Enter Spring 2010 Welcoming Springtime
Handfastings.org News and Views

March Ostara

Handfastings.org Updates

New Officiants Added to Handfastings.org!
Welcome Colleen Lemons (aka Cisis) of California, Reverend Wendy Hauver of Florida, and Grant Pike of Massachussetts.

Reverend Wendy Hauver

Wendy Hauver

Reverend Wendy Hauver (pictured right)

is a Hedgewitch who comes from a line of Strega witches.   Proprietor of Wed by Wendy, she is currently the Alternative Spiritualities writer for examiner.com.  Since 2005, Rev. Wendy has performed hundreds of unique weddings and specializes in custom ceremonies, her most recent that of a combination of Wiccan and Mormon beliefs.  
A professional writer and English teacher by trade, Rev. Wendy is the author of the novel, The Fancy Files: The Mostly True Story of a Slightly Insane Girl (www.thefancyfiles.com) and has written for a variety of popular publications with subjects that range from aviation to NASCAR to, of course, dating and relationships.


Breaking News - The Right to Marry Wins!

Washington D.C.
March 3, 2010 - It's official!  If you're gay and you want to get married in Washington D.C., you can!  The nation's capitol has finally come to their senses and legalized same-sex marriage.  In D.C. only, that is - not the entire country.  But still a great feat nonetheless.
Washington D.C.  is now the sixth place in the United States where same-sex marriages can take place.  Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont also issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
same-sex marriage
While the measure was signed into law in December, because the District of Columbia is not a state, the law had to undergo Congressional review which ended March 2.  This has huge implications because Congress was involved in passing this decision (unlike a stand-alone state decision).  This move will surely have weight in courts across the country and will (hopefully) play into future states' decisions on passing gay marriage laws .

As you may know by now, just a couple of weeks ago I sent out breaking news coverage of Ireland's decision to legalize Pagan handfastings. 
This is a great victory for all Pagans, not only for those who live in Ireland, but for everyone around the world who considers themselves Pagan.  It is a testament to our free will and our basic human rights to marry without government interference.
Here is an encore presentation of the article from Irish America:
I move for Pagan couples around the world to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year by getting handfasted!
Behold!  The Spring Equinox

Ostara - the Awakening

Since the Winter Solstice on December 21st, the days have become longer and longer.  The sun shows its bright face a bit more each day. The sun begins to rise closer to the east and set closer to the west until we reach the day when it rises exactly between the two directions.  This is the day of the Spring Equinox, when all is in balance.

The Earth awakens.

young shoots

The Pagan holiday of Ostara (celebrated during the spring equinox) marks the first day of spring (March 20th this year in the Northern Hemisphere).   Ostara was named for the Teutonic Goddess of Spring, Eostre.   Judaism and Christianity also have a biblical character and a spring holiday whose names can be attributed to Eostre (Esther and Easter, respectively).   
The equinox is a sacred day of balance, when everything is of equal strength.  Ostara is a day for the new sprouts: young and old, big and small.   The new seedlings may be naive as they learn to reach for water and sunlight, but they are the survivors of the harsh winter and ready to take on the season with beauty and vigor. 
This hare looks surprised.  I love spring!
Today is a day for fools' love - the novice is ready to take on the task of loving another, springing into action, with ne'er a thought of what lay ahead in the complexity of courtship.  Today we run on instinct and go with our first feelings.  We jump into action and challenge the world with an inner strength that surpasses physical power.

Ostara is a time to be child-like and whimsical.  Celebrating this Sabbat with children is especially magical.  Make an offering to the Goddess of Spring; dig a small hole outside and place decorated hard boiled eggs in it.   Write your wishes on a small piece of paper if it is not already conveyed on the egg itself and place them over the eggs and cover everything with dirt.  An adult or High Pristess  says to the children, "We stand on the cusp of equal day and equal night."  Then c
hant together:

"The Moon goes round the Earth
The Earth goes round the Sun
When Day and Night are equal
The greening has begun!"

Envision your intent as you do so.  Wishing for growth or luck in a new beginning or venture is especially powerful during this time.  So mote it be!  Welcome Springtime!


Hieros Gamos, the Sacred Marriage

Erotic image from the Khajuraho Temple, India
Hieros Gamos, Erotic image from the Khajuraho Temple, India
Normally I would reserve discussing the Hieros Gamos for Beltane, when we officially celebrate the sacred mating ritual of the Goddess and the God.  But the beginning of spring is not without its fertile awakenings as evidenced in nature itself.  We see the bunnies awaken from their long winter slumber, venturing forth into the world and begining to mate.  We enjoy the first flowers of spring - the beautiful bulbs that are tulips, hydrangeas, and crocuses.   We go out ourselves, for the first time in months, and experience our own personal awakening of sorts. 

