November 2009 Gifts of Gratitude
Handfastings.org News and Views

Thank You!

This is a special time of the year for Handfastings.org where we get to thank everyone for being a part of our extended family.  So to our trusted newsletter readers, Facebook fans, and all who use our website whether you're a wedding officiant, a couple planning your handfasting ceremony, or just a fan of Handfastings.org, we are grateful for your involvement and support.  Thank you!
Expanding the Globe

Cape Town Wicca

This month Handfastings.org welcomes Raene, handfastings, Cape Town, South Africaour latest wedding officiants, including Reverend Raene Packery, who hails all the way from Cape Town, South Africa.  She is a Third Degree High Priestess within the  Correllian Nativist Tradition.  We are thrilled to add her to our ever-expanding global list of handfasting officiants.

We would also like to welcome Reverend and High Priestess Melissa Lane from Constantine, Michigan. 

It's people like Revs. Raene and Melissa who help Handfastings.org broaden our spectrum of knowledgeable and accessible wedding celebrants from across the globe - and for that we are grateful.  Welcome!

Rev. Raene Packery
Thanksgiving in the Americas

The Evolution of a Celebration


The history of America's Thanksgiving holiday is bittersweet.  While children are taught that the Pilgrims and Indians came together in peace for a beautiful, hearty feast, the whole story of the plight of Native Americans is suppresed. 

Following is an excerpt from Thanksgiving: A Native American View
by Jacqueline Keeler, member of the Dineh Nation and the Yankton Dakota Sioux:

"When the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock, they were poor and hungry -- half of them died within a few months from disease and hunger.  When Squanto, a Wampanoag man, found them, they were in a pitiful state.  He spoke English, having traveled to Europe, and took pity on them.  Their English crops had failed.  The native people fed them through the winter and taught them how to grow their food...

"And at the 'first Thanksgiving' the Wampanoags provided most of the food -- and signed a treaty granting Pilgrims the right to the land at Plymouth, the real reason for the first Thanksgiving.  What did the Europeans give in return? Within 20 years European disease and treachery had decimated the Wampanoags.  Most diseases then came from animals that Europeans had domesticated.  Cowpox from cows led to smallpox, one of the great killers of our people, spread through gifts of blankets used by infected Europeans.  Some estimate that diseases accounted for a death toll reaching 90 percent in some Native American communities...

"...when I give thanks this Thursday and I cook my native food, I will be thinking of... how my ancestors survived the evil [that the Pilgrims] caused.  Because if we can survive, with our ability to share and to give intact, then the evil and the good will that met that Thanksgiving day in the land of the Wampanoag will have come full circle. And the healing can begin."

Jacqueline Keeler's work has appeared in Winds of Change, an American Indian journal.

I strongly encourage you to read the whole story at:

A Modern Holiday

Today, the celebration of Thanksgiving means many things to many people.  Some have sentiments as exemplified by Jacqeline Keeler's story, others see the holiday as a celebration of family; others view Thanksgiving as a time to reflect on abundance and gratitude.  But most will agree that it may be a combination of all of the above, and more. 

As in every Thanksgiving, many of us go home to see our loved ones, feast on delicious turkey, stuffing, cranberry dressing and corn bread.  We give thanks for the abundance of food, family and friends that we have.

The Pagan ideal is to live close to the great Mother Goddess, seeing the Divine in all things in Nature, animals and people.   We believe that our values align with many Native Americans', in that one must have the deepest reverence for the Earth; we tread lightly for it is She who nurtures us.  So we must take great care and respect to the land on which we live.  We are thankful of everything She gives us.  

An Exercise in Thanks
What are you thankful for?  For the rest of November, begining this evening, think of at least one thing per day for which you are thankful.  Set aside some time and reflect upon the item you've chosen.  Place a symbol of that item on your altar or in a place where you can see it, such as a prominent shelf or on your fireplace mantle.  If you do not have tangable symbols to represent the items, keep a "Thankful" list. 

If you don't think you have anything to be thankful for, think again.  May you have a bountiful Thanksgiving!
On the Altar

The Cornucopia

The cornucopia is a symbol of food and abundance also referred to as the food of worship and holiness, Horn of Plenty, Horn of Amalthea, and harvest cone.
In Greek mythology, Amalthea was a goat who raised Zeus on her breast milk, in a cave, on mount Idi of Crete. Her horn was accidentally broken off by Zeus while playing together. The god Zeus, in remorse, gave her back her horn with supernatural powers, which would give whoever possessed it whatever they wished for. The original depictions were of the goat's horn filled with fruits and flowers: deities, especially the Goddess Tyche (which is Her Greek name; Her Roman name is Fortuna), were depicted with the horn of plenty. The cornucopia was also a symbol for a woman's fertility.

Statue of Goddess Fortuna

Fortuna is the Roman Goddess of Luck, Fate, and Fortune, as Her name implies.  Goddess Fortuna promises riches and abundance, and nurtures our individual destinies through the ups and downs of the life cycle.   She rewards those with joyful intentions with success and prosperity. 

Fortuna is often depicted holding a cornucopia filled with fruits from the harvest or coins for prosperity. 

Place a statue of Fortuna on your harvest or Thanksgiving altar.  Surround her with dried fruits, wheat stalks, and coins.  A ritual involving Fortuna has a theme of blessings of abundance.
Upcoming December Moons

December Moon Cycle

moon cycles

Full Moon will be on December 2nd 2:32 AM EST
New Moon will be on December 16th, 7:03 AM EST

Many cultures have names for each of their full moons.  Each name reflects the time of the year, evoking the season during which the full moon rises.  Here are some interesting names given to the full moon in December: 

American Colonial - Christmas Moon
Celtic - Cold Moon
Cherokee - Snow Moon
Chinese - Bitter Moon
English Medieval - Oak Moon

tree shaking hands

Missed any past emails?  Visit our email archive here.

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

Forward to a Friend
Join our mailing list!
handfastings.org, handfastings, handfasting