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Sunday, June 6, 2021

Handfasting ~ pagan commitment ceremony

Handfasting is not a legal marriage. It is a commitment between a couple to remain together for a year and a day. At the end of this time period, this relationship may be abandoned and the individuals will be free to go their separate ways, or the couple may decide to renew their handfasting vows and commit to each other for another year and a day.

The following ritual will give the couple a sense of commitment to their relationship and a chance to celebrate their union. A handfasting ritual will highlight the couple’s bond of love to each other. It will bring blessings from the God and Goddess, and it will cement their relationship before family and friends.

Items needed:
  • 1. Two white taper candles, one for each of the individuals being handfasted
  • 2. Three ribbons, approximately 6 feet long, tied together in a knot at one end, preferably white, red, and black
  • 3. Handfasting rings, or another piece of magical jewelry to be exchanged by the couple during the ritual
  • 4. A handfasting broom, decorated as you wish for the occasion

The ritual:

1. The handfasting ritual may be performed inside a cast circle, with the quarters called. This would be the perfect opportunity to include participation of friends or family members by assigning individuals to each of the four quarters, to invoke the element and light the elemental candle.

2. The Priestess will lay a broom near the altar, and she’ll light the two white taper candles representing the couple, but not the main altar candle-- this will be lit later during the ceremony. She’ll also light the incense at this time.

3. The couple and the Priestess shall take their places, either in the center of the circle, or before the altar, the couple standing together facing the Priestess. She will say:

“We gather now in sacred space to witness the handfasting of this couple before the God and Goddess, before friends and family, and before the spirits of our ancestors.”

4. The Priestess speaks to the couple, saying:

“You come today to publicly proclaim your commitment to each other. May you both walk the same path, but in doing so not loose sight of your own individuality and uniqueness. May you both walk the same path, but in doing so, respect each other’s space and celebrate personal growth. May you walk the same path in love and light, reverence and joy.”

5. The Priestess says to the groom:

“Do you come here freely, with love in your heart, to commit yourself to your partner?”

6. The groom responds:

“I do.”

7. The Priestess says to the bride:

“Do you come here freely, with love in your heart, to commit yourself to your partner?”

8. The bride responds:

“I do.”

9. The Priestess now bids the couple to exchange their handfasting rings/jewelry; and at this time the couple can take the opportunity to exchange personal vows of their own creation.

10. It’s time for the couple to each take their lit taper candle and jointly light the white altar candle from these flames.

11. This point in the ceremony would also be the perfect time to include children or step-children in the ritual; either by giving them a commemorative pendent for the occasion, or allowing each child to light a personal candle on the altar to represent themselves and their bond with this couple…Personally, I think it would be lovely to include both of these suggestions.

12. The Priestess will then tell the couple to face each other and join their left hands, and as they do, she will take the bridal ribbons and, while wrapping them around the couple’s wrists, she will say:

“By the power of the Goddess: the Maiden, the Mother, the Crone; and by the power of the God: The Horned God, the Green Man, the Sage, may your handfasting be blessed. You shall remain bound to each other for a year and a day. May your love grow and happiness flourish. So mote it be.”

13. The Priestess then removes the handfasting ribbons from the couple’s wrists and lays them upon the altar. She may now perform a ‘Cakes & Wine’ ritual, if this is to be included in the ceremony.

14. It’s time now for the couple to ‘jump the broom’. The Priestess may move the broom to the floor/ground before the altar. The couple will join hands and leap over it together.

15. The Priestess says:

“Over the broom and into your new life you leap.
Blessed Be!”

16. The ritual has ended, let the revelry begin!

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