While in more northern areas, some of us are still wearing our snuggies and drinking hot cocoa.  But in southern areas where it's naturally warmer, we are in full swing, springing into action, venturing out into the world, begining new projects and, yes, already looking for mates.
Accordning to wikipedia, Hieros Gamos, or Hierogamy (Greek for "holy marriage"), refers to marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities.  It is the harmonization of opposites.  Which brings me to why I bring Hieros Gamos up now.  The equinox is a day of balance, when opposites are equal, if not, a part of each other.  The ritual act of a Hieros Gamos illustates, celebrates and honors the sacred hook-up of the deities that are both polar opposites and one with each other.  A match made in "heaven."
On the Altar

Bring spring beauty into your rituals

Seasonal decoration helps Pagans visualize intent, strengthen magical practice and honor the Gods during rituals.  There are many a number of beautiful items that you can place on your Ostara altar, including:
  • Clover patch,
  • Statue of the Goddess Brigid,
  • Brigid's cross,
  • Yin/Yang symbol
  • Decorated eggs,
  • Egg bread,
  • Bunnies and hares,
  • Green grass,
  • Tulips,
  • Anything light or pastel colored
Be creative and let your imagination run wild!  Remeber, 'tis the season for unreason. 
A "Very Pagan" Handfasting - sexytime!

by Ellen Evert Hopman

Druid Rite of Handfasting
Written by Ellen Evert Hopman
Presented by Lady Cattra Shadow the Scarlet Cat from her blog
Reflections at the Magic Tree  - Thank you LCS! 
My note: This is a superb example of the Hieros Gamos.
Lady Cattra Shadow's  note:  This rites are VERY PAGAN and not suitable for a public gathering involving extended non-Pagan families. I suggest one ritual for the benefit of the extended biological family and a separate ritual for the couple and their Pagan friends and family.
Union By Water

A private handfasting ceremony can be as simple as two people, sitting on opposite sides of a stream joining their hands together under the water.
Sacred water is the medium whereby the ancestors are contacted. It is also symbolic of being "twice born" and entering a new existence. A more elaborate ceremony might involve the couple actually immersing themselves in "wild water" that is, a natural pool or a lake, a river, a large holy well, or the ocean. Entering the sacred water shall be understood as re-entering the womb of Danu, Anu or Aine to emerge again as newly reborn beings.

The couple shall approach the waters as if they were the sexual opening of the Mother.

They shall walk three times sunwise together before entering the waters. Then shall they remove their clothing for it is naked we come into this world and it is naked that we return to the Mother. Then shall the couple make gifts to the water such as silver coins, flower wreaths and other suitable offerings. Then shall they approach the waters saying:

"The shelter of Danu, Mother of the Gods be nigh our hands and feet as we enter the waters. May we come safely home. May Lugh the Bright Warrior aid us, may Brighid the Healer preserve us, may Anu, Earth Mother, bless us".
Then shall the Groom take a silver chalice of pure water and offering it to the Bride say:

"With this water may we enter a new life, a life of greater love and wisdom. May the five streams of knowledge be increased in us, may we together achieve the perfection of our five senses".

After she has taken a sip the bride shall offer the chalice to the groom saying:

"May the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits and the Gods direct our purpose and twine our lives together like the heather and the bee".
Then shall they walk hand in hand into the waters until they are fully immersed, to the tops of their heads. After emerging twice-born shall they repair to a private spot to consummate the marriage on a red blanket, for red is the color of passion and of life.
Union by Earth and Sky

The Union by Earth and Sky can follow the Union by Water or stand by itself as a Handfasting Rite.

