The Handfasting is an old tradition of betrothal and was very common among the old Celtic and Nordic tribes. The old Norse form "handfesta", the old Frisian term "hondfestinge" and the old German word "hantfestinge" all describe the ancient tradition of sealing a contract by joining hands. This tradition was also practised when 2 people promised themselves to each other in love in front of witnesses. Traditionally the Handfasting was a temporary wedding contract, you could say "a trial marriage" which lasted normally a year and if the couple then agreed they were suited for each other, they would be pledged to each other for life in another ceremony. The Handfastings were often held at the spring ceremonies such as Beltane in the Celtic and Ostara in the Germanic tradition. In modern times it has become a popular alternative for couples who want a wedding ceremony which is different and can be much more personalised than the traditional form of a wedding in a church or registry office. You can choose between different types of Handfastings nowadays which is really depending on your preference and can have a Wiccan, Druidic or Shamanic ceremony. I feel blessed to have been asked to hold a few Handfastings. Each ceremony was quite different but right for the couple which is very important as a Handfasting is a personal celebration of the union of equals in love.
To make the ribbon which is used in the ceremony can be a very significant way for the couple to prepare. I normally ask the couples to make the ribbon themselves which can be woven, platted, knitted or made in whatever fashion comes to mind. The colours used are of significance too as they hold a very strong symbolic meaning and represent the different aspects which are important to the couple:
Red - stands for strength and courage, good health, prosperity, and longevity Orange – for open hearts, sensitivity and understanding Yellow – for enthusiasm, spontaneity and equality Green – for compassion, affection and caring Light Blue – for sincerity, easy self expression and honest communication Purple – for clear vision and wisdom, for peace and harmony in all ways Gold - for unity – divine blessing and presence in your lives
It is also important to chose the right location and I like to have a little preparation ceremony there with the couple asking first of all for permission of the spirits of the place to hold ceremony and also to ask for blessings, good weather and a beautiful ceremony.
As I said, each ceremony and vows are different and need to be chosen by the couple but in order to give an impression, I give a sample of a popular Handfasting vow which is simple but beautiful.
We are here to witness your union of love, honour and respect. I ask you, is it true that you are both here of your own free will and accord? Now that I know you are, please look into each other’s eyes and hold hands.
I ask you in front of your family, friends and all the people you have chosen to be the witnesses of your union.
Will you honour and respect one another and seek to never break that honour? We will And so the binding is made.
Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it? We will. And so the binding is made.
Will you share each other’s burdens so that your spirits may grow in this union? We will. And so the binding is made.
Will you dream together and create new realities and hopes? We will And so the binding is made.
Will you share each other’s laughter and look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other? We will. And so the binding is made. This is the vow you make to each other, this is the union of equals.
Afterwards it is nice to have an exchange of rings A ring is an unbroken circle, a symbol of unity, of unending love, representative of this greater circle of life of which we all are spiritually a part of.
As you now exchanged rings please repeat after me: You cannot possess me, for I belong to myself. But while we both wish it, I give to you that which is mine to give. You cannot command me, for I am a free person. But I shall serve you in those ways you require and the wine and bred will taste sweeter coming from my hand.
This can be followed by personal vows.
Just as the rings are a symbol, likewise, this cord is a symbol of the lives you have chosen to lead together. It has been woven to symbolize the intertwining of your lives. Up until this moment you have been separated in thought, word and action. As this cord binds your hands together, so your lives become intertwined and as your hands are bound together, so are your lives and spirits joined in a union of love and trust. Above you are the stars and below you is the earth. Like the stars your love should be a constant source of light And like the earth a firm foundation from which to grow.
May the sun bring you new energy by day, May the Moon softly restore you by night, May the rain wash away your worries, May the wind blow new strength into your being, May you walk gently on the earth and know her beauty all the days of your life And may your days together be good and long upon the earth.
Another beautiful way to celebrate a Handfasting is to build a Despacho as part of the ceremony and getting all the family and friends to put a flower with their blessing into the Despacho which then can be burned afterwards by the couple to manifest the blessings into their life. If you would like me to arrange a Handfasting Ceremony for you, please contact me on the Contact Form.