Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Handfasting

A few months ago, dear friends asked my sister and me to prepare a handfasting for them. They would be having a church wedding as well. The handfasting was a more personal choice for them. We'd all met years ago at the Renaissance Faire, and are fond of archaic, ancient rituals that have been left behind. The symbolic binding of a couple's hands is the basis for the terms we've come to know as "the bonds of holy matrimony" and "tying the knot". During the Middle Ages, public hand-holding signified exclusivity in a relationship. Handfastings were considered to be valid for a year and a day - or as long as the couple chose to commit to one another. Rings were only for the very rich, so a ceremony involving a cord sufficed.
The cord signifies that the couple has chosen to pledge to share their higher selves and all that is divine within them. It is tied loosely and removed without being untied so that it remains as a circle.
There are many circles in a handfasting. Most couples choose to wear circles of flowers and greens upon their heads, and for Laura and Robbie, the celebrants encircled us, holding hands. The circle represents the infinite love that knows no boundaries or restrictions.

Because our ceremony was planned across many miles while the couple was working hard on the larger wedding - and because we've known them so well for so long - we put together instruction and vows that we knew they'd like.
The final symbolism in the handfasting is for the couple to jump over a broom. The broom sweeps away any remnants of the past which no longer serve us. They jump together into their common future. In this case, we did not have "Cakes and Ale" because the wedding feast was yet to come.
It was really delightful to be able to share in their love and commitment to one another. They have been together through some very thick and thin times. Robbie is a force of nature, and Laura is a an amazing woman filled with talent and empathy. The circle of friends that gathered to be with them were wonderful, warm, and witty. It was the best party I've been to in a very long time. The solid fog that socked in the mountainside was almost a welcome sight, because it meant that we rented a room, allowing us to partake of all the more merrymaking!

1 comment:

Laura said...

We were the luckiest couple in the world to have these two wonderful women conduct this hand-fasting for us! It was remarkable! Thank you! :)