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May Day! May Day! It's the 6th anniversary of Handfastings.org (celebration!) and a number of exciting things are happening. Our newsletter won a prestigious award (article below), our blog has gone "live", our eShop is open for business (see left sidebar), and our new magazine is in the works.
This past year, we've added 34 new wedding officiants who perform handfasting ceremonies - a record for our website. And to date we list more than 100 officiants. Most of all, we couldn't have gotten this far without you!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support.
Have a Blessed Beltane. May the festivities begin!
Welcome New Officiants
Connie A. Anast
We are always delighted to add new officiants to our list. Here are our latest: Connie A. Anast of Utah, Rev. Michael Cheiron, Ph.D., of Georgia, Mama Fortuna of California, and Suzanne A. Rosenberg, Justice of the Peace in Connecticut. Welcome all!
Rev. Michael Cheiron, Ph.D.
Handfastings.org Receives a 2009 Constant Contact All-Star Award
Handfastings.org is the first Pagan organization to be recognized for All-Star Award
April 18, 2010 - Handfastings.org, our organization which links people in the Pagan community with ordained officiants who perform handfastings (an ancient wedding ritual), today announced that it has received a 2009 All-Star Award from Constant Contact, Inc., a publicly listed company that provides email marketing, event marketing, and online survey tools for small organizations. Handfastings.org was selected for meeting Constant Contact's best-practice standards for the use of email marketing using its popular newsletter, Handfastings.org News and Views, throughout 2009.
Artemisia Shira Tarantino, founder and CEO of Handfastings.org states, "Handfastings.org strives to regularly reach our newsletter readers and website users with the latest information on the ancient rite of handfasting, wedding lore, officiant updates, Sabbat celebrations, Pagans in the community and more. We are thrilled to receive the All-Star award which reflects the integrity of our organization. Because Handfastings.org's major role in the community is to be a leader in networking by connecting people with wedding officiants who perform Pagan handfastings, receiving an award highlighting our marketing abilities and best practices points to excellence in communicating with the Pagan population. As Constant Contact has more than 350,000 customers worldwide, we are honored to have been selected from such a large group of organizations as a winner of the 2009 Constant Contact All Star Award."
Demonstrating best practices in the effective use of email marketing, Handfastings.org is the first Pagan organization to receive a Constant Contact All-Star Award.
"Our customers work hard to build strong relationships with their customers through email marketing and some, such as Handfastings.org, truly excel in this effort," said Gail Goodman, CEO, Constant Contact. "We created our All-Star Awards to highlight those customers who are passionately committed to following best practices as they work to improve their customer communications. We're proud of the role we play in helping Handfastings.org be successful and we look forward to continuing to assist the organization with its marketing efforts."
The Handfasting Ritual - a Reflection of the Times
I think he might be saying, "Like my earring?" in this Portrait of William Shakespeare
The modern day handfasting might be new to some, but it is rooted in antiquity, begining in the land of the Heath in ancient Scotland. From there, the wedding ritual travelled far and wide, across Ireland, to Wales and eventually Elizabethan England, where the handfasting ritual flourished. But alas, following some overlap, the ritual eventually took a backseat to the modern church wedding in the western world.
But somewhere between rural Pagan life and "civilized" church rule, the Rennaisance flourished, connecting two cultures that couldn't have been more different.
Enter William Shakespeare [see above portrait], the master of the word as art. As is any artist, Shakspeare was influenced by the times in which he lived. As author Zan Fraser points out in his article "Handfasting in Shakespeare" [Witchvox, April 11, 2010], today's modern couples will discover genuine examples of the ancient handfasting ritual within some of the master's plays.
Shakespeare's As You Like It, a comedy set in the countryside, "... can only conclude with a nature-oriented wedding, and so we find a ceremony with striking Pagan tones to it at the end of [the play], not the least of which is the officiating of the Greco-Roman Marriage-God Hymen (also known as Hymenaios and Hymenaeus; it is either the Deity or a priestly stand-in) . In simple point of fact- the wedding that concludes As You Like It is a Pagan handfasting."
