January 2009 Be Our Valentine
Handfastings.org News and Views
Falling in Love - with our baby!

Cyrus Abraham


The founder of Handfastings.org, Shira, and her husband would like to announce the birth of their first child, Cyrus Abraham.  Born on January 20, 2009 at 7lbs, 4 oz., he is the new love of our lives.  Along with his parents, Cyrus is welcomed into this world by three loving grandparents, in addition to his three first cousins and another on the way.  His other grandmother watches protectively from the Summerlands.

Cyrus Abraham was brought into this world through the use of HypnoBirthing, a natural method of childbirth and deep relaxation.  We are absolutely thrilled to welcome our son Cyrus into the fold!
We Love our Officiants

Welcome New Officiants!

Welcome officiants Rev. Dr. Timothy Lake of Schenectady, NY,  Rev. Marci Drewry of eastern Virginia,  Rev. Margaret A. Beat of Florida, Rev. Teri Luna of Washington State,  and Mary Dellucci of South Carolina (Handfastings.org's first officiant from SC!).

Valentines Day and Lupercalia

A Time of Love and Fertility

February is the month of love magic and Pagan sex-magic rituals.  Many brides and grooms choose to wed on Valentines Day, a day known for love and for giving oneself to her and his partner of choice.  While the origins of Valentines Day go back about 1,600 years, there is an even older festival that was celebrated mid-February that was closely associated with fertility.

lupercaliaOriginally a shepherds' festival, Lupercalia, one of the most ancient Roman festivals, was celebrated every year in honor of Lupercus, the god of fertility from February 13 - 15th.  This festival may have gone back as far as thousands of years before the Christian era.  Lupercalia is a fertility festival, once associated with the shepherds' desires for fruitful lands and families.  The shepherds would dress like Lupercus, who is often associated with the Greek god Pan, who is half man, half goat.  Goats were known for their strong sexual instinct and thus were appropriate sacrifices to the god of fertility.  

The shepherds took goat skins and wrapped them around the bottom half of their bodies to represent Lupercus.  Some strips of goat skin were held in their hands.  They ran through the streets of the city, touching or striking all people whom they met in their way, especially women, who even used to come forward voluntarily for the purpose; it was believed that this ceremony rendered them fruitful, and procured them an easy delivery in childbearing.  This act of running about with strips of goat skin was also a symbolic purification of the land.

shiva and shaktiWhile there is no historical evidence for the connection, it just so happens that Valentines Day (originally concocted by Pope Gelasius in the fifth century) is celebrated in modern times on February 14th.  However, no one can deny the importance of the symbolism of fertility around this time of year and the knowledge that as winter melts and spring bounds forth, people come out of their shells, becoming more apt to begin socializing with one another.  It is an archetypal feast of the senses!  

Today, a number of Pagans celebrate Lupercalia mid-February as a celebration of fertility.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupercus
Green Weddings
by Shira
Living Green and Reducing Your Carbon Footprint:
Is the rest of the world finally catching up to us Pagans?


Following the awakening of people's consciences in the late 60's to alternative spiritual and environmental issues in preparation for the Age of Aquarius, the first "Earth Day" in 1970 prompted us to think about how we treat the Earth, our surrounding environment, and ourselves.  At first slow to develop through the 50's and 60's, the Pagan movement in the U.S. grew exponentially in the 1970's out of this need for treating the earth as our sacred home.

During the 70's, the oil shortage hit us hard, and the subject of how we treated the earth became top of mind.  But no sooner had we sparked our consciousness about living more earth-friendly lives, than did environmental causes fall back out of fashion in the 1980's once seemingly endless prosperity and excess bounced back in full force.

But now we seem to be paying a price for all that excess, wasted energy, and other actions that left our environment ravaged with much-needed repair.  Global warming has crept back into our conversations once again, but this time, it comes with a major warning: this time - it's for real.

organic wedding favors, herbs, seedsToday, it seems like the rest of the world is finally catching up to the environmental issues that Pagans have cared so much about for many years.  Environmental issues are inherently important in the Pagan communities because of our close relationship with Nature and reverence to the sacred Earth and its surrounding universal elements.  Divine Nature surrounds us all, and we must treat Her with respect.  After all, we only have one planet to call home - Earth. 

Many Pagans, along with other non-Pagans, are doing what we can to ensure that our carbon footprint treads lightly on our lands.  A number of us have been incorporating everyday practices that are environmental friendly through the choices we make in how we live our daily lives.  We have become conscious consumers, we recycle, and we conserve.

In keeping with the "green" movement, many couples are opting for a "green wedding," making sure that this very spiritual day is in accordance with our environmentally friendly values.  Because weddings can get very expensive, just one wedding can instigate a sizable carbon footprint to trample upon our good Earth.  organic bride

According to New York Times staff writer Mireya Navarro, author of Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration, there are smart alternatives - products and services as well as planning decisions - that can reduce environmental harm while ensuring a joyous, memorable and stylish celebration.  With this in mind, here are a few ideas that couples can take into consideration while planning their Earth-friendly wedding, shaping their union for years to come:

    Hire caterers who use locally grown ingredients
    Choose a venue that cuts down on travel
    Choose organically-grown fabrics for the wedding party's attire
    Find a vintage dress to avoid the waste of a wedding gown that will never be worn again.
    Calculate the mileage guests will travel and offset their carbon dioxide emissions by donating to programs that plant trees or preserve rain forests.
    Use local and seasonal flowers for the bride's bouquet and the decorations, instead of burning up fuel transporting flowers from faraway farms.
    Design an organic, seasonal menu for the same reason.
    Get married or have the reception in a hall that recycles
    Decorate with potted plants that can be transplanted
    Use soy-based candles, rather than those of petroleum-based wax
    Get an engagement ring with a conflict-free stone or wedding bands made with recycled gold
    Use invitations that are made from recycled handmade paper and use as little paper as possible
    Give away local seedling trees for those who wish to take one

Be creative!  There are so many things that couples can do to have a wedding in accordance with the way they would like to spend the rest of their lives together.  The great Earth Mother Goddess Gaia would be very proud.  

Above organic dress by The Back Porch Boutique

tree shaking hands

Link back to Handfastings.org.  If we've added your website to our officiant list, or even if you just really dig our site, link back to Handfastings.org.  The more reciprocal links the better!

Handfastings.org wants to know what you think.  Please email me at shira@handfastings.org and let me know if you have any suggestions, ideas, or corrections.  I'm all ears.

As always, Handfastings.org remains a free service to all.  I look forward to hearing back from you.  

Mission Statement
The mission of Handfastings.org is to link people in the Pagan and Wiccan communities with ordained officiants who perform Handfastings, Wedding Ceremonies, Commitment Ceremonies, Sacred Unions and other Rites of Passage and celebrations.

Love and Light,
Shira's signature
Artemisia Shira Tarantino

Joining Hearts in Perfect Love™
Contact Information
email: shira@handfastings.org
website: www.handfastings.org

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