Handfastings.org News and Views  Sept. 2010

In This Issue
New Officiants
Vow Renewals On Mabon
Why Yes, I Do Weddings
For Your Altar
October Moon Phases
Quick Links
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Hello Friend,

I can feel it in the easterly wind - the whirl of autumn is blowing in!  Wait a minute - did I just rhyme?  Well not quite, but who's counting?

We've added quite a few handfasting officiants this harvest and I'm so excited about it!  With each passing moon, Handfastings.org branches out a little bit more into the community, making it easier and easier for engaged couples to find their perfect celebrant for that special day. 

Reaffirming love!  In this newsletter, you'll read about why Mabon is a beautiful time for vow renewals. 

New to officiating?   Handfastings.org is delighted to unveil an article written expressly for our newsletter by the one and only Rebecca Elson of The Magical Buffet.  She tackles her first two weddings with grace, splendor and elegance.  I seriously wanted to use the word splendor.

But wait - you also get two deliciously smelling Mabon oil and incense recipes, plus the October almanac!  Have a Blessed Mabon, and remember - an apple a day keeps the doctor away, so go apple picking!

Blessed be,
Welcome New Officiants
After more than six years of cultivating handfasting officiants from across the U.S. and around the world, I am pleased to announce our first officiant from Louisiana!  Please give a warm welcome to Annette Breaux of Louisiana (pic).

Annette Breaux
Annette Breaux
I also want to take this time to graciously welcome Rev. Dale Angelee Bowman of Colorado, Wanda L. De Coteau of Connecticut, Reverend Pamela Fellner of New Jersey, H.P. Mente Lettore (Rob Winkle Jr.) of Ohio, Rev. Shannon Owens, D.D., of Texas, Reverend Kim Tavendale of Colorado, and Crystal Tucker of Michigan.

Reverend Dale Bowman
Dale Bowman

Wanda L. De Coteau
Wanda L. De Coteau

Rev. Pamela Fellner
Pamela Fellner

Rev. Shannon Owens
Shannon Owens

Rev. Kim Tavendale
Kim Tavendale

Rev. Crystal Tucker
Crystal Tucker

I am so very grateful for these officiants' involvement in Handfastings.org.  Welcome all!

Love's Bounty
Vow Renewals During Mabon
The autumnal equinox, known as Mabon to many Pagan folk, falls on September 22, 2010 11:09 PM EDT in the Northern Hemisphere.  Considering that Mabon, the Second Harvest in the Wheel of the Year, is a wonderful time for giving thanks, the fall equinox is the perfect time for vow renewals.  This is a beautiful time of year when we gather our crops and collect the things that we've cultivated since Imbolc, contemplate our bounty, and make offerings to the Goddess(es) and God(s).

Phil Falson Photography
vow renewal

In a Mabon-themed vow renewal, we give thanks to the person with whom we share our life.  Each partner can write a list of special things about one another for which they are thankful.  This list then becomes part of their vow renewal.   A few examples might be, "I am thankful for the special nights that we can spend alone together." Or, "I am grateful for your support of me through my toughest times."  Or, "I am so thankful that you enjoy cooking dinner!"  They can be as detailed, as serious, as jovial or as humorous as you like. 

Vows of thanks echo the couple's appreciation for one another and are a reflection of the pair walking down their chosen path together.  

Have a blessed Mabon!

Why Yes, I Do Weddings

By Rebecca Elson, editor-in-chief of The Magical Buffet

I am not a priestess.  I do not belong to any organized, or disorganized, religious organization.  No one considers me a spiritual leader.  I have a website that sometimes discusses varying spiritual practices, that's pretty much it.  However, despite the many things I am not, there are a few important things that I am; a friend and confidant.  In this modern era, particularly in a culture where people feel free to create and define their own religious or spiritual practices, the closest many of us have to a spiritual advisor are our friends.  Then those friends find themselves engaged to be married and are left wondering, who do we ask to oversee our commitment to each other?  Someone we've never met prior to our engagement, or perhaps someone who has been with us through all the ups and downs that define our lives, and ultimately, many of our friendships?  That is how one day I found myself registering as a Zen Humanist Reverend with Universal Ministries.  One minute I'm a friend, but with a few key strokes I find I'm responsible for ushering in one of the most important chapters of two different couple's lives.

There really are no maps for this territory.  Obviously if I was a spiritual leader, complete with a congregation of some sort, I would have long ago set down the outline of this one very basic function all spiritual leaders perform.  More discouragingly still, I have attended very few weddings in my life.  Most everything I know about wedding ceremonies has come from movies or television.  In addition, both couples had no interest in a particularly spiritual ceremony, so no falling back on religion in a pinch.  With one couple, both the bride and groom were Atheists, so really no falling back on religion for that ceremony!

I'm not going to take you all step by step through the process I used for the two different ceremonies I wrote and performed because let's face it, this is Handfastings.org, and I'm guessing plenty of you have performed wedding ceremonies yourselves!  That said, there are a few thoughts and tidbits I would like to share.