Fraser also points out that a handfasting rite is performed in Shakespeare's The Tempest. "... Prospero summons the Rainbow-Goddess Iris to serve as the 'contact-divinity' through whom the Immortals Ceres and Juno are 'drawn down' to impart blessings upon the 'troth-plighting' of Miranda and Ferdinand. Basically the Wedding-Masque of The Tempest is a 'drawing-down' ceremony."
Thanks to Shakespeare, we have some wonderful examples of 400-year-old Elizabethan handfastings.
Even though the handfasting ritual has been buried into the far reaches of our subconcious, it is far from gone. Today we are seeing a resurgence of the ancient ritual. It seems as though more and more people are interested in replacing the old "church" wedding with a more earthly-inspired, intimate and meaningful (read: not cookie-cutter) ceremony. Creating a handfasting ritual has ironically become a novel idea - refreshing and exciting. Everything old is new again. Drawing from ancient Pagan and old Elizabethan ceremonies is the modern thing to do!
For more details and some great insight, read Zan Fraser's full article here:
|Weaving the Magic Into Beltane
Beltane, or May Day, is one of eight solar Sabbats. In the northern hemisphere, Beltane, named for the Celtic sun God Belenos, is traditionally celebrated at the time the Sun reaches the middle degrees of Taurus, the first Earth sign of the horoscope, in early May.
The month of May is named for the Greek earth-mother Goddess Maia. This is also the time of Her wedding. Usually celebrated on May 1st, Beltane marks the union of the Goddess and the God as the cycle of the year culminates in the most abundant phase of fruitfulness and fertility [just to be clear, gods from different pantheons never married one another in any story; multiple cultures share similar timely seasonal myths].
Beltane is essentially the marriage of the Goddess and the God. Vitality and passion return to nature, as this day marks the union of male and female energies, helping to prepare the earth for planting and growing. It is this sacred union that we celebrate today.
In service and celebration, we erect the iconic Maypole. Traditionally the life-affirming maypole will be topped off with a wreath of flowers and ribbons, signifying the male phallus entering the female yoni. We tie colorful ribbons to the top of the pole, each taking a ribbon and weaving in and out of one another, making for a very heady experience. We chant and sing as we weave the web of life. The wrapped maypole is a magnificent, colorful, and very magical sight!
The morning of May 1st is also magical time for the element of water. Water is the element of love, emotions and fertility. Rise at dawn to collect some wild water from dew, flowing streams, and springs. Use this in which to bathe for beauty or to drink for health. The woman who washes her face in it will be beautiful for the forthcoming year, and the man who washes his hands will be skilled with knots and nets. For the engaged couple, drink this sacred water from the same cup during your handfasting and you will be blessed with a passionate marriage!
Beltane Binding Spell
By Edain McCoy
Incense of the day: Sage
In the Wiccan wheel of the year Beltane celebrates the marriage of the God and the Goddess. Many modern Wiccans enjoy a Beltane wedding because of the sexual imagery contained in this sabbat's rituals. One feature of the celebration is the tying together of the couples' hands. We call this handfasting, a name given to the Celtic customs of trial marriages. With a length of silk you can weave a spell to bind something to you. Wrap one end of the silk snugly around your left hand. Wrap the other end of the silk to something or someone else, provided you have consent. You may want to confirm your relationship to your best friend, a work partner, or with a small child. You may wish to keep objects, such as books, jewelry, or money, from being lost. You will need to personalize the words of power so that they are more specific to your purpose. What follows is a blueprint. The finished spell is yours to build.
High and hot the Beltane fire,
I bind you now by my desire.
No one shall harm, lose, or take,
Because a binding upon it I make.
When the silk is removed, the spell remains. Keep the silk and visualize the spell to recharge the binding as necessary.
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.
Once again, I am grateful for your readership. Tell your friends about us!
Love and Light,
Artemisia Shira Tarantino
Joining Hearts in Perfect Love™