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Pagan Wedding - Part I

stonehengeMore and more couples are choosing to make their marriage ceremony different from the norm. In place of a standard wedding ceremony, couples are choosing to have Handfasting rituals performed which are based on ancient Pagan and Druid beliefs.

Contemporary Paganism has grown in popularity during the last hundred years and its growth coincides with a decline in Christianity in Europe. This, in part, is due to an increase of knowledge relating to past and distant cultures, beliefs and practices.

Couples are choosing to take the religion out of their ceremonies and reverting back to much older, simpler beliefs, putting the emphasis on the love they have for each other and the respect and equality within their relationship and union.

Pagan Wedding Origins

Pagan beliefs pre-date Christianity and are based on honouring Mother Nature, the Seasons and the land. At the heart of Pagan belief is the recognition of the divine in nature. Most Pagans are eco-friendly, living in a way to minimise harm to the natural environment and recognise the power of the divine in the ongoing cycle of life and death. Pagans believe in and follow the annual cycle of procreation, giving birth and dying which defines the Pagan year. Paganism strongly emphasises equality of the sexes and worships the divine in many different forms, through feminine as well as masculine imagery and also without gender.

Women play a prominent role in the modern Pagan movement and 'Goddess' worship features in most Pagan ceremonies. As this ritual of joining a man and a woman pre-dates Church based weddings, official records of the ceremony would have been witnessed by friends, family and the local community to make it 'legal' in the eyes of the law.

Rituals of a Pagan Wedding

Some of the best known Pagan rituals are focused on where the ceremony is held, the handfasting, the colour of the cords and the jumping over the broom.

Where is the Pagan Ceremony Held?

Usually the ceremony will be performed outside, in a beautiful, natural setting amongst nature and the elements. The space is honoured and made sacred to the elements and decorated with flowers of the season, candles and perfumed with incense. The honouring of the site, invoking of fortuitous spirits and making the space sacred is done by the Priest and Priestess who will be conducting the ceremony.

Ancient sites surrounded by Pagan and Druid beliefs such as Stonehenge and the Glastonbury Tor are among some of the popular choices by couples for their ceremony.

Pagan Handfasting

While the couple exchange their vows the Priest and Priestess bind the couple's wrists together. The Handfasting ritual symbolises the binding of hearts, minds, bodies and spirits together for as long as the couple share love. This ritual is based on ancient Celtic tradition and customarily was seen as a betrothal or promise of marriage between two people.

They would spend a term of one year and a day together to see if they were compatible and after this time, if they were both still willing they would have a second Handfasting ceremony which would then consider them to be married.

Rings are also exchanged during this ceremony and viewed as being a sacred act between the couple. The modern day term of 'tying the knot' originates from this ancient ceremony. Some couples chose to have their hands tied for just the duration of the ceremony; others are left tied until the marriage is consummated.

Pagan Weddings Part II >

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