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Thursday, July 05, 2007

TT #47: handfasting

TT47

Thirteen things about handfasting

This is the # 100 of the Thursday Thirteen. Congratulations!!!!!
I know we all are invited to write about our thirteen favorite Thursday Thirteen posts, but I'll save that for another occassion. This coming Saturday I'm going to a handfasting ceremony, so that's my theme for this week.


  • Handfasting is the marriage rite used by many heathens, (neo-)Pagans and Wiccans. In some cases, other people who are fashioning a wedding theme around their Celtic ancestry may also use this term, even if they are not Pagan, per se. For some it is a year and a day, renewable "so long as love shall last" and for others a commitment to be together throughout this life time, or through many lives.

  • The term itself comes from the custom of shaking hands over a contract. It is a custom steeped in old tradition. "Handfasting" refers to the hands being bound together with a cord as part of the ritual. See "tying the knot" or "the ties that bind".

  • In modern Pagan traditions, handfasting may be used either in the informal betrothal sense, or may be used as a legal wedding, complete with wedding license. If at least one Priestess or Priest officiating at the rite is legally registered, the rite can stand as a legal marriage. Most Handfastings, however, are not legally certified. It is not possible for pagan clergy in a lot of countries (yet, I hope).

  • Handfasting is quite popular today, among many people who find that their own lifestyles call for an alternative joining ceremony to that provided by more typical weddings. Handfasting can be used by couples of the same sex, or by group marriages who wish to have more than two people in their families. They can be used by people who are members of Pagan (polytheistic nature) religions, or by people who don't necessarily share the same beliefs. There are also Christian and other folks who choose to use handfasting as their wedding rituals for various reasons.

  • There are probably as many rituals for this as there are people who have joined themselves together. Most couples write their own ritual, see some examples. Another example of a handfasting ceremony can be found here.

  • The handfasting gesture seems to have been derived from one of the ancient Indo-European images of male-female conjunction, the infinity sign, whose twin circles represented the sun (female) and the moon (male) or in some of the southern Mediterranean traditions it was sun (male) and moon (female). The hands are generally bound with a cord as part of the ritual. One custom is that while facing each other, the couple places their right hands together and then their left hands together to form an infinity symbol while a cord is tied around their hands in a knot. Another custom is that the man and woman place their right hands only together while a cord is used to tie a knot around their wrists.

  • There's also the "besom wedding" or "jumping the broom", an unofficial custom that was considered quite lawful in parts of Wales until recent times. A birch besom was placed aslant in the open doorway of the house, with its head on the doorstep and the top of its handle on the door-post. First a young man jumped over it, then his bride, in the presence of witnesses. If either touched or knocked it in any way, the marriage was not recognised.

  • A couple should consider colour correspondences when choosing a colour for their cord(s). The cord is what the officiant will tie or wrap around the couples' hands during ritual to symbolize their union. You can use colour meanings relevant to you, or commonly used correspondences.

  • Couples may drink out of the same cup to indicate the joining of their lives and destinies. Rings are often exchanged. Most of the traditional symbols and customs we associate with traditional weddings (cake, wine and toasts, having rice or grain tossed over the bride and groom, ivy in the bridal bouquet, the 'unity candle', the veil, the garter, etc) were pagan rites originally. Many of these rites, such as rice-throwing, started out as fertility charms.

  • Although Beltane is becoming a popular time to hold Handfasting rites, May has traditionally been considered an unlucky month in which to wed, since that is the Gods' sacred marriage month. It seems kind of like upstaging the Goddess on Her wedding day… Therefore Midsummer and/or the waxing to full moon in June seems most appropriate. Samhain is also becoming a popular time for Handfasting Rites though.

  • The best day and time of the week to perform a Handfasting rite is either Monday or Friday at the first hour after sunrise or the first hour after sunset. The worst days are Tuesday and Saturday, any time.

  • There are quite a few movies in which you can see some kind of handfasting ritual.

  • If you want to read more about handfasting, here is a list of books.

source:

Btw, we found a present for Saturday; Wonder came up with a great idea. We are making something ourselves. Can't tell you about it yet, but I'll post pics after the weekend!

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46 comments:

  1. I learn the most interesing things on your blog, When you first mentioned handfasting, I looked it up on wickipedia, a lot more interesting things here

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  2. I know a couple handfasted couples. :)

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  3. Thanks for the information! And for stopping by my blog. Happy Thursday (almost)!

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  4. Wow! This is a terrific resource for handfasting! Thank you for sharing all of this info. Happy TT :)

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  5. What a neat post! I've known some handfasted couples, too. :)

    Happy TT, and thanks for visiting mine!

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  6. That was fascinating Tink. I'd heard of handfasting, but I didn't know much about it.

    Happy TT.

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  7. What an interesting post! Learn something new everyday! Thanks for sharing! Happy TT!

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  8. You have some wonderful and interesting items in your TTs. Love visiting.

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  9. Very interesting!

    Happy TT!

