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marriage

Affairs of the Pagan Heart

February, 2018

Choosing Handfasting Cord Charms

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! You’ve planned every detail of the ceremony and reception with your partner and you’ve committed to having a handfasting ceremony, and now it’s time to choose what your cord looks like, from which colour(s) to choose to which charms represent the two of you. Of the two, the charms are, by far, the hardest to choose. There is a limited number of cord colours, but an unlimited number of symbols that could be used.

Charms at the end of a handfasting cord aren’t essential, but if you choose to add charms, the symbols should be the most meaningful symbols to you. After all, there are only two ends to a cord, so make them count!

The current definition of symbol on Wikipedia is spot on:

A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different concepts and experiences.”

Charms you choose may exist already and made of metal, or they could be carved from wood or a crystal, or they could be printed and placed into a photo charm.

As for how to choose symbols for your handfasting cord, think on the symbol you want to evoke meaning for your relationship and marriage. It may help to light some incense, meditate, sit cross-legged in front of each other, or even doodle with pen and paper with your eyes closed until you feel something has come forth.

You may want a literal charm. If you met at the seaside, you may want to walk along the beach together until you find some shells that compliment your cord. If your engagement took place at the Statue of Liberty, find a charm of Lady Liberty and something else to accompany it. If you have Celtic or Norse heritage, perhaps you’ll want to add a charm of a Celtic Love Knot on one end and the Ehwaz rune on the other end.

Sometimes choosing a charm based on what your relationship means can evoke a deeper representation. When you spend time with your partner, does a particular image come to mind? Does a particular animal frequently appear near you or cross your path when you talk about your partner? Does the same symbol keep appearing in any wedding-related dreams you have leading up to the ceremony? The universe is speaking to you in dreams, animal encounters, repetition, and strongest memories and wants you to take notice. So do!

And as relationships change, grow, and mature, the symbols you use to represent it may change as well, so if you reuse your handfasting cord later for a vow renewal or rebonding ceremony, consider changing the charms to represent what and who you are now. Add in charms for your family, your home, your spiritual path, or anything that may have changed or evolved since your marriage began.

***

About the Author:

Rev. Rachel U Young is a pagan based in Toronto, Canada. She is a licensed Wedding Officiant and under the name NamasteFreund she makes handfasting cords and other ceremonial accessories. She is also the Chair of Toronto Pagan Pride Day.

Moon Owl Observations

September, 2017

Handfasting

 

I recently got married, and while I was planning my wedding I decided to look into the tradition of Handfasting. I remember attending one a few years ago and thought it was beautiful. I had heard of them, but that was the first one I’d ever been to. I decided to look more into it to see if it was something my husband and I would want to incorporate into our day.

 

The first thing I wanted to find out was obviously the meaning behind it and the history. When the tradition was in its prime it was generally set for a year and a day. If the two people were still happy and wanting to be together after that, then the bond would stay in force. If, by that time the couple decided it wasn’t for them, they were free to walk away. It was also sometimes used to see if they would have a child in that time as well. It may seem kind of weird, but in a way it would save a lot of people from divorce. It was a binding of marriage before weddings became government or church functions, and the tradition involves the hands being bound together to signify the joining of their lives. It is the meaning behind “tying the knot”.

 

 

(This green Handfasting Cord is called Dragon Mother.  It can be purchased at Divinity Braid by ASV Weddings on Etsy.)

 

 

The two hold hands and a third person (preferably a priest or priestess) binds the hands together. Ribbon or small cord works best and the colours can be twisted together, or as most people prefer, the colours are separate and each one is woven individually through the hands. Most of the time around 3 or 6 colours are chosen. And I’m assuming most reading this know how much significance there is in colour, and on a day like your wedding, choosing the correct ones is something to think about. Below are the main colour choices of ribbon and what the meaning behind each one is:

 

Red: will, love, strength, fertility, courage, health, vigor and passion

Orange: Encouragement, adaptability, stimulation, attraction, plenty and kindness

Yellow: Attraction, charm, confidence, balance and harmony

Green: Fertility, luck, prosperity, nurturing, beauty, health and love

Blue: Safe journey, longevity and strength

Purple: Healing, health, strength, power and progress

Black: Strength, empowerment, wisdom, vision, success and pure love

White: Spirituality, truth, peace, serenity and devotion

Gray: Balance, neutrality, return to the universe without repercussion

Pink: Love, unity, honor, truth, romance and happiness

Brown: Healing, skills and talent, nurturing, home and hearth, the earth

Silver: Creativity, inspiration, vision and protection

Gold: Unity, longevity, prosperity and strength

 

 

(This Handfasting Cord is called PRIDE . It can be purchased at NamasteFreund on etsy. For more information read below*)

 

The actual meaning behind the word Handfasting comes, of course, from old Celtic traditions and wording. “Hand- festa” means “to strike a bargain by joining hands” which also refers to things like a basic handshake. It was popular years and years ago in Scotland and Ireland, and for a while it was viewed as almost an engagement, and for the most part once Christianity became more wide-spread, weddings became taken a lot more seriously, and due to the lack of clergy, most couples would hold a handfasting before the clergy would come around so they could be joined in union without needing to wait for someone to come around.

