Lilac Witch Handfasting Ceremonies
Tying the Knot in the Ancient Way...
So what is a Handfasting?
A handfasting is a Pagan wedding and is a marriage rite used today by many individuals from all faiths and spiritual backgrounds. During the ceremony, the couple declare their love, share vows and exchange rings (if they choose to). They promise to love and honour each other; they may have their hands tied by coloured cords or ribbons (the origin of the term tying the knot), jump over the broomstick and/or cauldron and share food and wine. The main focus of the handfasting is that the couple are choosing to make a commitment to each other. This can be for a year and a day or “for as long as love shall last”. At the end of the year and a day, they may choose to renew their vows and make a more permanent commitment or go their separate ways.
Jumping the Besom (Broomstick)
Another symbol of the joining of a couple together, is the jumping of the Besom (Broomstick). The besom is used during a Handfasting ritual at the end when the vows have been taken. This is the time when the couple "jump the Broom" and seal their union symbolically. Not only is the besom representative of the sexual union but it also symbolises a threshold that the couple are about to cross - one that leads to a new beginning. They jump the besom together, hand in hand to show that they are two parts of a whole, working together towards a bright new future and all it holds. This jumping of the besom becomes a leap of faith so to speak, that they take together to face what life has ahead for them, both good and bad. However, the besom has been associated with weddings for many centuries. It first became popular with the African American population during the time of slavery. Slaves had no rights to marry as the Slaveholders considered them purely as property. Marriage rituals were important to the Africans as they had marriage customs from their own cultures, so to be denied this custom was anathema to them and they soon developed new rituals within their "slave" communities using what they had to hand. Taking vows in front of witnesses, much as our Celtic ancestors did, and then jumping over the besom broom for many of the reasons we still do today, became a recognised union within their own community. The jumping of the broom is still incorporated in many African American weddings today to honour the slaves from the past and celebrate their cultural heritage.
"Jumping the Broom" is a symbol of sweeping away the old and welcoming the new, or a symbol of new beginnings.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is a handfasting legal?
Unfortunately Handfastings are not legally recognised within the majority of UK at the present time (although in Scotland a handfasting performed by a recognised celebrant can be legally recognised). For those couples in areas outside of Scotland, who wish to make a legal as well as spiritual commitment a civil ceremony is necessary. Civil marriage ceremonies have changed a great deal over recent years. Changes in legislation have encouraged a much wider choice of venues and provided the opportunity for couples to make their special day unique. UK law states that the legally binding contract of Marriage can only be authorised by a Civil Registrar or through the Banns of a church. For some people the legal position is not important as many couples live together anyway, it is the spiritual and emotional commitment that they wish to share with others. However if you do wish to be legally married or gain civil partnership then this needs to be arranged separately through your local Registry Office. A civil ceremony cannot contain any religious content as it is a civil matter concerning a legally binding contract between two persons. Arrange to have your civil ceremony at a separate time, perhaps in the morning, and then hold your Handfasting in the afternoon, or even on a separate day.
Where can we hold our handfasting?
A handfasting can be held anywhere you like as long as you have the permission of whoever owns the space, and it’s up to you whether you prefer indoors or outdoors. Popular choices are beaches, domestic gardens, public parks, barn/farm buildings and woodland. There are now many commercial venues which hold a license for marriages if you want to legally marry.
Can we personalise our handfasting?
There are no hard and fast rules about what can or can’t be included, ultimately this ritual is a declaration of your commitment to one another before your chosen witnesses and how you express that should be as unique as you are. In a Pagan Handfasting your commitment and ceremony can be expressed and personalised however you choose; popular examples are a poem or song, the burning of incense, lighting candles, tying knots and the exchange of vows. You may also choose to incorporate the actual “handfasting” where the hands are bound and rings exchanged. Both partners repeat the same declarations before the bindings are removed leaving the couple wearing their rings symbolising the eternal circle representing their bond. Other popular choices are the opening and closing of a circle in which the handfasting is to be performed, drinking a mead toast, and jumping the broom!
Can members of our family and friends take part?
It is very moving for all involved when our friends and family take part in such a magical day. Family/friends are often involved by being ushers, bridesmaids, ring bearers etc or you can be creative and have ‘broom maidens’ or “bridesmen”. Many couples have their friends and family help with key tasks in the ceremony, these could include reading poems, holding the broom, burning of incense etc. The important thing to remember is that it’s your day and having key people as part of your ceremony makes it unique and special to you as couple.
When should we have our handfasting?
You may choose an anniversary, or pick a Pagan holiday such as Beltane (1st May) or Samhain (31st Oct; Halloween), you may want to be married on a full moon or want a Yuletide wedding because of your love of the season or you may just want a Saturday in June! The choice is yours…
Other bits and pieces
Please feel free to contact me to discuss your individual needs and wishes and I will be happy to design a ceremony for you & your partner.
I will design a bespoke ceremony which includes supporting you to write your own personal promises or vows.
I have exclusive access to a number of unique venues where I will cast a circle and create a sacred space.
Guidance on what to expect and a walk through if needed.
I can provide magical tools including a besom (broomstick), sword, candles & provide alter decorations.
Design your hand fasting cord, using colours chosen by you.
If you have a question, which has not been answered on this page, please contact me:
The only thing you need is imagination...