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  10. Very interesting. I'd heard of jumping the broom, but otherwise all new information! Thanks :)

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  11. Hello, Tink! Thanks for the thoughtful list; your lists are always fascinating. Mine is fun this week and themed for July 4th. Stop by if you get a chance.
    Happy TTing!
    DK

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  12. cool list..My husband and I are planning a hand fasting for our 10 yr. anniversary (we have 7 yrs now)

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  13. I have never ever heard of handfasting. Very informative TT!

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  14. It's my 1st time to hear about handfasting. Thank you very much for the information you gave us.

    Happy Thursday!

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  15. Wow, what a fascinating post! Happy TT.

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  16. What a fantastic post. This deserves to rank as a top thirteen post. Thanks so much for once again enlightening me on a topic I knew little about.

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  17. Very interesting, I never heard about that ! I am not ceremony at all, not religious and not others.

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  18. I like learning about new things! Pawfasting sounds perfect for cat unions.

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  19. I love handfasting ceremonies. Two of my friends had a renaissance type of handfasting. Loved it! I officiated one back in the 90s. It was beautiful. Great T13, Tink! Totally informative!

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  20. What a great list! I learned so much and it was so refreshing and interesting! Thank you for sharing that! Happy TT! :o)

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  21. Amazing TT! so much info!

    Stella

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  22. Tink, as ever that was absolutely fascinating. I am stunned to hear that Pagan marriages are not often legal...seems crazy. Seeing as most of the world is so-called Pagan...ie everyone who isn't Christian!

    I loved the list of movies you brought into the list for examples of hand fasting...I know I will always be looking for such a gesture or practice now that I am aware of "tying the knot".

    I have been away from town visiting family so not able to get online but great to see you again...now that I'm back home here is my list for this week:

    http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/2007/07/randomness.html

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  23. Thanks for all the info about handfasting. My TT about July is up.
    http://alasandra2003.blogspot.com/

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  24. Thanks for all of that very interesting information on handfasting. I was aware of some of the things you mentioned, but certainly not all. Thanks for the lesson. :)

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  25. I just love handfastings. They are so lovely. They're legal here in the US as long as you're a registered member of the clergy. I think there is even a website where you can become one.

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  26. Fascinating post, Tink!

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  27. Great list! Thanks for the information. Happy TT!

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  28. This is such a beautiful thing to do at a wedding. I'd love to do this as a way of renewing my vows.

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  29. You're TT's are always so interesting.

    www.chelleyoung.com

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  30. Thanks for this pretty informative and neat TT - I´ve learnt a lot!

    Enjoy the handfasting ceremony. Will it be possible to post some pictures, Tink?

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  31. great post on Handfastings. Loved reading it. As a Priestess of the Wicca, I have presided over many handfastings. It is a very powerful and loving rite.
    blessed be
    Lady V

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  32. Next time the Wiccans I know are going to a handfasting I'll not be quite so in the dark about it. Thanks :-)

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  33. Thanks for information! I'm learning things here. I know of couple who handfasted too :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, I wish you a good TTs and good day!

    Julia-Yen

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  34. very dang cool Tink! I always think of Beltane as my special sex day of the year. heh.

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  35. Glad to hear you came up with a gift -- I'd been wondering, actually.

    This is neat stuff, Tink. My son goes to school with a neat couple (who the Tour Manager and I have friends in common with, in fact!) who are very into life in England in the 14th Century, I think it is. You have me wondering about their ceremony now and what they did... Hmm... I might need to ask!

    Happy TT!

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  36. I know an engaged couple who will e doing a handfasting. I should send them your link. :)

    Happy TT.

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  37. Cool list, thanks for the information, especially the link to the list of books (more books, I must have more books *g*). I wouldn't be surprised if some of this info made it into my WIP (thanks again).

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  38. I've handfasted a lot of people and I always get a thrill, every time. I love your blog, Tink and I look forward to all your Thursday Thirteens.

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  39. A great post!!!! Happy Th 13

    Hubby and I have been married legally for over 13 years ... we are still waiting for our handfasting before the gods.

    Mama Kelly

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  40. Very interesting stuff...thanks for the info:) Happy TT.

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  41. I've been fortunate enough to be at a couple of handfasts... and they were all very meaningful and wonderful. Thanks for sharing the info!

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  42. Mommakitty emjoyed yer TT this week furry much! She is Scottish and watches the movie Braveheart whenever it's on (good example in this move as you mentioned on your list). Also demonstrated in the book series "Outlander" - marriage in the first book (6 in series). Happy TT!

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  43. Thanks for a very interesting info. Now I know what hand fasting is.
    Thanks for sharing it and also for your visit.

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  44. things I never knew...

    take care and happy Friday :)

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  45. Handfasting is a beautiful ceremony- we've been talking about having ours, but need to decide WHERE...

    I have been to a few, from one in a river to 2 in a pub!

    They aren't legal here in the UK though....

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  46. charming tradition and so full of symbols.

    thanx for visiting my tt. sorry it took so long to return your visit. last week was consumed with that spring cleaning project i blogged about before and after tt.

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