Wicca: Book of Spells and Witchcraft for Beginners. The Guide of Shadows for Wiccans, Solitary Witches, and Other Practitioners of Magic Rituals - Arin Chamberlains 2018
The Principles of the Craft on Birth, Death & Marriage
In Wiccan belief, instead of a marriage like that of Christendom, where husband and wife are bound for the span of their lives until “death do us part”, the Wiccan marriage ceremony is one that commits a man and woman to each other only for as long as they love each other. Should it happen that they later find they have fallen out of love with each other, the man and woman freely separate with no risk of ’sin’ or the like. This is a very practical arrangement as relationships often evolve and nobody wants to be guilted into remaining with a partner they no longer really want to be with. The Wiccan marriage ceremony is called the Handfasting Ceremony.
In modern times, most people prefer to write out their own Handfasting rites. Here we will provide the Seax-Wicca Handfasting rite as a guideline — feel free to either follow the rites as they are or to use them as a guideline for creating your own Handfasting rite.
The most suitable time for performing the Wiccan marriage ceremony is during the waxing of the Moon. If possible, it is nice to have flowers decorated the Altar and the inside of the Circle. It is also preferable for all coven members to be skyclad for the Handfasting rite. If the coven in question are usually robed and do not wish to be skyclad, it is suggested that at least the Bride and the Groom be skyclad for the duration of the rite.
Much like the ’traditional’ marriage today, so too are rings exchanged in the Seax-Wiccan traditional marriage ceremony. The rings are usually bands crafted from gold or silver and inscribed with the Bride and Groom’s witch names on the rings in runes. At the beginning of the rite, these rings are to rest at the Altar, with The Priapic Wand.
The Handfasting Rite Step-By-Step
Perform the Opening of the Circle or Erecting of the Temple .
The priest and priestess kiss. A coven member states:
There are those in our midst who seek the bond of Handfasting.
The priestess then says, “Let them be named and brought forward”
The coven member responds with “[Groom’s witch name] is the Man and [Bride’s witch name] is the Woman.”
The man and woman in question across the Altar, to stand to face the priest and priestess, with the Groom opposite the priestess and the Bride opposite the priest .
The Priestess addresses the Groom, “Are you [name]?”
The groom responds., “I am.”.
The Priestess asks, “What is your desire?”
The groom shares, “To be made one with [Bride’s name], in the eyes of the Gods and the Wicca”
Now the Priest turns to the Bride. He asks, “Are you [name]?”
The Bride responds, “I am.”
The Priest asks, “What is your desire?”
The Bride answers, “To be made one with [Groom’s name], in the eyes of the Gods and the Wicca.”
The Priestess takes hold of the sword and raises it up high. The Priest hands over the Priapic Wand to the Bride and Groom, who hold it with both hands between them.
The Priestess says, “Lord and Lady, here before you stand two of your folk. Witness, now, that which they have to declare.”
The Priestess places the sword back onto the Altar, takes her athame and then holds the tip of it to the chest of the Groom.
Then she says the Groom:
“Repeat after me: ’I [Groom’s name], do come here of my own free will, to seek the partnership of [Bride’s name]. I come with all love, honor, sincerity, wishing only to become one with her whom I love. Always will I strive for [Bride’s name]’s happiness and welfare. Her life will I defend before my own. May the athame be plunged into my heart should I not be sincere in all that I declare. All this I swear in the names of the gods. May they give me the strength to keep my vows. So Mote It Be’.”
The Priest lowers his athame and the Priestess takes the rings from the Altar and sprinkles them both with salted water and censes them with the thurible. She then passes the Bride’s ring to the Groom and the Groom’s ring to the Bride. The man and woman take them in their right hands, holding the Priapic Wand with their left.
The Priest states:
As the grass of the fields and the trees of the woods bend together under the pressures of the storm, so too must you both bend when the wind blows strong. But know that as quickly as the storm comes, so equally may it leave. Yet you will both stand, strong in each other’s strength. As you give love; so will you receive strength. Together you are one; apart you are as nothing.
