Celtic Wedding, we were asked to perform a service at a wedding celebrated with this rite, all the new experiences fascinate me in a particular way, but as a duty, to better carry out our work, I documented myself well on how it was done.
From here I thought I’d also write an article for our blog, for anyone curious or interested in doing it!
The joining of two spouses in marriage, the joining of two souls and two bodies into one, was blessed by the spirit of the Earth among the Ancient Celts.
Thus the ritual and the celebration took place in contact with nature in the midst of the trees, near water and with fire, among the large stones, the bones of the earth.
THE PRAYER OF PROTECTION
Called “caim” (protector) it is a prayer that is recited while the sacred circle is drawn around the spouses, as every prayer tends to act mystically, to create a sacred dimension within itself.
The circle (symbol of totality and community) was traced with a sword or spear as a further gesture of protection towards the beginning of a new life.
Some examples of protection prayers can be found, for example, in the nineteenth-century collection of the Scotsman Alexander Carmichael “Gadelica Carmina” which reports a vast oral tradition of spells, blessings and popular prayers.
THE CANDLE OF UNITY
The spouses light 3 candles together (obviously the fire element cannot be missing in the ritual): two external ones representing respectively the family of the groom and the bride and a larger candle in the center representing the couple’s new family.
THE STONE OF THE OATH
The ritual consists in sealing the wedding vows in a stone.
The Celtic tribes were intimately linked to the spirit of the place:
each particular place, be it a lake, river, valley or mountain was inhabited by spirits, often considered to be ancestral spirits of the Ancestors.
With the oath stone, the connection and blessing of the ancestors and the earth on the spouses is activated:
the spiritual energies present in the sacred place join those created at the time of the exchange of vows, with the positive energy of the people present at the ceremony, with the love that flows from the spouses and all their expectations of a shared future life (the couple is placed between the past and the future for the continuity of life).
In ancient times at the end of the ceremony, the oath stone followed its path. It was thrown into a source of water or lake or sea or left in place.
THE OATH STONE
What remains of tradition has it that the bride and groom place their hands on a stone during the wedding vows.
The promise becomes a solemn oath consecrated by the earth and by the ancestors. In ancient times, symbols or the names of the spouses were engraved on a tree or on a stone, and even today the initials of the couple are engraved on the stone with the date of the marriage.
Subsequently the stone can find its place in the garden of the new house or inside the house, or it will be left in the place of the ceremony.
A further development of this tradition also sees the stones being thrown by the participants in the ritual as a wish for good luck and prosperity.
Transfer of good wishes
Always starting from the idea that a thought can be transferred to a natural object, wishes, prayers and happy hopes for the couple will be imprinted on a stone held in the hand of the guests at the time of the exchange of vows.
After the ceremony the stones will be thrown by the guests themselves into a body of water (well, fountain, spring, river, lake, sea) as water is the element that represents emotions but also more generally the spirit.
Furthermore, the gift can only be welcomed with kindness by the ancestral spirits of the place who will also add their blessing.
A good idea (if you don’t have a master of ceremonies to distribute the stones to the guests) is to put lots of pebbles and a sign or a series of legends describing the ritual on a decorated table.
(Scottish and Irish tradition)
It’s attribution to the Celtic tradition is controversial, but the binding of hands is a very suggestive rite in a certain way similar to the lighting of the unity candle.
It is often used as a symbolic rite not only in Celtic Weddding but also in secular ones.
Celtic wedding hand fashing
The wrists of the spouses are tied together by an officiant with a long ribbon (or the intertwining of two ribbons in two colors red and white to symbolize respectively the masculine and feminine principle).
The ceremony probably has medieval origins: in 1200 in Scotland the marriage contract was sealed with a handshake and it was a consensual union between two adults without the need for a priest, notary or witnesses.
THE BLOOD PACT
Once handfasting was above all a blood pact, in which the right wrist of the spouses was incised with the point of a dagger until the blood gushed, after which the two wrists were tied in close contact with each other with the “wedlock’s band” or a long strip of fabric.
Here is the formula that was still recited by the two spouses in 1700 (mostly in Gaelic)
Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone.
I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One.
I give ye my Spirit, `til our Life shall be Done
It is interesting to note that instead of the formula that has become ritual in the celebration of the Church “till death do us part”, in Celtic culture the same concept was apparently expressed in the form “until the end of our lives”, a promise which on closer inspection has profound philosophical implications and assumes a more indefinite time than the duration of earthly life, i.e. it is equivalent to eternity!
The formula nowadays, of the Celtic Wedding, more widespread in Scotland is
Now you are bound one to the other
With a tie not easy to break.
Take the time of binding
Before the final vows are made
To learn what you need to know
To grow in wisdom and love.
That your marriage will be strong
That your love will last
In this life and beyond
Do you also want an original, special and unique ritual?!
The Celtic Wedding is very particular, inspired by particular energies and beliefs, there are many others that could be right for you!
It still remains to see all the rest of the Marriage!
Maybe we will do it in another article
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photo by Giovanni Scirocco