A Humble Handfasting - DIY Rings!

In the Druid tradition, each of the great “rites of passage” is marked in the calendar by one of the fire-festivals: death, or Parting, is marked by Samhuinn, 31 October to 2 November, when the old Celtic year ends and there are three days of No-Time before the new year begins. Birth, and consequently Naming, is marked by Imbolc on 1/2 February—the time when the snowdrops appear and we can sense the first stirrings of spring. Mating, the Great Rite of making love, is marked by Bealteinne on 1 May, when the forces of spring are in full flood. Marriage, the formal recognition of having found a long term partner after the explorations of the spring time of one's life, is marked by Lughnasadh on 1 August. This forum is for discussing the ceremonies and customs associated with each festival and for all of the rites of passage in our lives.
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Maena
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A Humble Handfasting - DIY Rings!

Postby Maena » 26 Sep 2010, 10:24

Hello everybody,

Here's one of the reasons why I've been keeping a low profile: I've met my mate. He's not Pagan, but interested in "that spiritual stuff". Same as I: never ever wanted to be married again, but wanting to commit himself. Something simple, personal and meaningful, not the paperwork and outer display. So I tried to explain the flexible concept of handfasting.
Next day he told his mum he'd be having a Pagan marriage.. I think he didn't quite get that this isn't a textbook thing. So I'll be the one doing the larger part of planning and executing.

My planning:
Make an inventory of our feelings, inner wants and needs AND outer preferences.
Find ways of expressing and reflecting this in our ceremony; in words, actions, objects, music etc
The "finding" being more opening up to inspiration, letting the answer come to the question.
Then materialising all the things that feel just right.

I thought about what kind of ceremony of course. Knowing that too much "Druid speak" would only be confusing to my mate, I decided to use the keep it simple method: translating all into something basic and easy to understand. Which actually is quite challenging, but in a good way!
We've set the date to when it's the right time. Trusting this will become more clear in time. As of now we thought of having a private joining, just the two of us, and a celebration of this, involving close family and friends, at a later time.

The ring:
I would have been happy with any exchange of tokens. To him wearing a ring was an important symbol of our union... but he doesn't like wearing a ring. So I looked for a ring that isn't a ring... and found a wooden ring! Warm, comfy, living, meaningful and ecological. More a companion than a shackle. I've seen some beautiful works of art on the net, but a bit too pricey for our humble means. So I thought about it, talked about it and went out at night when the time was right, asking a gift from our local pussy willow.

Willow might seem an odd choice of wood: green, wet and soft. Not something to last eternity. But it made perfect sense to me.
The magical qualities of willow (or as I'd say the spirit of willow and her blessings) fit perfectly to what I wanted to give, fit perfectly to his needs and character as I perceived. I always find it horribly hard to describe the spirit of a tree as I perceive it. A bit like being asked what my daughter is like. But I'll give it a try in this context: gentle, loving, caring, taking away sorrow and grief, soothing, healing, watery, mystical, magical, enchanting, moonish, deep, flexible, pliable, binding, strengthening; a wise gentle loving mother to look over my dear.
The fact that it might not last for very long: it will last as long as it is needed! When the time comes I could make a new one, fit to the new situation.

The practical bit: I used a branch a bit over an inch in diameter. Cut a slice a bit less than an inch long. Used my modern time boline (Swiss army knife, camping model) for most of the work. Prodding through the centre, then scraping it with the small blade to enlarge the hole. Cut off the bark and got the outside into shape with small cuts, alternated with scraping the inside till it fit on my little finger. Giving the ring it's basic shape. Now I'm leaving it to dry and harden before I'll get to the finer work.. TO BE CONTINUED See if I'll come round to taking some pictures and posting them.

Any help or advice is welcome, as well as exchanging ideas!

Bright Blessings

Maena
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Re: A Humble Handfasting - DIY Rings!

Postby Zylah » 16 Oct 2010, 07:09

Maena, congratulations! :hug: Your excitement comes through in your post :cloud9:

The willow ring sounds really inspired; lovely and exactly right for your situation. I also concur totally with your description of willow's personality. I would not have thought of wooden rings, but how lovely!

I'm in a somewhat similar situation, my mate is an atheist with druid tendencies, lol. He has said he does not understand my spirituality, but he thinks it is beautiful. Nothing to my mind could have been more apt or touching. We're engaged, and planning to have a Druid handfasting after I graduate in 2012. No definite dates, no pressure, let it come when it will. We do plan to make it a legal marriage as well, but that's very secondary to us both.

I haven't had a lot of time to consider how I want the ceremony or the tokens; but I know that, too, will come.

I wish you all the best as you plan and prepare - every blessing to you and yours :hug:
Where the forest murmurs there is music: ancient, everlasting.
- Fiona MacLeod

"I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible." -- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

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Maena
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Re: A Humble Handfasting - DIY Rings!

Postby Maena » 16 Oct 2010, 09:40

Congratulations to you too Zylah :yay: I'm so happy for you :hug:
I think you have that feeling too: everything falls into place, gently and just right. A wider trust that comes from deep inside of you.

I'll write something about this in the Bards forum :)

A blessing on your journey,
A blessing on your journey together,
A blessing on all surrounding you.
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Re: A Humble Handfasting - DIY Rings!

