I accept in freedom your soul entwined with mine
I pledge to you my life, my heart, my loyalty and my truth
I will be a shield for your back as you are for mine
And will hold this bond forever sacred
In perfect love and perfect trust
A little detour from hiking this week, for this weekend we were wed in Avalon, and if it’s not part of our hike, it’s certainly part of our journey…
It was, appropriately, almost exactly a year and a day before the Handfasting that we first went down to Glastonbury to meet our Priestess Dawn, see the Goddess Temple for the first time, and decide whether this was what we wanted to do…
And about ten minutes into that first meeting we knew without a doubt that here was what we were looking for and were excitedly getting out diaries for a date. We felt a connection with Dawn straight away, but most importantly we could tell that here were people who understood what we wanted from a Handfasting – not just a legality or formality, not just ‘the next step’ or a ‘piece of paper’, but a real, heartfelt, ritual in the sight of the Goddess. That here were people that genuinely cared about us as a Pagan couple wanting to express their love and celebrate their union in a deeply meaningful way. And the temple! The peaceful, powerful, joyful energy that permeates the Goddess Temple must be experienced to be believed… We fell instantly in love with the place the moment we set foot inside.
We kept everything very simple, with very few guests, no reception and no extras because we wanted it to be all about the ritual itself, and there to be no focus on any ‘after party’. All through the planning stages the team at the temple was amazing, making sure all was exactly how we wanted it to be, happy for us to use the Wiccan wheel rather than that of Avalon, and even being there on the phone to rescue us when the confused registrar couldn’t understand that a Pagan ceremony was classed as religious and not civil…
Finally the weekend of Imbolc dawned, I swear the last few weeks of waiting for it to finally arrive took years. A new moon in the time of Brighid, it couldn’t have felt more perfect. We set off down to Glastonbury (on the one coach a day from London) on the Thursday night, to arrive with a merry band of friends ready to walk the land Friday morning before the ceremony on Saturday.
And so it began, as we set off Friday morning, in the company of Trevor, one of the Priests of Avalon at the temple, and a small group of friends. Not all of them are practising Pagans, but they all felt the deep connection with the land, as we walked the sacred landscape of Avalon, calling down the blessings of Maiden, Lover, Mother and Crone, and visiting some of the Morgen trees in this very special place. Tendrils of loving connection weaved their way through the group, grounding us in a sense of place and helping us all to throw off the trappings of everyday and step into sacred time ready for the Handfasting ritual the next day.
And on the eve of the ritual, my beloved and I were each called to attend, myself to the Temple and he to the Goddess house. I taking my carefully and lovingly crafted willow hoop that I’d prepared for the Handfasting ceremony; and he taking his wand, that had been the gift of the land, embellished and adorned by him. We prepared in ritual separately, in a deeply moving ceremony. And then he was brought to me in the temple for the sacred anointing, and an intense, shared experience that we will forever remember.
Such happy, jittery excitement was the order of the day as we prepared for the ceremony itself. Thank goodness for the ministrations of my oldest and dearest friend, as he skilfully arranged hair and make up for both of us before dashing off with a mere half an hour to spare for his own grooming. A superstar, as ever.
We walked to the temple together, my beloved and I, hand in hand as we mean to go on. And hand in hand we danced three times around the sacred circle, joyful and brimming over with happiness before entering to stand with the Priestess for our souls to be entwined.
We and the Priestess moved around the sacred circle, one element at a time. My beloved and I read to each other of how we first knew it was special, and of what love means to us – words that carried hints and echoes of each other’s thoughts, despite having been prepared with no collaboration. We were blessed with incense, with the sacred perpetual flame of Avalon, and with water from the sacred red and white Glastonbury springs. And we watched as our beautiful, astounding friends got up to read to us from the heart, moved to tears and full of joy for our joy. We made our promises and exchanged rings in the sight of the Goddess, and we felt her blessing.
And through it all the Priestess held space in a way that was sacred for us, yet inclusive of those with less understanding of Pagan ways. And there was beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility, mirth and reverence, just as it should be.
The joined wand and hoop, covered in the ribbons bound by the Priestess, and the smaller ribbons tied there with blessings from every guest, carries such an earthy, primal significance. It was with this that the ceremony culminated, and it was this, far more than the legal section, that felt like a joining.
We are so very, very blessed to have had such a moving, beautiful ceremony. It could not have been more perfect, or been a more perfect start to the adventure of our life and travels together. To every single guest and to the wonderful team at the Goddess Temple I offer my heartfelt love and thanks.
And to my beautiful daughter, my Cub of Honour, extra special thanks for writing such a lovely blessing, acting as ring bearer and all the love and support you always give.