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Wiccan Handfasting Vows

Updated on October 7, 2011
Handfasting Cord
Handfasting Cord

Wiccan Handfasting

When people mention Wiccan rituals they often think of witches and love spells (more on that here), but Wiccan beliefs also encompass more mundane, yet meaningful ceremonies. Handfasting is the Wiccan word for the ceremony of marriage, very similar to the Christian ceremony. The difference is that in the Christian Ceremony couples are joined "till death do us part". This vow is strict and permanent binding couples regardless of how their love may change over their lives. The Wiccan Handfasting joins a couple "for as long as love shall last". This vow very clearly creates a union that will dissolve naturally when the couple no longer cares for each other. The Wiccan Handfasting vow recognizes that in a natural world vows of devotion hold high importance, but our exterior environment is constantly changing – sometimes against or will. Not for better or for worse – but as a matter of course. It is an elegant concept and one that holds a deep connection to nature and the cosmos.

Handfasting Ceremony

Handfasting History

Handfasting (literally meaning to clasp hands and declare your commitment to one another) was common in the British Isles, primarily in rural areas where access to clergymen was in short supply. A couple who simply could not wait to pronounce their vows for one another turned to handfasting, which is equivalent to today's common-law marriage. Wiccan Handfasting was typically done around family and friends with parties and celebrations to follow. Although the ceremonies in handfasting differ greatly, the concept is simple. Sharing your love for your partner publicly with those who love you as well.

Handfasting Today

Overtime, as Christianity rose and Pagan movements were suppressed the knowledge of Handfasting vanished from the memories and faded into the past. It wasn’t until the middle of the 2000 century that Handfasting found its way back into the world culture. This happened at first slowly within the NeoPagan movement. Because of its pagan overtones handfasting originally re-debuted as a secret ceremony, held only in front of a Wiccan coven or study group. As Wicca and Paganism become more mainstream, however, more and more couples began to find ways to work their Pagan and Wiccan spirituality into their marriage ceremony.

Can I Handfast with My Lover?

Many people believe that they must have Wiccan beliefs or be a practicing Coven member. But unlike other ceremonies attached to certain doctrines or beliefs, anyone can be handfasted. In fact,  since Wiccan handfasting is not a legal wedding, it is open to people in non-traditional relationships. If only our Non-Pagan institutions were so generous in their beliefs.

Other Handfasting Traditions

While searching for more information on the tradition of Wiccan Handfasting and the ceramonies and vows involved I found a powerful list of icons that symbolize the many aspects of the couples love for one another. If you are attending a Wiccan Handfasting or more importantly seeking information on planning your own Handfasting these symbols below are traditional to the handfasting ceremony and the Wiccan belief system.

  • A sun, symbolizing the strength and sturdiness of the male partner
  • A moon, representing the woman, beautiful and mysterious*
  • A cat, to guard the hearth and home
  • A dog, to offer loyalty and protection
  • An owl, for wisdom
  • A star, for the dreams of the future
  • A clock, to remind them that time is valuable
  • An acorn, for strength and longevity
  • A butterfly, for all the summers they will be together
  • A car, for the journey they're about to embark on
  • A house, so they have a place to return
  • A pinecone, for prosperity and abundance
  • A heart, for the love that brought them together

and a parting handfasting vow...

We humans are born of stardust and deepest oceans, of erupting volcanoes and the bones of the earth.
In celebrating love you celebrate a heritage of all these things, and of the love of all humans from the dawn of time.
In making a commitment to loving each other, you share that which is best in us and give a moment of light to the world.”

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    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 5 years ago

      Nice hub... takes me back to my own handfasting many years ago. It really is such a beautiful ritual.

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