The couple shall approach a sacred space, whether a ring of stones, a glade in a forest, a beach, etc. First they shall consecrate the perimeters of the space with Vervain and Honey (for purity and sweetness), pouring the honey and offering the herb in a circle, sunwise. Then shall a red blanket be spread in the center of the circle near which shall be placed a chalice and a beaker of wine or mead. The Groom shall wait in the center of the circle while the Bride invokes the quarters thusly (or in any sacred way she chooses):
"Powers of East, of prosperity, of abundance. Powers of the Salmon, the Wise One who knows how to return to the Source of All Things. We welcome you into this circle. Be with us now".
"Powers of South, of the dark mysteries of the waters, of music, of the Great Boar and Sow. Of those who uproot the old that the new may come forth. Show us how to root into ourselves to find new Truth and Inspiration. Be with us now".
"Powers of the West, history keepers and poets who give us clear vision in song and in story. Great Stag who shows us the changes of he seasons. Be with us now".
"Powers of the North, bright spear of Lugh and Sword of Nuada. Fire of passion from the place where the Sun never sets. Mighty Eagle who teaches us courage and vision, be with us now".
Finally shall she turn to the center and face the Groom saying:
"Powers of the Center, of Sovereignty and firm rulership. Teach us self mastery and true judgement. Bring us balance. And may the sweet harp music of Angus Og pour over us in this circle".  
Then shall the Groom take the Bride by her hands and gently pull her to the blanket. They shall remove each others clothing or if it be cold weather they shall each wear only a cloak. Then shall the Groom bind a red ribbon around two of their joined hands and they shall make love. 
When the Groom has entered the Bride's body he shall visualize her as a Goddess and as the Land, inseparable and as one, his most sacred altar of worship. Then shall he look into her eyes and say the following:
"Your flesh is the Earth. I worship you as one.
Your bones are Her stones. I worship you as one.
Your blood is Her water, I worship you as one.
Your thoughts are Her clouds. I worship you as one".
Looking into the Grooms eyes and visualizing him as a God and as her most sacred altar of worship, the Bride shall say:
"Your face is the Sun. I worship you as one.
Your eyes are the Stars. I worship you as one.
Your breath is the Wind. I worship you as one.
Your soul is the Sky. The Sky is myself. We are one".
And then shall they make love until they both cry out to the watching Earth and Skies. Then shall they unbind the ribbon. The Groom shall then present the Bride with a pouch in which are four smaller pouches or bundles. One pouch shall contain salt to purify their home. One shall contain bread that they never go hungry. One shall contain wood or coal that they always be warm. One shall contain a silver coin that they never know want.
Then shall the Bride pour wine or mead into the chalice and offer it to the Groom. Then he shall pour into the chalice for her until the pitcher is empty. Then the Groom shall rise and thank the quarters and the directions. Then shall they dress and depart the sacred space.
Copyright 1999, Ellen Evert Hopman

Symbolic Eggs

The Fertile Egg
In cultures and religions around the world, the egg remains an important staple in food and ritual .  The symbolic signifigance cuts across languages and cultures; it stands for fertility and the continuation of life. 
ostara eggs
The egg has no begining and no end, symbolizing that Life is a continuous cycle.  It is a perfect symbol of birth, life, death and rebirth and is used in many spring rites and holidays, including Pagan, Christian and Jewish cultures.
The egg also symbolizes fertility, a reoccuring theme in Pagan cultures and practices around the world.  Having an egg on the handfasting altar is especially auspicious for a couple getting married and very appropriate for handfastings held during the time of Ostara.
Spring 2010 Almanac

Phallus Day - Japan, March 15

Penis worship - again?  Phallus Day, or Honen Matsuri, is penis worshiping at its finest.  Japanese for "Harvest Festival", this holiday is a fertility festival celebrated every year on March 15.  
phallus day
The Honen festival and ceremony, celebrated by the Shinto people of Japan, celebrate the blessings of a bountiful harvest and all manner of prosperity and fertility.

To learn more, click on the links below: 




Sheilah's Day - Ireland, March 18

Sheelah's day is a carry over of an Pagan festival celebrated in mid-March that predates St. Patrick's Day.  Sheelah's day is named for Sheelah-ne-gig, the Goddess of fertility and protection.

All over Ireland, reliefs and sculptures of Sheelah-ne-gig are carved into the stones above old church doors and cornices in Ireland and throughout the British Iles, blessing those who enter.  The Sheelah-ne-gig is a nude female figure who holds her legs apart and vagina open wide, perhaps letting us know that "all are welcome here in the warm cauldron of the great mother." 
It is also theorized that Sheelah-ne-gig blesses new brides and grooms with fertility and prosperity who marry in an old church that adorns her carvings.
Eric Brightwell, an Amoeblog contributor, suggested, "All this blarney about St. Patrick chasing snakes off the island is a load of hooey. There were no snakes in Ireland.  All he did was popularize a foreign cult and displace indigenous beliefs, including the pre-Christian observances of Bacchanalia on the 17th and Sheelah's Day on the 18th-- events that can't really be chalked up to coincidence."



Moons and Sabbats
(Northern Hemisphere, EST)

New Moon - March 15, 5:01 PM

Ostara/Spring Equinox - March 20, 8:28 PM

Full Moon - March 29, 7:21 AM

tree shaking hands

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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.

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Artemisia Shira Tarantino

Joining Hearts in Perfect Love™
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