 

In today’s times some people still use a handfasting as a type of trial-marriage, or it can be incorporated into a full ceremony. Most of the time it is held before the legal paperwork. Other traditions that work well with a handfasting are a wine blessing and a unity light blessing with candles. Some aspects that may be a little bit different than a typical wedding would be that usually you want people to stand or sit in a circle around the couple, and there should be a blessing of the scared space beforehand, and a circle may be cast. Typically a mention of various gods and/or goddesses and also the various elements. Another tradition that may be incorporated is jumping over a broom and even a maypole dance. Because of some of the traditions talked about may not be accepted by family members or friends who are invited. Some people may also be confused so if you are going to have a handfasting or any other ceremony you may want to put something in with the invitation or program. I definitely suggest looking into finding a High Priestess or High Priest so it is done correctly, but you can even do some research and get a close friend or loved one to do it, especially if you live in a small community.

 

All- in- all it’s a pretty customizable and meaningful tradition. It’s a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of. There are a lot of options and traditions to look into when planning to get married.

 

*Rachel Young is the owner of NamasteFreund. She began making handfasting cords by making one for her own pagan ceremony. Five years later she continues to make a wide range of wedding cords, infusing them with her best wishes that a marriage can bring, & has shipped products to every continent. Her product line expanded to include besoms, wands, bookmarks, & more. She is also a licensed Wedding Officiant specializing in handfastings, inter-faith, & same-sex marriages. You can find her on NamasteFreund, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter.

 

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

August, 2017

Hand Fasting Gifts

 

 

Merry meet.

 

While couples planning weddings take advantage of gift registries at every place from The Home Depot to Crate and Barrel, couples who are hand fasting may appreciate a more pagan, creative and personal approach to gift giving.

 

At the urging of others, one couple I know visited their favorite pagan store and with the owner’s cooperation, made a list of items they liked. Those who wanted could look at the list and choose something without stressing over second guessing which book, what incense or the best color for an altar cloth. By the owner maintaining the list, it was helpful to know, for instance, someone had already gotten the wooden box with the pentacle on top.

 

(This box is available at magicraftshop on etsy.  You can view it by clicking HERE.)

 

Those who prefer to craft a gift have many options pagans will positively prize.

 

(There are a variety of ribbons to be found.  From the craft stores to your local dollar stores.)

 

If the couple is not making their own cord, you might want to craft it. It can be braided from ribbons with charms attached.

 

 

(These are just a few Pagan themed Charms you can use.)

 

Those wanting a challenge can try the five-string braid. In addition to ribbons, lace, trims and drapery cording found in fabric stores, and strings of beads found in craft stores can be incorporated. For a fall ceremony, consider wearing in a string of dried corn kernels, or strings of tiny shells for a hand fasting on the beach. Figure a finished length of at least six feet so that it can be wrapped around the wrists and knotted three times. If the number of people attending is small, you might organize its making by having each guest contribute the desired length of ribbon, lace, etc. Charms and color themes can be considered. As part of the ritual, they would be woven together with everyone’s intentions for a loving relationship.

 

(These handfasting brooms are available at BROOMCHICK on etsy.  You can view them by clicking HERE.)

 

A common hand fasting tradition is jumping the broom, making that another gift that would be welcomed. It can be purchased or made from twigs or other botanicals attached to a branch. It would then be decorated with lace, ribbons, flowers and other embellishments. Afterwards, the couple can hang the broom above a door or a mantle.

 

(Hand painted wine glasses.)

 

Painting champagne flutes or a chalice are other gifts that could be used as part of the hand fasting ceremony.

 

(Flower crown & hair pieces.)

 

Crowns for the couple can be made from flowers, leaves, antlers, feathers, vines, shells, handles from spoons and forks, or crystals – or any combination. If a man would rather wear a medieval style hat or even a top hat, it could be decorated with the same types of materials.

 

(Homemade, dressed talisman candle.)

 

What pagan ever has enough candles? You don’t have to be pouring wax to make a spell candle for the couple, you can start with any candle you choose, and using a selection of oils, chants, intentions, carvings and Reiki, turn it into a one-of-a-kind gift.

 

(This Grimoire is available at TheMadamePhoenix on etsy.  You can view it HERE.)

 

Smudge sticks, incense, tea blends and decorated journals are other ideas.

 

 

(The Magical Art of Crafting Charm Bags comes out on Oct. 1, 2017. Click link on bottom of page to pre-order.)

 

I happen to like making mojo bags, and would consider making one for the couple with herbs, stones, a miniature tarot card or two, runes and other objects holding my intentions.

 

These are just a few ideas for making a hand fasting gift both crafty and Craft-y. I’m sure there are many more.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.