This first thing seems really basic, but it can't hurt to mention it.  The ceremony is for the bride and groom.  Your job is to help two people comfortably express their love for each other and publicly commit to sharing their lives with each other forever.  There is no ego in performing a wedding ceremony.  It's not about you, the clever turns of phrase you make, or the piety you lend to the proceedings.  If you do your job right, you'll end the night a rock star.  If you start out the evening as one, you'll be a horrible mistake the bride and groom made.

An addendum to this that I added was yes, making the bride and groom happy is priority one, but just after that was making the parents of the bride and groom comfortable with their children's decision to have some woman who used to work with them perform their wedding ceremony.  You know the easiest way to do this?  Follow priority number one.

Next up, ask for feedback.  I'm lucky, thanks to my website I know two lovely witches (Deborah Blake and Gail Wood) who have performed plenty of handfastings I can ask to look over my ceremony and make sure I wasn't saying or doing anything stupid.  After that, I emailed the ceremony to the couple.  It's their ceremony, so I didn't want there to be any surprises or unfortunate choice of words.  I don't know if all officiants do that, but it seems most do, and if they don't, they may want to consider it.  It was a huge relief when each couple expressed their approval of the ceremonies I had written for them.

Lastly, not to toot my own horn (but toot TOOT!), I did stumble across a few 100% bona fide awesome things that I am very happy to share here if it helps others construct wedding ceremonies.

This first bit I get to take total credit for, I came up with it thinking about the times my husband and I cuddle up and whisper to each other. "It is easy now, in your wedding garb, surrounded by friends and family, to feel the love you share with each other.  However big moments like this isn't where love lives.  Love lives in the quiet spaces.  Love lives in the day to day.  Today is special and momentous; enjoy shouting your love for all who are gathered here today.  But more important than the proclamation of love you make here now, is reminding each other of the love you share, every day after today."  The groom quoted this in his toast to his new bride.  Remember becoming a rock star?  That's how it's done my friends.

This other thing I stumbled across online.  I wish I had known it existed when my husband and I got married.  It's perfection.  The eighteenth century author Sydney Smith once said, "Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing any one who comes between them."  Is that the best thing ever for a wedding?  Indeed it is.  It was hands down the bride and groom's favorite part of that ceremony.  Just in case alone it wasn't awesome enough, I bought them a pair of high quality fabric shears for a wedding gift.  Take note potential officiants, all that bad-assed-ness can be yours too!

As an average Joe that has been asked to go above and beyond the normal duties of average, I hope you found my thoughts and reflections entertaining and potentially helpful.  The best decision I ever made was to marry my husband, so I find weddings particularly wonderful and sentimental.  Being married, and helping friends of mine become married, are some of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

About Rebecca:

Rebecca Elson is founder, publisher, and primary writer for the website The Magical Buffet.  A self-described warrior poet, spiritual mogul, and literary mercenary, it becomes obvious that sarcasm is a language she speaks fluently. She has a Bachelor of Science in Metaphysics from the American Institute of Holistic Theology and she's not afraid to use it!  And as you've seen here, as a Zen Humanist Reverend, yes, she does weddings.  Rebecca aspires to be the Kathy Griffin of the global religious community, or perhaps benevolent ruler of the world, she's still trying to decide. Either way, readers of her website will be spared her wrath in her inevitable rise to power.  To insure your continued existence, be sure to subscribe to her website at www.themagicalbuffet.com.

For Your Altar

I love these recipes by someone from the CUPWA blog (sorry to say I don't know who created them).  These are unique and smell deliciously autumnal. 

Mabon Oil

hazelnut oil
almond oil
pinch marigold leaves
walnut shells, usually crushed or in pieces
pinch oak leaves
1 acorn
1 stone ruled by the sun (yellow topaz, citrine, cat's eye, amber)

Mabon Incense

3 tbs. each:
dried oak leaves
frankincense and myrrh
dried apple

1 dram mabon oil
1tsp. of shiny gold glitter or piece of gold jewelry.
Mix well. Place in bowl or burn.


Thanks to CUPWA!
October 2010 Almanac

Moon Phases
Last Quarter - October 1, 03:52
New Moon - October 7, 18:44
First Quarter - October 14, 21:27
Full Moon - October 23, 01:36
Last Quarter - October 30, 12:46

Samhain is celebrated on October 31, 2010 in the Northern Hemisphere.  In the Southern Hemisphere, it will be Beltane!

Calendar highlight: Covenant of the Goddess, an active organization which consists of smaller temples, covens and solitaries, was formed on October 31, 1975.  According to their website, their purpose is to "increase cooperation among Witches and to secure for Witches and covens the legal protection enjoyed by members of other religions."

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.
Please tell your friends about us!
Love and Light,

Artemisia Shira Tarantino
Joining Hearts in Perfect Love™ 

Contact Information 
email: shira@handfastings.org
website: www.handfastings.org

All content is copyright Handfastings Media unless otherwise noted.  All rights reserved.


Free Hugs! 
All Handfastings.org News and Views readers are entitled to One Hug by yours truly.  May you always be inspired by the wind that brings hope, the sun that brings transformation, the oceans that bring love, the earth that brings sustenance, and the Great Spirit(s) that brings the mystery of Life.  Blessed be! - Shira 
Offer Good Always