The Handfasting

in #love3 years ago


Last weekend I performed a wedding and as part of the ceremony did a handfasting. The couple wanted a pagan ceremony but since their friends and family were traditional Christians they asked me to create a ceremony that would let everyone feel comfortable. As part of this, and because I knew that most of the audience wouldn't know what a handfasting was, I gave them a short history and explanation of the symbolism and I thought you might be interested too.

Handfasting has been used in Celtic tradition from early times, it has been documented from the 1600's, and has been revived in modern times. In its original use it could be for a temporary marriage or a betrothal, the couple committing to each other for “a year and a day”. At the end of that time they could separate and choose another partner, or formalize their marriage.

In modern times it isn't usually performed as a separate ceremony a year ahead of time, it is included as part of a wedding. After the vows are exchanged the couple's hands are tied together with a ribbon or a cord, symbolizing their commitment and binding them to their vows. (As I explained to the people who would be 'tying the knots' – you aren't tying them to a tree so they can't get away! Please tie the knots loosely!)

As I held up the cord I said:
Woven into this cord, into its very fiber, are all the hopes of your family and friends, and of yourselves, for your new life together.

Then as the knots were being tied:

These knots bind you to your vows and tie together all the dreams, love and happiness wished for you here today. They symbolize the the joining of two lives and two hearts

Then I did a blessing of the five directions


Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East, the dominion of Archangel Gabriel, here present: Communication of the heart, mind and body.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South, the dominion of Archangel Michael, here present: Warmth of hearth and home, the heat of passion, the light that banishes darkness.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West, the dominion of Archangel Raphael, here present: The passion of the ocean, the cleansing of the rain, the healing of the heart.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North, the dominion of Archangel Uriel, here present: A firm foundation on which to build, deep wisdom, and abundance.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of Spirit here present – invisible but powerful, always present within you. May the Lord Jesus Christ walk with you and guide your path.

After that I asked everyone to form a circle around us and hold hands. I said:

You are the family and witnesses to this ceremony of marriage. At this time we ask that you perform the final blessing.

Let all here present fill this circle with your love and prayers. Feel and see them filled with Divine Light, a light that will guide them on their new journey together. Amen.

Then I asked a family member, a Christian minister, if he would offer prayers for the marriage, which he did in more traditional language.

Then I held up the cord and said:

As this cord represents your union, we also recognize that you are two strong and independent people. Know that the cord is a symbol, your love is the real bond.

Then the moment everyone was waiting for:

By the authority of Love, here present, and the vows you have made, and by the power vested in me in this state, it is my honor to pronounce you husband and wife.

Big cheers all around and it was done!


Interesting. I was not familiar with this Celtic tradition. Sounds like a lovely ceremony @donna-metcalfe

Thank you. Most of the comments I heard afterward were though it was something they'd not seen before it was beautiful and emotional. And that they really liked the circle blessing. I think it was because they got to be part of the ceremony and not just an audience.

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it is very interesting information to me who live in different part of the world and culture. thank for sharing this with us. Have a great day

Thank you! It is not common here either. More popular with the Pagan community than traditional church people. But a beautiful ritual and ceremony.

Yes, that is, and the most important thing is the couple will stay together to share love and life as one for eternity, wish you and your family all the best too @donna-metcalfe

Such a great blessing for you to be a part of this beautiful union. Thank you for sharing with us all.

Strange but interesting @donna-metcalfe 😊 so simple but full of responsibility. So "tie the knot" also has the same meaning with handfasting? Why rope or string? Why not ring?

In earlier times they would use whatever was handy - a length of vine, a strip of cloth, perhaps ribbons. It is just a symbol of commitment and in modern ceremonies there are different choices too. I chose a fairly large piece of soft white rope so that everyone could see it! I cut the rope in the middle, leaving the knots still tied on their wrists. They kept them on for the reception.
"Tie the knot" comes from this ceremony, yes! It still means getting married.
This couple also exchanged rings as a more permanent symbol.

So wonderful.. I admitted that I never know how is the special wedding ceremony in your country, because all I saw in the movie is a common one, well.. the Royal Wedding also not really special in my eyes, because in my country.. different ethnics have different culture of wedding ceremony or reception and it's not simple at all 😯 tiring is the right words to explain it😂

And for my wedding, I skip all thise traditional wedding procedures and stick to the "must do" according to my religion, no wedding ring (I think we have 2 purple quartzs stone ring but I didn't remember where we put it after the wedding😂)

What about prenuptial agreement, did it became a part of the process too?

I think wedding traditions are very interesting and I sure don't know all of them! To marry for love is a new thing, as you know this was not always true. It was more to make sure property was kept within a family, often to make alliances, and to make sure the right people would inherit the property! To make sure (or try to!) that the children born to the wife were the children of her husband. So it was a social contract before it was a religious one, or a legal one.

So we have witnesses! At least two but there can be hundreds! And a religious figure to hear the vows, and lots of ceremonies! Which evolved over time. Like 'stealing' the bride is a custom in some places, a tradition now but it used to be a real thing, taking a bride from a different clan. And we don't allow multiple marriages in most places now, which I think is a good thing!

Anyway, in my country a handfasting is not a usual thing. Like I said, no one in the audience had ever seen one before. It is more common to be married in a church and each church has a formal marriage ceremony that the minister reads. The same for everyone who marries in that religion. My friends wanted something different.

My husband and I had a small but traditional church ceremony. (Like the Royal Wedding, but a thousand times smaller!) The only thing we did differently was our wedding cake was decorated with fresh flowers instead of a bride and groom figure on top.

So you have wedding rings but don't wear them? (Don't know where they are?) So that isn't a big tradition or your personal choice?

A prenuptial agreement is not required. (A marriage license is, and it must be signed and recorded in the county where the marriage took place.) Prenuptial agreements are usually made by people of wealth, so that if there is a divorce the property is divided fairly. Or in the case of a couple who were previously married, perhaps each with children from another marriage, it could also ensure the children would inherit fairly. It is a legal document and not considered to be very romantic, just practical.

Wedding rings is not a big tradition at all😂 but most people in my country now have it. Thanks to mass medias which spread the new tradition to our people. My husband knew that I like the stones (I'd prefer diamond but he couldn't afford it even for a tiny one😂) but never really care about rings or other jewelries too.

And here is another story about the prenuptial agreement. I want to have one before but hubby refused to do so, it's not always about the wealth my friends made the prenuptial agreement based on the principles of their way of life or beliefs. They evaluate the agreement every 10 years, sometimes annually after they have children.

It is not part of tradition too, but I think it would give a different responsibilities to the couple.

Oh, that is a very different use of a prenuptial agreement than here! Is it more commonly done if they are from different cultures or religions? Those kinds of decisions here would be discussed and agreed to before marriage but not put in writing. I'm curious as to what sorts of agreements would be included?

I had an engagement ring with a small diamond and a plain gold wedding band. After about 20 years my fingers got fatter but I didn't want to have those rings made bigger because my hands were too often in the garden dirt and I worried to lose the stone. Now I wear a "rose gold" band, plain gold with raised rose buds in pink ("rose") gold connected by stems of green colored gold. I think it's more romantic for a gardener to have!

What I wanted to say has been said already.
nice post!

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I saw your blog throught the @pifc and @cicisaja Steem on and I upvoted

Thank you so much!

You are very welcome offcourse