Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Let's Talk Commitment

Let's talk Handfastings. So I just got a book from Borders (WHICH JUST CLAIMED CHAPTER 11 BANKRUPTCY!!!! POUR QUOI!!!!!!!!! *insert extreme sad face here*) it's called Passages: Handfasting: A Pagan Guide to Commitment Rituals and it's by Rev. Dr. Kendra Vaughan Hovey. I find Handfasting to be extremely interesting and I would probably want to have that as my ceremony one day rather than an actual wedding (or both depending on the partners pref.). Either way, I might as well get acquainted with it and see what it's all about.

Overall, it's a pretty informative book. And if you are planning a Handfasting it has some useful information for you. The author is the founder of the First Church of Wicca which is always an interesting concept for me. I wouldn't mind attending a Wiccan Church just to see what it's like. but I can tell you structured things like church definitely are not my walk in the park. But I digress, she starts off with a chapter on the history of Handfasting which I found extremely interesting (the nerd in me was very pleased). She discusses how Handfasting can last from a year and a day (366 days by the lunar calendar, I learned something!) or for a life time. Throughout the rest of the book she discusses not only the Pagan aspect of Handfasting but also ways of working your commitment ceremony around interfaith relationships between your partner and between their family and yours. Most Pagans today don't hail from a Pagan family (go figure) and she gives tips on how to take the Handfasting ceremony and to combine it with pretty much any other religious ceremony under the sun. She provides examples from a good number of different religions and cultures world wide and ways to work their special rituals and customs into the Handfasting to make it appealing to both partners and families without it losing any of the specialness (is that a word? lol) to you or your partner. I thought that was rather clever of her and very forward thinking since most people who would have a Handfasting would come across that sort of problem (I'm no where near having a Handfasting and it already has occurred to me). She also provides different Goddesses and Gods from many different pantheons that are focused on love and commitment that you could call on for help during your relationship and ceremony. The author provides love meditations for a Pagan couple, an interfaith couple, and even a solo meditation in case your partner is uncomfortable with the idea of meditating. There is even a chapter dedicated to non-Pagan friends and family. The rest of the book talks about putting your Handfasting plans into motion. From finding the right person to officiate the ceremony(ies), to budgeting, to finding the perfect dates (why not a Sabbat Handfasting? And don't forget the moon phase either!). She talks you through locations, themes, colors, flowers/herbs, attire and jewelry, incense/oils, and even spells. She also provides an example Handfasting ritual and even notes where to add in the interfaith rituals and ceremonies as well. The author brings the book to a close with discussing the first year and a day after the Handfasting and how to keep the love and romance alive though out your many years of being committed to each other.

She does mention quite often about not mixing pantheons for the meditation and the ceremony because it's rude and disrespectful. I've never really thought to much about the mixing of pantheons. Certain other authors I've read say that it's ok, because if a God or Goddess calls to you and they aren't from a certain pantheon it shouldn't matter. They are calling to you and that's something you should focus on more than where they are calling from. It spurred the question to mind also, what does one do if your partner is from a different tradition than you? Do one of you have to compromise and not invoke your own personal Goddess or God? That seems a bit.... well, unfair. I would think that so long as you offer the deities a place in your special ceremony they wouldn't hold any offence to whether or not they are mixed or not. Especially when it is between two people from different walks joining together. It's a lot to think about that's for sure. I guess it all deals with perspective. Being an eclectic it's easy for me to find a middle road.

There was also a mini rant about if you are in the broom closet which I thought was a but unneeded. And through out most of the book she assumes the reader to be female which I'm never happy about sexist assumptions but that's not calling her a sexist. Because honestly most people who read the book and plan the Handfasting will probably be women (as in any marriage ceremony I guess). And there are a few things I could knit-pick about, being as it not my personal taste in ritual fashions and what not. But I won't delve any deeper into those.

Overall,I really did like the book and it was worth a read. It's originally $10.95 off the shelf, I paid about $3.19 for it. Like I said I think it's worth a read and is very helpful if you are planning a Handfasting or any commitment ceremony and you wish to incorporate some of your Pagan customs. Whether you decide to pay full price for it, well, that's up to you and your budget. ;) It's a pretty short read (about 230 some odd pages) and I managed to plow through it in a few hours. But you could definitely spread it over a few days. I will be very happy to place it on my Pagan reference shelf where it will one day get used again, hopefully. When the time is right and the sad sucker comes along to want to spend the rest of his life with me (lol that poor soul). ;)


  1. We actually had both when hubby and I got married. We had a ceremony for our family with the Justice of the Peace (which was great because it was low on the whole religious overtones). Then we had a handfasting the day after our 1 year anniversary with a small group of friends that we occasionally have ritual with.

  2. although me & bf aren't married nor have had a handfasting done we have had a committment cermony done. which is something similar to a handfasting but i done it for us both.

    & to be honest what she said about gods & goddesses none that i have invited to any cermony have cared what name they have been invited by! they are more than happy to attend.

    also you can invite family &/or friends that have passed & are now in spirit to the cermony as well :) one handfasting i done in the past they wanted their ancestors invoked! & past family members & friends!! that was one crowded cermony i tell ya! lol

    why the rant about broom closet for? in a handfasting book? that has me confused!

    some pagans view the "year & a day" handfasting cermony similar to an engagement then the "forever" handfasting cermony similar to a marriage.

    but then others like getting handfasted every year on the year & a day, like renewing their vows every year.

    it's all personal taste at the end of the day & erm i'll stop now! :P lol

  3. Thank for this review, JM. My husband and I had a non-religious wedding (Although, he forgot the copy of the generic vows at home, so the judge presiding made them up on the spot. We were giggling the whole time counting the number of "Jesus"'s on our fingers. :P). We're thinking that in the future we'd like to renew our vows with a handfasting, or at least a Pagan ceremony. I'll have to check this book out.

    P.S. FYI, I've got a chocolate giveaway going on that you might like. :)

  4. K.Michele, That's a really cool way to do it. I hadn't thought of that. I really like that idea.

    PurplyBunny, I think maybe you should write a book on Handfasting. You have an amazing wealth of knowledge on it. And I think it would have been a bit more interesting than this one! The rant about the broom closet came in one of the chapters talking about dealing with non-Pagan family and friends. She goes on about if you have made the choice to have a handfasting with your partner then you shouldn't be afraid to tell others about your path. And keeping it a secret is more of a burden to you then if you were to tell someone and it would take them by surprise. And if they don't respect your choice of path then they never respected you as a person to start with. She goes on for a few pages. And some of the stuff she says is right, but I felt it was unnecessary in this book.

    Blue Faerie, I bet your ceremony was really funny! I think it would fantastic to renew your vows with a handfasting!

  5. We did both as well. our JP was amazing and she performed our handfasting as well as our wedding.