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Affairs of the Pagan Heart

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.

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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.