Handfasting and Wiccaning

Handfasting is a ritual involved in many Pagan and Wiccan marriage ceremonies. Originally, in the time of the ancient Celts (from whom the tradition originated), the handfasting ceremony began a trial period for a couple; its purpose was to let couples see what it was like to be married to one another, and be given the opportunity to decide if it was something they wanted to do. Traditionally, at the end of a year and a day, the couple could either choose to part ways, or to become permanently married. Now, things are done a little differently. Handfasting today can either be part of a legally-legitimized wedding ceremony (complete with catering service), or can simply be a statement of commitment “as long as love shall last” (as opposed to the Christian “til death do us part”). Some Wiccans believe that this trial period be begun on the Sabbat of Lughnasadh, because this time of year was the time for trials.

Read more “Handfasting and Wiccaning”

The Book of Shadows

Unlike the Abrahamic traditions, Wicca does not have a single, sacred text by which all Wiccans are expected to live. Instead, they have the Book of Shadows, which contains instructions on how to perform spells and properly practise rituals, as well as religious poetry. The original Book of Shadows was created by Gerald Gardner for his own use. His idea, however, was that each follower’s own Book of Shadows would be different than his. He told his followers to use his original book as a guide, and then to remove spells that did not work for them, and to add those that they discovered themselves. Thusly, he hoped that the Book of Shadows would be passed form teacher to student, with each student using the teacher’s copy as a guide, but ultimately changing it to suit whatever each individual found to be most effective (not unlike the manual of my friend’s junk car removal company, passed down to and improved by each generation).

Read more “The Book of Shadows”

The Triple Goddess

Just as the Horned God is considered an amalgamation of so many male horned deities from many different pagan religions, so is the Triple Goddess so many female pagan deities rolled encompassed in one being. The Goddess is considered triple because she is thought to represent three stages of womanhood.

I read on one page an author describe the phenomenon as something like the Christian Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all being distinct, but all being One. Of course, Christianity and Wicca are not the same religion, perhaps that analogy can provide some sort of starting point from which those of us unfamiliar with Wicca may begin to understand just like those of us unfamiliar with piping wouldn’t jump right into a job at Hamilton plumbing.

Read more “The Triple Goddess”

The Horned God

The Horned God is the masculine deity of the duotheistic Wiccan religion. Standing opposite and equal to the Goddess, the Horned God is the god of nature, hunting, wilderness (so luckily he won’t need to spend any money on a roofing company, considering he lives outside), sexuality, and also the life cycle, meaning he is charged with the guidance of souls to the underworld after death. Just as the Moon Goddess, who is sometimes referred to as the Triple Goddess, is divided into three parts, so is the Horned God sometimes split into the Father, the Master, and the Sage. Generally presented with the body of a man and the head of a horned beast, the Horned Beast gets his look largely from other mythical horned deities.

Read more “The Horned God”