call unto him to come forth, to come to her. Let hr do these things in the name of the Goddess, and she shall be even as the Goddess unto him; for the Goddess will speaking through her. All-powerful on the Outer, as golden Aphrodite. So shall she be a priestess in the eyes of the worshipper of the Goddess, who by his faith and dedication shall find the Goddess in her. For the rite of Isis is life, and what whi8ch is done as a rite shall show forth in life. By the rite is the Godddess drawn down to her worshippers; her power enters into them, and they become the substance of the sacrament."

The High Priest says to the bride:
"Say after me: 'By seed and root, by bud and stem, by leaf and flower and fruit, by life and love, in the name of the Goddess, I, __________, take thee,_____, to my hand, my heart and my spirit, at the setting of the sun and the rising of the stars. (Please see note at the end of this ceremony) Nor shall death part us; for in the fullness of time we shall be born again at the same time and in the same place as each other; and we shall meet, and know, and remember, and love again.' "

The bride repeats each phrase after the High Priest, taking the groom's right hand in her own right hand as she speaks.

The High Priestess says to the groom:
"Say after me: 'By seed and root, by bud and stem. . . . ..' " etc., as above.
The groom repeats each phrase after the High Priestess, retaining the bride's right hand in his own.

If the couple wishes to exchange rings, this is now done.

The High Priest says:
"Let the sun and the moon and the stars, and these our brothers and sisters, bear witness; that _______ and _______ have been joined together in the sight of the God and the Goddess. And may the God and the Goddess bless them, as we do ourselves."

If this is a legal marriage, then at this point the High Priest says:
"I now pronounce you Husband and Wife."

All say:
"So mote it be."

The High Priestess takes the broom stick and lays it down on the ground before the couple, who jump over it hand in hand. The High Priestess, then picks up the broomstick and ritually sweeps the Circle clear of all evil influences,.

The couple now enact the Great Rite, and it is entirely their choice whether is should be symbolic or actual. If it is actual, the High Priestess leads the coven out of the room, instead of the Maiden, as is usual. If the ceremony is held outdoors, you might want to postpone the Great Rite until a more appropriate time.

After the Great Rite, the couple consecrate the wine and cakes (or the cakes only if the Great Rite has been symbolic, in which case the wine will already have been consecrated). The proceedings then become informal.

If the feast includes a hand-fasting cake, tradition says that this is the one occasion when the coven's ritual sword may be used for actual cutting. 

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