Postby MiriamSPia » 04 Dec 2010, 15:05

Congratulations ladies! I hope you feel good about it 10 years from now. I don't mean to be rude, but you might want to find out how the new in-laws will react to your hand fasting/marriage rituals. I married through elopement and without my parents or the grooms.
In every case I had intended to have a bigger wedding further on down the road, when we felt the time was better for it, but I ended up divorced before we even go around to having the bigger marriage ceremony - which would have been more like a renewal of vows for us, but like "wow, those two actually had a ceremony for us and plenty of cake" for those who attend, including parents and others. I ended up with unwanted guests at one, because the groom re-nigged on the agreement to have a private elopement now, with a marriage that has guests later and made me look terrible because that made it so that most of his friends were there and almost none of mine were - which I didn't like at all. My 2nd husband/'baby father' and our son were 'my only people there'.

OK. I didn't mean your nice posts about the willow tree and wooden rings to turn into some 'all about me' posting. Its nice that you are moving towards commitment and I agree that there are times when a love affair seems such a private matter that its not really any of their business...but then, I have also found that people seem to get upset with those who just elope or who marry and don't tell their parents until it comes up. My father and his wife didn't find out about my first marriage until I went through divorce and 'coughed up' why I was so upset. They wouldn't know a husband from a casual one night stand - in terms of their awareness of whether or not some guy matters to me or not or whether the guy loves me or not. I mean, that isn't entirely true, but they had just figured that I had just bonked my first husband and broken up and then were annoyed to learn that I had married him but didn't tell them - so, apparently it makes a huge difference, unless they don't know in which case it doesn't even matter and they won't notice unless you have a THIS IS A BIG DEAL RITUAL so they will be aware of it. Now, I have concluded for now that a wedding is actually a THIS IS A BIG DEAL ritual, and not more nor less than that.

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Re: A Humble Handfasting - DIY Rings!

Postby Maena » 05 Dec 2010, 13:44

Hello MiriamSPia,
Thank you for sharing your experience. Even if I don't know the exact circumstances.. it sounds like you had a lot of heartache. In general people tend to see a marriage more seriously than any other form of committed relationship -no matter how serious it may be to the couple. Having to keep the fact you were married secret must have been very hard. Even your private ceremony turning out pear shaped, that is not the way it should be. It should be a joyful occasion and I believe that most people would want to share that joy with their loved ones. And also that bit of pride: 'this is my mate and we are a couple'. You must have had your reasons for not making it public at the time. Being divorced before you were able to straighten it out, that is dear. I hope there was at least SOMEONE to support you through that difficult time.

Now to my case.. we are NOT making a secret out of it! We've both had bad experiences with marriage and we do not want to get married. The only bond between us is love, nothing more, nothing less. Everybody who might remotely be interested knows we're a couple and getting things sorted in order to live together. It should be obvious it's 'serious' since it involves emigrating! Our parents know. I don't know about his friends, as I've not asked, but my friends know. He's met my tutor from college, my classmates know about it too. He's been to my work, meeting my colleagues and some clients. He met my parents and they get along very well. I've not had the opportunity to meet his parents in person yet, but I've talked to his mum on the phone and we get along well too. She was very happy when he told her we'd have a 'pagan wedding'. I only would have liked to meet in person and explain things beforehand. My parents know about my spirituality and I told them we'd have a 'Druid Thing', not get married by law and it was fine by them.
Our handfasting is part of our spiritual life. I'm open about my spirituality, but don't feel the need to let everyone know everything about it in all detail. I'll tell people the gist of it and that's that. We do want to share, invite everyone who'd like to celebrate our union. First we have to get our life together sorted and then we can organise something doable. We have family and friends in different countries and little means. So we will keep it small, take pictures, put something in writing etc to share with those who can't be there.
I can't say we'll be together in ten years time, but we are being VERY mindful about what we do or not do. We have learnt that the goal is not the length of time you spend with someone, but the quality of that time you share and that every bit of it is a blessing and a gift.
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Re: A Humble Handfasting - DIY Rings!

Postby MiriamSPia » 12 Dec 2010, 19:37

Maena,

Thanks for responding. I am just learning about how forums work. I could tell by your response that you had not really understood what I had attempted to communicate but I could tell that you understood part of it quite well.

Hopefully you and your partner will be together in ten years. Too bad you had bad experiences with marriage in the past. In my case, it has turned out to be helpful that I did it, every time, even though you are correct that there was also heartache. I was never forced to be secretly married. Its something that I 'did to' my father and his wife, not telling them.

Its nice that your parents get along with your mate and that the hand fasting is not a bone of contention.

Check the tax laws and how you and your partner do or do not share money to determine whether or not its in your best interests to marry.

Congratulations again on being in love and having an agreement to commit with a partner.

I was able to play a role in a druidic marriage ceremony once, for a couple who I do view as friends although I didn't see them all that often. I was lucky it was druidry, as I have a decent feel for that. Although I'm very Christian for a pagan as I grew up pretty content as a UU protestant and last time I checked the Bible I came away from it thinking that people who dislike Jesus Christ don't understand him - if they knew him they would like him even if they don't agree on every point. Compassion and forgiveness were his main messages, which is the same blither we get from the Buddhists and very good stuff indeed.

Anyways, goddess and god - blessings to your hand fasting and thanks for including me here at the forum.

Miriam


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