The Priestess then states:
Know you that no two people can be exactly alike. No more can any two people fit together, perfect in every way. There will be times when it will seem hard to give and to love. But see then your reflection as in a woodland pool: when the image you see looks sad and angered, then is the time for you to smile and to love (for it is not fire that puts out fire). In return will the image in the pool smile and love. So change your anger for love and tears for joy. It is no weakness to admit a wrong, more is it a strength and a sign of learning.
The Priest then states:
Ever love, help and respect each other,
And then know truly that you are one
In the eyes of the Gods
And of the Wicca.
All coven members declare, “So Mote It Be!”
The Priest then takes the Priapic Wand from the Bride and Groom and returns it to the Altar. The Bride and Groom place the wedding ring on each other’s fingers, and then kiss. The Bride and Groom then kiss the Priest and the Priestess across the Altar and move around the Circle to accept congratulations from the coven members. Afterwards follows the Cakes and Ale ceremony, and games, and plenty of merriment and celebration.
As mentioned, many religions see marriage as a one-time lifetime commitment, meaning the husband and wife are to stay together no matter the circumstances and even if they themselves resent each other for it. In Wiccan belief, casual partnerships are in no way encouraged, but it is recognized that over time, relationships change and perhaps a husband and wife a no longer are happy together later on. After all attempts at salvaging the relationship are first made, then the last resort is a Handparting ceremony, which can be likened to a divorce.
Before performing the rite, the husband and wife sit with the Priest and Priestess to come up with fair divisions of their assets and to arrange support for children if there are any. A scribe is present to record everything. If one of the spouses cannot be present for whatever reason, their position may be represented by another Witch of the same sex if there is a signed agreement from the missing party, and the wedding ring.
The Handparting Rite Ste-By-Step
The Opening of the Circle or Erecting of the Temple is performed.
The priest and Priestess kiss.
A coven member states, “[Husband’s name] and [Wife’s name], stand forth.”
The husband and wife move forward to stand before the Altar, with the Husband in front of Priestess, and the Wife in front of Priest.
Priestess asks the Husband, “Why are you here?”
The Husband responds, “I wish a Handparting from [Wife’s name]”
The Priest now asks the Wife, “Why are you here?”
The Wife responds with, “I wish a Handparting from [Husband’s name]”
The Priestess asks them both, “Do you both desire this of your own free will?”
The husband and Wife respond with, “We do.”
The Priest asks, “Has a settlement been reached between you regarding the division of property and (if appropriate) care for the children?”
The Husband and Wife respond saying, “It has.”
The Priest asks, “Has this been duly recorded, signed and witnessed?”
Now the covener Scribe confirms, saying, “It has.”
The Priest then says, “Then let us proceed, remembering that we stand ever before the gods.”
The Husband and the Wife join hands and repeat the following together, line by line, after the Priestess:
“I, [Name], do hereby most freely dissolve my partnership with [Spouse’s name]. I do so in all honesty and sincerity, before the Gods, with my brothers and sisters of the Craft as witnesses. No longer are we as One, but now are Two individuals, free to go our separate ways. We release all ties, one to the other, yet ever will we retain respect for one another, as we have love and respect for our fellow Wiccans. So be it.
The Priest then announces the instruction, “Handpart!”
The husband and wife release their joined hands, remove their rings and give them to the Priestess. The Priestess sprinkles the rings and censes them. The Priestess then states, “In the names of the Gods do I cleanse these rings.”
The priestess then returns the cleansed rings to the man and woman to do with them as they please.
The Priestess says, “Now are you handparted. Let all know you as such. Go your separate ways in Peace and in Love — never in bitterness — and in the ways of the Craft. So mote it be.
All coven members repeat, “So mote it be.”
After the ritual follows Cakes and Ale ritual then clearing of the Temple or closing of the Circle.